November 2005


This evening I went to the firehouse. We get together almost every Tuesday; one week a month is the business meeting, the rest are training or maintenance nights.

Within my volunteer fire department, I have assumed the role of techie for the department; I maintain the bits of electronic technology. This works out to mean that I provide advice and occasional technical support to other members using the firehouse office equipment and that I have been made responsible for performing maintenance of the two pieces of ‘technology’ used in the actual work of the fire department; a thermal imaging ‘camera’ and a gas detector. I have devised and perform monthly maintenance checklists for these tools as per the usual standards for any complex tool. Function must be checked, batteries switched, occasionally drained, and recharged, and the gas meter must be calibrated.

These devices have tended to be rather opaque to the rest of the membership; I have become the keeper of the gadgets mainly because I have been the one to pick up the guides and figure out how they worked. I put together an outline for teaching these two items and presented it to interested fire department members this evening. There were only four other members present; I felt this worked well in that the devices are rather small and I was concerned about being able to show the functionality to a larger group.

The thermal imager is a device that shows heat on a four-inch CRT. It’s handy for several tasks; finding the source of fire in a smoky atmosphere, checking for extension (the fire moving within voids in walls and ceilings away from the obvious and extinguised source of fire), and search and rescue, indoors (smoky atmosphere) or out (searching for ejected or wandering victims in darkness or fog). It has a little green cross on the display; when you point the cross at something, it tells you the temperature of the point under the cross. It’s a rugged little thing and is pretty much designed for use while crawling.

The gas meter detects oxygen deficiencies, combustible gases, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide. It takes an annoyingly long time to start up and is very noisy, beeping loudly at every excuse. It does have two alarm levels 1) something is wrongish and 2) scram or die. Perhaps useful. The device demands that you calibrate it every thirty days. This involves hooking it up to a bottle of foul-smelling gas for a few minutes.

After I finished the class, we took two engines over to the town garage and sprayed some foam from Engine 1 directly and from Engine 3 via a handheld foam unit that we’ve recently acquired. I drove the captain in Engine 1 to the garage. Once there, I operated the pump on Engine 1 and gave helpful advice to the FNG handling the hoseline.

Engine 1 being a minipumper, we exhausted the 300 gallon tank in ten minutes or so. The captain and I took Engine 1 to the hydrant in town to fill up. In our rural district, we have one positive-pressure hydrant in town and several dry hydrants in various other places. The dry hydrants are basically capped pipes leading into a nearby pond; the positive pressure hydrant pumps water from the river. The positive pressure hydrant is more straight-forward to use as the operator doesn’t have to worry about getting the pump to prime in order to suck the water from the hydrant; the water squirts into the engine’s tank all by itself.

The water-supply strategy in rural areas revolves around water relays; an engine will set up at a hydrant, stream, river, or pond to pump water to a receiving tanker. The tanker (actually series of tankers), once filled, goes to the scene and dumps water, thousands of gallons at a time, into large folding pools. The water supply engines on scene then draft out of the pools to charge the attack lines.

We finished filling the engine without issues. Just as we started to put everything away, we got toned to a car accident on the bad curves. The bad curves are responsible for several accidents a year. The accident was called to dispatch by another FD member who had left earlier, not having to participate in filling Engine 1. He stated on the radio that there were no injuries.

We cruised on over to the scene of the accident. I was really stoked since it had been several months since I’d driven an engine to a scene. Lights! Siren!

We got there and parked the engine near the accident vehicle. A pickup truck was on its hood on the side of the road. Two young men were standing nearby. I went over to talk to the men; they were fine, they didn’t want me to touch them, they refused care. They were both unbelted during the rollover but sustained no serious injuries. They both climbed through the squashed passenger side window of the truck. I asked them a few questions and they seemed alert and oriented. They each had a very small laceration on the index finger of the right hand for which I gave them each a bandaid.

When the ambulance arrived, I went over and spoke to the lead tech, an older, grizzled I-tech. I’d had some issues with him in the distant past though he’d been apparently warming up to me a bit in the past few months; nothing too close, though.

I explained that the two men were unbelted passengers of a rollover, that they both refused examination, that both denied striking anything in the truck, that both denied head or neck pain or numbness or tingling in the extremities. Also, that the two had minor hand lacs. We exchanged the usual statements regarding unbelted vehicle occupants and lucky near-patients. We agreed that accident mechanism, unbelted rollover, was sufficient cause to worry about their spines.

The ambulance EMTs went off to talk to the patients while I went on to other fire department tasks. After a bit, the lead tech came over to where I was standing. He explained to me that they had had much the same interaction with the occupants that I had had but that they seemed to be okay. Finally, he said, “I’m happy with it if you are.” I said that I was.

I was a bit taken aback; once the ambulance got on scene, he was in charge of care and I was no longer a part of it except as needed by the crew (assuming an ‘i’ on the ambulance crew – there always is). Even so, the tech specifically came and spoke to me about his findings after the call, before they left to return to their base, and asked if I agreed. It was a change from the usual situation, where the ambulance techs would clear with the FD incident commander before leaving but not any other EMS person on scene. Certainly not me.

I was on an overdose call in town a few days ago. The paramedic that is the vice-boss at the ambulance company was on the call.

I got there pretty much as the ambulance arrived; I came from the same town they did but a bit farther away. I was in Staples when the call went out, about a mile on from the ambulance base. I knew a good shortcut, though, and got to the scene just before the ambulance pulled up. I beat them to the patient by about a minute.

I didn’t do much on the call; took a pulse, asked some questions. I found some meds that the cops had overlooked in their search, I carried the ambulance crew’s jump bag out. I helped package the patient in a minor way.

After the patient was loaded, I got in and watched the medic try to start a line; the patient had no veins that looked any good to me. The medic tried in the back of the hand but was unable to get in the vein even after some poking around (the Singer method).

They got ready to go; the medic was going to drive and the other tech, an ‘i’, was going to ride in back. As we got out of the patient compartment, the medic asked me if I’d gotten my ‘i’ yet… I told him that I had.

I’m wondering if the respectful treatment tonight is related to the chat with the medic the other day.



“Modern Taiwan is free and democratic and prosperous. By embracing freedom at all levels, Taiwan has delivered prosperity to its people and created a free and democratic Chinese society,” Bush will say according to an advance text released by the U.S. White House.


President George W. Bush reiterated on Wednesday that Washington supported a “one-China policy” and said that China and Taiwan should settle their differences peacefully.

I’m guessing the red Chinese would prefer the Reuters story. I wonder why CNN isn’t blunting the point? I mean, they were the leaders in ignoring brutality in exchange for placement. Hard to believe they are just going to start reporting the news. Maybe they are looking forward, as I am, to the hoopla to follow from the red Chinese and thinking they can somehow spin it to discredit the administration. Clumsy diplomacy, maybe. For my part, principled support for universal democracy is one thing I like about Bush.

Hey, George… I’m still not happy. Do the right thing about immigration and the southern border and we’ll talk.

Where did you travel from for MM? San Francisco, CA.
Did you stay overnight? Yes
Was this your first MM? No
If No, when/where was your first MM? Number one. I’m a plank owner.
Did you wear a Walken pin? Yes
What movies did you watch all the way through? None.
What movies did you watch part of? Several.
What was your favorite food served? Lasagnia, Guac, Pumpkin cookies, Sierra Nevada Porter.
Meet any new people? Yes
Which room did you spend the most time? Hard to say.
Intoxicants ingested? This and that. Beer and cookies, anyway.
Best hug? Welcome hug from Mike.
Young Walken or older Walken? Detached dancin’ Walken.
Funniest moment? Chronocopria, maybe.
Tell us about your hat: Bubble wrap on head.
Favorite movie watched: Um. Kind of really liked Basquiat except that somehow the film does not feel period. I’ll have to watch it again. Of course, Weapon of Choice.
Worst movie: Oh.
Movie(s) you missed that you now plan to rent/borrow/see: Illuminata. Biloxi Blues. Weapon of Choice. A couple of others.
Total hours of sleep between 8 p.m. Friday and midnight Sunday (official moviethon span): 13
How many movie marathons (exactly or approximately) have you attended? 30?
What was your favorite ‘thon (or what are some of your favorite ‘thons)? Yes. Number one is really the only one I can identify by number.
Have you ever had sex at a movie marathon? Yes.
What structured but non-movie-watching social activities (i.e., other than conversation: games, making music, etc.) did you engage in? Hattery
If you could change one thing about movie marathon or its present venue on Irving St, what would it be? Move it 250 miles north.

Ain’t LJ great?

I trotted out Google the other day in a reply to a friend discussing the ‘Bush lied!’ misdirection to point out that many people, not just Bush, had felt that Iraq was an issue that needed resolving. In a lovely bit of synchronicity, a blogger I read later the same day posted a very similar Google, only adding ‘1998’ to the search terms I had suggested (‘Clinton’, ‘Iraq’). I was flabbergasted when my correspondent suggested that all of these statements meant nothing since Clinton just talked about the problem, never actually did anything (the story of his entire time in office, IMHO, but I digress). Imagine my surprise to find this morning that the blogger has also been treated to the exact same non-argument.

It seems the critics have moved the goalposts. Their attack line was “Bush LIED.” Google proves that that line is inoperable, so they have moved to “Well, at least Clinton didn’t actually invade Iraq.”

This is awesome.

Right off the bat, you’ve got a little girl shooting a tripod-mounted machine gun. Then the action breaks to a landscape shot showing the results of lots of good ol’ boys and girls shooting full-auto at explodey things. Then it’s back to the little girl; dad thinks she should shoot at the cardboard box; she wants to ventilate the rice burner. Of course, the girl has on earmuffs and glasses; safety first. Sure, she should be using short bursts to conserve ammo and keep the weapon on target; she’s young so we can cut her some slack.

Then it’s back to the landscape and stuff exploding.

What fun. Good, noisy fun.

UPDATE: Bloggers respond…

Any way, we live in a country where small girls can fire .50 caliber automatic weapons, if the weapon is properly mounted. Give ’em tracers and the kids can walk the fire onto target.The terrorists cannot win.

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