Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Here's Your Sign..

First things first...

Yay! Someone commented on my blog! I am loved! Thanks EE, glad you like it, and I hope things are going well with the new little one. Good to see that the pup is doing better as well.

So, in the last post, I wrote about the stupid things people call you for during bad weather. I have much more where that came from...that was just the one day. The next day had a fun call as well, which I will relate later. This post is all about the Night the Snow Started Falling.

As some may know, here in the People's Republic of Maryland, snow is considered to be a strange thing. Many people born here don't see it often enough to understand how to drive in it, and for many of those who move here from colder climes often quickly forget how to handle themselves in the cold and snow, perhaps having had their brains bleached by the intense summer sun (which has gotten so hot a co-worker of mine had the nylon string on her fuzzy dice in the car melt. I'm sorry, but your damned car SHOULD NOT get that hot unless you are in a fucking desert).


Anyway, the snow (really, and precipitation falling from the sky, regardless of temperature) seems to turn the people around here to mush-brained, mouth-breathing idiots. On this particular night, we were hunkering down, waiting for the other shoe to fall as soon as the snow started (the night already had boasted a woman attacked by her son, who insisted we come into the house with her while the son was still there. Um, no). The snow had started falling lightly, and soon the roads were covered with a good 2 inches of the stuff. Tones drop for an MVA (we call them PIC's) on a road that is at best a hell to drive in the sun. As we head out, driving slowly, we are updated. Now dispatch is telling us that the patient is at home. We pass the car in a ditch, and make it to the house. The patient is a woman who was driving home, slid into the ditch, but was only going about 10 mph anyway. She has a cut on her hand from her fingernail. We, of course, offer to take her to the hospital, but she refuses, and we head home again. The engine has beaten us there, and is in the middle of putting on their tire chains, as the snow was getting too deep to use the on-spots anymore.

My driver, who otherwise was a reasonable, well-intentioned man, and a good partner, decides that he doesn't want to wait for the engine to finish with the blocks, and decides that he could put the chains on himself, without raising the tire up. First he tries with the air-jack, but the air line in our station runs under the concrete floor, and has a hole in it somewhere. The engine is still on blocks, so we can't use their air chock. So he decides, on the virtue that he did it with his daddy's pick-up truck, that he can just lay the chains on the floor and drive on them, then hook them up.

Insert banjo music here.

He decides to do one at a time, 'in case we get a call.' The first one he gets on but can only hook the front. He can't get enough slack to pull it around inside the dualie. Suddenly the bat phone rings (the bat phone is our direct line to dispatch. When they call, you either have a fire in your first-due, or someone screwed up). Sure enough, we have a first-due fire. My driver, John-Boy, is still fighting with the tire chain, only now he's frantic (having just completed Fire School I). The engine driver has literally just dragged the blocks over to me, and as soon as the engine company is dressed, they are gone. I finally convince John-Boy to go up on the blocks so we can take the offending chain (now twisted around the dualie axel once cause he spun the tires on concrete trying to move forward to loosen the chain) off the tire and just get going. After digging holes in the concrete floor, we get up on blocks and get the chain off, and follow the tracks of the engine (which is good, because the engine took the print-outs and John-Boy was cursing at me so much that neither one of us heard the address).

John-Boy parks at the bottom of the hill, at the hydrant the engine dropped at. He's parked the ambo across the road, in clear violation of the policy against ambo's blocking access that other fire equipment might need. He hops out, intent to charge the line to the engine as soon as they call for water. (While our SOPs state that ambo drivers and officers must be able to do this, it rarely happens, as the second-due engine is so close, by the time the first-in engine needs water, the whole box assignment is on scene and another engine driver usually performs the duty.) Meanwhile, the squad from headquarters is tearing (as much as a multi-ton apparatus can 'tear' in 5 inches of snow and tire chains) around the corner, with the driver motioning wildly for us to get out of the way. I can't drive the ambo. John-Boy can't hear me yelling for him. Luckily for me, Bald Old Man, who is a driver, hopped on just before we left, and moves the ambo out of the way, with a few choice words for John-Boy when he gets back to the ambo.

The fire is put out quickly, being contained to just the car port. The engine had hit an hydrant across the street from the house; the hydrant wasn't marked on the map books, and made a quick knock. However, lugging 1200 ft of frozen LDH (Large Diameter Hose; ie 4 inches or larger in diameter) up hill in what was now 6 inches of snow and then forcing it back into the hose bed was decidely NOT fun. Forcing the frozen handline and supply line that had been used back onto the engine was also not fun.

And what was the cause of this fire? The home-owner, in a fit of...something...had decided to build a fire in his (mostly) un-used fireplace that evening. Wanting to go to bed, but not wanting to leave warm coals in his fireplace, he shoveled them out into a plastic trash bag. He knew better than to leave them inside, and figured that even if they were still warm, it was cold enough outside to toss them out and let them cool. In the closed plastic trash bag. So he tossed the bag out into the carport, next to his car. Several hours later, an explosion woke the neighbors several houses down, who went outside and saw Mr Intellegent's car port on fire, and called 911. Mr Intellegent and his wife never woke up until the fire dept started knocking on their door. It was assumed that the 'explosion' was the tires on the car popping.

Ah yes. Winter here does seem to make people's brains ooze out their ears.*

Tomorrow the finish of the blizzard stories, including how my driver broke my ambo, and the patient who had to go to the hospital so badly, he beat me down the hill to the ambo in 2 feet of snow.

* People's brain's oozing out their ears during 'weather' is not isolated to MD, as I saw it happen often enough in PA. Nor do all people in MD take leave of their senses when forecasters say that 'weather' is coming....I'm sure that there are people in Western MD and up near the border of PA who are sensible about this kind of thing.


EMS Chick said...

We deal with Oozing Brain Syndrome here in Northern Virginia, too. It's amazing how a quiet day can turn into 20 calls just because an inch of snow fell. My straight from NY state husband thinks it's hilarious how people react to the snow forecasts!

Jackie Tschantz said...

here in the Carolinas, we (I) refer to it as 'Instant Idiots, just add water'. Doesn't matter if it is liquid or solid....

dylthedog said...

like the blog please keep it up

Epijunky said...

I'm in Ohio, NW Ohio actually. No shortage of show here from December to late March.

We have our share of oozing brain syndrome sufferers here as well. It boggles my mind.

Kacey said...

I came over from EE's site and read and read. You see things from a funny perspective and I really enjoyed your posts. Like your Epijunky, I am from NW Ohio, but living in SW Florida for the winter...where most peoples' brains are leaking out of their ears. I'm so happy that there is no snow here or all the "golden oldies" would kill each other on the roads. I have to add your blog to my list of good reads.

Xtine said...

Haha I'll comment!

Found you via EE, and have read all the way back to the first post (thanks - I'm bored at work). Totally added to google reader ♥
Weather does that in NC, too. A couple years ago (Feb 04, IIRC), Raleigh was completely shut down and paralyzed by an INCH of snow. Kids slept at schools. People spent 4 hours on the road to go half a mile.

I just stay off the roads. I can get from point A to point B, barely (someone from Chicago taught me to drive), but I assume no one else has control of their car. Wish everyone else would stay home.


God help you if it's raining.

Special Sauce said...

I can assure you that people on the border of PA still have their brains ooze out of their ears when the merest hint of snow/ice is predicted. Bread! Milk! Toilet paper! All are gone from store shelves the moment Joe Calhoun calls out the News8 storm team...