Saturday, May 22, 2010

With Great Power...

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are going on right now, and fans are getting some great games. Today, the Philadelphia Flyers won their third game of this round against the Montreal Canadiens. Being a Flyers fan myself, I thought back to the amazing victory of the Philadelphia Phillies to win the World Series in 2008. There were some sad videos that were on the internet of the outrageous 'celebrations' our fans in Philly had. The most infamous was the one of the guy up on a traffic light pole, taunting the people below, then getting hit in the head with a vodka bottle and knocked back down to the road below. How is acting like a fool showing the world how you support your favorite team? There were reports and worries when the Canadiens made it to this round of the playoffs. They only flipped about 5 cars and set stuff on fire, acting more riotous then celebratory. Again, how does this show team love? When the Phillies had the parade through the city, roughly 2 million fans showed up and celebrated the team. I was there, I was one of them. The parade had some drunks I am sure, but any issues were dealt with right away. I witnessed personally a fight get broken up by some police officers, many of whom were in plain clothes to help with crowd control. This kept problems to a minimum. I only hope that if the Flyers are able to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, or even win, that the city of Philadelphia will not look the fool again. There is a history of the 'Broad St Bullies' and the history of the Flyers being a very physical team. This I understand. But the fans here in the City of Brotherly Love have a bad reputation for being violent and out of control. Who honestly hasn't heard of the Snowballs thrown at Santa? Or the Batteries thrown at J.D. Drew? Who never heard of the time that the Eagles fans cheering when Michael Irvin was injured during a game? A sad, but funny story of the building of the Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Eagles, was that before and Eagles game that former Cowboy great Troy Aikman was announcing, he visited the new field. Some workers heard he was there, and introduced themselves to him, then asked a favor. They asked him to go lie on his back on the newly installed Sod field to see if it was softer then Veterans Stadium, a place Troy had played in many times, and been sacked many times in. (thus lying on his back) I like that story of gentle teasing by Philadelphia fans. I have been to many sporting centers across the country, and find it amazing that the worst fans I have encountered were not in Philly, but in Chicago. My best friend and I were in the front row of Soldier Field, and were dressed in Vikings gear, as they were playing the Bears that night. (I am an Eagles fan, but am not a moron. I will blend "when in Rome"!) Just 5 rows behind us, 4 guys who were in Vikings gear also were taken out after getting the shit beaten out of them. In the 6th row!!! Most of the horror stories of Philly fans rain down from the '700' level seats, not 6 rows off the field. Now, I am not saying that all Chi-town fans are like the guys around the Vikings fans. I am merely saying that I saw this first hand! But how many people take the stories of the Philly fans at face value? C'mon Philly, let's show the world we can be good true fans, without being stupid!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Good Samaritans...

I am now teaching CPR for a job. I know it is nothing glorious, but it is a job. I love teaching it, and talking to the people in the class. I love sharing my experiences with them. But it turns out I like changing their attitudes from the "onlooker" to the Good Samaritan. How many times do we hear the stories of the people who just kept walking by, instead of helping someone? Most of those people don't help because they are afraid of getting sued if they try to help. After only a few hours with myself and the wonderful person I teach with, they all have the look of "I'll help if I see it happen" instead of "Not me, I can't help at all". They realize it is a difficult thing to do to help someone, but they know they can do it now. It is fun seeing them suddenly understand. Amazing to see their faces when they realize they can literally save someone's life in an emergency. I like this feeling of helping them learn!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Until Now...

The best of times, the worst of times. Being a volunteer firefighter is the best thing and the worst thing a person can do. I love the time spent with the brothers and sisters in the service with me. I love the time spent educating kids and families on how to stay safe and what to do in case of a fire. I love seeing the smile on a kids face when we drive by, lights and sirens on. Doesn't matter if it is a call or in a parade, all kids love fire trucks. Doubt that? Ask your kid if they want to go to the firehouse and sit in a truck. Watch their expression, and tell me they don't simply BEAM. But there is a bad side to this too, one we don't share with the public too often. We'll share it with our house and other houses, but the stories will be edited, and not as bad as they were in real life. We never tell the details of watching people die. We never say how hard it is to save someone who is pinned in their car, drunk as a skunk, after they creamed an innocent person who was minding their own business. We never talk about how hard it is to do CPR on a person, knowing it is too late already, and we are simply going through the motions for the family. We never talk about the calls where kids are hurt, and we can't do anything to help them. We never tell of the times we spend trying to remove the body of a person from a car wreck.
All the people who think the job is just putting "wet stuff on the red stuff", they have no idea of how much more the job is. They don't know the mental side of serving the public. There is a whole aspect that we don't mention to the general public, and we sugarcoat to each other. It is the aspect of PTSD that we ignore, and try to keep stuff bottled in.
The worst accident I was at in my years of service happened in December 2000. I can draw you a picture tomorrow of how the scene was. An innocent woman was killed by a drunk driver. He died too. But what is eating me now is the fact that 15 minutes before the accident, I was walking out of a supermarket, and saw the drunk walking in. He was a total asshole, yelling obnoxiously, cursing loudly, and his friend that was with him was just as big an asshole. I thought to myself "God, those guys are assholes!" as I walked to my car. I drove home (literally a 6 minute drive after sitting at two lights)and was carrying my bags to my apartment when the page came out. VEHICLE RESCUE/Severe Entrapment. Now normally, civilians who call 911 report a vehicle accident with injuries, then the cops get on scene and report a possible entrapment, then an officer gets on scene and confirms a rescue. Not this time. There were over 20 civilian calls calling it a rescue. Not a good sign. We normally got called to clean up accidents like fender benders and the type. We literally passed 9 rear endings on the way to this scene. Another bad sign. The accident was horrible. The truck the drunk was driving flipped over and crushed him and killed him. The innocent driver was seat-belted in her car, but the impact was so severe, the dashboard came up and hit her in the face, crushing her. His truck flipped after hitting her. It flipped so fast that the groceries that were in the bed of the truck were under the bed of the truck, instead of flung all over. They were held in place by centripetal force. That is how fast he was going. I won't get into the details. After accidents like that, we try to find out details of how the pt made out after ward. Turns out, she had an 11 year old son, who's birthday was 4 days after the accident. The accident was 2 weeks before Christmas. She was just proposed to by her boyfriend just two weeks prior to the accident. She was on life support for 3 days after it, and they pulled the plug so she wouldn't die on her son's birthday.
We never tell the public of how tough the scene is to us on nights like that. We never tell of finding her shoes on the floorboard, filled with blood. We never tell about seeing the panicked look on the medic's face as she tell you that the victim needs to be out of the car and on the helicopter 15 minutes ago. We never tell how later that night we sit on the floor of the kitchen in the slop of melted food I never got to put away, crying and not understanding why this happened. We never tell how it is so difficult to think I might have made a difference had I called the cops over the drunk at the store. We never talk about how, even now, I could tell you the details of her outfit, her car, the truck, the dead drunk, the sound of the helicopters coming and going, the sound of the drunk friend who got partially ejected crying out. We never tell how we stood around trying to crack jokes while the drunk lied dead on the street, trying to hide our real feelings. We never mention this stuff to the public... Until Now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Playoff Hockey...

I have been a fan of Philadelphia sports my whole life. Growing up, I liked the same teams my parents and family liked. As I grew older, I developed my own likings of some other sports, either from playing them (soccer) or just liking them (hockey). Out of my family, I am the only true hockey fan. Of course, my parents are bandwagoners, jumping on the Flyers fan ride during the playoffs, but I am the only one who watches it all season. Tonight for example, I am watching the Chi-Hawks vs the 'Nucks, (3-0 Chi-Hawks, end of second period). I love the game so much I watch it no matter who is playing. True fans do this during the regular season, let alone the playoffs. Now that it is Cup Crazy season, fans are glued to the TV every night.

I was asking my wife when she wanted to watch Avatar on Blu-Ray. (Yes, I am like the only person in the world who did NOT see the movie in the theater) She pointed out to me that we don't watch movies at night anymore after the kids go to bed because I am watching hockey instead. I didn't even realize I have had the movie for almost 3 full weeks, and have yet to watch it. Funny, but I don't care who is playing, I just want to watch hockey! Of course the Flyers are my favorite team, and I watch them first and foremost when they are on. But c'mon, everybody loves watching the playoffs just to see the face of the men when they lift the Cup at the end of it all!!!

Now TRUE hockey fans watched the Olympics this year, and the epic games that went down. I watched Belarus, Sweden, Canada, Slovakia, and the US play with pride for their countries. I teared up watching the US fall to Canada in the Gold Medal game in overtime (dammit Crosby! Did it really HAVE to be you?) But the point is ... Hockey is the fastest team sport in the world. You never know how it will end. That is what makes the playoffs so much fun...