Friday, September 30, 2016

Responding to your family member

When you serve in your community, you face a chance of responding to help someone you know. 

A few of our members have had family members or they themselves have been in an incident where our company responded. It’s something you try not to think about. You just know that they are in good hands because you know the first-responders are well trained.

With the predicated rainstorm coming, I had been getting ready to go to the station in case calls came in. Fellow firefighters had advised us that if we are available to respond to incidents during inclement weather to go to the station in case our services are needed. We make quicker responses by waiting at the station. During some rainstorms, for example, we anticipate that we may have to respond to emergencies involving downed wires or downed trees.

I turned on my scanner before I responded to the station. I heard a report that a tree fell down on two occupied vehicles with a report of down wires. My pager sounded for an unrelated call on my way to the station. It was the start of a dozen calls during the storm.
This tree fell on to two vehicles and it took down wires with it during a rainstorm. One of the drivers involved in the incident was firefighter Ginger Rae Dunbar's father. 

The crew I was with responded to a report of down wires and a transformer with hazards. Upon arrival, I saw my dad’s car nearby the down tree that blocked the roadway. I knew I had to tell the crew, and I blurted it out without realizing it. The chief officer calmly responded that we would go check on him to make sure he was okay.

No one was injured in either vehicle. I felt fortunate and thankful that my Dad and the others were able to walk away unharmed from that situation.

The first arriving crew and police officers had directed my Dad how to back his car out safely from under the tree and away from the down wires. My Dad knew to stay in his vehicle for his safety and assume that the down wires nearby were still energized.

We used our equipment to ensure that the wires were de-energized so that they would not be a danger to us or the occupants. We had learned in our PECO classes about shuffling your feet for your safety in case the area is still energized as we approach, and if it is, you would feel tangling in your feet. For the safety of the public, we advise them to keep a distance. In this specific incident, we taped off an area to prevent people from getting too close to the scene while we checked for additional hazards to mitigate. 
After the scene was declared safe by police officers and firefighters, crews began to work on removing the down tree from the blocked roadway. The tree fell on to two occupied vehicles. No injuries were reported. 

When asked, my dad said he was okay. He told me that a “branch” fell on his car and broke the windshield. I said to my dad, “that’s a tree, not just a branch.” We both looked at the tree as my Dad playfully said he could not see the whole tree past the branch while he waited in his vehicle. His sense of humor let me know he held up well, despite feeling shaken-up. He smiled, turned to the other crew members and said he hoped it was okay to hug a rescuer. Shortly after that we left to respond to another call.

About three hours after the calls started, it stopped. When every crew member returned to the station from the three pieces of apparatus that responded, we gathered in the kitchen and had lunch together. It was almost like any other day.

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