Saturday, April 28, 2012


Apparently I have been living under a rock. Late last night we had a call where a bunch of teenagers who had taken their mom's minivan for a ride,decided to get stoned on koosh. Now forgive me if I have misspelt that word but up until that call I had no idea what that word meant. I thought koosh was some sort of exotic tobacco. But the way those kids were wigging out and carrying on I assumed it had to be something else. When the police rolled up I asked him if he knew what koosh was. He rolled his eyes and said 'it's marijuana' and gave me the I-can't-believe-you-didn't-know look. Lol. In that moment I totally felt old and out of touch. I was a child of the seventies and while I didn't smoke it back then it was called pot, weed, ganja..... So kids, here's my little public service announcement. If on a Friday night you feel like taking your mom's dodge caravan and getting high on koosh with your teenage buddies......just don't. Because in this case you will wig out, literally pee your pants and your heart will start racing to the point you are asking everyone on scene if you are dying, which of course you are not but you're paranoid so you're freaking out while the cops and the medics are trying to act professional and stop themselves from laughing at this somewhat comical scene.  I do have to admit that much to my chagrin I broke my own professional code of conduct and let out a chuckle..... when the teens asked the coppers to stop by McDonald's before they went the hospital.  Must have been some damn good weed..... uhm... I mean koosh.  ;)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I am used to them.  Or rather, I have developed somewhat of a tolerance to them.  My children have gone through their challenging moments and I have learned the best way to deal with them is to be calm and remain cool and the eye of the storm and they spin about me.......

So it is without question my children have been good practice for me in dealing with some of the more difficult 'customers' I come across in my work.

There was the combative 85-year-old male who kept trying to hit, bite, kick, and scratch us.  Believe it or not, it took four of us firefighters to hold him down in a manner so he wouldn't be a danger to himself or us.

There was the woman who would not stop yelling obscenities and spitting and us.

There was another woman who was faking her symptoms so poorly we didn't know whether to laugh or roll our eyes.  When my children do the 'fakies' I have to do my best to stifle a big giggle while act concerned.

Some days at work I feel like I should win an Oscar for the roles I have to play with patients.  But maybe it's the patients who are vying for the trophy as they put on quite the production.  Minute fender benders often produce the most comical efforts in pretend neck and back injury.  We just package them up and breathe a sigh of relief when the ambulance arrives to take them off our hands.

The other night I had some huge dude scream at me as I tried to pick him off the floor.  He was yelling to 'get this broad outta here!'.  So I did what any good broad was supposed to do:

I picked him up from under the armpits and strapped him to the stretcher.  If I had a muzzle I might have decided to use it as well.  But I am too much of a lady to do such a thing.  Booyah.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I have a soft spot for rookies.

I was raised in the firehouse culture under the 'old school' style of captains where the rookies were barked at, did not move or make a sound unless told to, and basically weren't worth their weight in the gear they were wearing until they became first class firefighters. My first two years were a struggle of self-doubt and a bundle of nerves. I felt like every move I made was under scrutiny and dissection, every mistake I made was magnified and broadcast. My first captain would have me stand out in the middle of the winter and pump water from the engine till my fingers and toes froze. He would almost make me cry. It actually got so bad that there were moments I questioned my decision to become a firefighter in the first place. I mean, what was I thinking trying to actually fit into this all boys club? I probably would have flourished under a gentler, more understanding captain. But in hindsight, this old crotchety captain did me the biggest favour imaginable: he made a fireman out of me. I would never be the biggest, nor the brawniest, nor the best.... but I learned to be very good at what I do and think things through methodically, and push myself even when I felt like quitting. Those first hard years in the school of hard knocks taught me to dig deep. In some ways, I feel like a rookie all over again. In my new position as Acting Captain, I feel the pressure even more because I have a crew I am responsible for. And if I am first on scene, I am in charge of the call and in command which can be daunting when multiple crews are hanging off your every word waiting to see what you will tell them to do. That's when I pray I don't choke and stutter under the pressure. So I have to remind myself to just breathe and be confident that I know my stuff...... and my command presence will grow with my experience, which you can't gain overnight.

So yes, I have a soft spot for rookies.

Because I know how new beginnings can be daunting. I do not coddle rookies and I am firm when necessary. And I try to be fun. But I will never ever bark at them or make them feel small. Because it is all about team building..... and not ego bashing. And whenever I have the privilege of having a rookie work with me at a fire, I make sure that the more senior guys hand over the nozzle to the rookie. Because there is nothing more priceless than seeing a rookie's eyes light up the first time he puts out his first battle with fire. This is our duty as senior firefighters, to pass on knowledge and skills to others, and I thank those who have taught and shared their knowledge and experience with me so that I may continue to learn and to never stop growing in this incredible career that still humbles me to the core.

Monday, April 9, 2012

warning: graphic

Last shift was brutal. A guy decided to take his life and set himself on fire inside his car. I was first on scene and the words out of my mouth upon seeing him were "oh buddy what did you do?". There was nothing me or my crew could do except declare a Code 5 and wait for the police, fire investigator, and the coroner to arrive. And try to console the family members who found him the best we could.

If you've never seen a burnt body, I hope you never do. It is ghastly. And I didn't sleep very well that night in the dorm. Because every time I shut my eyes I would see him , what was left of him. As odd as it sounds, I was thankful and comforted by eight snoring and farting men around me while I lay awake struck with insomnia. My blissfully asleep crewmates made me feel safe and I reminded myself the images in my mind would fade with time, and counted the hours till shift was over so I could hold my children in my arms and tell them 'I love you' a thousand times over.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


.....of joy.

I was called an angel on earth by a woman regarding the work that I do.

Not sure why I felt this surge of emotion but if this is the work that the Big Guy Upstairs has given me while I walk this planet then I will take it.

So I continue to promise that at every call I will muster up all my courage and give my commitment and compassion to each and everyone I meet. I have no idea really how a small town girl like me ended up in the big city doing what I do but I guess this is where the wind blew me and some huge inner voice told me that this was my calling.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me to get here.