Monday, April 21, 2008

Ten days later...

Another accident on a bad corner south of town and once again I rolled to the scene. Upon arrival we found a single vehicle on it top, fully involved in flames. We worked quickly to put out the flames and then we checked for victims. A lone occupant, burnt beyond recognition. I caught only a glimpse of his face and turned away quickly.

I walked down the road from the accident, my head in a daze as to what I had just seen. One of the crew members that had been at the bus accident pulled up to me. She asked if she was needed. I told her to go home, she did not want to see this. She did not hesitate to leave and said thank you as she headed for home.

Since I was the only firefighter in full gear I was asked to cut the top off the car once it was up righted. At that point I wished that I were not there at all. Somberly I began the task and when it was time to pull back the top, the assistant chief and myself kept our eyes forward and pulled the top open. Neither of us wanted to look again at what we had seen.

The horror of this accident was one that none of us would soon forget. This was only ten days after the Greyhound versus pedestrian call. I was the only one on our department to go on both. Fortunately there have been no other calls that I have rolled on with such graphic scenes of death.

I pray that those were the worst I will ever see.

Rescue Dog

"Greyhound versus pedestrian..."

At around 1:am the pager went off with a traffic crash for our department. When I heard the words "Greyhound versus pedestrian" I almost didn't go. What would I find upon arrival? No way this call was going to be easy.

I took off in Rescue One to check things out and call back to arriving units with a size up. I was first on scene and the picture was not good. A body in the middle of the road and a Greyhound bus parked a few hundred feet away with the flashers on. This section of highway thankfully has very little traffic at this hour. As I approached the body there seemed to be something missing, his head. My God! It was like a scene from a war zone.

A bit bewildered as to what to do the reassuring voice of my ambulance chief, Frankie,arriving on scene put me at ease. As other personnel arrived to the scene we began to find bits and pieces scattered for some distance down the highway. It was a grizzly scene and most of us felt a bit queasy as it sank in. The bus driver was a wreck as he recanted what he had seen. The first state trooper to arrive was as lost as the rest of us as to what to do. One of his fellow troopers arrived and took command of the scene and the first trooper felt as I did when my senior crew member arrived.

As the troopers took down statements from the bus driver and one passenger, we carefully led the few vehicles that passed that way through the scene. I had not let it bother me much until Frankie asked me to check under the bus to see if there was anything that we needed to remove. You want to check for body parts where?! As My flashlight lit up the underside of the bus I saw impact points....

Suddenly the magnitude of what had happened to this unfortunate soul hit home. I was pleased to report that there was nothing to remove and made my way back to my vehicle. The body had been covered with one of our disposable yellow blankets so that part was easier to deal with. We needed an ID on our victim so Frankie asked one of the EMTs to help her. It wasn't until later that I realized just how that affected him.

After several hours we were able to clear the scene and return to quarters. Most of us went next door to the bakery to get coffee and something to drink. Coy, who had helped Frankie get the victims wallet, sat down at the table in the corner. His face was as white as a sheet. I believe he too had wished he had not gone on this call. The baker asked what had happened. One of the EMTs told him that a pedestrian had been struck by a bus. When the EMT explained the guy had been on his hands and knees in the travel lane, the baker remarked "I guess he wanted to be sure he didn't miss the bus". The EMT broke out in laughter and quickly made her way outside the door to where I was. "God, I feel so embarrassed!" she said. "Don't be", I said. "That is your defense mechanism kicking in. That was not a pretty sight and laugh or not, you are protecting yourself from letting it get to you".

A debriefing meeting was held within a week and each told of what they saw and how it made them feel. Many things that I had blocked out were relived and the incident seemed more gruesome than what I had originally perceived. It seems that my defense mechanism against the horror of that scene worked quite well, enabling me to deal with what needed to be done.

None of the younger crew members including myself had seen anything that graphic before at an accident scene. We hoped that we never would again.

As for me, there was another that would be just as bad, ten days later.

Rescue Dog

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Running on faith.

It has been over a month since my last post. My life is a bit complicated right now and I am running on pure faith as I look to the future. My home is up for sale but I do not wish to have to do so. My mom, who lives next door, is in need of me now more than ever and I made a promise to my dad to take of her. Since my dad passed away in October it has become clear that I must remain here to fulfill that promise.

I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and have held onto his promises to me. My faith has grown stronger with each trial I face and each time it becomes easier to get through tough times.

I have seen miracles in my own life that are a testament to the fact that He is always there for me. If you who are reading this now also believe in Him, include me and my family in your prayers. I know not what He has in mind for me but it will be better than I expected. He loves to do that to me just to see what I will do!

My cup does run over with His many blessings even though at times things do not appear so. My eyes are opened to new things and understaning daily as I reach out to Him and let His will be done.

Running on faith,

Rescue Dog

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The logger's life: Part 1

I avoided this industry for thirty years but since I began in April 2007 there is a whole new appreciation for this kind of work. Yes, sometimes the weather is quite foreboding but the Oregon coast range is the perfect nursery for growing trees. Even a rainy day can be a thing of beauty.

As a photographer I have captured many a wondrous scene in one of God's most awesome creations, a forest. Now that I work in that same forest on a daily basis I have captured many more images that are nothing short of stunning. Of course it might also be because this is the happiest I have ever been in my working career.

At the age of ten I began working with wood and have become quite well known for the many things I create in my workshop. Thus working as a logger seems quite natural. The crew finds unique pieces of wood on occasion that I take home to work on. Walking sticks, slabs for woodturning or carving and odd shaped pieces that end up as yard art are amongst the many things I have done since last April.

My job is chaser on the landing. Perfect! My many talents are put to their best use in this position. My main job is to unhook the chokers when the yarder brings them in. But there is much time that I spend waiting for the next turn so I have put that time to good use. Organizing and cleaning the tools comes naturally to me. The crew is quite pleased with this and that makes me happy. What more could one ask for?

The firefighter in me is a big plus as well as I have become very safety conscious after thirty years of service. Tiny details that my boss may feel aren't important are part of my daily routine. One thing I have learned throughout my working career is that the guys doing the work usually know how to do the job more efficiently and safely than the boss ever could. My boss is a great guy but just a bit impatient. Yes, time is money but speed kills. Find the happy medium between these two and stick with it.

I found a sign in a small store a few months ago that says it all for a logger: BETTER TO BE CAREFUL A HUNDRED TIMES THAN TO BE KILLED ONCE. Amen to that!

Keep checking each week to read more about the life of a logger.

Rescue Dog.