After finally getting out of the station and into my own house, I dropped my lazy bones into the couch. I didn’t even feel motivated enough to get changed out of my clothes. After slacking off for about a half hour, I got up and put on my lounge pants. Glorified pajama pants, but they were some comfortable things to wear. I liked to wear nothing under them, so they were even more comfortable then. I slid back into the couch, and turned on the TV, intending to watch my movies. Instead I saw the news story about another store like Martino’s being burned down. This time the family was lucky enough to get out of the house. “Serial arsonist?” was how the news was reporting it. God forbid it could have been an accident, right? Fucking media, sensationalizing everything whether it needed it or not. I hated the old notion of “If it bleeds it leads!” Stories like this shouldn’t happen until the report comes out – if it does at all – that it was an actual arson. Damn it, now they are showing the footage from the Martino’s fire. Holy shit, do I really look that pale every call? Or was that right after I had upchucked? Whenever it was, it now meant I had to buy a case of beer for the Station. I dialed the number from memory, waiting for the inevitable roar of laughter from the guy who answered it.
“Station 95, Wilkins here. What can I do ya for?”
“Larry, its Kyle. What brand do you guys want? I saw the story; I am just making sure I don’t get the wrong one.” Larry harrumphed in his typical way, and then told me the place to go to make sure I got the right case.
“Eddie knows what it is we all like. Just tell him you need a case for us, he’ll take care of you. See you tomorrow Kyle.” Right before he hung up, I heard him say my name.
“What’s up Larry?”
“Make sure you get some sleep kid. You looked like shit on TV.” I had to admit, I was surprised he said that. He never worries about anyone.
“I will Larry. Stay safe, see you tomorrow.”
Turns out the case they wanted was also one of the most expensive cases of beer I had ever bought. Who knew a case could cost 72 bucks? Insanity, but it was what the rules were. I lugged it into the station, and placed them carefully inside the cold storage room. Had to make sure they weren’t seen by the public. That wouldn’t go over well, some random cell phone picture of alcohol on the property, even if it wasn’t being drunk. You think the media was going nuts about the fires lately? God, I’d be fired with no questions being asked. Having safely hidden them, and delivered my case as required to. One more thing I could cross off my list. If they showed the same clip on the news, it didn’t count this time. Now, if they showed it from a different angle I wasn’t sure what the rules were then. Oh well.
I laid out my gear again, as is my routine every shift, and then decided to start going over all the compartments, to make sure we were properly stocked with supplies. The first thing I always checked was the EMS bag, the First-In bag as it was known. Unzipping it, I started counting the supplies. I knew the proper amounts that were supposed to be there from routine, and knew when we were close to being low it was always better to have some extras then not enough. This I learned the hard way. The accident we discovered we couldn’t simply trust the prior shift to resupply themselves.
It was back in December of ’07, when I was first volunteering for the local ambulance crew out by my parent’s house. We hardly got any snow that year, just tons of ice. No matter how often I salted outside, we were all slipping and sliding everywhere out there. Of course, since we could barely walk, we knew we would get the call on the far side of our box area, and like routine, we got it about 3 hours into the ice storm. It was an early model Subaru vs. a Toyota pickup truck. The driver of the Toyota was dead; the passenger partially ejected in the upside down truck, and it got worse from there. Her car was barely recognizable as a car at all. None of us could tell what kind of car it was from the wrecked front end. She got hit so hard the whole dashboard hit her in the face after her seatbelt held her back. Gruesome, but she was still alive when we flew her out. The issue we had was there weren’t enough trauma pads in the bag. Last shift had spilled some hydrogen peroxide on them, and threw them out, but forgot to replace them. They both were heading to some party, and didn’t care about the details. I had gotten there about 20 minutes before my shift had started, and sure enough, they were sitting around playing Xbox, wasting time until the shift was over. “Anything to report guys? How was the shift?”
They barely looked up at me, and Eric replied, “Typical boring shit, nothing good. We have been in here most of the day.” So silly me, I figured when they fled out the door as soon as it was my turn to man the Conn, everything was ok on the truck.
Until we needed the supplies later, that is. It was very embarrassing to tell the Flight Medic that there are extra blood soaked sheets with her because we didn’t have enough trauma pads. That got me a very ugly tongue lashing from the Chief when he got that phone call later that night. I should have checked, it was an oversight on my part. But they both got suspended for 2 weeks for not following written policy. Ever since that day, I trusted only my counting. I didn’t depend on anyone’s ‘word’ or their “Oh yeah, you’re fine!’ comments. I made sure the stuff was there.
This time, everything was in order, as I realized it usually was at the Station. But I still made sure, just to cover my ass if we needed anything. I finished checking the rest of the compartments, and went into the TV lounge to go relax when the tones dropped for an accident. Hearing the intersection, I knew we were heading to an ugly scene.
The world looks different from a fire engine, especially when you are facing the back of the truck. You see the people all coming out of their houses, craning their necks in the cars, all trying to get a glimpse of which truck is going by, and see if they can see the smoke from the fire. Of course, we do respond to things besides fires, but to John Q. Public, we only fight fires. It happens all the time, people want to see, and then cringe when they actually see something they were trying to look for. I never understood that.