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Thursday, February 25, 2010

That had to look goofy

The Minitor V came to life. Medical call, unconscious breather at a middle school two station districts away. Sometimes I head to medicals that far away just in case they need a hand, as they can always turn me back, but in this particular case I was pretty beat. Since my response was not mandatory, I decided to stay put. For some reason, though, I didn't reset the pager.

Not one minute later tones for Small City next to us came out, and they were dispatched to the same call, which had now been upgraded to a 13 year old not breathing, CPR in progress. SCFD's station is the next closest to the school after our first-due Engine 55, so adding them to the call made sense.

But man... of all calls to blow off.

So, Engine 51 and I were very soon also en route to assist. Mainly I was thinking that today was going to be the worst day for some family, and try as I might I could of course not avoid imagining what I would do if I was the parent taking that call from the school. Every parent's nightmare.

About 2/3 of the way there, SCFD was dispatched to another medical of their own. SCFD Engine 2 took it in. I had to pass through Small City to get to the school myself, but this new call did not concern me because I knew SCFD E2 would not cross paths with me.

Nearing the school, I approached a red traffic light and flopped the siren to a new noise. I thought it was remarkable that traffic was holding up even though I was a block away yet, looks like they were stopping even before I flopped the siren. Weird.

(Red flag! Red flag!)

I came up short at the red light and prepared to take a left... and there was SCFD E1, code 3, on my left. My cross traffic had stopped early because they saw the other guy. They're bigger, so I deferred. They turned left (directionally the same way I had been traveling), and then I turned left, running code 3 back the way they had come from.

That had to look goofy to the motorists at the intersection. Made both of us look clueless.

What's the deal here? I cut the siren. Either the kid was too far gone and Engine 55 cut them loose (highly unlikely), or it wasn't a serious call after all. Wish I had known SCFD E1 was responding into my path. This is my biggest gripe with Mobile Dispatch Terminals (MDTs, the mounted laptops in emergency vehicles). Units can respond via the data link without ever hitting the radio, and depriving other area units of awareness of what the other big red trucks are doing, or that they are even responding in the first place. I'd like to see an automated voice repeater that parrots unit responses and such over the radio based on what guys punch in on their MDTs

Turns out the school got a little over excited about a seizure. No big deal. So Engine 55 cut SCFD E1 loose right before SCFD's other call came in. But, in the excitement of the anticipated CPR in progress, Engine 55 didn't pick up on my response, so they didn't cancel me by radio when they arrived and found things not nearly so dire.

Hence, brief excitement and a keystone kops moment for the public. Ugh.

That got me to thinking about two other incidents of interest.

Incident #1:

I had Engine 51 way out of position to get fuel, and then got dropped for a fire investigation about three blocks from Station 51. It's a long way to go since I am so far out, but off we go. Engine 54 will get there first this time.

A couple of minutes later, we got dropped for another call, in Engine 55's area. I ignore it, they'll take it. What I didn't know is that E55 was not staffed that day. E54 knew this, but E54 had not picked up on how far out of position I was. E54, assuming I was on top of the first call, diverted to the second one. Somehow, not assigning blame, I missed that. About two minutes later, Engine 51 and Engine 54 met at the top of a rise and passed each other code 3 in opposite directions. A short flurry of radio communications cleared things up, and we each continued where we were going.

That had to look goofy. Certainly the radio exchange probably sounded goofy, too. Oops.

Incident #2:

I was working at Station 55. SCFD was out on a call when a chimney fire was reported on the edge of their district. E55 was dispatched along with SCFD E2. We were actually closer. Dispatch came on and advised that the homeowner was reporting the fire out. As first due, dispatch deferred to us as to whether we would continue. Since it was not our district, I then deferred to SCFD E2. Engine 2 waved us off and said they would investigate.

We were really close, but oh well. I went around the block and headed home. Then who should appear coming up the road? Engine 2. Running hot.

That was the first (and so far only) time I have been in a fire engine, and pulled over to yield to another fire engine going to a call.

That had to look goofy.

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