The billowing pillar of smoke was visible from the station. The radio crackled to life. Dispatch was letting us know that they had multiple reports of smoke and flames showing, possible persons trapped. Pulling out of the station we noticed something that would complicate this call. A freight train had stopped on the tracks that separate us from the rest of the city. We would be on our own for a while.
We pulled up to find a 4 story apartment complex with fire rapidly spreading. The second and third floors had units that were fully involved. Several bystanders were screaming and pointing to a man apparently stuck on the third floor balcony.
While my captain gave a size up and set up IC my engineer and I went to work. We grabbed the 35' extension ladder and raced over to help the trapped man. There were several trees and bushes on the landscaped property which made setting up the ladder difficult but we did it. My engineer quickly slid under the ladder "footing" it to keep it from sliding away while I climbed.
I ascended the ladder and helped the guy over the railing. He either wasn't afraid of heights or he was more afraid of fire because he had no problem trusting us to get him to safety. After getting the gentleman to safety we went right back to it. We had reports of a kid stuck somewhere inside.
My captain led us into the not so towering inferno. He was using the thermal imager to scan through the black smoke for people. In one apartment we found a kitten. Rather then let the pet die I grabbed it and stuffed it into my coat pocket.
Several apartments later we found him. A little boy, no more than 3 years old, cowering in the corner of his room. As I reached for him he really started to cry. Thankfully I have a 3 year old at home and I can understand their whining. He was afraid that we were going to leave his puppy.
So with a child in one arm, a puppy in the other and a kitten in my pocket I followed my captain to the closest exit. Now out in the clear the boys mother ran up and took him from me. We handed them off to the AMR crew along with the animals. That's when I noticed it.
At some point during the daring rescue I had dislocated my pinky on my left hand. Hours later I would go to the ER for x-rays but for now, there was more work to do.
And that's how I dislocated my pinky. No matter what you may have heard I definitely did NOT do it playing basketball at the station for PT. That would be kind of lame.
Stupid little finger.