Duty · Pre Planning Your Scene · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Health Care Stagecraft

So, I see children from time to time. Commonly, they are dubious about the entire “Going to the doctor” thing (yeah, I DO realize that I am not a physician, I am a midlevel. May I observe you explain that distinction, to an anxious child?) With that as a starting point, you can imagine that my approaching said anxious child with a stethoscope, and then with an otoscope (“the ear looking thingy”) might not end well. Yeah, me too.

One of the lessons I learned on Da Street (besides knock from the side of the door, and always have a second way out of any room I enter, and always have a knife, and…well, the important lesson is…..) is misdirection. On the street this manifested itself as changing the topic of conversation, as, on a hostile scene, announcing, “WE have to go and get the stretcher!”, and then both of us doing so, and motoring merrily away from the threatened free fire zone. Returning, if at all, with police.

In a more sedate clinical setting, this manifests itself with my (now) stock spiel for kids.

“This here (hold stethoscope up) is my body tickling thingy. Now, this is really, really tickley, but I only have one, right? That’s not enough to share. So, if you laugh, everybody will know how much fun it is, and they will be sad. ‘Boo-Hoo! (insert child’s name here) got tickled, and I didn’t! That is so unfair! I am so sad!’ Now, we don’t want them to be sad, do we?” (generally, toddler-sober negative head wag) “So, try very hard not to laugh, so that they are not sad! Okay?”

(generally, “ok”)

Once heart and lungs are auscultated, I continue with my misdirection. “You did so very, very well in not laughing, now we move up to the ear tickley thingey! Same rules, try not to laugh so that they do not know how much fun it is, and they are not sad that I cannot share, okay?”

Generally, again, “Okay.” While the child is trying to identify what the heck is so darned tickley about otoscopy, I finish.

One bonus point, is, even if the child screams and kicks and writhes, I can congratulate them. “Wow! You did so very well! I don’t think that they even suspect how much fun that was! You can stop pretending, now! You have successfully finished! Well done!”

Sometimes it is healthcare stagecraft, that lets you complete your job.

Duty · Gratitude · Protect and Serve

Duty.

Occasionally, I am humbled. Sometimes, I am moved to tears.

So, TINS©, I was lolling around the house on Christmas Day. TDW-Mark II and I were casually surfing the web. I had my handheld amateur radio on, monitoring our county’s fire dispatch. Because, well, I can.

In our county, emergency personnel are generally volunteers. The EMS is paid/full time, Sheriff and local PD are paid/full time, but the firefighters and rescue are volunteers, dispatched by pager. The tones dropped for a cardiac arrest, CPR in progress, in the outskirts of the county. Now my county is rural, primarily (by surface area) farmland. The ambulance was called out, as well as the County Seat Fire Department (Hereinafter, CSFD).

I heard EMS acknowledge, and the duty fire chief as well. He (the chief) directed that the firefighters respond without him, as he was a couple of miles from the scene and would respond directly.

Dispatch then filled in the dispatch information, beyond the address. A 70-something male had collapsed. CPR was in progress. He was vomiting, and the family was clearing his mouth as best they could. A couple of minutes later (likely that seemed like days, to the folks on the scene, performing CPR on one of their family!), the fire chief called out on the scene “Chief on scene with one firefighter. Sheriff on scene. Dispatch, roll one engine for manpower.”

So, let’s “dolly back”, and consider this. With the possible exception of the deputy (who might have responded, off duty, from home in his patrol car), all these folks were snug in their own homes, fat, dumb and happy, savoring the anniversary of The Birth of Our Saviour, as well as immersing themselves in the excitement of the children at All! The! Presents! they had received.

They carry pagers because, well, that’s what they do. More likely than not, they do not see themselves as heroic, or making sacrifices, because, after all, in most of America (hell, I suspect in most of the world), the men and women performing these jobs simply see themselves as doing what needs to be done, because they are able to do so.

And therefore, when the pager alerted them, they grabbed their coats, put on their boots, and left their warm and happy homes, heading to somebody else’s home, someplace where, as Chief Dennis Compton of Mesa, AZ Fire once described it, “We are responding to somebody’s worst day of their life”.

So, as I imagine it, the duty chief was enjoying a Christmas with his family, the tones dropped, and off he went. Before he could get out of the door, one of his sons, or maybe a son in law, (or daughter or daughter in law, here in the 21st century) said something like, “Hey, Dad! Hold up a second! I’m taking that call with you!”

These folks voluntarily immersed themselves in another family’s tragedy. Strove to hold the line, to reverse the evident course. Went to work on Christmas.

When the firefighter came on the radio requesting the sheriff department’s (volunteer!) Victim Support Team, I could call that play. I do not know if I teared up at the family’s terror, at their loss, at the fact that forever more Christmas would not hold happy childhood memories, but, rather, would be “the day grandpa died”, or if I teared up thinking of the folks who, simply “doing their jobs”, had left their warm homes in response to some stranger’s plea for help.

But, I wept.

Please, give a thought to those who respond to those calls, today and every day of the year, all over the world.

And offer a prayer on behalf of those they go to rescue.

Duty · Life in Da City!

“This is no shit….”

Occasionally, I receive a comment to the effect that my acronyms are confusing, and my correspondent has been unable to divine their meaning. (which would be why I have a tab captioned “Abbreviations, Acronyms, Jargon and Terms of Art”). Perhaps it might be entertaining (well, I might be entertained!) should I review how that particular preamble arose.

Something on the order of 40 years ago, the magazine Soldier of Fortune had an article about “War Stories”. Near as I can recall, from the mists of time, there were three essential elements of any good war story.

First, the Obligatory Disclaimer: “This is no shit!”

Second Required Element, The Required Preamble: “There I was, fighting disease and saving lives….” (In the SOF formulation, it was more along the lines of “fighting communists and defending Freedom…”)

Third Required Element, The Compulsory Thematic Element, wherein The Narrator is a HERO, of Olympian proportions, overcoming impossible adversity.

So, there I was, seated on the bench (yes, reminiscent of “The Group ‘W’ Bench” of Arlo Guthrie/Alice’s Restaurant fame) outside the Department Doctor’s office. The preceding evening, while carrying some soul out of their house on West Boulevard, the gusts had lofted some speck of debris into my eye, and I had reported same to my supervisor, who had sent me to ED and those worthies had sent me home for the evening. In order to return to duty, I had to be cleared by the Department Doctor.

I was seated among a batch of firefighters, and we all were swapping stories of how we had come to receive orders to report here. This fellow slipped on wet pavement and had wrenched his back, another had injured his knee, and was only awaiting clearance from the department to return to duty, since his orthopedic surgeon had released him post operatively.

The next guy to tell his tale clearly had been schooled in The Grand Tradition of Firehouse Stories, and rolled right into his story. “Yeah, we caught an alarm, and the first floor was pretty well involved. We knocked it down with the deck gun, and started an interior attack. So, there I was, fighting fires and saving lives, and the floor fell in! Dumped my ass into the basement! Everybody was pretty excited, until they dragged me out, and found I was only banged and bruised up. The chief sent me to the hospital, they sent me home, and now, here I am!”

My turn. “I was on a run on The Boulevard, and some dust got blown into my eye…” (“….and they all moved away from me on The Group ‘W’ bench…”) “…and the lieutenant ordered me to go to ER, and they put me off for the night. I thought that it was overkill, but, what are you gonna do?”

They all moved back, and one offered, helpfully, “Kill a morning outside the department doctor?”

Yep, pretty much.

Duty · Gratitude · Protect and Serve

An Additional Thought on 9/11

Sometimes, in my web wanderings, I come across a page, a video, that reflects that the author GETS IT.

This fellow, whose page, The History Guy, often reflects occasions of valor, of courage, of dedication to duty, gives me every indication that he, himself GETS IT.

Today, 13 September, he reprised an episode from 11 September 2019, with a new introduction. I guess my allergies were acting up, because I wept.

He devoted something like two full minutes scrolling the name of every FDNY member who died doing their duty, that clear, sunny September day.

Say their names. Know their sacrifice. Honor their memories.

Protect and Serve

A different view on policing, from the prevailing media narrative

Against my will, I have been aware of the news reports of many, many protests over the circumstances surrounding death of George Floyd.
Against my will, I have been subjected to the noxious virtue signaling malarkey from many quarters, braying about how anti racist they are (“acta, non verba!”).
Again, against my will, I have been subjected to the chant of racist, violent police being The! Single! Greatest! Threat! to black men, In! Da! World! (notwithstanding the 24 fatal shootings in Chicago just the weekend of May 30-31)
( see https://chicago.suntimes.com/2020/6/1/21275944/chicago-weekend-shootings-most-violent-weekend-2020-may-29-june-1)


I request that we all keep in mind that we are all fallen, all imperfect, all in need of improvement. Police are part of that set. And, like some of our neighbors, some officers do felonious things. Mr. Chauvin appears due to get his day in court, which, should things work out as they are supposed to, will bring to light evidence supporting, or refuting, the cloud of assertions surrounding these events.

Tl: DR summary: Lotsa heat, little light, Facts will come out, and theories and bullshit will be tamped down.

Now, that I have stepped off of my soapbox, let’s hear a story of “Protect And Serve Policing”, of the sort that I have seen repeatedly myself.

Observant readers will note that this is a re-run.

Patient Care Is Everywhere!  (small town life)

I had the opportunity, a couple of years ago, to speak with an police officer who personified the
 “Protect and Serve” mindset. An elderly, very confused gentleman, with a baseline mentation 
deficit, was brought in to the hospital at the instigation of the officer. Having been dispatched 
for a "welfare check", he found this soul confused, and in the officer's estimation, "looked sick."
 We evaluated the patient, and tried to (start to) fix his medical issues.  While waiting for the lab
 results, the officer and I chatted. The officer related to me that he was an officer, “not for the 
attorney with a 150,000 dollar car and a nice house: he doesn’t need me. That guy, over there: 
he depends on me to do the right thing. He is why I took that oath.” 

Once we had finished caring for the gentleman, and were ready to discharge him, another 
officer from this same (yeah, rural) department came and took him home, seeing him safely 
into his apartment.

Another occasion, same rural police department, same officer. This time he  accompanied an 
EMS transport. This soul was in custody, so the officer parked himself outside the room, to 
keep an eye on his charge. During their stay, in the room across the hallway, was a child, who 
was very dubious about the entire "going to the hospital" thing. This officer was approached by 
the fearful child, who momentarily had his fears overcome with curiosity about a live-and-in-
person police officer. This officer was very engaged with the child, producing wide eyes 
interest as the boy lectured the officer on the ins and outs of frogs, and minutiae of their lives in 
the wild. He (the officer) offered a few frog insights of his own, and the two of them had an 
animated conversation there in my ED hallway. 

The rest of my encounter with the boy was made considerably smoother, when the officer 
asked the boy, "Are you behaving for my friend Reltney?  Yeah, he may be a doctor (well, a PA
 at this point, but, ya know...), but he's pretty nice.  Give him a chance, wontcha?"

My point? There has been come conversation of “Officer as social worker” becoming part of the
 police toolbox. This theme is not new, although it used to be called "walking the beat, and 
knowing your beat". Some officers, who are each a credit to their profession, have been 
employing that tool for a long time. And, in some regards, to steal a phrase from the American 
Nurses' Association, "Patient Care is Everywhere!"  Some of the practitioners are not formally 
licensed in health professions. And, some of us simply see it as being a good neighbor. 

			
Protect and Serve

What is this “Memorial Day”?

While my blog is commonly about lighthearted things, irritants, and such like fluff, occasionally I have to pause, and honor better folks than I. This post, which I placed last year, is here again.  Haerter and Yale are emblematic of those who go in harm’s way, on behalf of their buddies, on behalf of  people that they will never know. 

Those MEN (and, nowadays, WOMEN) need to hold a place in our hearts.  

This is Memorial Day 2020.  This the day set aside, to contemplate, to remember, those who have stood in harm’s way, have said to Evil, “you shall not pass!”, and have died so doing.

Today we recall those immortalized in Francis Scott Keyes’ fourth stanza, opening,

“Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!”

I want to repeat a story.  I first encountered it on the “Never Yet Melted” blog (https://neveryetmelted.com/). I’ve re read it multiple times, yet it still moves me to tears. Here’s the source: https://www.businessinsider.com/john-kellys-speech-about-marines-in-ramadi-2013-6

 

Contemplate the picture, above.  

 

Then, read the story. Lifted directly from Business Insider. This–THIS–is how MEN face DUTY. I pray that, should the need arise, I can be worthy to stand in their presence.  Corporal Jonathan Yale, Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter. This is what we remember, on Memorial Day. 

via Marines Magazine

Five years ago, two Marines from two different walks of life who had literally just met were told to stand guard in front of their outpost’s entry control point.

Minutes later, they were staring down a big blue truck packedwith explosives. With this particular shred of hell bearing down on them, they stood their ground.

Heck, they even leaned in.

I had heard the story many times, personally. But until today I had never heard Marine Lt. Gen. John Kelly’s telling of it to a packed house in 2010. Just four days following the death of his own son in combat, Kelly eulogized two other sons in an unforgettable manner.

From Kelly’s speech:

Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22nd of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 “The Walking Dead,” and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour.

Two Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 22 and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines.

The same broken down ramshackle building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, also my men and our allies in the fight against the terrorists in Ramadi, a city until recently the most dangerous city on earth and owned by Al Qaeda. Yale was a dirt poor mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife and daughter, and a mother and sister who lived with him and he supported as well. He did this on a yearly salary of less than $23,000. Haerter, on the other hand, was a middle class white kid from Long Island.

They were from two completely different worlds. Had they not joined the Marines they would never have met each other, or understood that multiple America’s exist simultaneously depending on one’s race, education level, economic status, and where you might have been born. But they were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible of Marine training, and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman.

The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went something like: “Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.” “You clear?” I am also sure Yale and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison something like: “Yes Sergeant,” with just enough attitude that made the point without saying the words, “No kidding sweetheart, we know what we’re doing.” They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, al Anbar, Iraq.

A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way—perhaps 60-70 yards in length—and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck’s engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped.

Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives. Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn’t have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms.

When I read the situation report about the incident a few hours after it happened I called the regimental commander for details as something about this struck me as different. Marines dying or being seriously wounded is commonplace in combat. We expect Marines regardless of rank or MOS to stand their ground and do their duty, and even die in the process, if that is what the mission takes. But this just seemed different.

The regimental commander had just returned from the site and he agreed, but reported that there were no American witnesses to the event—just Iraqi police. I figured if there was any chance of finding out what actually happened and then to decorate the two Marines to acknowledge their bravery, I’d have to do it as a combat award that requires two eye-witnesses and we figured the bureaucrats back in Washington would never buy Iraqi statements. If it had any chance at all, it had to come under the signature of a general officer.

I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi police all of whom told the same story. The blue truck turned down into the alley and immediately sped up as it made its way through the serpentine. They all said, “We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing.” The Iraqi police then related that some of them also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion.

All survived. Many were injured … some seriously. One of the Iraqis elaborated and with tears welling up said, “They’d run like any normal man would to save his life.”

What he didn’t know until then, he said, and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal. Choking past the emotion he said, “Sir, in the name of God no sane man would have stood there and done what they did.”

“No sane man.”

“They saved us all.”

What we didn’t know at the time, and only learned a couple of days later after I wrote a summary and submitted both Yale and Haerter for posthumous Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras, damaged initially in the blast, recorded some of the suicide attack. It happened exactly as the Iraqis had described it. It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated.

You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. Putting myself in their heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: ” … let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.”

The two Marines had about five seconds left to live. It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time the truck was half-way through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time. Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were—some running right past the Marines. They had three seconds left to live.

For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines’ weapons firing non-stop…the truck’s windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tore in to the body of the son-of-a-bitch who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers—American and Iraqi—bedded down in the barracks totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground. If they had been aware, they would have know they were safe … because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber.

The recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the two Marines. In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. They had only one second left to live.

The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God.

Six seconds.

Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty … into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight—for you.

 

 

 

Here’s what it looks like when MEN face duty, in the last seconds of their lives


I just now, again, re read this tale.  

I just now, again, teared up. 

And prayed that The Almighty grant these heroes, eternal peace. 

And smile upon their families, that their loss may be lightened. 
Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Pre Planning Your Scene · Protect and Serve

WuFlu, Kung Flu, Chinese Flu, or Coronavirus: It IS a big deal, but not for the reasons you likely have been told!

The number of projected deaths, when all is done, is not THE PROBLEM. At north of a million people (that’s one million, or more fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, grandfathers and grandmothers. And aunts, uncles and husbands and wives.), that is certainly bad enough. Particularly if someone you love is enumerated in that group. Life changing. Reality altering. Leaves a hole in your heart, your life, that you cannot imagine, unless you have lived through it.

BUT! THAT is not THE PROBLEM. THE PROBLEM, is the follow on effects, as a tsunami of ill inundates our already (on a good day) marginal health “system”, that it is in no way prepared for.

“Just in time” inventory systems will not bite us in the ass. Nope, not at all. Rather, the shortfalls and absent supplies will make us yearn for simply being bitten in the ass. Indeed, the “bite us in the ass” problem will more closely resemble the “bite in the ass” one might receive from a hungry great white shark, or, maybe, a ravenous tiger.

Ragarding the magnitude of THE PROBLEM, you need honest numbers, and then you NEED TO UNDERSTAND THOSE NUMBERS! See Lawdog’s blog, here , for an explanation of testing error (false positives/negatives, and the implications thereof).

See Aesop’s articles, here, for his description of the second order effects, and how it will make a clusterf…er, HUG! look like a picnic with your Bible study group. I do not know about timing, but, based on 30 + years as an ER nurse, and a dozen as a PA, and several as a medic, well, his assessment of effects is certainly defensible. I pray he is wrong, but I do NOT believe that he is wrong. (While you are there, read his other posts, about the follow on effects, about how this has been mishandled since, oh, 20 or more years ago, and about missed opportunities).

(and, READ HIS COUNSEL [in other posts] ABOUT PREPAREDNESS, BOTH LOGISTIC AND TRAINING! AND TAKE IT TO HEART!)

Good fortune to you all, and WASH YOUR DAMNED HANDS! NOW, DO IT AGAIN! AND AGAIN!

Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Knives · Pre Planning Your Scene · Protect and Serve · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

My children, cornered by dogs

Years ago, and far away, we lived Up North. We had three children, one of whom was still an infant. TDW Mark I had decided that we needed pets, and so she brought home two Labrador puppies.

With the wisdom that comes with hindsight, with two working parents, two primary school aged children, and an infant, two Labrador puppies might not have seemed to be a particularly good idea. It seems that, with the distractions present daily in such a household, the dogs do not properly learn the chain of command. In particular, the part of the chain of command that goes, “The little people are NOT to be snarled at, nipped at, or cornered. Under ANY circumstances!”

One afternoon, I was working in the yard, the two oldest kids were playing outside, and somehow the dogs got out. I learned this, when I heard snarling from the dogs, and yelling from my kids.

As an aside, nowadays, I put on my pistol, knives, and spare magazines, before I put on my shoes. I live in a very quiet, nice little town, but, well, between Da City, and the tales I have related here (and am about to relate here), I have grown to loathe when I do not have the tools I need RIGHT FUCKING NOW!

I reached this epiphany, as I rounded the corner of the house and observed the two dogs backing my children into a corner, snarling. Each dog was, at this point, around 60 pounds, and outweighed my children.

I pushed my way between my kids and the dogs, and pushed the kids behind me, as I faced down the dogs. I waved my arms, snarled, my own self, and began to harangue the dogs, slowly advancing on them.

“Motherfuckers! You DARE to threaten my kids! I will cut your miserable throats, I’ll crush you like insects, I will break your necks, and toss your cadavers to the buzzards! Don’t you FUCKING DARE snarl at my children! I will field dress your sorry asses, and toss the gut pile into the fucking road! Try me, motherfuckers! TRY ME, you sackless pieces of shit! YOU-DO-NOT-DARE-TO-THREATEN-MY-CHILDREN! I will OWN your sorry asses, and put such a hurt on you that dogs, everywhere, will whimper and cross the road, lest they step upon my children’s shadows! I fucking DARE you, to cross me!”

Well, all the excitement likely had penetrated the house, and TDW Mark I came a’running, big kitchen knife in hand, to sweep up the children, and arm me. Once they noted two adults, and, likely, from the yelling and screaming I was emitting, figured that Bad Things were pending, they ran off at a lope.

You may wonder what my plan was? Well, besides the fact that I decided promptly that I was NOT about to watch dogs attack my children I really had no plan at all. It had occurred to me that I was right handed, and, in extremis, should I jam my left forearm to the back of the lead dog’s mouth, and wrap my right arm around his neck, if I could push away with my left arm as hard as I could, and pull back as hard as I could with my right, I just might snap the dog’s neck.

But, after reflecting, 15 rounds of XTP hollow point in 9 mm might be just a bit more effective.

Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Crash of a Small Plane

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, working a mid city house, “Power Shift” (1400 to 0200) with Doug and Ed. It was one of those shifts wherein dispatch seemed to feel compelled to send us on a magical tour of Da City. We transported folks to hospitals that I had never expected to see in person. East side, west side, all around the town, as the song goes.

So, we were SNR’d on our latest run (SNR= Service Not Required. In this case, because the nominal sick person wanted no part of going to the hospital, and was only too happy to sign the waiver and bid us goodbye.) Since we had been out to the east side of nowhere that shift, well, I figured the Patron Saint(s) of EMS wanted us to head east.

There we were, motoring northwest along Alternate Main Drag Road, when Ed, looking out my window, saw a column of smoke. I wheeled north on Major Northbound Roadway, and, paralleling the airport, radioed in to dispatch, inquiring if there had been a report of a working fire in our vicinity.

Nope, they hadn’t heard a word.

Being inquisitive sorts, we continued northbound, until, coming to the roadway that formed the northern perimeter of the airport, we turned west, since the column of smoke was indeed to our west.

We found it, two blocks over, and turned onto the street in question. I pulled up in front of the house next door to the involved structure, thinking that our friends the firefighters might feel the need to place their engines adjacent to the burning structure. I noticed a light airplane sticking out of the roof of the burning structure, and supposed that the two were related.

I had no idea of what street we were on, so I called to the civilians milling about, asking for the name. They provided it to me. Then, I paused. I could see the house number of the house I had parked in front of, but had no idea of the house number of the involved structure.

Yeah, you’re right. After 2-3 seconds of reflection, it struck me that, if I could identify the burning house from my location, the highly trained, very experienced, thoroughly professional firefighters likely could replicate my feat of high level cerebral functioning.

I radioed in to dispatch, “Medic (number) on scene of a fully involved house, aircraft crash, casualties noted in the yard. Please send fire and additional ambulances.”

Then I unassed the rig. Ed had already pulled one fellow, laying in the driveway between the involved structure and the neighboring one, around the uninvolved structure and out of the radiant heat pouring from the fire. Doug was just getting to the other patient on the ground, and we pulled him, also, into the lee of the neighboring house and into their fenced in yard.

Once relatively safe, we conferred: Ed wanted a couple of backboards so we could rapidly splint these guys and get the hell out of dodge. I hopped the fence, grabbed the requisite materiel, and tossed it over the fence.

Doug and Ed rapidly backboarded the one guy, set the head of the board on the fence, and then one of them hopped the fence, he and I finished the lift, and trotted him to the rig.

We returned, helped Doug complete boarding the second guy, and back to the truck we went.

Once both were strapped into the ambulance, we were off. Coincidentally, the first engines were about set up and beginning to flow water as we departed.

I do not remember the run to TBTCIDC. I DO remember giving report, and the smoke smell we tried to clean out of the ambulance.

Funny thing. A couple of months later, I was visiting my brother in Alexandria, VA. Since he was working, I played tourist during the day. Now, this was 1983, around a year after the plane crashed into the 14th street bridge. The very bridge I had to cross into DC. As The Fates would have it, an aircraft– a big passenger jet– was landing as I was crossing the bridge. I don’t want to say it was close, but….I could count the rivets on the bottom, as it passed over my head.

Yeah, I didn’t break out in a cold sweat, or anything. Except, I did.