Neighbor kids

Most blogs take me a day or two to finish thanks to my brain, my kids, and my life. But not today!!!

Is it wrong to despise some of the kid’s in your neighborhood?? I’m nice and I show some grace….until I’ve had enough. Which takes about 5 minutes. Then I talk to them pretty much like I do my own kids.

Like:

  • “What did you just say?”
  • “I didn’t ask for your opinion.”
  • “It’s time to shut your trap.”
  • “No one told you you could have that.”
  • What did I just tell you?” 
  • “You gonna act like a fool in here then you’re goin’ outside.”
  • “You’re only safe from the belt because you aren’t mine.” (I’ve never paddled mine with a belt, but the suggestion sure does work well) 
  • “Don’t make me start counting…”
  • “Nope. Not gonna happen. Hate it for ya”.
  • “Well then, see ya!”

And they just keep coming back. Usually at lunch or dinner time….or both. 

Am I the only parent with this problem?????

Turkey comas and dysfunction

Unbeknownst to us at the time this picture was taken, we had enough food to feed all the companies that respond on the 3rd alarm fire we had. We rotated crews to the station to eat a Thanksgiving meal.

Some days I absolutely amaze myself. They don’t happen often. As a matter of fact, it might only be once a month. The rest of the time I’m turning in circles wondering where to start.

This feeling reminds me of Thanksgiving Day 2017 when I found myself in the street looking at a 2nd alarm fire (it was only 2nd alarm at that moment). We had just finished our firehall Thanksgiving feast. I was making myself comfy on my couch when the tones hit. 

I’m not even sure how I got there. I was in a turkey coma and I just followed my firetrucks rolling out of the station. This day, I had to. I was so sleepy! Plus I didn’t hear the address. Ha!

I rarely lead the way to a call. In my opinion, the firetrucks need to roll in first. They are the most important and so is there placement. Some may say this is the wrong approach and that as a leader I should go in first. But I disagree in this situation. It took me a while to figure out my officers. To learn how they think. Learn how the respond to me. And I choose to LEAD from the back of the pack because I have faith in them.

It can be done. Pushing them forward. Letting them make decisions on their own and to take control. Hell, they are adults getting paid to make decisions. Most of my officers are seasoned and know what they are doing. They know their people the best. They and their drivers know the maximum abilities and limitations of their apparatus. Use that to your advantage.

They know I will make a decision.They know who is ultimately “in charge” (I don’t like that saying). They know when I say to do something a certain way then they need to do it because there is usually a reason. I don’t give out piddly orders just because I can. They also know that all responsibility falls on me if things goes wrong. And I have broad enough shoulders to take that. 

So back to Thanksgiving….

This is what we refer to as the fire “gettin’ it”. 

As I rounded the corner and said “Oh Shit” at the amount of flames literally roaring out the windows, I didn’t bother to look at any street sign. Genius. This building was a block long. In order to do a 360 I had to speed walk pretty far. (For those who know me, picture that in your head. Haha!). 

 While trying to direct incoming firetrucks to where they needed to go, I found myself a block down the road turning circles…. literally. I had no clue what street I was standing on. This moment later became the only way I could describe to a counselor and my psychiatrist, how I felt. Perfect analogy.

Just in case you need one I’m going to insert this here…

www.riverviewpsychiatry.com

Most supervisors will have very similar moments (turning in circles). And they won’t tell a soul. But me?? I think it’s funny. I can laugh at myself. I’m me and I’m not perfect. Do I often say “I’m not perfect”? Yes. Do I admit when I mess up? Yes. Do I share my story about literally turning in circles in the street? Yes, obviously I do. 

I posted on Facebook and in a recent blog about pulling into the driveway and thinking the newspaper was a cat. I had someone comment “I can’t believe you would post that.” 

Well why not? A huge part of fire service in EGO. And ego, in my opinion, holds us back. Ego tells us we are all knowing, we are perfect, our way is the only way. And that just simply isn’t true. Ego tells us that those we supervise are literally beneath us. That definitely isn’t true.

Our people are assets. Treating them as such gets you further. Letting them know that you aren’t perfect too isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s just simply a way to communicate with your people. Letting them know that despite wanting things to go perfectly, they won’t. And you know that from experience.  


a 360- the term we use in the fire service to describe walking around the entire structure (360°) involved in fire in order to see everything, such as fire extent, exposures, potential hazards or suppression hindrance.

Get out of the way

Just rant about a pet peeve of mine…..

The kids and I attended our swim team’s award banquet last night at a local church that had graciously allowed us to used  their dining hall  area. At the end of the ceremony, we were all asked to help take down tables and chairs in order to put the room back to the way it was. 
When I say “WE were asked”, I am referring to all 150 people that showed up for the banquet. And as we started to break down tables and chairs, I noticed that most of those people were helping in some capacity. Some may have only gotten the chair they had used, but, hey, that’s helping. 

There was this one one family though. A man, a woman, and about 4 kids….All perfectly capable of helping out, but weren’t. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that the fact that the cake had been cut and was being served was an important moment, but these assholes got their cake and sat back down at their table. The only table left with people at it. 

The table RIGHT IN FRONT of the closet that stored all the tables!!!!!! Literally. Right in front of it.

Do you think these parents bothered to at least move their table some so those of us working to put the tables in the closet could have more room? HELL NO!!!

We are talking about 8ft tables going in a 10ft closet. All while navigating around a table and chairs about 4ft from the closet door. And let’s not forget the 6 people sitting or meandering around that table flinging cake crumbs all over the floor.

You can’t tell me they didn’t notice us as we navagated around them….all 30 times. I had to literally bite my tongue to keep from making an ass of myself. 

If you aren’t going to help, get out of the damn way…. please. 

Rant over.

The real me….Volume 1

​So when I pulled in the driveway last night I saw a cat laying there on the edge of the asphalt. I noticed the poor thing didn’t move even when my headlights hit it. So I pulled up the driveway and parked. Cat hadn’t budged. How strange! So I got out sayin’ “hey sweet kitty”. I figured it was sick or injured.

Nope. It’s was the newspaper.

_____________________________

I’m the size of a man. I own multiple guns. I’m certified as a cop and would defend one in a heart beat. I’ve arrest complete psycho (arsonist are CRAZY!!!) I’ve run into burning buildings so many times I lost count. I even pulled a 4 year old out of one. Heck, I even own a snake! 

But my co-worker, Telly, has unintentionly startled me 463 times and at least 7 of those times I may have wet my pant.

_____________________________

When I was the Captain on an engine company we we’re responding to some sort of fire alarm. As we approached one of the bridges that crosses the river, I saw a guy hanging off the side of it.

I pointed him out and while my crew was desperately trying to find where I was pointing I reached for the radio to call for our platform truck to respond. Where the guy was clinging to the side of the bridge was still over land and it was reachable with the platform. My plan was perfect.

Except for the fact that he was just a shadow.

_____________________________

Back in 2012, the fire department got a new knock-on system. For those unaware, that is what we call the lights and tones that come on in the firehall to alert us of a call. 

This new system was shocking to say the least and hard to get used to. Your heart ended up in your throat when it went off.

My bunk in the firehall was a room big enough for a twin bed and small table. It also had a small bathroom with a small corner shower.

Shortly after we got that damn system, it went off in the middle of the night. I shot out of my bed in a panic and ended up in the shower yelling “How do I get out of here???!!!

_____________________________

Back in college my friend and I were at the gym on treadmills next to each other. At some point  I looked at her to talk and my foot came off the side of the belt. I stumbled off the side but stayed upright. No big deal.

Until I immediately put one foot back on the treadmill….that was still moving. That time I landed on my face and burned the crap out of my legs on the moving belt. 

_____________________________

On a fire scene one time, out of the corner of my eye, I thought a ditch full of water with grass clippings floating on it was solid ground. I stepped over a supply line right into the ditch. Upper thigh deep. Turned my ankle. 

Just call me “Grace”. 

Cool, calm, and collected

In emergency services it is a gamble whether you get a full meal, a fresh meal, a hot meal, or even a meal at all. Yesterday was no different. Lunch was cut short for a possible apartment fire.

Someone called and said his apartment was on fire when, in fact, it was not on fire. We of course didn’t know that so six firetrucks, myself, a medical unit, and three patrol cars responded with lights and sirens….to open his door.

Yep. He just needed his apartment door open.

I still remember how it is to respond on a firetruck. Adrenaline starts pumping when you hear “apartment fire”. You get your turn-outs on as fast as possible. You strap on an SCBA. You make sure you have your mask, helmet, gloves, radio, flashlight. As the officer who’s truck will arrive first, you begin to formulate a plan of action. Who is going to catch the hydrant? Where is the closest hydrant in the first place!? Is there a possibility of entrapment? What if fire is going through the roof? Where will I tell trucks to stage? Who will be RIC (Rapid Intervention Crew)? What additional resources do I need to request?

Then you pull up to the address and you got NOTHIN’.  No smoke, no fire. Nothin’. Just a guy standing on the sidewalk wanting his apartment door open.

This is actually nothing new for us. It happens often for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is just because someone is lazy or just a total jerk. Other times….a majority of the time…it is someone who is a mental health consumer, has little to no resources for help, and/or they are just clueless to how things work.

 

“Lord Help Me”!!!  That is literally what I have to say when I exit my vehicle and I know I’ve got to keep my composure. It is very easy to lose your cool when your adrenaline is suddenly thrust into overdrive. VERY EASY. Immediate thoughts pop into your head like “What an idiot” or “What a jerk” or “He needs to go to jail”.

But this man was a mental health consumer. Testosterone was high when I walked up. Frustration was clear, not only for responders but for the man as well. I knew overwhelming him with accusations and anger might make things worse.

Not everyone has the mental capacity to understand that what they did was wrong. And people’s perceptions of their situation can be totally different from yours. I’ve learned through trial and alot of error, that your approach makes a huge difference.

A co-worker said something very simple and poignant one day while we talked about how people approach situations. He said “It’s not that hard to be nice for like 5 minutes.” Even if you have to fake it, try “nice” first.

I’ve noticed over the years that if I take a minute to gather myself before I even have a chance to lose my cool, then I myself am less stressed. Not that I’ve never lost my cool. I’m far from perfect. But it really is simple to be calm. I just remember not everyone thinks like I do. Not everyone functions like I do. Some don’t even know right from wrong.

A confident but calm approach doesn’t, by any means, say you are weak. If anything it says you are strong. You can easily manipulate a situation by being confident, controlled, and calm…even if you have to fake it. And others will follow your lead. I’ve seen it. I’ve used it. I’ve had success with it.

So if what you are doing when dealing with people isn’t working, change it up.

Be calm, cool, and collected.

 

Mama Chief advice

I recently joined an organization called HERdacity, an affiliate of the nonprofit Anywhere Woman Project. HERdacity.org is an online platform that was built to bring women from all walks of life together. To inspire. To mentor. To empower.

I am not an extreme feminist. A wise woman I know, Gail Holcombe, gave me feedback for this blog. She said “Feminism  has been made extreme by folks who fear strong women”. You can be a feminist without making a scene. You “simply support women and girls in their growth”.

I feel there are places women and men don’t need to merge. After close to 20 years in the fire service, I’ve learned alot about men. We are not the same. And that should be embraced as a good thing. One thing I do believe is that women are in no way “inferior” to men.

I am what I consider an advocate for women. I feel like at this point in my life I have more than sufficient wisdom in certain areas pertaining to women. I still have a lot to learn myself but I want to help them find their courage and their voice. To change their mindset of inferiority.

I truly have incredible men in my life…my father, my husband, my brother. And I have been extremely fortunate in my career in regards to how I have been treated by the men I work with. But there is one specific incident that happened to me several months ago that triggered this need in me to aggressively begin helping women find their voice. I will blog about it later so stay tuned!

There was a post on HERdacity.org asking for advice that I felt compelled to respond to. A woman, who was the Director of Events and Marketing at a corporate office, was in a situation where her supervisor told her that she had to be at a function occurring over the weekend. Sounds like a reasonable request from a supervisor, doesn’t it, considering events are her job?

She had organized this function, had everything in place, and knew it needed no oversight. She had also worked several prior weekends in a row at larger functions and needed some time off. So when asked by her supervisor if she planned to be there, she stated she wasn’t because there was no need for her to be.

Her supervisor proceeded to tell her that, because it was going to be an event only men were attending and that men didn’t know how to make coffee, she would need to be there….TO MAKE THE COFFEE.  He then told tell her if she couldn’t attend she needed to get one of the other office ‘girls’ to be there.

WTF?????  I mean seriously….WTF?

So here was my ‘tactful’ advice to her. I hope she can find her voice.

“I give this advice as a woman who has been in the fire service for 20 years as a career firefighter.  So I am a little rough around the edges now. Haha! So take it or leave it. The fact that you are seeking advice shows you are smart.

I think this will depend on the how well you and your supervisor work together and if he has a history of this that you know of. Don’t get me wrong…this walks all over me if he wasn’t making a joke. But, you definitely did the best thing to begin with which is not pop off at the mouth or be defiant.

You have several options. Ask him if he was kidding.  Maybe he was and he thought you caught on to it. I deal with that daily. Haha.

Or don’t ask him if he was kidding, then don’t show up. You can tell him you “didn’t think he could possibly be serious considering how sexist the suggestion was”.

Ask another man in the office to go if there isn’t one going all ready.

Have a quick staff meeting on how to make coffee or just leave instructions.

Or, if he was serious and he is telling you to be there to make coffee,  find your voice. It doesn’t have to be loud to make an impact. Here are some suggestions of thing that you could say when approach him again..because you need to:

-Tell him it makes you uncomfortable to be referenced as a barista….or however you want to phrase it.

-Tell him it is an insult to the men. What man doesn’t know how to make coffee????

-Flat out tell him that he is being sexist and using you in a demeaning way.

I say all these with some silliness, but all silliness aside, pick one, make it your own, and go for it.

One thing is for sure….you are better than just making the coffee.

Good luck!”

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes love me. Especially the pterodactyl kind. Every summer for the past several years has been miserable. I even said “forget it” to gardening, something I love, thanks to those blood suckers.

I’m serious people. The mosquitoes in our yard are like….carry-your-kid-off huge, Pterodactyls…..

Around March of this year I decided that I should finally follow my mother’s advice (it’s only taken about 42 years). She’s always said to  take B vitamins every day for stress and jaw-clenching… something I was experiencing.

I noticed a difference in the jaw-clenching immediately. Stress is an overwhelming thing if you don’t get it under control. Everyone has different ways of doing that. I added the Stress B Complex to my stress-reducing methods and am thankful I did. Little did I know it had an extra benefit.

That benefit: Being less attractive to mosquitoes. I continued taking Stress B-Complex once a day. When May rolled around and it was gorgeous outside I decided to take a chance and do some yard work. I thought for sure I wouldn’t last 10 minutes.

I spent hours outside and never got a single mosquito bite. None. Zero. I knew those suckers were there. I saw them…. remember, ours are pterodactyl size. They even landed on me!

In the back of my mind I was curious how it was possible I wasn’t getting bitten but at the same time didn’t put much thought into it as long as they weren’t biting the life out of me.

Then one day, scrolling through Facebook, I saw an article about vitamin B-1 and how it deters mosquitoes. You know how you read a gazillion ‘cure’, ‘DIY’, ‘the answer to all your problems’, posts that are garbage? Well this one wasn’t. I had tested out the theory before I even knew about it.

So…. B-Complex is now a daily thing. For me and my kids. I get the kids some multi-vitamin gummies with B vitamin in them. They seem to work so far.

Warning though…..B-Vitamins stink. Like, don’t carry them in your purse even in the bottle because your child might tell you your purse smells like a butt. They should also be taken close to meal or snack time. If not you may get a little burpy. 

Here are some links to the products I buy off of Amazon.com. Easy Peasy!

For me:

Nature Made Stress B Complex with Zinc Tablets, 75 Count

For the kids:

Sundown Naturals Kids Star Wars Complete Multivitamin, 60

Cheapest mosquito preventative EVER!! 

One more product I will throw in here for pets:

If you are looking for a GREAT flea and tick collar for your dog or cat check out what we use, Seresto, in the link below. 8 months of protection!!

 I love the convenience of Amazon, especially Amazon Prime! It is worth not having to go into a stinky pet store.

Seresto Collar Dog Large 70 cm by Seresto

I Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Volume 1

All in a day’s work…..

A private multi-million dollar company dialed 911 in order to get a firetruck to come babysit 2 propane tanks while they burned off left over propane fumes in them. 

For 16 hours. And for free.

_____________________________

A man calls from a gas station saying he was assaulted and he was dying. He needed cops and an ambulance, pronto! 
He had been maced by his Uber driver.

_____________________________

I hear one of my crews get dispatched on an assault victim. They stage a block away and wait for the police to arrive and secure the scene. All of the sudden I hear the Captain come over the radio….”Umm, dispatch? Can we tell PD to step it up? We’ve got a guy running around in the road with a machete”.
_____________________________

It’s 1230hrs. I’m about to turn in for the night hopeful to get some sleep. But we get dispatched on a vehicle wreck with entrapment. It’s pouring down rain, dark outside, and the incident is at the furthest end of our district…and literally at the edge of the city limits.

Dispatch then updates saying that the vehicle was off the road and was filling up with water.  I have the “this shit just got real” thought.

So here we go, one engine company, two rescue squads, my truck, several patrol cars and an ambulance driving with lights and sirens to respond to this vehicle entrapment off the road filling with water and 2 people trapped. In the dark. In the pouring down rain. 
Upon arrival, we found a car with it’s front passenger side tire off the roadway. Water was high all around it….about up to the bottom of the doors. Lady was “trapped” because she didn’t want to get her feet wet. 

App Savvy, I Am NOT

bizarro.com Sums it up! I wish it were that easy.

I’m about to lose my mind trying it figure out Google Adsense. 
Is it really as complicated as I think it is? 

I can devise and execute a plan of action for some of the worst shit ever.

But I can’t figure out Google Adsense. 

Now is a time when I need to refocus, meditate, drink a beer, punch a punching bag, garden, sew, lift heavy weights… ANYTHING other than look at this app any longer!!!

Before adding Wellbutrin to my mental health cocktail, which was only about a month ago, I wouldn’t have even tried to blog. 

Now that I have stepped off the ledge into blogging, feeling, and healing…and have become somewhat attached to the idea…I can’t figure out the software, technical, app-type stuff. (See. I don’t even know what to call it!!! Ha!) Heck, even watching YouTube tutorials hasn’t helped. 

BUT I am doing it. It’s something other than sleep all day. I am motivated for once in a really long time. 

Push through your depression and apathy. Seek help. I know you can do it. 

If you are in the Chattanooga, TN area I suggest www.riverviewpsychiatry.com

It’s always worth a try!

Make a decision

This cracks me up every time I read it!

www.powerofpositivity.com

I just got a phone call from one of my officers telling me that they had been dispatched to go sit at a private company and babysit two propane tanks while the fumes were burned off. 8 hours for each tank . 

Um…No. The officer knew he needed to run it by me. I, on the other hand, don’t have to run it by anybody. They pay me to make those type of decisions. So my response was…”Tell them I said “no” and that I said we don’t do that. They can call and hire a private company for that.” I know my officer is tactful and I knew he could handle the situation. But just in case, I added, “If they give you any trouble let me know. I’ll head that way.”

Know your people. Trust them, if they have earned it. Have their backs.  Even when they make a decision that isn’t the best choice. Back them for at least making a decision. Remember it could ALWAYS be YOU making the bad decision.

On with the story….I made a decision. I didn’t call and ask someone above me what I should do. I didn’t run my decision by anyone. I didn’t ask permission to say “no”. I just made a decision. 

It took all of 1 minute to make. We are EMERGENCY responders. Standing by for a burn-off isn’t an emergency. Now if it exploded then we would respond as the emergency responders that we are.

 Plus it is hot as hell outside. How miserable!! And boring!! We have training to do. Calls to run. Equipment to maintain. I can’t make my people sit in a running firetruck for 16 hours. 

Could I justify 16 hours of burning diesel at the taxpayer’s expense? AND at the expense of their safety? What if a house caught on fire and the closest firetruck was sitting there babysitting a tank? Nope. Not gonna happen. 

Unless…that company decides to call my boss. Then things could get flipped on me. You never know who might want to do favors for who. But my decision stands and I won’t back down. Won’t be the first and definitely not the last time. And because I’ve had my co-workers back time and time again, they have had mine. 

That’s how it is supposed to work.

I don’t care if it’s a multi-million dollar company. I don’t care who’s connected to who. My people are worth more to me than that. And so are the citizens of our city.