Thursday, August 5, 2010

Firefighters 24/7/365

Firefighters are rarely publicly recognized for their work. And why should we be? It's our job, and we get paid to do what we do. But every so often, an organization shows their appreciation for Firefighters. Usually this comes after large scale incidents like Brush Fires, Earthquakes, Floods, Riots, etc.

Sure, sometimes a citizen will thank us for what we do. Sometimes we even get cookies, cakes, ice cream or food. Sometimes a big hug. We do appreciate it, but really, it's not necessary. It's what we do.

Our Fire Station is near Dodger Stadium. The Stadium was once in another Fire Station's District. Even though we were closer to the main entrance, Dodger Stadium belonged to someone else. About 2-3 years ago, that other Fire Station was closed and a new one was built to replace it. That Station was moved about one mile from where they used to be, so their district was redrawn, and we ended up officially covering Dodger Stadium.

As far as I know, an individual Fire Station has never been personally recognized for their work by the Dodgers. But, for reasons unclear to us, we were chosen to be recognized today. The Dodgers asked us to pick four members to represent our Station, in a ceremony on the field before the game, and gave us four tickets to the Baseline box seats. These seats were in the second row from the field, and included all you can eat food from one of the Stadium Clubs.

The four individual members were chosen by seniority at the Station, one from each shift, and one chosen by our Chief. On the A shift Engineer Don Witty was chosen with about 17 years at this Fire Station. On the B shift, Engineer Richard Villata was picked with about 24 years at the Station. On the C shift, Apparatus Operator Rubin Hunt was chosen with about 20 years at this Station. The 4th was Captain Charles Clark who had many years in and around the Station, and spent the last 5 years at this Station. The last three were also going to retire within the next eight months. Family, friends, and co-workers were offered free tickets to the game. In total, we had over 40 people show up to give us support.

At the last minute, Captain Clark could not go due to an injury and he was not able to walk and/or stand up for a very long time. So, Capt Clark asked me to take his place. Even though I was scheduled to work Overtime that day, I gave it up for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

At Dodger Stadium, we were chaperoned by one of the staff. He gave us field passes and led us down to an area behind Home plate where they had roped off sections. There were many other groups there who were also being recognized or were guests of someone. This is where we learned that State Farm sponsored us for the "Good Neighbor" award. We met our State Farm representative, and invited them to our Station. We watched the opposing team hit batting practice. We took pictures. We picked up baseballs. Then we got instructions on how and where to line up, and we waited.

Little did we know, another group was waiting too. Members of the Morman Church were there, and one of the Elders was going to throw out the first pitch. We thought maybe we were going to do that. Well, we were kinda hoping we would.

Standing there in our roped off area, I was a little bored. Only the opposing team was out there, and no one famous was around. 2 brothers, both retired from the LAFD recognized us and talked to us for a few minutes, yelling from the stands.

Then I noticed something odd. I saw a man on the ground between 3rd base and Home Plate. People were around him. I didn't know why he was down, it could have been any reason. Maybe he got hit by a baseball? Anyway, I walked over to see what was going on, and noticed a man who at best, was not breathing well. Maybe he was choking on something? I removed his dress shirt and tie and checked his pulse. He had none. I immediately started CPR. I did compressions and my fellow Firefighters were asking the family questions and getting the proper equipment. I heard "Get oxygen, call for a Paramedic," and I added, "Get a Defibrillator."

After a few minutes doing compressions, another off-duty Firefighter came up and took over for me. By then the Dodger Stadium medical crew for non-players was there. The Dodgers staff a Doctor, 2-4 Nurses, and an EMT ambulance. All seemed to show up right when I needed them.

I hooked up the Defibrillator to the patient and he was in V-Fib, so I shocked him. Only one was needed to get him out of V-fib. The patient regained his pulse, and seemed to become conscious but did not speak. During this time I started an Intravenous line from supplies that the Ambulance crew brought. It didn't last too long and he was back in V-fib. I shocked him 2 more times, and by then the crew of my Fire Station that was on duty was there. I grabbed the Intubation equipment and intubated the patient. We loaded him into our Ambulance and the on duty crew took him to the Hospital.

The four of us dusted off our clothes and went back to waiting for our ceremony to start. That's when we learned that the man who went down was the one who was going to throw out the first pitch. One of his Church members took his place and Engineer Witty was given a glove to be his Catcher. Right after that, we were introduced to the crowd, given a special Baseball bat with "2010 Good Neighbor Award" printed on it, and then ushered off the field. We changed out of our uniforms, and were escorted to our seats. The seats were awesome.

I called to see how the patient was doing, and found out that he did not make it. I'd like to tell you that he is alive and recovering, that somehow, he would make it. Unfortunately, this time, there was to be no happy ending. And this is how this story will end, with no happy ending.


Jill Igarashi said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I also hoped for a happy ending, but know that is not life.

Jill Igarashi said...

Glad that you were recognized for your hard work. Sorry that it wasn't all happy, but you and I both know...that there isn't always a happy ending.