Once upon a time, Da City was “The Arsenal of Democracy”, heavily industrialized, and a place where a reasonably hard working high school graduate could graduate, and, within a year, have a solidly middle class lifestyle working in a factory. One auto company had established an industrial complex just outside Da City, and on an island in this complex, had established forges, stamping plants, and coking ovens. Even across the river, the smell had to be experienced to be believed.
I worked with one guy, back on EMS, who had worked, pre-fire department, for one of the private ambulance services. They had caught a run for some emergency or another on this island, and, this being the days of 24 hour shifts, my friend fell asleep, letting his partner, who was driving, take care of things.
He related, “I was awakened when the ambulance stopped. I looked out, at the gas flaring off, and the chemical smell of sulfur heavy in the air. The area aroiund us looked like a hellish war torn moonscape, and I thought, “Oh my f@@king Ghawd! He’s wrecked the ambulance, I’ve died, and this is Hell!”
Another story, from a slightly later time, had me working with Doug and Rob, at a house in the far western area of Da City. We were dispatched to an assault, and met the cops on the scene. Upon entering the house, a gentleman (looking to be something like 6 feet and some change tall, probably running probably 220 pounds) reported that the woman of the house, who, herself, looked to be like 5 feet 2 inches, maybe 120 pounds, had assaulted him, striking him with her fists. He reported that he needed to be “checked out” due to his (non evident) injuries. She interjected that she had not assaulted him, he had, rather, assaulted her (and inflicting no perceptible injury in that process). He responded, loudly, and it was on. The Great West Side Debating Society Quarterly Meeting began.
While “the adults” were yelling etc, I noticed, in corner of the next room a perhaps 5-7 yo little girl, crouched in corner, mouth open, fists clenched as in a silent scream. While cops refereed “the adults”, I crouched down in front of child, attempting to verbally soothe her. One female officer noticed, and came over. I introduced the officer to the child, “This is my friend, Officer Evans. She would like to talk to you for a while. Is that OK? She, and the rest of her friends will keep you safe.”
We disengaged, everybody signed no transport forms, we went in service. As Rob finished the trip sheets, he paused, and commented, “You know, I think we may have just witnessed a watershed moment in that little girl’s life.”
Bastard. I fear that he was right.