Archive for August, 2016

A warm August afternoon.

Posted: August 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

Our Battalion Chief’s voice crackled over the radio, “Truck 6, Code 1!…Call Medflight, get them in the air!” An unmistakeable sense of urgency, something was very wrong…

On a warm August afternoon, almost a year ago now, a rescue operation unfolded unlike any I have ever been a part of. 

Our town had already suffered two Heroes lost that summer, this would be number 3. 

A red Chevy pickup sat alone at the bottom of the hill. The driver, our Deputy Chief, trapped inside. 

The medics knew this was a call unlike any they had ever seen. Without missing a beat, they began their work; pushing IV’s, holding compression, comforting. 

I dug the Jaws of Life cutters into the B post and twisted the trigger. Steel crunching, glass smashing, we made quick work of the roof. “Get me a sawzall!”, “I need another blade!” Without missing a step, behind me a sea of my brothers and sisters snapped into action. In the blink of an eye, a sawzall and fresh blades appeared. From the newest members, to the seasoned senior firefighters, we worked as a unit. Tunneling through the pickup, our mission was clear, free our Chief… 

Everywhere you looked, a white shield, a white helmet. More officers than firefighters, yet not a single arguement or debate. Everyone knew what the goal was. Constantly evaluating and bouncing ideas off each other. Combined, easily over 100 years of experience surrounded our Chief. 

Time felt like an eternity. I couldn’t cut fast enough… A thought which would stick with me, what could I have done different?
As I made the final cut with the Jaws of Life, an image which haunts me to this day, our Chief was finally free…

We laid our Chief to rest the next Tuesday on a warm September day.

In the months that followed, I reflected quite a bit. I came to the conclusion that I was exactly where I was supposed to be that afternoon. We gave it hell, leaving it all on the table. I am, without a doubt, extremely lucky to be able to learn from and work with these men and women every day. 

People cope in different ways. Some turn to alcohol. Some hold it all in forever. Some seek professional help. 

I chose to write about that warm August afternoon.

Deputy Chief Frank Sousa – November 13, 1964 – August 27, 2015. 

A few years ago, a call for a rollover with entrapment. We arrived on scene to find a van on its side with 4 civilians frantically trying to lift the van up using tire jacks. We soon realized the driver had unfortunately been partially ejected and had non-life sustaining injuries. A tragic outcome but an amazing show of compassion… Drivers passing by coming together to try and save a stranger. This call did not have a happy ending but the effort I saw that day from the passerbys has stuck with me to this day.

A few years later I had the opportunity to vacation in Las Vegas. Traveling with 2 of my best friends, one a police officer, the other a career firefighter, both also volunteers firefighters with me, we headed to dinner one night while there and the following events unfolded. As we were dining in this fancy upscale restaurant a disturbance caught our attention from across the restaurant. A woman was having a seizure and her husband and friends were frantic as she convulsed and dropped to the floor. The 3 of us realized what was going on and rushed over to the table to help. A doctor who was also dining there stepped in to help. While rendering aid and at the same time comforting her husband and friends, I noticed something. The other diners directly next to their table were carrying on as if nothing was wrong. Asking for towels and napkins, they ignored the requests. A quick glance even revealed disgust at the woman seizing and us as we were clearly ruining their dinner… I pondered on this for a few weeks and eventually forgot about it. 

Fast forward to this afternoon. A medical call for a seizure in a local shop in town. As I pulled up, a police officer was also pulling up, jumping out of his cruiser, he ran into the shop with me to attempt to render aid while the other EMS units were still responding. Finding the victim in the back of the store, every shopper and worker was around the victim helping as best they could. 

I have been able to see a glimpse of the best and worst in people, and they have all had something in common. It’s simple and anyone can do it. It’s free and it’s easy. It’s GIVING A SHIT! Pardon my French but we all have 2 choices, look the other way, or help each other! Your choice. 

If everyone in this world paid it forward, we would all be better for it.