Thanksgiving came and went. This was the first year I remember since my mother made me go to Indianna with my husband to his Mother's for the holdiay the year my Dad died, (1982) that my family wasn't together. Parts of us were. I guess it is time I realize that family isn't as important to others as it is to me.
Four days off tends to make me sluggish on Monday but it was off to work. It wasn't one of my better days. This is the beginning of the end . . . of the semester on Dec 17th. Its always hectic this time of year. After Thanksgiving we get really busy with extended hours and students registering for next semester, people taking care of obligations and getting upset because they have $50 in library fines or books they swear they didn't check out. Sometimes they are mean and nasty then turn up an hour later with the books but go to the other tech because they don't want to admit they made the mistake. I smile and tell them to have a wonderful day, while gritting my teeth. We get phone calls from mothers because their "child" owes so much to the library that they aren't able to register. Couldn't we just let this one slide just this once? I like the one where the high school student intelligent enough to be taking college options classes but isn't responsible enough (according to her mother) to bring books back to the library, at all, yet is responsible enough to own a cell phone, has a driver's license and a car. The books, when the student did locate them, after swearing she never checked them out at all, were over a year passed due. It was just terrible of me and so unfair to charge a fine of $20.00 on EACH book for these old books no body else wanted anyway. (Fines are $0.25 per day, per item but max out @ $20) But my most favorite is the student who wasn't able to locate a book that the system says is available. They looked exactly where it was supposed to be but we don't have any books with that call number. It "skipps" from 400 to 7000 and there are lots of empty shelves. I know where those empty shelves are and they are no place close to where this book is located. When I go to the 3rd floor, not the second floor where the student had looked and pick the book up off the shelf, in the exact place it should be in, I wonder how in the world they got through high school to get to college to need to write a paper. Then there is always the researcher who can't use any of the stuff we have. YES I am absolutely positive that Jstor, Pubmed, Cinal, Wiley InterScience and Ebscoe are NOT "internet" sites. They are databases and they are citeable resources even though your professor told you that you could not use the internet to do your research. It was a long day.
Monday evening the Fire Department held a regular business meeting as we do every 1st & 3rd Monday. I am the Secretary so what ever mood I'm in or what kind of day I've had, business must be done. I hate Mondays. But this meeting went suprisingly well, even the nominations for officers wasn't a big deal. The Annual Meeting is the middle of January. Another joy of being a firefighter, yearly reports, change officers. . . (sigh).
Monday night/Tuesday morning, I woke up with a virus. I MEAN NASTY VIRUS that had me living in the bathroom or sleeping for three days. My 48 hr virus extended to 72 hrs. I dehydrated BIG TIME. My blood sugar is still low but I'm getting back to normal. I think. Guess who gets to clean up after me when I'm sick? Uh huh, ME. At least I didn't leave the bathroom tissue off the shopping list & had a couple cans of disinfectant on hand.
As I lay on the couch trying to regain my senses I kept the pager on so I could at least LISTEN to the calls.
I was listening to an MVA call, truck vs deer, when I heard a very excited officer in garbled tones say something like: "Somebody get that license plate!! She almost ran over THREE firefighters!" So much for Hi Viz vests, huh?
The next thing I heard was the Deputy Chief, aka my little brother trying to recite a plate number, and 9-1-1 telling them that they were on the phone with the Post (OHP) at that time. Keep in mind that "my little brothers" are a Lt who is nearly 40 and the DC, almost 37 yrs old. A few seconds later, my cell phone rang. Little brother #2 said "Hey, are you listening to this Sh*t? This lady comes across the wrong side of the road, almost takes out 3 of our guys, they were diving out of the way & whizzed off. I followed her to get her plate number but I almost lost her. I'm going the limit myself & she's way ahead. She's all over the road. Must be a DUI. I guess I'll be the first one on scene when she hits someone or the ditch and can call 9-1-1."
The police got behind her from the description of the vehicle & followed her three blocks or more before she stoped on the ramp to the freeway, IN the LEFT lane, not to the side, but ON the road!! Brother stoped behind them.
Sometimes when he's had an "OH SH*T!!" moment, he calls me to talk until his heart is back to normal. We were still on the line when the officer walked back to him and asked "Did you all have flares or anything out?" So li'l bro, being my little brother, told the officer to "Smell my fingers. No seriously, smell. What is that?" The Police officer replied "Smells like sulpher, Man, YOU smell like sulpher. Guess that answers that question, Road Flares, huh?" Bro said "Yeah, flares, cones, hi viz vests, BIG ole RED fire truck with flashing lights, an Ambulance with flashing lights and a couple of PVs on the side of the road lit up like Christmas. She came across the center line and the guys had to jump out of her way. She had 3 of them diving."
Then I heard the officer telling him in an agitated voice that the lady says there were no lights, no flares, nothing. She didn't see the fire truck or anybody. She didn't know why they yelled at her when she passed. The lady in the back seat is screaming that her nephew is ___ ____ ____ . He is a policeman and we don't know who we are dealing with." The officer evidentially wasn't impressed with the threat. The "Post" had advised the officer, a municiple guy to quote "ball her out and let her go". A law enforcement officer had not wittnessed it and there was nothing to cite her for at that point. Then the PO and the DC introduced themselves and wished each other a nice day.
Hearing the name of the nephew, I realized that if ___ ___ ___ is her nephew then a couple of firefighters/law enforcement guys might also be her nephews. You would think she would have more respect for firefighter and law enforcement that being the case.
Later, one of the afore mentioned law enforcement/firefighter guys (who has been one of my brother's best friends since . . eons ago before they were both Junior FFs in the 80s/90s) called his cell and told him that Mom is pretty upset so son is pretty upset too. MOM SAYS: "There wasn't any warning signs anywhere at that accident or what ever it was. The firetruck was just right there in the way. . and then they chased them with their redlights and sirens trying to pull them over . . and they were scared so they ran . . and then the policeman finally got between them and the truck that was on their bumper all the way down the road trying to force them off the road . . and they stopped because they thought they should report the guy. . . and they tried to file a complaint but the officer wouldn't listen . . and so she called ___ _____ ____ . . and he is going to take care of it."
Li'l Bro informed him that the reason he had followed them was because he couldn't get the license number but kept them in sight, was on the radio with 9-1-1 and was instructed by the Post to do so. He explained that the reason they yelled at her was because she drove left of center, almost hit three men in bright yellow turn out gear after she passed the cones and flares. The truck he was driving does not have red lights or siren on it at all.
Bro named names of the firefighters who fled for their lives, the Assistant Chief in charge of the scene, the two medics who watched it happen and the occupant of the wrecked vehicle who was also a wittness. Then told him to contact 9-1-1 to get the tapes if he doesn't believe him.
As it turns out, there were four women in the vehicle on their way to the city for dinner. Seventy five year old Aunt Blabby was driving yet none of the four have the same story of what happened. Thank goodness she didn't kill anyone driving so irratically. Although, her driving style may also be a difference of opinion for those of us who don't exceed the speed limit, drive on the right side of the road, understand that a red traffic light means to stop and realize that a fire truck usually means there is a problem on the road and slow down, not play chicken with firefighters.
Saturday it started to snow, mid-morning, the first weekend in December when lots of folks are out and about. There was rain mixed with snow at first then snow with the temperature at about twenty eight degrees. Icy!!
Then the tones start going off ALL OVER the county. There were so many accidents the police couldn't keep up with them. When this happens 9-1-1 tries to get someone to every incident. That includes the Highway Patrole, municipal law enforcement agencies, sometimes out of their jurisdiction and the Sheriff's department or sometimes the local VFD. The FD is responsible for emergencies on the roadway. We often "triage" calls for OHP or EMS. Radios and PVs go into action in these situations. Even the FD has only so many apparatus to cover a lot of territory. One of our units will "check out" an accident then inform 9-1-1 of the severity, keeping in touch with our officers to report what response is necessary. If there are no injuries or no medical transport, we try to take pictures, fill out a report with the make/model of the vehicle(s), owner, driver, occupant & insurance information for a report then get the vehicles off the roadway if possible. Sometimes all that is required is traffic control until law enforcement and/or a tow truck arrives or it could require a full response. There is no law enforcement for our township. That responsibility falls to OHP or the SO. Ice and snow means everybody is on alert period. Having been down for so long and still weak as a cat, I decided I had better sit this round out. As I have said before, knowing your limitations is often a very good thing. I didn't need to be behind the wheel of a vehicle much less in a vehicle on ice.
My department was called out to a "roll over". I heard our trucks mark enroute. Before they reached the scene the tones dropped for a second accident. The Deputy Chief took the route of the second MVA, near his residence. The vehicles were off the roadway, there were no injuries, he reported to 9-1-1 so they could clear the call and then he proceeded to the original site. (Keep in mind that I am hearing radio traffic and later him explaining all this to me while he was replacing the light/fan in my kitchen. I didn't miss much :) At the "roll over" the guys were holding C-spine on the victim waiting for the ambulance to arrive. A second ambulance had been dispatched because the first one was involved in an accident enroute. We were advised by 9-1-1 that "our" squad would have an extended ETA because of that. The highest ranking officer at the scene was a Lieutennant (Our other brother). The Chief was out of the area, the AC was stuck on the other side of a steep hill behind a sheet of ice at his business. When the DC arrived, he asked about the report and tried to get things in order to get the trucks back in the station as soon as possible and everyone as far off the roadway as possible. He was still having visions of the day before. According to him the truck didn't roll at all. Everything in the back of the truck was still IN the truck.
The guys were concerned because the victim although not trapped was in pretty bad shape thinking maybe they should call for the chopper. That is something we really can't do, that is a medic's decission. There were no medical first responders, EMTs, off duty nurses or medics on scene. The "gory stuff" that was making them all queasy every time they looked inside the truck was actually four bowls of Wendy's chilli that had spilled and landed on the door pannel, the seats, the floor etc. It was a nice RED (sloppy mess) but the beans were still whole splashed all over the window. After almost an hour the ambulance finally arrived, the scene was cleared then everybody went home to get warm. By this time the snow had slowed down, the salt trucks were out so at least OUR AREA calmed down. It took a little longer for the crews down the road who were slip-sliding all over the county to get back to quarters.
The highlight of my evening was the holiday dinner at church, which I managed to eat and keep down. I left to run an errand. When I got back everyone had a different tale of how my nephew had decided Santa Clause was not his friend. He took off running as far away from him as he could, then leaped onto my husband's lap scared half to death looking for his GG, me. Poor little guy wouldn't even let me go with him to sit on Santa's lap. He sat on mine holding on for dear life with his head burried in my shoulder, his arms locked tight around my neck and his legs clamped around my mid-section, his heels dug into my hips. Have you ever tried to dislodge from a frightened two year old who does not want to be put down? He did however wave bye-bye to Santa Clause and told him Merry Christmas as he was safely out the door. We had our picture made together with my niece in Santa's sleigh by the Christmas tree. Now everyone knows why there are no pictures of my brother on Santa's lap.
Next weekend is the FDs annual Holiday Dinner. It is always the second weekend in Dec, between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hopefully folks will bring their family and we can enjoy some down time together.
I am not a very merry "holiday" person. I usually get my Christmas spirit about December 20th or whenever the semester rush is over. I don't have the time, patients or energy to bake or decorate or shop before then. The trouble is I still want to be the kind of person who makes the entire season a joy for my family and I always come up short of my own expectations. Maybe this year will be different.