On Duty

Last week, volunteers from my fire department were deployed to help with rescues and back-filling support for a sister fire department in North Carolina, in one of the hardest-hit areas affected by a recent devastating hurricane.

I was not among those who volunteered to deploy… been there, done that. Not necessarily in this location, but over a span of two decades, I have deployed for response to provide support for hurricanes, floods, and other calamities wrought by Mother Nature. This hard, dirty, and ugly work is better suited for the younger generation.

The deployment of a number of volunteers from my department left us in a position where an “all-call” to duty was made, and that includes me. What am I doing?

I responded to the call to back-fill our own members and have been on duty at my local fire station since 1800 Friday night. I complete this assignment on Monday morning at 0600 when the regular day-shift arrives.

Ordinarily, my position at my fire department is more of an honorary role for a long-time member whose role is on public education and outreach when supporting our “Senior Safety Saturdays.” It has been a long, long, LONG time since I rode a truck (on-duty, in uniform, operationally — other than during a parade.)

My specialty is as a medic. I began and was trained as a paramedic (ALS / NREMT NRP) a million years ago and served for about eight years until work became too busy with lots of travel, and I could not maintain the training and get enough hours.

While my voluntarism declined, I still maintained my skill as a Level I EMT and completed recertification as a CRT-I (cardiac rescue technician) again a few months ago.

Man, what a shift it’s been, and I think it’s because it’s a full moon. Four minor auto collisions, one motorcycle crash (kid on a crotch rocket and not wearing boots), and a half-dozen heart cases, most of which require stabilization and transport to the hospital.

I am grateful for the women and men who are volunteering with me. Their skill, patience, and camaraderie is great. And after the first couple of calls, I felt better about my skills and ability to help.

I have had little break time between calls, including now when I have finally had a chance to eat something, and if the alarm keeps quiet, maybe even get a nap. But now it’s raining — and if a full moon doesn’t bring out the crazies, the rain will.

Ya know, some people think that there is no correlation between a full moon and medic calls. I disagree. Man, people are just crazy during a full moon — even the regulars have said that this shift has been particularly busy.

My firefighter boots and uniform are getting a good workout. In fact, I had to stop at home twice to change clothes because my uniform pants got soiled. (Fortunately, I live a half-mile from the station.)

Life is short: do your duty to your community. Even old-timers can contribute!

PS: Our volunteers who deployed return tomorrow, thankfully!