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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Where's Lowsere?

A long time ago, on a department, far, far away....

We pulled into the county hospital, code three, with an elderly pt in bad shape aboard. She really wasn't likely to survive the next hour or so. I was just the 3rd guy aboard because I had happened to drop by the House just before the call was toned. I wasn't doing much, just bagging her on the way in, and after she was transferred to hospital staff I then became the cleanup and gofer guy.

I was about done, and just putting new sheets on the cot by the ER doors when some guy came up behind me and conversationally asked "Where's Lowsere at?"

I'm sorry, what was that?

Then the little lightbulb lit up.

= = = =insert mysterious flashback
sounds as we roll back in time

= = = =


I was attending school for my Fire Science degree, back when I was on a fire career track. The medium-sized city where this college was located was getting ready to hire a bunch of firefighter-medic candidates, as they were slated to take over all EMS transport from the two private providers in the area within the next year.

We were all pumped, naturally. Who doesn't get optimistic when major hiring is coming up?

Numerous graduates still not on The Job tested, as well as many of us nearing completion of the program. Some of us got interviews, some not. I thought I interviewed pretty well.

Then the wait. Nothing happened. We checked with each other frequently. Heard anything? Nothing. Weeks, then a month, and another, went by. Nothing but rumors we hoped were bogus.

Well, to cut to the end, the City ended up hiring around 50 Paramedics, NONE of them with fire training, opting to put the new hires through their internal fire academy instead. I suppose this was a cost-cutting measure, as they were able to offer low dollar. I don't want to open the debate or get political, but the City also hired a handful of Affirmative Action candidates that were not Paramedics, some without fire experience either. Just applicants off the street who had the right genetic and/or gender credentials. Not even one student (male or female) was hired from the local college program this time around.

Again, I want to avoid the politics, but the facts are what they are. It was surreal.

We Fire Science students were of course aghast and deflated at the same time, and started fraternally calling each other losers. We also decided, in that cheeky 22-year-old way, to make a bit of a protest gesture. We created uniform fire department shirts (not specifically mimicking any particular fire agency's design) that read on the back, instead of a real city name:

LOSER
FIRE DEPT

= = = =
mysterious music fades
out the flashback and
we're back in the ER
= = = =

Oh. Expletive. I forgot what shirt I was wearing when I dropped by the House and then spontaneously jumped on the medic for this call. If you don't actually read the shirt, it looks official.

Here, in the ER, this guy read it, but his brain thankfully processed that no town would actually be called Loser, and decided it must be pronounced Lowsere.

"Oh, Lowsere," I ad-libbed, "that's where my best friend just got a fire job, in Utah, I think. He just sent it to me."

Utah?? Where did I get that?

The guy nodded absently and then wandered back to the waiting area. Tony came out, clipboard in hand, and asked me what the guy wanted. I said I'd explain later, because it wasn't important, and threw the linen bag over my shoulder to cover the back of my shirt. OK, Tony said, that's the patient's son, and he's about to get some bad news.

It was nothing patient-related, sir. I'll be in the medic.

I guided the cot out with my free hand, and hid in the box until we left.

Later, it was funny.

Later.

Argh.


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