Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fire and EMS Bullet

It’s been AGES since I wrote on here.  And, I’ve actually started another blog, so if you are actually reading this one, comment and I’ll let you know where the new one is.  But, I had thoughts for today, and I really wanted to share them. 

In the most recent Advocate (a local monthly “news” paper), there’s an article about “The Fire and Rescue Bullet”.  It talks about the things working against volunteers: Competition for free time, aging population, increased training requirements, employers not letting employees off to answer calls, greater expectations from citizens, and of course, money.  There are other problems with answering calls as well.  The biggest one for me?  The BS calls.  I’m sorry, but when someone calls 911 morning after morning after morning, for the same complaint, you know what?  I’m going to stay right here and eat my lucky charms, thank you very much.  How about the person who complained that their “Lungs were full of air” and wanted to go to the ER?   Unfortunately, you want to go to the ER?  We cannot refuse to take you.  People also complain about how long it takes an ambulance to get there.  My answer?  First, is your house easy to locate?  Let’s start with a house number, that is CLEARLY visible from the road.  I had a family member berate us for driving up and down past his house.  “But the number is there!”  “Yes sir, and it’s black letters on a flat black mailbox.  We can’t see that in the middle of the night.”  Second, when you choose to have the house that has an AMAZING view and no one around for miles . . .  that also includes an ambulance. 

In this same article, it brings up statistics.  Yes, my squad has missed a LOT of calls.  And the article talks about how there are other departments that have no calls missed.  But, there are lots of details missing, not just hard and fast numbers.  For instance.  Was the call missed because we were already on another call?  WHO was the call for?  Several of our “missed” calls were for another agency that we were second due on.  And, before we could answer that call for that first due agency, they got a truck on the road so we weren’t needed.  Yes, the Fire Department might have 100% of calls answered, but if they only have 15 calls for the month . . . . . whoo hoo!  We usually have 60-90 calls a month.  I’d like to see what happens to those other departments numbers when they start having that kind of volume. 
The reality is, we need daytime help.  We need paid staff to be at our buildings, to answer the calls, while the volunteers are working.  Even now, we struggle in the evenings.  I’m one of the “lucky”? ones, in that I don’t have a spouse, kids, and responsibilities at home, and I’m available to answer more than the average person.  The top 2 call answering associates?  Retired.  #3?  The Captain. 
There are agencies where drama is an issue.  Mine isn’t one of those.  While we’ve had our differences with the Fire Department, the reality is, those people have been there for me when I need them.  I might laugh and joke about big dumb firefighters running into a burning building, but the reality is, there isn’t anyone else I’d want, or trust, to have my back in an emergency.  When push comes to shove, we work to get the job done.  When the call goes off for a person unresponsive, or an injured child, you bet your backside that we will drop anything and everything to get the call answered.  I’m not going to apologize for not doing the same thing for the person with the stubbed toe. 
I’d love to see more people volunteer.  Even if you don’t want to get into the nitty gritty, blood and puke that can accompany a call, there is ALWAYS something to do.  There’s trash to be put out, ambulances to be washed, buildings to be straightened.  And, for the record?  In 10 years, I can count on both hands the number of times I’ve dealt with really really gross/ewwww calls.  It’s not what the television series makes it out to be.  Daddy used to tell me, when you get down on yourself, do something for someone else.  Volunteering with the squad has been the most rewarding opportunity of my life.  I wish more people would sign up for those same rewards.