Saturday, February 25, 2012

Firefighting Zoology

Mixing animals and firefighters usually results in a memorable incident.

The house was going good with fire in the basement and on the first floor. On the line in the basement, we made quick work of the fire there, much less than on the floor above. Exiting, we dragged the line over to go in and help on the first floor. On of the chiefs tapped me on the shoulder.

“Did you see a snake down there?” That got my attention.

“No, if I had you wouldn’t see me now. What kind of snake?” Snakes are not my favorite creature.

“One of those big fat South American types. Apparently it’s missing from its container.”

The fire instantly became a defensive exterior attack, at least for me. I had no desire to assist the brothers on the first floor any longer. Luckily they had things well under control. Overhaul was out of the question as well, and Rehab was looking good—it was well away from the house. Luckily the owner quickly located the missing reptile, which I learned while contently sipping coffee with the EMS folks.

EMS calls are not exempt. We had just started to examine a man experiencing chest pains when his dog decided to make an appearance. This was not our typical friendly pet lap dog. This was Cujo’s twin; a snapping snarling beast with dog goo dripping from his snout as he growled at us. We backed slowly away, and the animal herded us like the sheep we were away from his owner. Making it through an opening into an adjacent room, we slammed the door and then opened it just a crack to see what was happening. There sat our patient while the $5000 (in those days) Life Pak we had abandoned was being turned into an expensive chew toy. Our dog mace was in its normal spot, secured to the visor in the front of the rig—located on the opposite side of our captor. We had little choice but to wait until the victim’s wife took the now docile mutt from the room. It made us wish for a hand line. As nasty as Cujo looked, there was no way he could’ve swallowed 150 gallons per minute.

Larger animals can be less frightening, but troublesome in different ways. At a silo fire, we needed to get the cows out of the attached barn in case of extension. A slap on the ass got most of them moving, but one was a bit stubborn. Jim and I each took an end—which didn’t matter as there is no really desirable end to a cow—and began pulling and pushing. While you would think two chief officers would be smarter than and able to direct a simple cow, you would be wrong. We had as much influence on the bovine creature as we did over department dinosaurs (another interesting species). Eventually the cow tired of our attempts and decided on her own to join her cohorts in the pasture.

Animals and emergencies—such a fun combination.

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