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.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


When one hears a phrase like "the ensuing battle", it conjures up images of knightly duels, clashing steel and heroism. That's if this particular battle occurs anywhere but the portion of town we affectionately refer to as The North End. It's a genetic Bermuda Triangle if you will. For reasons that can neither be explained nor altered, if you, being a mild manner human being of "normal" lineage, move to the north end, a genetic transformation occurs rendering you to a helpless state of white trash.

That was the state of existence in which we found our two patients today. Their quarrel, their battle was over something so precious, so emotionally consuming that all reason was left by the wayside. I will change the names of these gentlemen to protect the inbred and the not yet intellectually violated.
Billy Bob felt that the broken down, two wheeled, rusted out '78 Chevy Van was his and his foe, Cletus, also laid claim to said gem. A duel of words simply was not enough to defend the virtue of this heap, so they went to their arms of choice. For Billy Bob it was the putty knife and for Cletus, the coffee pot. Rather unconventional, I know, but these men of lore were pitched in battle, fighting like warrior poets.

The aftermath was a laceration/stabbing wound on the top of Cletus' head since a putty knife will only penetrate so far into a skull. Billy Bob had his last tooth knocked out. The things men will do for love and country.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lortab and Listerine

I really miss my time in Bethel some days. We had such great friends and the community was great. BFD was my first paid position as a firefighter and what a great experience it turned out to be.

Another aspect of village life that I miss is the nut jobs. We had people possessed with demons, suffering from complete exhaustion after attempting to exterminate the bugs coming out of their carpet (for 4 days), and even a man who thought that if the battery in his phone died, his heart would stop beating.

Also in abundance were the plain old drunk and stupid. Today brought me back to that time when we went to assist a gentleman who had taken more than his prescribed amount of Lortab. Not a sin in its own right, who am I to judge his pain. It was the Listerine chaser that put over that proverbial edge.

For those of you who may not know, Bethel is a damp village. This means you can consume alcohol, but you can't buy or sell alcoholic beverages in town. This lead to people looking for alternate means to get their booze. Listerine for instance. Also on the list are Lysol (gently filtered through a pristine piece of white bread), extracts like vanilla and root beer, and lastly perfume, which knocks you out AND gets all the guys-not always a good combination.

That's why this call brought back that flood of memories. It's been such a long, long time since I've been able to smell the minty fresh breath of an alcoholic looking for that certain something. That certain something left this guy unable to walk. He was awake and relatively alert, but could get up off the road where he apparently was dropped off by his girlfriend.

He didn't want any help other than to get to his bed to sleep it off, so we obliged and propped him up against the wall of his apartment.

Sure miss those good ol' days of Bethel.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fire Department Softball

Nothing beats a good game of softball with the guys. Last week was a highlight in our season. Based on some bad attitudes needing adjusted, we sent Probie Dick off to steal second. Stealing the base was only part of it. Benson also succeeded in breaking the leg of the second baseman. Attitude adjusted.

Now you would think that a bunch of fireman would be able to help this poor guy, but all we really wanted to do was keep playing. Sure we called the ambulance, but only after standing over him in a taunting fashion say, "Yup, looks broke..."
The umpires wouldn't let us drag him off the field to keep playing so the game was rescheduled for the end of the season which, unfortunatley, is quickly approaching.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Had an arson fire on Wednesday night. Started off as a trailer fire just up the road. We got there quick and being the kindly senior guy that I am, I let the new guy take the nozzle. The fire had started on the porch and, despite the superior construction that mobile homes are known for, the fire quickly spread to the living room, kitchen and bedroom. Just before getting to work knocking down the fire, the new realizes he has no radio. Love those sweet little new guys. I decided maybe this new guy wasn't worth waiting for, so I told the Capt it was time to get to work, let the new guy follow up. Knocking down the fire was a little anticlimactic (a garden hose would put the hurt on most trailer fires), but a fire is a fire all the same. Turned out to be a good night.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Sometimes there are days when you should just stay in bed. Sometimes those days are nights, kinda like last night. Unlike the picture, I wasn't totally without clothing.

I suppose the time was about 2:30 in the very a.m. Tones went off for something, I wasn't sure what at the time. We both staggered out into the bays and into the truck.

"Dude." The hoarse voice of my partner.

"What?" Still not sure what I'm doing up at such an ungodly hour.

"Dude!!" Looking at me very oddly.

It was then that I realized that I had pulled on my boots and walked out to the truck in my T-Shirt, underwear and boots...

So there I sit, no pants, ready to spring into action and save lives, or whatever it was that we were being called for.

That sort of thing tends to wake you up rather quickly. I piled out of the truck and ran back to my bunk, again in my undies and black combat boots. Not a pleasant image I'm sure. I returned again and went to work.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Over Haul

The understatement for the day is that our vehicle maintenance program is lacking. It's always a crap shoot when you mention something that is wrong with a vehicle. You are either ignored, told it's supposed to be that way, or your vehicle disappears for a while. Some of you may say that that's how it works. I'll add also that your vehicle comes back with no mention of what has been done, if anything. A good portion of the time the problem will persist. We have actually ruined motors and blown transmissions in the middle of a transport because things weren't repaired properly. This time is no different.

The exhaust on the ambulance I've been working on was installed poorly and the custom work done by our "mechanic" made it worse. Every time we pull up to a curb, the exhaust is bent back so that it rubs on the rear tires. Don't pull so close was the mechanics "fix" for this problem. Kick the crap out of it so it doesn't sit on the tire was our fix.

On the day in question, we were turning around in a parking lot. A curb lay in front of us. This obstacle to our progress later measured out to be a mere 2" tall. It may as well have been a foot.

We stopped short of the curb and had a brief conversation that went something like:

"You think we can get over that?"

"I would hope so."

"Yeah...It really is just a baby curb."

"Guess we'll find out."

We proceeded with the understanding that if a four year old could ride her bike over this thing (a girl on a bike skirted around us as we pondered), a $250,000 piece of fire equipment would have no problem. It wasn't a firm faith that we were operating under, but more like a defiant "It had better make it."

Just before we began to roll the phone rang. Some of the superstitious types may call this an omen, a sign, a harbinger, a prophecy. I just answered the phone, my driver kept driving. I was busy explaining to my Captain why lunch would be late when the truck lurched to a stop.

The words "Please hold," or "Hang on a second," never crossed my mind. The captain got a distorted version of "Uhhhhh..."

We looked at each other with that "Did that really just happen?" look and almost simultaneously piled out of our respective doors.

The exhaust, which had previous protruded from in front of the rear tire appeared absent. Further inspection showed, however, that it had been forced back by our "baby curb" until the rear tires had forced it under them and sucked it rearward. It was now wedged between the two tires. We were stuck. Driving forward would rip the piping out from under the truck. Backing up would ram the system back into the belly of the beast, also a bad option.

The captain actually remained on the line for our entire assessment, and patiently at that.

"We need your help," was all that I could muster. I told him we'd need the Sawz-All and a pry bar. Both are standard issue on the trucks, but things weren't really processing at the moment.

After being chewed out for not providing their meal on time, they said they were on their way. We sat in the parking lot, blocking several cars' escapes as we waited.

We cut the pipe off, tossed it up on the gurney like some mangled, petrified snake, and drove towards the shop. The disgrace was not, however, over. A shower of sparks poured out from the underside of our misfortuned conveyance. All the while drawing the attention of well meaning citizens waving and signaling at our dislodged muffler.

"Just smile and wave boys." The only sentiment that came to mind.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Field Trip

I spent the morning getting my butt dragged over hill and dale by a friend of mine. The quarry...shed deer antlers. We found two, well, Eli found two. The trip was for me nothing more than exercise. That's not true. It was a good time with good company. Saw a lot of deer and a coyote.