Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day

I am awakened from a sound sleep by the musical tones of my alarm. It's 4:30, the house is cold and dark. Really cold, our furnace has been broken for a few days now. I shiver in the 13C temperature, but hop from my warm bed eagerly. I have an early morning shift today, my partner is picking me up in half an hour. I guess some crazy people think it would be a good idea to 'leap' in the lake on this frosty 'leap' day, and we have to be there to make sure they don't kill themselves doing it. School has been so busy that I haven't done many shifts lately, so I welcome one now.

The trucks are cold and frosty, but we eventually get one cleaned off and head down to the waterfront. A local radio station is broadcasting their morning show live from the diner at the shore that serves as the jumping point for this insanity. The DJs are happy to see us - as they readily announce over the radio. One of them is 'leaping', he jokes that we are there just to save him. We hang around drinking our Timmies coffee and waiting for the action to start. Yes, I'm actually drinking the coffee. My first cup ever - it really is nasty stuff! After adding about 4 cream and 6 sugar, it becomes sightly more palatable. The DJs mention us several times over the next few hours as the party gets going, always thanking us for being there. It's great publicity for our organization, maybe we'll got some new volunteers out of it.

Our supervisor Roy shows up around dawn, right off his night shift with the city EMS. He hands me hot chocolate, saying he started to worry when he heard I was drinking coffee. Since he's been trying to get me to drink it for a year now, he figures something must be wrong if I've finally succumbed. Laughing, I assure him all is well, but gladly switch beverages. I'll take sugar over caffeine any day!

Roy is considering jumping, which I try to attribute to the fact that he hasn't slept in 24 hours. He's done a few polar plunges in the past though, so I must concede that he's normally nuts - sleep deprivation has nothing to do with it. He finally says "yah, I'll go for it", and I inform the DJs. They LOVE it, they simply can't get over the fact that 'the medic supervisor' is going in. They interview him live, "Ok, you're the one who is supposed to take care of people, and you're going in, so who is going to take care of you?" "What are the medical risks of doing this?" Roy is a perfect representation of the division - maintaining a professional attitude while doing something insane.

They milk it for a few more commercial breaks, then finally line up at the shore. As one DJ counts down, the other makes witty comments from the shore, always keeping up the banter. Finally they go - running and splashing through the frigid waters of the Great Lake. They dive under, since it doesn't count unless you get totally wet. Hooting and hollering as the cameras flash, they quickly turn and head for shore, readily seeking warm towels and blankets.

Nobody is the worse for wear after their dip, we weren't needed in spite of all the hype. The crowd rapidly thins as everyone heads off seeking warmer places. The diner feeds us and the radio people breakfast/lunch, then we head off as well. My partner drops me off as the furnace guy is just leaving. I walk into my rapidly warming house, appreciating every increasing degree. I crawl back into bed, snuggling deep under the layers of blankets. Relaxed and now toasty-warm, I gently slip back into a sea of dreams.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Demolition Derbys and Firemen

Last fall was a lot of fun, we covered a lot of country fairs, generally one every weekend. Many of these had a demolition derby, which were always the most popular event. I really enjoy them, there's just something so cool about seeing people smash up cars - I guess that's the country in me. The biggest one was in a rather wealthy little town-turned big-city suburb, which was also the most fun. I was recently reminded about it, and since school has settled down a bit, I can now tell the story.

John and I are covering the demo derby as Roy and Janice cover the rest of the fair. The organizers always have a medic team at the derby along with the firefighters, just in case something happens to the drivers. John and some of the others who have been around for a while are not all that fond of these events, they complain about the noise, the dirt, and the firefighters. Medics and firefighters don't always have the greatest relationship; it's some sort of twisted rivalry I guess. Personally, I love them, they are usually great guys and I have never had a problem with one. They have always been nice to me and treated me well, so I feel no need to make sweeping generalizations about hose monkeys....I mean firemen.

I love how close we get to stand, the gates of the fence are open and the only barriers between the cars and us are the concrete blocks edging the ring. I remember when I first came to university; I came to this with my cousins, sitting up in the stands. I looked over across the field to where the medics and fire were standing and sighed....I wanted to be doing that soooo badly. I can't help but grin now, standing there in the dark night, standing there as a medic. I look up to where I was sitting 2 years and thank God for the opportunities He has given me. I just love doing this.

John hangs out back at the ambulance, but I want to be right in the action. My little medic uniform offers very little protection for the muddy spray that covers us every time the cars spin by, but it's only mud, right? Hmm, wrong. A sharp stinging pain on my leg provides a quick wakeup call - rocks and other debris flies just as easily. This requires a rethink. I grab a pair of safety goggles off John and pull my baseball cap down tight. My face more or less protected, I turn to look at the three firemen. They are in full turnout gear, giant pants, coats and full helmets ensure that they wouldn't feel half a car if it were to fly our way. The next time a car sprays by, I lean slightly behind Rick, the nearest one. That works well - I don't have to move out of the action, and I have my own personal shield. After a few passes, he notices what I'm doing and just laughs. He offers me his helmet, and as tempting as that is, I decline. Instead, he starts to cover me every time the spray flies, taking all the mud for me. The rest of the night is hilarious, we talk and joke non-stop, and since his protective instinct had kicked in like crazy, he makes sure I don't get another speck of mud on me.

So you see, I have no reason to dislike firemen. That is only one of many incidents in which they have proven, on the whole, to be very nice guys. It's a lot of fun to see another perspective on duty, and talking to cops or firemen give that. I won't hesitate to tease them as mercilessly as they do me, but I'll not perpetuate the negative relationship that many of my partners have with them. They can quite easily liven up a dull shift.

They're useful for carrying stuff too :D

Friday, February 1, 2008

Sun City?

I've had a reader from Sun City, Arizona.......

My university was shut down today because it snowed so much last night.

Winter in this city means grey skies almost constantly from November to April.

Sunburn is but a distant memory to me now.

Can I move to Sun City? That place sounds incredible. I've seriously been thinking about that name all afternoon, especially as I shovelled snow under cloudy skies. I kept wondering, is it sunny in Sun City?

Yes.....I have been studying too hard. ;)

Running Control

I have so much more respect for dispatchers now! It really is a hard job, which I found out firsthand at the major concert this week. It was decided that since I'm now an NCO, I need to learn how to run 'Control' at major events. I was not entirely pleased to hear that this was the event they chose for my first go at it, as it was a performer that I really wanted to see. Ah well, duty calls.

My briefing at the start of the show didn't go too badly, I split the responders into teams and sent them to their locations around the stadium. We only got one call, which was probably a good thing, because I kinda fumbled it. I was trying to listen to security on the one radio while dispatching our team on the other, it's so hard! I haven't mastered the art of listening to and understanding two radio communications at once. My team was left hanging, not knowing where I was sending them, while I responded to security and told them we were en route. Eventually though, I got everything sorted out and the lady who almost cut her finger off was treated.

I then forgot about one of my teams that were in the front lobby. Whoops! I left them there long after everyone was in the building, and I think they got a tad bored. Shane was very forgiving though, he knew how nervous I was.

I want to improve my ability to do dispatch, or control, but I'm not sure how. I'm sure it will come with practice, as I am usually an excellent mulit-tasker. The show was great though, the guy was such an amazing singer, *sigh*.....