Day 16: Two kinds of torture

I’m fairly
certain that over the years, fire academy instructors from all over the nation gather
to devise evil ways in which to mentally and physically exhaust recruits. Maybe
there’s some secret yearly convention, or a press conference into which only PT
instructors are allowed.

Regardless of how
these ancient methods are passed down, each and every one of them is an
ass-kicker. We came across one such ritual this morning, in the awkwardly–lit
minutes before dawn.

Take two truck
tires and stack them on top of one another. Tie a 100’ section of 2½” hose to
them, and get ready to run.

The first few
people to line up took off at a full sprint with a couple feet of hose
thrown over their shoulder, as instructed.
  As expected, all three almost fell over when the hose pulled
taught (it was like watching Charlie Brown and the football). Unfortunately,
the recruits were expected to continue running for another fifty feet until we
reached a curb at the end of the driveway. Turn around, drop to a knee, and
haul those two tires towards you. Then, run back to where you began and run/haul
in the exact same manner until the tires reached the starting line again.

There are no
two objects in the universe that offer a higher coefficient of friction than rubber
on concrete.

After three
cycles of this, my right knee looked like hamburger (should have knelt on the
pile of hose, dummy), and my quadriceps locked up. According to the members of 994,
each recruit was once ordered to haul a single tire up to the top of the
tower—all while leaning over the edge and gripping the rope with thick fire



“Aw, dammit,
come on! I thought I had that one!”

I winced
slightly as Harold jiggled the needle in frustration. I was used to it, for
sure; but there were very few people that couldn’t get an IV in the pipe-sized
veins in my forearm.

Yes, it was
time to teach the EMTs in 994 how to insert an intravenous catheter.
As medics with experience, the four of us were tasked to assist in their education.

“assistant” is Acadamese for “pincushion.”

No, just
kidding. We offered our arms up to nervous, jittery volunteers—some of whom
were better than others. I’m currently sporting four holes in my arms, but
thankfully only one of them makes me look like a junkie. I remember my moment
of pride when I nailed my first IV, and I was happy to educate the recruits
about the procedure and share in their success.

The highlight
of the day came when our lead instructor, Sgt. Halliwell, became a test subject.
He knew that there were recruits who were squeamish with needles and blood, and
so he decided to stir up the shit and
order one or two of them to start an IV on him.

Needless to
say, it didn’t end well. The Sergeant began screaming (only half–jokingly) the
moment his IV was jerked loose by an unsteady hand, and his pants and the floor
were spattered with blood. Everyone was laughing too hard at the inane things he was shouting to do anything
useful, and Recruit Campbell simply froze up. Shortly after the medieval bloodletting
session (complete with pictures), the Sergeant retreated back to his office—probably
to find some cookies and orange juice, given his recent blood donation.

Everyone was
still laughing as we did our final line-up in the warm afternoon sun.

Who are we?”

“Nine-nine-four! Nine-nine-four!”

let’s get the fuck outta here. Can someone go check on the Sarge?”

1: In Washington, D.C., EMT-Basics are allowed to start IVs under certain circumstances. Most often, there must be an advanced provider (paramedic) en-route or on-scene in order for them to do so.


  • Ray says:

    Great post! (“coefficient of friction — rubber + concrete” bwahaha!). Great visuals, too — I picture a doberman reaching the end of the chain (or Christina Ricci in “Black Snake Moan”). Tough day, though, fer sure! (That which doesn’t kill me . . . yeah, yeah, yeah.

  • Sharms says:

    The second part of your post brings me back to the good old days at the Center. Gummy and I were partners and did just fine…so Guy gave me the Rabbi and I had instajunky arms.

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