I was dreading drill night all day today....which is uncharacteristic for me, I'm usually so antsy to do something new or get that opportunity to learn that I end up spending my day at the office watching the clock...WILLING it to be 4:00 p.m. already.
Originally I was pretty excited about the planned drill, we were slated to go to Guilderland Center (our neighboring mutual aid department that has all the fun stuff....aerial ladder truck, Jaws, training tower etc.) to participate in a three-department confined space training. I was looking forward to this for two solid weeks.
Then the heat wave hit. Today's high temp was 97 degrees at 4:00 p.m.....high humidity, and just plain unpleasant. There were also tornado watches in place most of the day. My allergies had been killing me and the a/c in my apartment had died over the weekend (but was mercifully repaired early Monday, otherwise there might have been bloodshed), so I wasn't exactly in the mood to sweat off ten pounds of water weight bundled up in my bunker gear and wiggling my way through a 50 foot tunnel.
I got to the department, and the training was still "on", even though the muted grumbling from most of the members was becoming audible enough to classify as anarchy. We were en route to G.C. and we got the call that all training at the Tower was suspended due to the heat. Thank you lord....oh thank you....
Drill morphs into running the rigs and replacing all equipment to the apparatus bay (we had cleared everything out the week prior to get the floors redone), washing and waxing the rigs, and checking all the SCBA's (for newly mandated clamps).
No biggie....yeah, it was hot, but it was manageable. Drill ends at 8:30 and the general stampede to the bar has commenced, when a pretty violent storm blows through.
Then the tones drop.
Our first and second due head out and I end up on the brush truck with four other members. We find out that that there are wires down in three separate locations around the village, and we get assigned to the perimeter of the village redirecting traffic. Then we hear the second and third calls go out, and the entire department and all apparatus are called out.
The entire village is in blackout, and the first couple of hours were pretty hectic trying to determine which roads were open and where to send drivers. Things settled down a bit, which is when it started to dawn on me that I had been funneling traffic for three hours and had yet to see a National Grid truck.
Then we hear a rumble of thunder......and see a good-sized flash of lightning......the breeze picks up and intensifies. Then the monsoon moved in. I didn't know it was possible to drown standing upright during a rainstorm. I literally couldn't take a breath without inhaling water, and the lightning was striking all around us. Flares were a hot commodity (we were begging, borrowing and stealing from the various sheriffs, local po-po and state troopers that were coming through our intersection) and I had a steady river of water running down my back.
One of my guys yells something across the street at me and I didn't catch it the first time....so I screech "Whaaaaaaat????" back at him.....and he screams back...."Well at least it can't rain any harder than this, right??"
Be careful what you wish for.
I don't think in all my years on the planet I've seen rain go from monsoon to Noah's Ark-worthy like this did. No sooner were the words out of his mouth then the wind picked up about another 10 mph and the monsoon was remembered fondly as a light shower.
Flash forward 20 minutes and the deluge ceased. When the rain stopped, so did the breeze. Then the steambath began in earnest....and mosquitos the size of B-12 bombers began circling. Meanwhile, the National Grid guys are arguing amongst themselves who should be cutting the trees, the time-and-a-half guys or the double-time guys (note to self, include bitchy rant in my next National Grid payment envelope).
Four and a half hours after the first call we were finally released (after National Grid worked out their little intra-agency spat and located the chainsaw that fell off the back of their truck that was finally found in the parking lot of Smitty's Pizza) power was restored, we got back to the station and peeled off layers of saturated bunker gear and stumbled out the door to head home....sweaty, tired, footsore, and dehydrated....
But I wouldn't change a thing.