Tuesday, September 11, 2012

More Closure

On my Blog post dated August 5, 2010, I wrote about doing CPR on a man who went into cardiac arrest on the field at Dodger Stadium. While doing CPR, a man in civilian clothes came to me and said, "I'm a LAFD Firefighter, can I take over compressions for you?"

I didn't know who he was, or where he worked, but as I thought about what I was doing and what still needed to be done, I let him take over the compressions.

He did a great job, and it freed me up to do more for the man, now that more medical equipment had been brought to me.

As everything happened so fast that day, with people coming and going, I never knew who that off-duty Firefighter was that helped me do CPR.

Randomly, I was telling the story about that day at my new Fire Station, and wouldn't you know it, that Firefighter was working there, and in the kitchen when I was telling the story.

He turned out to be a Captain II, and he's going to retire at the end of September. Small world, isn't it?

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Most Fire Departments divide their coverage areas in different ways.  The LAFD does it in a common military way. We start with Divisions. In each Division, we have several Battalions. In each Battalion, we have several Fire Stations.

After my probationary period ended, I was assigned to Fire Station 6 in Battalion 11.  Battalion 11 is also the general area in which I grew up.  I was assigned to Fire station 6, then 29, then 11, then 13, and finally at my current assignment, Fire Station 20.  Other than a total of about 27 months here and there, all of my time on the Department was in Battalion 11.

Today was my last day in Battalion 11.  I finally got a transfer out. If you've read my Blog, I wrote that my mother was bedridden and I took care of her. Working near her house and within the coverage boundaries of Fire Station 20 made it easier for me to care for her.

After she passed away this year, I decided to move on. This Battalion is busy, and I'm getting older. It's getting harder and harder to recover from all the calls we get at night. So I believe I chose a Station where I will not get beat up too much.

This past year, 2 other long time members of Fire Station 20 also left. One due to his retirement, and the other due to budget cuts.  Each of them signed their names on the underside of the dining bench with the time they got there, to the day they left.

I had to check on the date I got there. January 13, 2002.  Funny how numbers pop up in your life.  My mother passed away on January 13, 2012, 10 years later.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


On my Blog post dated November 22, 2009, I wrote about how a young girl died when she lost control of her car and crashed. There was one passenger in the car, and we never knew what became of her, whether she lived or died. She was conscious and talking, but you never know what happens after they go to the hospital.

 Today must have been the driver's birthday or some other special day. Her cousin, family and or friends came by and had a candlelight vigil for her. I went over and told them that we were the ones who were first on scene and tried to save the people in the car. They asked me several questions about how she was when we found her. I told them that she looked peaceful, not in pain or shock, that she looked like she was sleeping with her eyes open. One of them said she often slept with her eyes open. 

I also told them that she probably died right then and did not suffer. They seemed relieved. I was told that her friend made it, though I did not ask her condition, if she had any on going physical issues or not. Her cousin cried while I spoke to her, and said this was the first time she has met anyone who was a first responder. I gave her a hug.

I think she felt some closure. In some ways, I did too.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Friday the 13th

Friday, January 13th, 2012, my Dear 85 year old Mother passed away at around 6 pm PST. She was a sweet and simple person, who did not deserve the hard life that she lived.

Born in Japan, and living in a suburb of Hiroshima, she witnessed the devastation of an Atomic bomb. After the war, she married my father in an arranged marriage, and came to the United States, where she worked at my father's grocery store.

She loved and admired my father and had 5 children whom she adored.

She had been bedridden for the past 15 years. She still had her mind, but her body was not cooperating. Yet it didn't seem to affect her outlook on life. There is a term in Japanese, "shoganai." It basically means "Oh well, that's the way it is."

3 years ago almost to the day, she suffered the first of two distinct strokes. The first one left her without speech and movement on her right side. But she still had her mind. Though she could no longer verbally communicate with us, we knew that she comprehended what was going on. When we told her that she would be going home after a long stay in convalescent care, she cried tears of happiness. During summer, when figs were in season, she seemed to relish the taste of her favorite fruit.

She seem to keep waiting for the day when she would wake up and be able to function again. It did not happen.

About 2 years ago, she had her second distinct stroke. Now she was left unable to move, and we were no longer able to discern whether or not she could see and/or hear. There seemed to be times when she could, and times when I wondered if she was aware of anything. This past fig season, she did not seem to realize that she was eating her favorite fruit.

Four days prior to her death, she seem to have a complete change in her health. She was "normal" in the morning, and by evening, she was ill. In the hospital, she was found to have pneumonia and a small heart attack. For a day or two, she seemed to stabilize. On the third night, it seemed to me that she was not getting better, but she also was not getting worse. By the fourth night, she slipped away.

As a believer in God, I believe that she is in a better place, that her soul is free from the confines of her physical being.

Yet this comfort barely eases my own selfish pain. Although I had thought that she, in essence, had already died, it is still painful to lose her. It has been a very long time since she has had the ability to do anything, and I imagine her now frolicking in fields. I think about the time she walked me to my very first day of school. And I think of the time I didn't want to go to school and she tried her darnedest to wake me. I faked that I was asleep, so she gave up and kissed me on the cheek and left.

So while she laid in the hospital bed, no longer able to wake, I stroked her hair for the last time, told her I was leaving, and kissed her on her cheek and left.

Peacefully at sleep now, I pray that you wake in Heaven and are free of all burdens.