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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wrong Side of the Bed

Wow... its been an entire week since I've posted anything. That's sad... What's even more sad is that the entire week, which I posted nothing about, I did nothing.

Well, not NOTHING. I didn't just subsist in a blob on my couch, although that sounds so tempting right now. My past week has been spent working, doing school work, doing EMT class related work, and generally being in a cranky mood. Actually... I haven't been just cranky... I've been a down right B!@%#. Poor Shawn... he has (sort of) put up with me. There is no real explanation for my excessive crankiness, just stress. What a lame excuse.

So to lighten the mood... I will regale everyone in the tale of my horrible day, which is today, which also is not over so it may get in worse.

My morning began with a monsoon of a rain storm that apparently knocked out power to my home some point between 430am when my husband woke up and 630am when my alarm SHOULD have gone off. I slept, blissfully unaware to anything, until almost 9am. My shift at work begins at 8am. I awoke to my alarm clock flashing "12:00" and showed up to work over an hour and a half late. Why none of my coworkers chose to call me I will never know. So once I made it work I immediately headed to cover our neighboring service, which we agreed to do because they were having a party for their 25th anniversary. No more than a few minutes after we arrived at the other service's station and we received the most unpleasant of calls, a long distance inter-facility transfer. So we jogged next door to the hospital and proceeded to wait half an hour for the emergent transfer that wasn't prepared to go. While waiting and committed to the transfer there was an MCI in our coverage area. A legit MCI. A busload of kids were exposed to "bear repellent" when a can was accidentally released while they were all riding on the bus. Six ambulances from around northeastern Vermont responded and transported fifteen students to the hospital with various respiratory and mucous membrane problems. We listened as ambulance after ambulance was toned while we took the transfer. A long, quiet, boring, transfer. When we finally got back to the station we were covering, two and a half hours later, the MCI was wrapping up and so was their party. Everyone was saying things like "where were you guys?" "Did you know we had an MCI?" and adding in the theatrical laughs and hand gestures. ...jerks. Also, they had managed to "just" put away all the food so we missed lunch. ...awesome. We then got back to our own station just in time to clean up and decontaminate all the ambulances and listen to the stories from the event.

...and my shift still has 13 more hours left.

But, something did make me laugh. The local news, of course, did a story on the whole ordeal. They stopped here at our station once everyone left and asked us for an interview about the MCI. Since we weren't there for it and no one else was at the station to answer their questions they went to our neighboring service. All the media attention went to them and our service was not even mentioned. I had to laugh, really... its about the only half amusing thing that's happened to me today.

Maybe because I sleep on a couch at work and there is only one side to wake up on things will be better tomorrow. One can hope...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Little Public Education

Sometimes work isn't just about ambulance calls. Actually, lately it seems as if it is not about ambulance calls, but instead hanging out, doing school work, and eating. Work without calls = unnecessary eating. The habit is so so hard to break, especially now that its hot and we apparently have one of the top 500 ice cream parlors in the country right here in Lyndonville. My cholesterol loves it, well at least the LDLs.

So today was the Stars and Stripes festival in Lyndonville. It is essentially like a Forth of July celebration that is held two weeks later as to not infringe on other town's events. There is a parade through town and then at the park in the center of town there are tons of booths and vendors selling everything from crafts and quilts to homemade fudge and jellies. Its definitely a small a small town thing and I love it.

Of course we set up a booth of our own for the rescue squad. At these sorts of community events we always do some sort of community service and education. You have to do your part when it comes to educating the public and keeping a positive presence. We do blood pressure and blood sugar screenings and hand out literature. There are also some stickers, pencils, and candy for little kids (kind of ironic to give kids candy and check the blood sugar of adults I guess)

And just incase we can't save your life with all our educational and awareness pamphlets and information you should take one of these....

Yeah... That's right. I find it funny and ironic that we offer people information about funerals. It might even be in poor taste, but I guess it never hurts to be prepared....Actually we don't put these on the table, but I found them in the box with all our other pamphlets and found it humorous. I guess it is a necessary part of public education.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Oh those Sweet Summer Nights.

There hasn't been much of a summer feel to this summer...not at all. Its been sixty degrees and rainy pretty much since May, when we had an odd streak of 90 degree weather. The weather man on Channel three yesterday mentioned that he expects the weather pattern to break in August. How he figures that, I don't know, but his report made me dislike him.

Despite the crappy weather Shawn and I have managed to enjoy the few nice days we have seen this season, which is fortunate because summer is already so short. To Shawn's delight, the water in the rivers have gone down enough to attempt fly fishing, something we haven't done in a month. Usually when we both go fly fishing it means that I stand around, take photos, ward off the bugs, and wander around. Its not because I don't like fishing.. really.. I swear. Its not because wandering around taking photos is more fun. Noooo. Its just that we only have one pole (shucks...). Shawn does try to teach me fly fishing. He repeats the same beginner lesson over and over again. I never seem to catch on.

This is his "You need to stop fooling around with that camera and come over here so I can show you how to cast." look. He swears its all about coordination and patience. And I gently remind him... do you know who you married? I really can't seem to hack it, but then again I am the type of person that if I am not successful at it quickly I lose interest. After tangling the line in the trees at least three times and then the tall grass another half dozen times Shawn decided to end the lesson and take back his rod.

He resumed fishing and I resumed photographing. In case you were wondering... yes it is typical in rural Vermont to have randomly placed symbols of patriotism at the fishing holes. Ok, no not really.

But we were successful in our fishing adventures. I say we because I did technically help "land" the brown trout while Shawn "netted" it. Yes, he explained to me the difference. We caught a couple nice little trouts, one farmed trout and one native. The farmed brown trout, pictured on the left, that is raised in a hatchery and then placed into Island Pond and other nearby ponds and rivers. The native trout, on the right, is born and raised in the rivers right where we caught it. See the difference?

There really is nothing like an evening spent fishing, or just hanging out by the river on a cool Vermont summer night. The beauty of the Kingdom never ceases to amaze me... no matter the season.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Big Fire in a Little Town

Eventually there will be "the big one" even in the smallest places. The other day there was a HUGE fire in St. Johnsbury, right on Main Street. What came in as a "possible structure fire" quickly became a working fire and soon after evolved into a five alarm block fire. I happened to be working at Lyndon Rescue that night and not long after the call initially came in we found ourselves on scene. Even before we got to St. Johnsbury the tell-tale orange glow was visible a few miles away. I knew it was a big fire. All the excitement on the radio confirmed it even more. When we arrived there were already half a dozen fire engines on scene operation. The fire was at second alarm stage and still spreading. The sight was something of a mass-casualty incident. Crowds had gathered. It seemed as if the whole town was there, watching the scene unfold.

Initially there weren't really any flames visible around front. The fire was at the back of the building, where it originated. The fronts were nice brick facades while the backs were rickety, wooden porches and apartment entrances that acted as the perfect conveyence for the fire. Initially there was one person unaccounted for so an interior search took place. Fortunately no one was inside so there were no casualties and no injuries either.

Firefighters attempting to search a third story apartment and the chief supervising operations

I was on scene from 2130hrs until 0700hrs the next morning. We spent the night making sure firefighters were hydrated, handing out water and food. I helped many firefighters change their air bottles, a welcomed task since it was slightly firefighter related and I wanted to be on their side, doing their job, rather than watching and doing EMS. But I can't complain. I was there. My department is 35 miles away and not even on the run card to be called to St. Johnsbury, not even to an incident this big, so if I wasn't working I would have never been there.

Operations of the fire scene.

At some point the roof vented itself and the fire began to intensify. Somehow it was contained to only two buildings despite major exposure to two other buildings. All the firefighter's faces looked sad and dismayed as the fire advanced and destroyed the two buildings despite the efforts of so many departments. I felt their despair, but also their victory in knowing that it could have been MUCH worse.

Smoke billowing out of the main building and then fire advancing through it hours later

I will try and run down a list of the agencies that I know were at the fire. I may have missed one... the list is LONG.

Fire Departments
  1. St. Johnsbury Fire Dept
  2. Lyndonville Fire Dept
  3. East Burke Fire Dept
  4. West Burke Fire Dept
  5. Newark Fire Dept
  6. Danville Fire Dept
  7. Walden Fire Dept
  8. Barnet Fire Dept
  9. Peacham Fire Dept
  10. Waterford Fire Dept
  11. Lancaster Fire Dept
  12. Littleton Fire Dept
  13. Woodsville Fire Dept
  14. Newport Fire Dept
  15. Monroe Fire Dept
  16. Ryegate Fire Dept
  17. Concord Fire Dept
Ambulance Services
  1. Calex Ambulance
  2. Lyndon Rescue
  3. Danville Rescue
When we were finally able to clear the scene I was EXHAUSTED. I cannot imagine how the firefighters who fought the blaze felt. Some were literally falling asleep in the cabs on the fire engines when they finally got a second of down time. Almost two days later St. Johnsbury Fire Department is still on scene helping to clean up and overhaul the buildings that are considered a total lost. I really hope that the town will be able to rebuild despite the hard times in the area. This fire will definitely be something to remember, even if I didn't get to fight it I got to take care of those who did and be part of the efforts to save the town.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

You Can't Rain On My Parade

Again... another crazy week. I think they keep getting more ridiculous in the sheer amount of tasks I have to accomplish, obligations to fulfill, and places to be. Although, this week, the week of the 4th of July, is typically a crazy week for me, Shawn, and pretty much most all of my close friends and in-laws.

This past week I have had to...
  • Read three chapters for my two online courses. Complete a quiz, an essay, three forum discussion questions, finish a project, and do another small assignment.
  • Work two different EMS jobs (but I did take off Saturday)
  • Teach the EMT course
  • Host a cook out this past weekend with over a dozen guests
  • Do all the 4th of July craziness, including the parade, fund raising, setting up, and lighting of the fireworks.
  • And probably lots of other stuff I forgot...
But it has been a great week and I've had quite a few adventures. Everything from thunderstorms (which I love love love), structure fires, and lighting off 4" finale chains in the rain (exhilarating and insane!). And hopefully things are going to get even better.... tomorrow Shawn and I head to the Old Orchard Beach/Portland area for an over night stay, some time at the ocean, and some much needed relaxation time together. This summer may be jammed packed with events, but so far I feel as if I am enjoying and taking advantage of every one of them.

Some pictures from the past week....

Storms framing Burke Mountain.

And the structure fire that resulted from the above storm (lightning strike)

Husband and wife before the 4th of July Parade

It literally rained... actually POURED... on our parade, but it was still a good time. Nothing beats having a crowd clap and cheer for you as you march by just because you are a firefighter. Its very humbling.

Island Pond, Island Pond Vermont. (no that's not redundant... it's the lake's name)

The weather went from showers, as seen in the distance on the other side of the lake, to complete misting rain. It was disappointing, but it did not dampen our spirits.

The show must go on. Putting together the finale raft in the rain. Now that's dedication.

And the show did go on.

Boy did it rain and it was a whopping 50 degrees on the 4th of July (ick!) If we did the show this year there is not way we are going to cancel the fireworks. And like I mentioned earlier... I got to light the 4" finale chains (which are six 4" fireworks connected to each other). They light instantly so you have to duck and look away as soon as you touch the flare to the fuse. The ground shakes and your whole body reverberates. The ringing in my ears just barely stopped. The experince definitely ranked up there on my list of "The coolest things I have ever done."

I can't wait to see what this next week brings...