Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Winter and fire safety

The onset of cold weather reminded the big city copper of some of the worst memories of a copper's experience. Fires.

True, the fire department does all the fire fighting and are the usual "heroes" but more times than not it is a copper or two that are the first to arrive and get involved.

One night two young coppers were responding to a disturbance in a large apartment building. They stepped off the elevator and into a smoked filled hallway. They turned the corner and saw a bucket of tar with a mop. Further on was an apartment door on fire with the flames spreading to the ceiling. Seeing flames spreading across a ceiling was a shock. There had to be ten apartments on this floor and the building was at least twenty stories high.

They put in the emergency call for help and began to pound on apartment doors. The tenants, realizing the danger , began to gather their families and head for the stairs. Several helped to warn their neighbors.

The sound of sirens announced the arrival of help. The coppers went to the top floor and pounded on doors. They assisted as many people as they could find. The fire spread rapidly so the coppers had to get out.

The street was filled with fire equipment, ambulances, and police cars. The coppers had saved a few lives by their quick reactions. They were exhausted and had breathed in smoke so were driven to the hospital to get checked out.

The fire and evacuation was intense but the real trauma was in the ER. The coppers were taken immediately. A nurse approached with the nastiest looking needle the copper had ever seen. "This might hurt a little" was an understatement. She inserted the needle into the coppers wrist to obtain arterial blood in order to check for carbon monoxide. She missed the artery and had to look for it by moving the needle around while in the wrist. The most intense pain the copper had ever felt almost made him vomit. The code prevented him from crying like a little girl especially since the screams from the next room were from the copper's female partner.

The nurse finally ended the torture and got her blood. The copper went and puked in private. The partner wept without embarrassment. They had done their job and saved some lives. The boss said nice job. No medals or accolades, just respect from the guys and girls on the watch.

The worst part of fire jobs was the casualties. The firemen find them and bring them out but coppers do the paper job and follow up.

Seeing fire victims on the clean white gurney at the morgue didn't make it any easier to do the job. In order to see a body burned beyond recognition or children burst open like plumper hot dogs, a copper needed to flip the switch that let him step out of his self and be the professional he needed to be. When a copper suppressed all emotion, the experience was fascinating. The smell wasn't any worse than burnt meat and burned beyond recognition really meant what it implied. Gender identification was visibly impossible but every muscle was clearly visible.

Thank goodness for the ability to suppress emotions.

Practice and preach fire safety.


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