Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Tai Chi: You’re Doing It Wrong!

I recently purchased a new pickup truck. I had been pining for this truck for several years. It took me several years to drop the hammer, because I wanted to thin the herd of my indebtedness, as well as build up my “rainy day” fund again.

Having finally made my purchase, I had several accessories that I desired, and was not about to finance over 6 years. I wanted a “headache rack”, planning to mount antennae for my amateur radio (“HAM radio”), a CB, and other radios that TDW-Mark II and I employ when traveling, or weather spotting, and thereby avoid drilling holes in my shiny, new, truck. (I DID mention, I have a new truck, right?)

So, TINS, there we were, turning off Main Drag in Nearby Bigger City, preparatory to pulling into the lot of The Truck Accessory Place, when we (TDW and I) noticed a disheveled looking adult male approx age of mid twenties, standing in the second driveway of The Truck Accessory Place (hereinafter referred to as TTAP), swinging his arms, and having an animated conversation with person or persons unseen by us.

Nice.

We pulled up to TTAP, entered same (locking my truck in the process), and hailed the counterman. “So, has homeboy here been boxing with dragons very long?”

I received a puzzled look in response. “Huh?”

“See the guy out there, boxing with person or persons unseen by you and me? How long have the dragons in his mind been attacking him?”

He walked around the counter, gazed out of the window, and opined, “He doesn’t look like his mind is quite right.”

I concurred. TDW-Mark II stood nearby, hand concealed in her purse. Her purse wherein she had her sidearm. She stood so as to not obstruct my strong side draw, should that become A Thing.

Mr. Counter returned to his side of the counter, and dialed police dispatch. He described his observations, and asked for an officer to respond. I watched as the boxer bobbed, weaved, punched at unseen adversaries, moving himself toward the neighboring business.

Soon, he crossed the street (startling several drivers on that street, in the process!), and wandered off into the thicket there, not to be seen again.

It has been told that Colonel Jeff Cooper, of Gunsite and Modern Technique of The Pistol fame, was once asked, “Colonel Cooper, if you knew that you were going to a gunfight, what gun would you prefer?”

He is quoted as saying, “If I knew that I was going to a gunfight, I’d stay home!”

I like avoidance. I’m tickled that Mr Dragon Boxing, did not present a lethal force threat.

Pre Planning Your Scene

Reading Recommendation

https://eatonrapidsjoe.blogspot.com/2020/10/home-field-advantage-egress.html?showComment=1602787988156#c8439774302017330220

I don’t think that this guy needs *my* paltry recommendation, but, he has successfully drawn me in, and engaged me. His series-s are very, very thought provoking, in a Aesop’s “Tomorrow” sort of way. Lots of food for thought both at a “micro-economics” as well as at a “macro-economics” level.

Is your larder prepared for the presentation of spice? Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Pre Planning Your Scene

Clem, Cletus, and Why Heavy Equipment Operators Require Functional Partners, Too

Many, many years after I had left the employ of Da City, I came to live in Small Rural Town. Our little slice of Heaven featured, among other things, a municipal water system. The town had been built out shortly after the Second World War, and the infrastructure was contemporaneous with that construction.

Apparently, the engineering lesson of corrosion occurring at the junction of dissimilar metals, had not percolated to the individuals who built the house in which we lived. This epiphany developed after I noticed one Friday morning that there was water pooling in our front yard, between the door and the street.

Side note. NEVER! call the water department with that sort of observation on a Friday. They will shut off the water. It turns out, the service line from your home to the main is YOUR problem. You will NOT get that problem resolved late on a Friday. Or on a Saturday. Or on a Sunday. Not having running water makes for a long weekend of work.

Monday, I was again working, but TDW-Mark I had successfully contacted the Knob City Excavating Company to respond and repair our service line.

This involved excavating my front yard, and, having accessed the service line, replacing it.

It appears that professional excavating practice involves having one individual operating a back hoe, with another standing by, inspecting the back hoe’s progress, apparently in an attempt to avoid engaging the service line with the back hoe’s bucket, reefing thereon, and using that service line as a leader to abruptly extricate all the plumbing from your home.

So, about that. Clem was the back hoe operator, and Cletus, evidently, was tasked with leaning upon his shovel so that neither he, nor the shovel, fell over. In that, he appeared to be successful. Clem DID notice the entanglement of his back hoe bucket with my plumbing, but only after he had begun to extract my plumbing from my house. Fortunately he had only JUST begun to do so, before he determined that Things Were Not Right, and stopped. That was about the point at which I returned home from a day of fighting disease and saving lives.

Things were at a standstill as I entered the house. TDW-Mark I was standing there, gazing into the hole adjacent to our foundation, looking decidedly unamused. Clem was there as well, while Cletus was a’holding that shovel, determined that it was NOT going to fall!

TDW pointed into the depths of the hole, calling my attention to the copper stretched out from the foundation to it’s junction with the iron pipe that, evidently, had been our service line. Another vehicle pulled up, disgorging a worthy who was, is seemed, Bob The Knob, owner and operator of Knob City Excavating. TDW beckoned me inside, where she showed me where the service shut off on our domestic water feed, formerly near our ceiling, was now located at the floor. I suggested to Bob The Knob that he might want to get somebody with plumbing expertise in to review the situation, and effect such repairs as seemed needful. On his dime. And, RFN. (Right Fucking Now)

He did not appear to think that this was particularly unreasonable, particularly if he were to consider the alternative, which would involve court, attorneys, attorney fees on both sides, and much bad Ju-Ju.

The next day, I returned home from work, and TDW-Mark I informed me that Some Dude had arrived, crawled around in our attic, and had pronounced everything shoreward of our shut off to be intact. This worthy had then replaced our shut off, and the associated piping, and Knob City Excavating had replaced our service line with copper, had installed a bimetallic junction (TDW-Mark I had asked/insisted) at the main, backfilled everything once the city building inspector had signed off, and we Now! Had! Water! (cue the rejoicing)

It turns out that Bob The Knob was satisfied with my check in the original, estimated, amount as payment in full. We did not have any leaks subsequent to this adventure, and we all lived happily, ever after.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

Revelations

Recently TDW-Mark II was perusing Facebook, and noticed that Number Three Son, and his wife, had posted a couple of pictures. In the first, he was dressed in a nice suit, she in a nice red dress, posed all nice and proper.

In the second, SHE was in the suit, HE was in the red dress, and they were, again, posed soberly and portrait like.

TDW-Mark II called this to my attention, allowed me a couple of seconds to deliberate over this vignette, and then opined, “He loves his wife way more than you love me! You would never do that sort of clothing swap with me!”

I considered this, and observed, “Well, now you know!”

Fun And Games · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City!

Dumpster Diving

This one schedule, Doug had elected to rotate onto day shift. Likely something about a wife, family, and wanting to spend some time with That Bright Thing all up in the sky, while he was awake, might have figured into his calculations. In any event, TINS©, TIWFDASL© on night shift at Medic 14 (let us say). I was partnered up with Johnny Wadd (not his real name), who was, even among the collection of characters that made up the crews of EMS in those halcyon days, a character. He was book smart, street wise, quick on the uptake, head on a swivel, and, despite a very crusty persona, good hearted.

So, this one time, at band camp….uh, wrong story. So this one night we were cruising around between runs, and, as commonly happens in my “sea stories”, well, we caught a run. In the misty distance of all these years, I cannot tell you what the nominal nature of this run was. I do, however, remember (a) that the police were NOT dispatched to this run, and (b) once we arrived, and began to understand what the happs were, well, item “a” began to appear to be a big, big mistake.

So, we arrived on the scene to discover not a light on in the alleged address. Calling on the scene, we verified that the house number on the house before us, was, indeed, the address dispatch wanted us to report to. Check!

I knocked upon the door, while Johnny looked around the front of the house. As he reached the edge of the house adjoining the driveway, he heard something from the back that caught his attention. We meandered back to see what was up (notifying dispatch, on the way, of our explorations).

The sounds Johnny had heard were moans, and they were emanating from a wheeled trash bin. That made sense, as my flashlight illuminated two legs protruding from the top thereof. Johnny peered inside, and beheld a gentleman curled up inside, much the worse for wear.

We figured that any conversation to be had, would be had with greater clarity should our new friend be extricated from the trash bin, and so we began to attempt to lift him by his legs.

BAD PLAN! At least, in his view. He screamed, convincing us that this was NOT the course of action we desired to pursue. I ran to the truck, and retrieved the cot, a backboard, and backboard straps. Johnny and I then slowly levered the bin onto it’s side, and tried to gently place Mr. Trash Bin onto the backboard so as to remove him from his nest with minimal discomfort (to him) as we could manage. In his opinion, we were not particularly successful.

Once he was out in the light, such as it was (MagLite light, it was!), we could discern from the angulation of his thighs that he had sustained two fractured femurs. Further evaluation revealed a couple of gunshot wounds, as well as several stabbing wounds.

We determined that further time on the scene, with our basic life support asses, would be unprofitable, and so secured our guest onto the board, strapped him onto the cot, loaded him up into the truck, and coded our happy way to TBTCIDC.

Once we had turned him over to the ED crew, and they were poking, prodding, needling, radiating, IV-ing, and generally getting to know him far, far better than anyone else in his life ever had, we cleaned up and restocked the truck. Johnny turned to me, reflection written deeply in his eyes.

Ya know, Reltney, I wonder if someone, somehow, got a little angry at our guy there! Somebody does not seem to have had his very best interests in their heart!”

Fun And Games · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City!

“Fittin To Throw Down!”

When I worked the road for Da City’s EMS, several of my colleagues were simpatico with the majority of our service population. So, the habits and mores of the folks on the street were not much of a novelty for several of my colleagues.

Indeed, one gentleman who was my partner for a schedule or two told a tale of a cousin of his who, exchanging words with another soul, found their conversation adjourned outside the bar in which they had crossed paths. Words grew more and more heated, in my partner’s telling of the tale, and the party of the second part drew, displayed, and announced his intent to employ, a handgun.

My partner described subsequent events. “Well, my cuz stood up tall, and challenged the other guy, saying, ‘Well, hell! SHOOT me!’. Which he did. My cousin did not survive the exchange.”

Tough crowd.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL© with my regular partner, Doug, and we (of course) had our squelch open so we could hear radio chatter from other medic units. If one of them got into trouble, well, THAT might be a handy thing to know, so we could begin to sidle our happy asses over closer to their scene, to lend a hand should medical hands be required.

Over the radio came the memorable tones of Abbie Smith. He was able to recreate the richly evocative tones, rhythm, and nuance of the patois of the street. Partly this was due to the fact that he was of the street, and partly because he was an old hand on the job, and therefore wise in the mannerisms of the citizenry from that perspective as well.

So, anyhow, he drawled out his greeting: “Dispatch, this is Medic Nine!”

The dispatcher on duty that night was another old hand, who had been dispatching since Marconi had first dispatched “S” from Cornwall, England. He, in contrast to Abbie, was an old white boy, who was renowned for knowing off the top of his head where every ambulance was, and what they were doing, at any given time. When you are in a tense, hostile scene, is is reassuring to have a sort of radio bodyguard looking over you!

So, he acknowledged Medic Nine’s call: “Medic Nine, go!”

Dispatch, could we get the po-leece out here?”

Very good, Medic Nine. Why do you need them?”

Dispatch, these folks are all hot and bothered, and they fittin to throw down!”

Remember, our dispatcher was a white boy. He had not immersed himself in the vibrant, and ebonics speaking, culture of the street. In contrast, our friend Abbie, had. Dispatch sought some clarification.

Medic Nine, what are they going to throw down? And, from where?”

We could hear the sigh from Abbie, before he even keyed up the microphone. “Dispatch, this is Medic Nine! They fittin to throw down! You know, get it on! Fight!”

That cleared things up for our friend the dispatcher. “Are you involved in this fight, Medic Nine?”

Naw, we down the street. But, they gonna get to fighting pretty soon!”

Dispatch got it. “Medic Nine, clear that scene! Clear that scene! Police are on the way, repeat, police are on the way!”

Dispatch, this is Medic Nine! We clearin the scene!”

Again proving the importance of speaking, so that they can understand you!

Fun And Games · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City!

Sleeping With a Chainsaw

A long, long time, in a galaxy not so very far away, I was working for Da City’s EMS. Since I was in school during the daytime, I worked nights.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, and it was my turn to take the detail. In those days, several of the medic houses on each shift had three medics assigned. In the event that another unit had a sick call, or somebody off injured, well, “Tag! You’re IT!”, and somebody got to pack their crap up, drive across town, and work an unfamiliar house with a (occasionally) unfamiliar partner. The night of this tale, it was my turn.

EMS, in those days, was sort of a small town. There were around 160-170 personnel on the rolls, and what with shift rotations, details, and commonly running into a couple of the dozen or so hospitals in Da City, well, nobody was an unknown quantity. For example, during several of the years I was on the road, I was dating one of my nursing school classmates. She was, let us say, “of the African persuasion”, whereas I am purely white bread. One fellow, who I was acquainted with only in passing, had occasion to work with one of my former partners, and was quoted, by that partner, as inquiring as to the status of my relationship with my classmate. The exact quote was relayed to me as “Is McFee still seeing that (‘N-word’) bitch?”

(clears throat) Uh, well, ya see, (a) the pejorative referenced nowadays by the circumlocution “The N-Word”, was not acceptable among persons of education or pretense of good upbringing, even in those benighted times. (b) My girlfriend was in no way, shape, manner or form “a bitch”. Indeed, the time we shared lifted my own life in ways that, now, nearly 40 years later, I am still discovering. And, of course, (c) My partner stood up for me, inquiring of Mr. “More Mouth Than Sense”, if his mother was still employing her skills as a practitioner of The Oldest Profession. For some reason, in my partner’s report, further conversation ended right about that point.

So, nearly everybody on the job in those days either knew everybody else, or knew of everybody else. So, it came to pass that I was detailed out to work with Lonnie Evans, let us call him. He was renowned as working two, perhaps three, full time jobs. This led to his reputation as the soundest sleeper in the department. In addition, since it seemed that he was acutely-on-chronically something like 2500 hours in arrears on his sleep allotment, well, when you add obstructive sleep apnea to that recipe, stir lightly, and allow to rise overnight, you get to observe what 40-60 seconds between breaths sounds like. And, due to the fact that he snored with a sound like a tractor trailer starting up on a very, very cold morning, well, if your 8th cranial nerve was functioning, you were not going to miss it.

I had a sleepless night, with only a few runs. (talk about mixed blessings!). The next night I reported to Medic Four, and regaled my partners, Doug and Andy, with a review of my night across town. Andy had had a similar experience, a few weeks previously.

He reported, “Yeah, Lonnie snored like a chainsaw starting up, alright. That wasn’t the bad part! Every time he stopped breathing, I snapped awake, wondering if I would have to start coding him! After considering this possibility for several minutes, I decided that I was NOT going to do mouth-to-mouth on him, so I got the bag-valve-mask, an oral airway, some tongue blades, and positioned the handie talkie where I could reach it in a hurry. While I did not sleep any better, at least I knew I wouldn’t have to wind up kissing his wrinkly ass!”

Fun And Games · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City!

Caught in a Snowbank with Marielle.

One schedule Doug rotated onto days, and I found myself working with Marielle. In keeping with usual practice, we rotated driver vs medic duties. One snowy night found us en route to a “heart attack” in the East Side projects. We arrived on the scene, so advised dispatch, and trudged to the indicated door. Things progressed as per usual, and our patient and Marielle seated themselves in the module.

While we were taking care of business inside, the snow had continued to fall. In addition, I had elected to park the ambulance in a snowdrift. Generally, no big thing, either drive our happy ass out of the snow, or rock things a few times, and off we go. As it happened, our truck had settled, snow had fallen in job lots, and, well, rocking that big ass truck was not about to extract us from that snowbank, at least, not tonight. I radioed dispatch to share this fact with them, requesting apparatus meet us with a wrecker. No go, they were at the scene of a multiple alarm fire across town.

Marielle and I discussed this revelation, and tried to brainstorm an escape from our snowy parking spot. I tried to rock us out, several times, and accomplished just about nothing. While I was allowing the tires to cool down, and contemplating my next move, I was startled by a knock on the driver’s window.

The gentleman who had knocked, evidently a resident of the projects, once I rolled the window down, asked me if I was stuck.

I admitted that, indeed, we were stuck. He noted that this might interfere with our transporting this patient to the hospital. (remember her? She was kind of the reason (a) we had jobs, and (b) we had come to find ourselves stuck here.) My new friend admonished me, “Don’t go anywhere!”, and I thought that I had that pretty much covered.

Minutes later I realized why he had so admonished me. This gentleman, and around a half dozen other residents gathered around our ambulance, and everybody picked their own piece of bumper, and commenced to heaving. We moved, briefly, until everything settled again, refusing to move any more.

I tasked Marielle to maneuver the vehicle, and I joined our block club meeting at the rear of the ambulance. Another maybe six or seven souls had exited their nice, warm homes, and joined us in the knee deep snow. At night. And cold as a politician’s heart (should such an organ actually exist!)

As it developed, the bumper was taken, so extra folks tugged on door handles, pushed on their fellows’ backs, and so added perhaps 12 “citizen power” to our efforts at movement.

Slowly, jerkily, gradually, the truck moved closer to the roadway, and eased out of the parking lot. Soon, we were in the middle of the street, and able to move under (the manufacturer supplied) our own power. I effusively thanked the gathering of neighbors, recognizing their irreplaceable efforts, and we set off to the hospital.

Nearly 40 years later, I remember those folks. When I hear smack talk about inner city residents, or residents of public housing, or people-who-don’t-look-like-us, I realize that, perhaps there is less sunscreen sold in those precincts, but Children of God are Children of God. Some are vermin, some are saints, and most simply want to pay their bills, raise their children and love their families, and make it from one day to the next.

Not altogether different from me.

Fun With Suits! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Accident Letter

So, TINS, TIWFDASL, and responding to some sort of emergency or other. It was my day to drive, and I was merrily coding along. Approaching The Major North Bound Thoroughfare as I headed west bound, light and siren flashing and a-wailing, I slowed and observed cross traffic (who had the green light), stop on the rain slicked street.

That appeared encouraging. I began to accelerate through the intersection, when, lo and behold!, I beheld a driver swing into the center lane, pass all the stopped traffic, and proceed to strike the ambulance aft of the driver side dual rear wheels.

He had built up to fair clip, because he rocked the modular ambulance pretty good. Indeed, given my own momentum, the aft of the rig slewed to the right, and we entered a skid.

I corrected, steering into the skid, and noted in passing a pedestrian on the northwest corner determine that he did NOT want to remain standing where it appeared I was going to roll over, and so he started stepping lively toward the south.

Remember that “I corrected my skid” thing? Yeah, about that. It turns out that correcting a skid, in a, oh, let’s guess 5 ton truck, is not a fact, it is a process. So, when I had corrected our slewing-sideways-towards-the-northeast skid, we NOW had a slewing-sideways-towards-the-west-southwest skid. Less off axis, so there was that as an improvement, but our friend the pedestrian (remember him?), last seen high stepping to the south, did not think much of this as it portended his own immediate future. He demonstrated this understanding, as well as outstanding situational awareness, as he skidded to his own stop, about faced, and accelerated north.

I had noticed that we were skidding kinda sideways, in a west-southwesterly direction, and so, once again, I corrected, steering into the skid. Once that had been accomplished, we were merely proceeding catty-wampus, in a more or less northwesterly direction, and, it appeared, tracking our poor increasingly frazzled pedestrian friend as if we were a pedestrian seeking missile. With target lock.

Fortunately on several levels, all these gyrations had bled off considerable speed, and I was able to come to a complete, and rather abrupt, stop, short of squashing the pedestrian.

My partners were uninjured, as we had vicariously experienced many, many motor vehicle collisions, and had scant desire to recreate the experimental results we had witnessed. We were all buckled up.

While I was attempting to determine if my SVT (supraventricular tachycardia: an accelerated heart rate running around 150-200 beats per minute) was self limiting, or my new normal, Doug figured that (a) we were not completing this run, and (b) this might be a nice thing to share with dispatch. He did so.

We checked the other driver (who was fine), and awaited the police, city wrecker, and the inevitable chat with The Lieutenant. Fun times ahead, indeed.

The officer taking the report only had about 7,000 questions, and, once he was done, dropped us off at apparatus. There, we got to switch from our rig, into a back up rig. Back up rigs were too rickety to be in front line service, but not so obviously rattletraps that they could not serve as interim ambulances until our rig was repaired. Which in our case was likely to be sometime around the heat death of the universe.

We returned to quarters (with Doug driving!), where we awaited Lt. Evans. Once he had arrived, he directed me to write a letter (standard practice) detailing the events that had led up to our nice new truck getting bent up.

At this point I was the union’s chief steward, and was familiar with the contract. One of the provisions thereof was that any member, facing potential discipline, had the right to consult with a steward prior to making any official statement. I figured that, hashing this out with another steward might allow me to avoid talking myself into (harsher) charges (than I already faced for the collision).

Another peculiarity of Da City’s system, was that it appeared that the algorithm for assessing fault ran as follows. (each yes answer advanced you one more round) “Were you driving?” (Y/N) “Were you driving a city vehicle?” (Y/N) “Was that vehicle involved in a collision of any sort?” (Y/N)

“GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!”

No shit: on one call, I had parked the ambulance in the street, four way flashers flashing, beacons in operation, I and my partner were IN THE REAR OF THE AMBULANCE, when some jackhole decided that, as IMPORTANT as he obviously was, he could not wait for us to roll off, and had to depart NOW! In the course of snaking his way out of the parking spot right next to us, he nudged the ambulance bumper, causing the vehicle to rock on it’s springs.

Like a dummy, I reported it. To my astonishment, it took the Accident Review Board SIX FREAKING WEEKS to ascertain that I was NOT at fault.

So, with these lessons in mind, I was reluctant to make any sort of official statement without at least having another steward tell me I was doing it wrong. I said so the Lt. Evans, and said, “So, sir, I officially request that I be allowed to speak with a steward prior to making an official statement, as guaranteed in our contract.”

He gave me the stink eye. “You’re the chief steward, right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“So, go chat with yourself , and write my damned letter. Now would be good.”

“Uh, sir…?” I began.

“Mr. McFee, I am making that an order. Do so, at once!”

“Yes, sir!”

I therefore drew up a piece of Fire Department letterhead, and composed the following letter:

“TO: Superintendent of EMS

From: Reltney McFee, EMT

Subject: Collision involving Medic 23 this date

Date (date)

Sir: Lt. Evans ordered me to write a letter regarding Medic 23’s collision this date. I requested the opportunity to speak with a union steward prior to making any official statement, and Lt. Evans ordered me to write you a letter at once.

This is that letter.


Respectfully, Reltney McFee EMT, Medic 23”

I pulled it out of the typewriter, placed my carbon copy in the desk, and handed it to Lt. Evans. “Here’s your letter, Lieutenant!”

He looked at it for a minute, and glared at me. “McFee, this is unsatisfactory. Write this letter, all over again, and this time do it right!”

“Yes, sir!”

I assembled another set of letterhead and carbon paper, and captioned the next letter as before.

My opening line was as above. I asked the Lieutenant, “Sir? What do you want me to write now?”

He said, “McFee, I’m not going to tell you what to write!”

I typed in, “Lt Evans told me to write, “ ‘McFee, I’m not going to tell you what to write!’ “

“What’s next, sir?”

“Goddammit! Stop that! Just write what happened in your accident!”

My next line of text was, “ ‘Goddammit! Stop that! Just write what happened in your accident!’ “

“Yes, sir? What is next?”

He glared at me. Again. “McFee, get up from that chair. Do not type another word!”

I stood. He asked me, “McFee, what do you think you are doing.”

“Well, sir, you ordered me to write a letter about an accident prior to my having the opportunity to speak to a steward about a matter that might result in my being disciplined. I complied with that order, and wrote a letter citing everything that I was willing to say at this moment. You did not find that satisfactory, and ordered me to re do it. I was rewriting it to your specification, when you abruptly stopped providing me directions. Sir.”

Again, with the glare. “It is now 1300 hours. You will have that letter, and I mean the letter that you KNOW you have to write, in my hands no later than 1700 hours today, without fail! Am I making my self clear?”

“Perfectly, sir!”

He stormed out.

I got his letter to him, after a phone consult with another steward.

Oh, yes, And I got a written reprimand for my role in the collision.

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.