Since it was a holiday most anyone who could get a vacation day did. That means my boss, the Chief wasn’t coming in. In that case I get tapped to fill in for him on the night shifts. The night starts just as I expected. Most of the city is closed down, everyone who can is home staying out of the nasty weather and things are slow. We had a light dinner (even though everyone ate at home with their family, Firefighters have two family’s- thus two dinners) and watched a little football.
I needed to get a little fresh air so I wandered out to the truck bay to shoot the breeze with the engine lieutenant who was smoking his after dinner cigar. The bay doors were open and as we talked a car pulled up and stopped. Out pops a 50ish looking guy. He walks over to us and begins asking directions to any nearby homeless shelters. Oh the spirit of the season, I can hardly stand it. Hippies and liberals, gotta love em. Thanksgiving night, cold, dark and rainy and they are out delivering home cooked food to the less fortunate, if only they can find some less fortunate.
Cue the firemen.
After a bit of small talk we direct them to a local shelter where they can perform their works of Christian charity. Do I get credit for the directions? Hmmm. Anyway the night progresses slowly, but uneventfully. I toss and turn, unable to sleep or stay awake. About 0300 (3am) my phone rings. That’s never good no matter what. 3am phone calls aren’t from Jessica Simpson saying she is feeling lonely ( at least not in my world). As it turns out it’s the alarm room telling me one of my medic units just requested a police assist. This is serious. It means they are in serious trouble and need the police-like yesterday.
Firefighters and Medics are EXTREMELY loathe to call for help of any type. We pride ourselves in being able to handel any problem the urban jungle can throw at us. I advise the alarm room to keep me advised and let me know the outcome when it is under control. About five minutes later I get a call back: The medics are in route to the hospital with an injured member. The member suffered a HUMAN BITE. They are going class 1 meaning a serious trauma. I immediately round up my driver and we head out to the hospital.
When I get there I find out the medic is one of my guys. He is in good spirits but the ER staff is buzzing around him. He has his hand in a dish and they are irrigating it. Then I get the story: They were called to the local HOMELESS SHELTER for someone having a seizure. The shelter management wants the guy out so they call fire rescue. At some point while they are taking the guy out, he gets pissed off about something (nobody is quite sure what) and starts fighting with the medics. During the altercation he gets hold of the medics finger and nearly bites it clean off (hence the reason for the assist).
The “Patient” is eventually “Restrained” and arrested. The medic is now in the hospital being treated. The medic unit is now out of service for the rest of the shift because that’s how long it’s going to take to do the paperwork-injury papers, police statements ect. Now the city has one less ambulance available to respond to emergencies. Swell.
As I was standing in the E.R. looking at my guy’s finger hanging off, I’m busting his ballz trying to keep his spirits up. I was telling he’s still not getting Christmas off and so on. Once we realized he wasn’t on life support we laid into him. Thats how firemen are. But anything he needs within our power will be taken care of. That’s also how firemen are. Two families, two dinners. I still couldn’t help thinking about the hippie couple with the food looking for the shelter though. I wonder if they could have seen my guy laying there with his maimed hand if next year they would drop off dinner at a firehouse, or a police station, or an emergency room. I’m going to get some sleep, it almost time to go to work.