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Thursday, May 29, 2008

He Did It Again!

Thursday morning my phone rang again, not very remarkable. The remarkable thing is that for the third week in a row, junior made a run for the engine at the sound of my ring tone.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bleeding Butt

We got a call on Friday night for an ill person. When we got there we were met by a neighbor that had been helping to take care of our patient. Turns out that our patient was a 49 year old male that has been paralyzed from the waste down for the last 20 years. He had some bed sores on his but and a couple of days ago he accidentally tore some skin with a bandage. He called us this night because the wound was bleeding and wouldn't stop. It's a simple call for us. Several thoughts went through my mind though. One, this is not what I wanted to get up at 0130 to see. Two, this guys neighbor is really nice to get up at 0130 and help him. Three, this is an awfully embarrassing thing for which to call 911. And fourth, I'm glad I'm the paramedic and get to assign one of my firefighters to bandage some guys bleeding butt.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Funny Call

Friday morning we were toned out to an odor investigation. The dispatcher could hardly get the call out because he was laughing so hard (he called the station just after dispatching us to apologize). The RP (reporting party) stated that there was a smell in the bathroom. HHMMMM Where could that come from??! The home owners had vented the room before we got there and we could detect no odor. The old lady that lived there was feeling a little dizzy so we checked her out. I think that she was feeling dizzy because she was almost 90. I was tempted to tell them to light a match next time their bathroom smells.

A long Thursday

Last week we all got a good laugh from junior as he ran to the engine at the sound of my cell phone. This week he did the same thing. We got a bigger laugh because of that.

While doing his checkout of the engine junior removed a couple of the tools. When he was done he forgot to put one of the tools back in the rig. In fire service we generally like to "discipline" someone through exercise. That way they don't have anything on their record (like getting a write up). So juniors punishment was first, don all his equipment, second, carry 50 feet of 4 inch hose from stop sign to stop sign and back (it's a lot tougher than it sounds). Third, do 50 push ups with a wild land hose pack on. Fourth, run out back to engine 2 and tag the hydrant with a four inch line. Fifth, grab the 1 3/4 preconnect and deploy it to the back fence. He would have had to do a little more but at this point he started to get dizzy. That's the stopping point. He says he learned his lesson.

We then headed over to the park and drilled together. Junior and I did a ventilation exercise where we ladder the building, climb up with our tools (pike pole, chain saw and two axes) and do a mock ventilation. We then took turns tying off different tools on the ground so that we could raise them to the roof. We had a minute per tool. All of us except Eric messed up on at least one tool (Eric was the only one to get the ladder tied off properly). As a result Eric had us do bear crawls (on our hands and feet) in full turnouts through sand. That was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. We then packed up and went home for lunch.

Around 1700 we started to fix dinner (a little late for us). A few minutes later we were toned out for a woman with chest pain in a jeep at Circle K. We dropped what we were doing and responded. The woman had all kinds of medical problems including a recent heart bypass. We did our assessment and started to treat her. Once the MBA showed up we turned care over to them in hopes to get back to chow. Unfortunately as soon as we cleared the call dispatch had a smoke investigation for us. The RP (reporting party) stated that she saw smoke several peaks away. We went and made contact with the RP and she told us what she thought she saw. It was probably clouds (there was some nasty weather this week in Southern California) but we had to go look just to be sure. About 45 minutes later we were pulling into the station, very hungry. About 30 minutes later, just when dinner was about ready, we were toned out for a vehicle rollover on the Morongo grade. We went in search of the accident with two engines from Riverside county. We finally found it about 3 miles outside of our coverage area with one of the Riverside units already on scene. We got canceled and started for home again. By now we were really getting hungry. We got back to the station and had to reheat the food. We ate dinner around 2100 that night.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


We got a call late on Sunday afternoon. It was for a man with psychological issues. He told us that he had had a beer about 20 minutes prior to our arrival and since that time the voices in his head started screaming. Seems that the problem is was easily solved. Stop drinking beer.

Commercial Structure Fire

After our rollover TC we tried to go back and finish our movie. We got another 30 minutes into it when we were toned out for a commercial structure fire. That really got the adrenaline going! As soon as we cleared the bay we figured that it was a bogus call because there was no smoke in the direction of the address. We arrived on scene at Circle K and didn't see anything. We were then approached by a couple people that said there had been a truck fire. Upon further investigation we discovered that a Ford F-150 had a piece of cardboard stuck next to the muffler. The cardboard had caught fire and scorched some of the paint and scared the occupants. I climbed under the truck and put out all the hot spots that were left with a garden hose. Pretty anti-climatic to go from a structure fire to a smoldering piece of cardboard.

Marines Wreck Again

On Sunday afternoon we got a call for a vehicle over the side. While we were responding dispatch told us that the vehicle was 300 feet over the edge and not visible from the highway. In reality the vehicle was about 10 feet off the highway, on its roof, but perfectly visible from the highway. The marines that were driving in the car were standing on the shoulder of the highway. Turns out that they were speeding down the Morongo grade in their 1988 Ford Thunderbird and lost control in one of the turns. The spun out, slammed backwards into the center divider, slid down the center divider for almost a half mile, then went off the right side of the highway and flipped the car. They both crawled out. Their only complaint was a small cut to the right side of the passengers head. We sent him to the hospital just to make sure that there was no glass still stuck on the wound. The funny part about this call was that the AMR ambulance (we were in Riverside county so we use them) that was initially responding broke down at the bottom of the grade. The second CHP unit lost his transmission at the top of the grade and coasted down to the call. So we had a flat bed tow truck for the rollover, a wrecker to get the rollover up to the highway, a tow truck for the CHP unit and a tow truck for AMR.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Run Down the Hill

We were on our morning hike about half way to the top when we got a call for a woman that had fallen and possibly dislocated her hip. We jogged as fast as we could down the hill and once we hit flatter ground we ran for the engine. By the time that we got on scene we were dripping with sweat. Our patient wanted to know why we were dressed up in all our gear if there was no fire. We explained what we were doing while we assessed the patient We wanted to make her as comfortable as possible but she had a minor allergy to Morphine. So we gave her some Benadryl first, then loaded her up with narcotics. That way she wouldn't be in too much pain while moving her. We never did finish our hike that day.

Rookie Entertainment

Our rookie has been here for a total of 4 days now. Every morning about 0830 San Bernardino Communications Center puts out a morning report. When they do this they first set off a single tone. On Thursday, as the tone went off, Eric pretended like he was running for the engine. The rookie immediately started running for the engine too. He stopped when he realized that we were laughing at him. About two hours later my cell phone went off. For those of you don't know my ring tone is the tones for station 51 from Emergency (yes I know that is a little Ricky rescue but I like it). As my phone rang our rookie jumped up and started for the engine. It was very entertaining.

Medic Engine 461 Move Up

At 0540 on Saturday morning we woke up to our tones. We were told to move up to San Bernardino County Fire Station 121 in Yucca Valley for coverage. We were the only medic engine for the communities of Morongo and Yucca Valleys. All the other units were on a structure fire (where we would rather have been). There was a reserve Medic Ambulance that was still in the area that was to respond with us. At about 0630 we received a call for a woman with vaginal bleeding. Medic Ambulance 121R (the R is for reserve) beat us on scene by just a couple of seconds. It makes my job a lot easier when all I have to do is assist the ambulance paramedic. At a little after 0730 we were released from coverage and came home. The division chief from San Bernardino County Fire thanked us for our time and we went home. Hopefully this means that they'll be utilizing us more often.

El Diablo

As I've blogged before, we are doing training hikes every day. On Thursday we did our hike and on the way down the mountain we were discussing wind conditions during fires and how quickly fires spread. Sometime during this conversation the rookie decided to ask if it would really take that long to lay hose up the mountain side. At that point Eric decided that the best answer was to let him (and me) do it. The rookie was given the choice between two hike on which to drill, Hoopa (named after the street it's near) or El Diablo (Spanish for The Devil) The hike was named El Diablo because it was a bulldozer trail made for a fire break during the Paradise fire. Bulldozers can go straight up steep hills and clear all debris down to the sand. This hike has been known to make the most in shape hikers get dizzy before they reach the top. The rookie chose to do the progressive hose lay up El Diablo. We were dying after the first 50 feet. After we finished with training we were pretty much exhausted the rest of the day.

The start of our progressive hose lay. Jason is giving junior some pointers.

Part way up the first hill. It was 3 steps forward and 2 steps back in the sand. Junior is still on the nozzle.

Here I have the nozzle and Jason and junior are backing me up.

If you look up towards the top of this shot you can see us hiking the rest of the way to the summit. We had run out of water after punching in hundreds of feet of hose and we just wanted to see the top.

Stupid Marine

I grant you that the title of this entry may seem a bit redundant. On Thursday morning we got a call for a TC with minor injuries, which is to say a BS call. We were told that CHP was already on scene. We go there to find one of the marines from the local military base walking around. He stated that he was riding his motorcycle up the hill on highway 62 and failed to see the slow moving truck in the right lane despite having his flashers on. The marine, at the last second, locked his brakes and slid into the rear of the truck. He ended up with a possible arm fracture and some road rash on his leg.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rookie Mistakes

Last Thursday we got together around the table and introduced ourselves to the rookie. After a brief get to know you session we were ready to begin training. Eric asked the rookie what he had for breakfast. When he responded that he had had a donut the immediate question was where is ours? He didn't have an answer. At lunch the rookie refused ice cream. We then questioned whether he would prefer ice cream or donuts. He said donuts. During the day it came out that he has asthma and is bothered by smoke. We put 1+1+1 together and came up with the answer. He likes donuts more than ice cream, thinks only of himself (didn't get donuts for everyone) and doesn't like smoke. He's not a firefighter, he's a COP!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Bet

We are now going on hikes every day so we can be in better shape for the fire season. On Thursday and Friday we did the hikes in all our brush gear except our hose packs (we're working up to those). On Friday, Ashley (the new guy) was offered $50 (by Craig) if he could go straight up the mountain side to our stopping point in under 15 minutes. The record is 8 minutes. He tried but finished the climb in 23 minutes. On Saturday I was feeling pretty good so I put on the hose pack. As we started the hike, Craig offered me $30 if I could do the same thing. I told him that he was crazy since I have a hose pack. He then offered me $30 to make it up in 20 minutes. I took him up on the offer and made it in 19 minutes. He still hasn't paid and I doubt that he will. I was still impressed that I made it.

You can see the trail on the lower right. I came straight up the mountain from that trail.

The tired hiker. The fire engine is on the dirt road in the background right by my left wrist.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Vehicle Rollover

At about 1030 Saturday night we got a call for a single vehicle rollover. Dispatch also informed us that the driver had self extricated which usually means it's a non injury accident. We arrived on scene to find a car its side precariously balanced. The driver was a 20 year old male and he was intoxicated. We checked him out and he was alright. He had a small scratch on he head but that was all. He informed us that he did not want to go to the hospital. At this point the fire marshal told his mom (who had just arrived on scene) that if the kid didn't go to the hospital that he would be going to jail. Amazing, the kid decided to go to the hospital. That meant more paper work for me. CHP showed up, had him take a breathalyser test (blew a 0.162) and arrested him for DUI. The then released him to us. As we put him on a backboard a bottle of beer fell out of his pocket. Sure he wasn't drinking. After sending him to the hospital we had to sit around and make sure everything was safe with the vehicle. It was dripping a little bit of fuel so we pulled a hose line and waited for the tow truck. Once he got there we watched as he unsuccessfully tried to upright the vehicle without rolling it onto its roof. It was fun to watch.

The driver crawled out his window. He's lucky that the car didn't roll on top of him.

Medic Engine 461 all lit up with the bumper line deployed.

View from the engine.

Sorry about the noise, I'm next to the fire engine. Here the tow truck driver tried to right the car without rolling it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Oasis in the Desert

Who knew that there was an oasis in the middle of the Morongo Valley, alright, really to one side. The original settlers of the valley built their original homestead up to one the canyons. Up the canyon are several natural ponds connected by streams. I was surprised by the humidity in the air and by how cool it was. The only problem with this oasis is that mosquitoes love it too.

The original home in Morongo Valley.

Marsh land in the desert?!

Wild Iris.

We were told that the water is deep enough to jump off of the swing. There is also some good fishing in these ponds.

Cat Stuck Up A...Power Pole

A woman stopped by the station and reported that she had found a cat up the power pole in her yard. She didn't know to whom the cat belonged or how long it had been up there. She was worried that the cat would not be able to climb down (I almost told her that gravity works on cats too). Craig decided that we should at least go and check out the situation. When we got there we found a fat cat on a power pole. Eric and I wanted to just leave a can of tuna at the bottom of the pole and let the cat come down on its own but Craig decided he wanted to save the day. So we put up the ladder and he went up and got the cat...sort of.

Cat on the pole.

Our hero preparing to go in for the rescue.

The cat is even more scared now that we put a ladder right next to it.

Here our hero approaches the cat. You can hear that the cat is a little nervous about the situation.

Here the cat decides that it doesn't want to be rescued. If you listen carefully you can hear Craig say ouch just before the cat drops. The cat clawed his face and he came down bleeding. He wouldn't let me get a picture of the carnage. As he comes down the ladder you can hear him say, "Oh well, the cat's down."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

View From Above

This is what the Morongo Valley looks like from up one of the mountains. We hike often to stay in shape. Morongo Valley looks a lot more populated from up here.

Monday, May 5, 2008

German Firefighters

On Friday morning an SUV pulled up to the station with four German tourists in it. They told us in broken English that they were firefighters from Germany and that they wanted to take some photos of us and our engine (they were on their way to Joshua Tree National Monument). We showed them the engine and our equipment. They were fascinated at our ALS equipment. I guess they don't have paramedics on the fire department in Germany. We had one of them hooked up to the ECG monitor when a car pulled up. The driver asked if we knew that there was a fire up the road (dumb question...I should have answered that we knew but we were waiting for it to get worse).

Just about that time the tones started going off (every unit in the fire department, including aircraft and hand crews, and all the ambulances have a unique tone). It was the longest set of tones that I have ever heard. We were dispatched to a traffic accident, with a car fire that had already spread into the brush. That's bad. We were also advised of power lines down in the area.

Approaching the scene we were able to see that there was fire on both sides of the highway. Evidently a trash truck had back into a power pole knocking it over. The downed power lines sparked fires on both sides of the highway. We were the first engine on scene and I quickly jumped out and grabbed the bumper line. I started at the anchor point (close to where the fire started) and worked my way down the right flank. There was a CalFire Battalion chief (I think) on scene as well and he help me with the hose. We quickly hooked the fire (got around the front of the fire so as to stop it's forward progression). Thankfully the winds were calm that morning. Calfire Engine 3586 quickly showed up on scene to help us. San Bernardino Medic Engine 121 and Medic Ambulance 121 took care of the north side of the highway. We had the fire under control in minutes.

Turns out that all the tones going off were for two hand crews,water tenders, several chiefs (for CalFire and San Bernardino County Fire), two helicopters, and two airplanes in addition to the engine companies we had on scene. It may seem like a lot of manpower for that small fire but if the winds had been like the day before we would have lost some homes.

View from the engine while responding to the call. There is smoke in the distance on both sides of the highway.

Mop up.

This is a clearance line cut around the fire. In this case it was only a precautionary line cut in case of a rekindle.

Here is the power pole that the trash truck (also pictured) knocked over. This one bush started all the other spot fires on our side of the highway.

Location, Location, Location

I wasn't on this call but I've been asked for more photos. Here are a couple shots of a vehicle fire MVFD had at the gas station. Of all places to have your car catch fire...

Foam Practice

One of the fun things about my job is that we get to go out and practice. It's just fun.

For all you environmentalists out there, the foam does not hurt the grass or trees. We spent about an hour flowing water and foam.

This is our deck gun. We can pump out over 1000 gallons a minute from this!

New Foam

We had a salesman come by the station and try to convince us to switch to his new foam (we can add foam to the water coming from the engine to make it more fire retardant). His demonstration failed and we were really not impressed.

Please note that the two firefighters (me on the right with the hose), in full protective equipment, are standing several feet away from the fuel filled flash pan while the fire marshal and salesman are right up next to it. They are trying to see if the fuel will reignite after a treatment with the foam.

Standing guard (bored out of my mind because the salesman's demonstration kept failing).


I put the fire out with...water. Imagine that.

Structure Fire Pics

We came across a locked gate with barbed wire over the gate. Eric and I both hit our heads on the barbed wire. This is the front of the house. I'm the closest firefighter in the photo.

This is the front room looking to the right as you walk in the door. That piece of wood in the foreground is actually what's left of the door.

This is looking to the left of the front door. Directly behind the wall that you see here is the kitchen.

This is the hallway leading past the kitchen to the back bedroom. You can see part of the bedroom here.

Left side of the house headed toward the back door.

The door to the back bedroom.

The back bedroom had three single beds in it.

This shot was taken from the side of the last bed in the previous photo looking down the hallway.

The ceiling in the bedroom.

The bathroom (off of the hallway between the bedroom and the kitchen).

The kitchen.

The refrigerator melted.

This area appears to be the origin of the fire.

I'm holding a flashlight for the State Fire Marshall while he investigates the fire.
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