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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Automatic Aid Structure Fire

At about 0300 we were toned out on an auto-aid response (some fire departments have an automatic aid agreement so that a neighboring city's apparatus will respond automatically to certain calls. At our department we are dispatched to structure fires in our neighboring city) for a structure fire in an apartment complex. When responding to a structure fire there are a couple of phrases that we listen for to let us know that it's the real deal and not an alarm such as "multiple calls received", "flames showing", or from one of the responding units, "we have smoke showing." This time we were told by dispatch that flames were showing. As we were approaching we could hear the reports from the first in engine. "Two story, multi-dwelling structure with flames showing. We are starting initial attack." The second in engine grabbed the hydrant for them. Just as we were pulling up we heard that the roof of the first apartment was collapsing and that the fire had extended through the attic to the next apartment. We were assigned to RIC. Usually RIC is one of the most boring assignments on the fire ground but one of the most important. Our job is to be ready in case one of our brothers goes down, gets lost, or in some other way gets into trouble while in the burning building. Our sole responsibility is to the other firefighters. If everything goes right, it's boring. If not, you're in a race against death and he has a head start. After we were assigned to RIC we grabbed all of the equipment that we might need and made a cache. We then went around the building to see what we might need or encounter. I managed to get into a neighboring apartment and went over the layout so that we would know what we were getting into if we were activated. I heard being on the RIC team is described once as watching a buddy have sex. You wish it were you instead of him and if you have to get involved you know that things really must be screwed up. In all there were 5 departments that responded to this call. The fire was under control without any major problems and after a couple of hours we were released. We were asked to cover their city while they finished cleaning up the fire.

While covering the city we got toned out for a medical aid. It was for a man that had fallen a week earlier and now couldn't move because his back was out. He was a guy that was very pushy and wanted to tell you what he thinks you need to know, not what I really needed to know. He was very obnoxious. I finally had to cut him off and tell him that he had to answer my questions before I could treat him. Once he realized that he was not in control of the situation things went a little smoother. I ended up starting a line on him and giving him 5 mg of Morphine. Once AMR showed up we loaded him up and sent him on his way.

After the call we stopped by Starbucks (it was now 0700) and got some coffee and hot chocolate. We were soon released from service to our neighboring city and were able to return home. Only getting a couple of hours of sleep isn't so bad except when it's your first day of a 96 hour shift.
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