Saturday, May 22, 2010

So This is What Vacation Is...

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the first summer post of 2010. Well the first post of summer vacation. It's not summer. In fact, as of today it's still late winter with the damp wet snows that Montana springs are so famous for. I would be surprised but honestly, I've seen it snow on my birthday, in August, late August, before. So no I am not surprised. It's been a busy few weeks to say the least. First I rocked this semester with a 4.0 again so I am sitting with a 4.0 for the year. It's a nice accomplishment considering the last time I rocked a 4.0 was a 6th grade. Not that I didn't do well in school after that, but being a teenage boy my focus was more on chasing girls and causing trouble. Mostly the first one. Anyway, having a 4.0 is nice. It's amazing to finally find something that I love and keeps my interest career wise.

Now it's time for summer. What is this? These random long periods of time where I don't have a paper to worry about, or training to do? These moments where I sit here and do nothing. Free time you say? I remember hearing something about that last August. So that is what this is, free time... Interesting concept. Actually I won't lie, it is nice to be able to just breathe a little bit. Something people close to me seem to tell me all the time. Just breathe Jack, just breathe. Yeah... It's nice.

So with this new found free time I am constantly finding myself looking for stuff to do. I've started looking over my EMT stuff again. The paramedic at my work is thinking of putting on a paramedic class and asked me to be apart of it. I've been back and forth on it, mostly because it's going to be a lot of information and it was three grand to do. Well a rumor has it that it might be a lot cheaper, half the initial price. So yeah there is a good chance that if it pans out like that I will definitely be talking the class. I think. I'm still on the fence. If I can juggle the rest of school, having a life, work and this class I will take it. If not I will wait until I am done with the degree I am working on now. I won't know for sure until I have all the information.

Speaking of work it's been an exhausting few days. During the school year I would work 60 hours a week and during my school vacation I was only scheduled for 30. Ridiculous eh? I would agree. However the new paramedic we hired, also named Mike started making the schedule and gave me 40 hours a week. I think the higher up folk that work there telling him to do so had something to do with that too. Which is nice. I enjoy full time. Well as I have said the past three days I have worked I have spent 25 out of the last 28 hours in an ambulance. I've been to Missoula twice, Deer Lodge, Whitehall/Cardwell, and Kalispell. Which is fine because it's all been Fort Harrison VA time. So it's federal time and after 12 hours on VA time, it's VA overtime which I have 13 hours of.

The fire department has been busy too. I went on my first wild land fire. So picture this. I'm in the bathroom giving myself a haircut. I'm about half way to two thirds of the way done when my pager goes off for a campfire gone astray that is now burning a 20' x 20' piece of land. Well here I am, clippers in one hand, pager in the other. What do I do? Well I raced through the rest of that hair cut and raced to the fire department. I was able to come back and clean up what I missed after don't worry. Anyway, I managed to get to the station as one of the engines was pulling out. But we took my Bravada there because it was faster. Two things  I learned that day driving. One my car hates dirt roads, two, it can still handle the heck out of them.

We get there and the scene was amazing. 8 ft flames racing towards the pine beetle devastated blanket of orange that is the dead pines 15 feet away. Well we throw the water/foam combination on the flames and snuff it out. The rest is mop up work. Chipping away at smoldering logs and blasting it with the hose. What was left of the tent near the campfire? A tent spike melted in half and a cot frame. The irony was that the people who were hired to make sure the place was safer from wild fires were the ones that left the camp fire unattended. We then joked around with some of the DNRC staff and went to the station for rehab. This consisted of filling tenders. Then as I have said before, I wen't to finish my haircut.

There is something to be said about being able to run off, fight a fire, and come home after doing a job well done. It's nice.

That weekend we worked on tender 2. Scraping bed liner out of the tank because water had gotten under it and was causing it to mold. Not the most fun but taking pride in my department was cool. We had training this past week. It was wild land also. We learned how to assemble fold-a-tanks and drafting water. The pictures you see are dropping water from Tender 1 and me rocking the super banana fire suit. I spent most of that night driving Tender 1 as you see in the third picture. It's old and the air brakes are touchy. By touchy I mean that if you want to use them, rather than pressing slowly to slow into braking you have to tap them hard enough to slow you down without going through the windshield. That was itself a pain to master but I'm getting it. Also with being old, the tender only had a hand primer. Being the only young strapping gentleman in the group, that was my job. Get the air out of the line. We filled up the tank and went back to the station.

That's about it this for these past two weeks since school has been let out. We have a fireman's funeral precession we have to do on Monday. A friend, coworker and fire department member lost his wife to cancer. She was also a member of the department. While I am excited to experience what is a very honoring tradition of the fire service, I am sad for his loss.

I will write on that experience this week. Nothing in detail of the funeral itself out of respect for my friend and his family but just my thoughts on it. So stay tuned for that.

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