September 10, 2001

"Good days, bad days. Up days, down days. Sad days, happy days--but never a boring day on this job. You do what God has called you to do. You show up, you put one foot in front of another, you get on the rig and you do the job, which is a mystery and a suprise. You have no idea when you get on that rig, no matter how big the call, no matter how small, you have no idea what God's calling you to do.
"You love this job. We all do. What a blessing that is. A difficult, difficult job, and God calls you to it, and he gives you a love for it, so that a difficult job will be well done."
-Father Mychal Judge

Father Judge was killed the following day, Sept 11, 2001.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection- a badge of honor. Its story is hundreds of years old. When a courageous band of crusaders, known as the knights of St. John, fought the Saracens for possession of the Holy Land, they encountered a new weapon unknown to European warriors. It was a simple, but horrible device of war; it wrought excruciating pain and agonizing death upon the brave fighters of the Cross.
The Saracen's weapon was fire! As the Crusaders advanced on the walls of the city, they were attacked by glass bombs containing naphtha. When they became saturated with the highly flammable liquid, the Saracens hurled a flaming tree into their midst. Hundreds of Knights were burned alive. Others risked their lives to save their brothers in arms from dying painful deaths. Thus, these men became the first fire fighters...and the first of a long list of courageous Fire Fighters. Their heroic efforts were recognized by fellow Crusaders who awarded each hero with a badge of honor- a cross similar to the one Fire Fighters wear today.
Since the Knights of St. John lived for nearly four centuries on a little island in the Mediterranean Sea, named Malta, the Cross became known as the Maltese Cross. The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection. It means that the Fire Fighter that wears this Cross is willing to lay down his life, just as the Crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow men so many years ago. The Maltese Cross is a Fire Fighter's Badge of Courage.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In 2006 the Idaho Falls Fire Department organized it's first Honor Guard. Originally there were eight of us. That number dwindled to 5 rather quickly. Now we're back to seven fairly regularly, which is a far cry from where we would like to be, but we're working on it. We go to as many events as we are invited to. Obviously, our primary responsibility is to honor our fallen brothers and sisters, but fortunately, that has been very limited. We march in the 4th of July parade, which is where this picture was taken.

This was our fledgling year and we were really just trying not to stab anyone with the pikes and keep in step. I think we've come a long way in the last couple years. We'll keep our small corp sharp and make it work until we can find some volunteers. This picture was taken July 2007.

After a thorough soaking by the guys that were working that day, Chief of Department Dean Ellis spoke with us and let us know what he expected. Beginning that same day our academy set off hard and fast. It was a very short academy, only four weeks, so they had to cover a lot of information every day.

Things got cozy pretty fast that week. Our confined space training was as straight forward as it comes. It was basically "Get in that hole and crawl until you find the end." There was obviously a little more instruction than that, but that was more or less the idea. After the first time through, things got a little more challenging and the plain jane tube was looking mighty appealing.

Rebar. I love it!

First time off the drill tower. High angle rescue was a full day. Just enough to get the taste in your mouth, but not enough to make you good. Lots of practice.

Being the first to speak up in the academy isn't always the best thing. You usually end up strapped to a backboard, upside down in the shower. This time it paid off, though. That's me running the monitor...

...and that's Dan and Jon on the receiving end working their way towards the valve on that tank.

Monday, July 7, 2008

I met a man today who I would not wish to be, nor would I wish what happened to him upon any but the most vile of criminals and liberals.

Today we were called to help a man with a traumatic injury. Upon our arrival we found a man who had gotten his coveralls caught in the belt of a spud conveyor. He miraculously spun out of his coveralls only to be pulled in by his jeans. While being dragged into the machinery, his junk got caught in the belt, tearing open his scrotum and nearly severing his penis.

Like I said, something only a select few should have to experience.

The guy was quite lucid and, as long as he wasn't being moved,
relatively pain free (so he said). A crowd of his co-workers had gathered around and were sharing words of support at the same time we exposed his injuries. Beethoven himself could not have composed a more harmonious symphony of groans and gasps. The moans of his brothers (if by anatomy alone) were sympathetic and truly heart felt.

We drugged the poor fellow up and hauled him to the hospital. To my knowledge, he kept all of his bits and pieces.

As anyone who's been there can tell you, getting started in the fire service can be a bit rocky. I've spoken to quite a few guys who spent years trying to get on the department. Others have taken jobs with nearby departments waiting for their name to be called. I've been the exception, I guess. I tested once with Bethel, AK and was hired right away. I was also hired the first time I tested with Idaho Falls, ID. I feel very fortunate to be the exception.

Three years into my career now and I feel like things are still very tumultuous. I was settling into the role of being a tailboarder, a fireman. Now I'm in paramedic training and things are more foreign than ever. I suppose if I ever get too sedentary at anything I do it's time to try something a little more challenging.