I used to like snow. Really, I did.

e9_smImage © muohace_dc

I used to like playing in the snow, stomping through it… snowball fights, snow angels, the whole nine wintery yards.

But after working in all this?

I’m kicking the head right off of the next snowman I see (and see them I will, because it’s dumping snow right now and I’m working tomorrow).

So many streets were impassable, even with snow chains. Many of our calls involved parking the engine and ambulance way down the block and hiking our equipment through the streets to get to the patient’s house—which may or may not offer us a shoveled walkway for access.

snowdrift_smImage © meischc

I lost count of how many times we had to dig the ambulance out. The engine became stuck a few times, too—and without fail, as soon as we dig ourselves out, here comes a shout from down the street: “Hey, can you guys come give us a hand?”

Why you’re out here at this ungodly hour of the night, trying to make headway on an unplowed street in a little-ass sedan, I have no idea. But never mind that, intelligent citizen. We’d be happy to assist you in your time of need. *grumble*

spo_smImage © theqspeaks

A few funny moments:

  • Walking back down the street—carrying the med bag, cardiac monitor, and O2 bottle—I slipped and landed, cartoon-style, right on my ass (I only wish the oxygen bottle hadn’t fallen between my legs at that exact instant). A few concerned folks who were out shoveling their sidewalks sharply stifled their laughter and asked if I was okay. Ah, everything’s okay here; my pride broke my fall.
  • Warning: not all packed snow is as sturdy as you might think. Standing on what used to be a sidewalk, I was asking questions to a patient outside. Suddenly, I found myself three feet lower than I was before. I’m sure it was quite comical (including my awkward climb out of the thigh-deep snow): “So sir, how long have you been FOOOM—uh, dammit.”
  • “Hey rookie! Why don’t you climb up front and see how the engine handles in the snow.” Shit. As I hauled myself into the driver’s seat, I experienced a horrible recurring dream that always ended with me typing a very long letter: “Dear Fire Chief…”
  • Calls delayed dinner until 8pm; calls further delayed my cleaning duties, such that I was still mopping at midnight. (Being a rookie; ain’t it grand??)
  • 1:30 a.m. – “Ma’am, how long have you been experiencing this headache?”   “Since July.”
  • 4:20 a.m. – resetting a fire alarm at a large garbage facility, slogging through (what I hope was) water as we contemplated what time our relief would arrive.

I folded up my sheets and pillow at 4:45 a.m., having not even climbed into bed once.

e16_smImage © triotriotrio

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As far as keeping up with changing weather conditions, Twitter can prove extremely useful.

DC Fire/EMS (@dcfireems):

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DC Dept. of Transportation (@DDOTDC):

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Maryland State Hwy Administration (@MDSHA):

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They’re perfect for mobile updates, so you can keep updated whether you’re out and about or stuck inside.

I’ll be out there tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to another fun-filled tour on the Northeast streets…

Stay safe, everyone.

/RL

1 Comment

  • TeddySanFran says:

    Wow, what a great blog. Your stories make me miss the East Coast — sort of. Our firefighters fight fire differently here, or maybe they fight it the same but the fires are different.

    Stay safe out there. Keep on blogging, please.

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Alex Capece

Washington, D.C. Firefighter and Paramedic

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"For anyone who ever wanted to grow up and become a firefighter... from someone who did just that."
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