Sunday, April 25, 2010

things that go bump in the night

There are quite a few things I'm afraid of: zombie or any horror movie, wide open ocean water... whether I'm on it or in it..... cockroaches and horseshoe crabs, helicopter rides, and bad haircuts. I can avoid the previous pretty easily... which is good. The other things that scare me are actually quite silly and embarrassing so I can't be bothered to mention them here lest my crewmates find out and tease me relentlessly. But thankfully, of all the things that give me the heebie jeebies I am glad claustrophobia is not one of them. Nor am I afraid of the dark. Which is doubly good because I wouldn't be able to do my job. I love feeling coccooned by my bunker gear, face piece and helmet as I make my way into a fire, often feeling my way blindly because the smoke is so thick that I can't see my hand in front of my face. Even though I can't see, I can picture in my mind what the room is, and what it feels like because my senses are going into overdrive. I can quickly figure out if I'm in the kitchen, the bathroom or the bedroom. Sometimes I can get turned about and get stumped but as long as I haven't let go of the firehose I can always make my way back to safety since there are indicators on the hose line connectors that tell me which direction is toward or away from the fire. I love our training days for these situations. With our face pieces blacked out, we are put through mazes and tangled messes of wires, windows that we need to climb over, furniture to go under, and tight tunnels we need to go through. Some of the spaces are so tight we need to remove our airpacks and push them in front of us as we crawl on our backs or bellies making sure we don't ever, ever let go since that is our air source. It's game over for your lungs if your face piece is ripped off . It's always a relief when that air pack is secure on my back again. Because I am usually the slimmest in comparison to the other guys at fire calls, I'm the one who gets stuffed through the basement window or tossed up through the attic opening. More often than not, I'm the one who crawls through the windshield of a car to get to a patient, or I might even get underneath the chassis of a truck. It's a good thing that I love that sort of thing.

It's weird isn't it? I know that fear is all in the mind. But I find it easier to not be afraid of situations at work because I know the events are real, and in real time.... whereas when I try to scuba dive I keep thinking some twenty eyed sea creature is going to turn me into a snack. And if I'm in a helicopter I can't enjoy the stinking view because I think who is going to catch me if I fall? And while I KNOW that zombies don't exist, I'd just rather avoid thinking about them thank you very much.

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