It feels like forever since I have been able to dedicate some time to the blog, Irene really took a toll on us here in the Richmond Va area and a lot of people are still recovering. I was lucky enough (or unlucky enough) to be on shift for the big hurricane day, and belive me when I tell you I found out why the nickname for the station I am at now is “The Bad Bottom”.
The day started off normal enough, breakfast, checking out the rigs, the officers went to an already scheduled officers meeting, ran a few mundane calls, and then it started! First it was just raining, but the winds were picking up, and then boom the bottom fell out and the winds were in the 30 MPH range. Trees began taking out power lines, people started losing power, accidents, and of course the panic EMS calls. The call load ramped up fast and we stayed on the road most of the day at one point being on the engine for 3 solid hours without a break in between calls. We would clear one call and go to the next one. At one point the county had 300 pending calls, with 100 of those calls being in my stations district. Thankfully the Chiefs called in the off duty Fire Marshals, and training staff to staff up our brush trucks, attack pumpers, and reserve engines. That allowed us to be available for only the serious runs and allowed units to start addressing the line, and tree down runs. The most significant call was a cable line that was backfeeding a house, and energized it, which my Lt. found out the hard way when he touched the siding. he was ok but it was a lesson we all learned for future dealings.
Even with that relief we were up all night, and into the next morning. We were held over about 30-45 mins the following morning until the on coming chiefs could get staffing straight and figure out which district had the most pending calls that needed to be handled. When I got home I was met with no power, and several trees down but no serious damage. I slept most of the day.
The following day we were back on shift and the ancillary support units were no longer being utilized. After 2 days there was still aprox. 60 calls still pending in various districts, so our extra man went out on our attack pumper and started clearing those calls. It started off slowly enough but then the repairs started taking effect and blown transformers, arcing power lines, fire alarms, and the like were the menu of the day.
All in all it was a positive experience for me, I learned a lot and I have some thoughts on things I would do the next time this happens. The only thing that bugs me is the management from the upper echelon. Now before I get into that I will have to say that my Battalion Chief was a warrior, while other chiefs seemed to be sitting in offices, talking on phones, and in EOC’s my chief was out making sure we were ok. I said earlier that the off duty staff was called in, which was nice. However these guys were making over time money, and since they were only assigned to the “non emergent” calls they slept all night making over time while the on duty guys got beat down. I think this poor on or officers that were staffing the communications center and telling the dispatchers what units to send on what runs. My engine had been on 30 calls when we went to bed, send the OT guys on the next one and let the on duty guys get some rest. Other than that I think things went well.
On the home front my wife did a stellar job as usual taking care of the kids, and the house while managing to staff the Virginia EOC for a shift, and be the point of contact for the State EMS Task Forces, and deploy resources to needed areas. She has also started a blog that is more heavy on the EMS and Emergency Management side of things you can check out what she has to say here: http://stickysidedown.wordpress.com/ you can also follow her on twitter @stickysidedwn
So now that we have power back, we can get back to normal, which means not only in life but with the blog as well. I still plan on finishing my thoughts and posts on Vertical Venting, and some other topics are always cooking up in my head. This coming up week is Richmond Race week so I will be out at the race track starting Thursday.
Do not forget to follow along on twitter @averagejakeff
As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!