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April 2017

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Greetings, faithful LJers!

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. However, having been hit by a raging attack of volunteerism, I've found that my time for even things like answering email has gone the way of the Dodo, and updating LJ/Facebook/Twitter/etc., just really hasn't been happening. Occasional short things to Facebook, and a couple of tweets early this morning, but not much even in that short format.

So here's the basic rundown.

July 22-24, went to Confluence... had a lovely time... heard some great music.

July 28, went to first Firefighter Mandatory (hereafter known as FFM) class.

July 31-Aug 2, went to Canada... had a lovely time... came home with a puppy (and his dad). Puppy is Petey and is insanely cute. Dad is Nick and is the most laid-back Toller ever. Petey is permanent. Nick is visiting. Missed a FFM class while driving back from Peterborough.

Aug 4, went to second FFM class, on SCBA use. This was only the second time I'd ever put on my turnout gear and an airpack. Discovered that crawling on concrete (simulating search patterns in dark/smoky house) is really hard on knees. Ow.

Aug 5-7, went to Musecon... had a lovely time... heard some great music... did lots of puppy socialization... proved to people that not all Tollers are as busy as Drummer.

Aug 8, took pictures at a barn fire less than a mile from my house, then worked half a day, which wasn't enough time to catch up on the email that had piled up while I was off the previous week.

Aug 10, FFM class on search and rescue (in structure fires... not in the open).

Aug 12-14, worked security for IndyFurCon with the Dorsai Irregulars. Spent too much time hanging out and not enough time sleeping, as the DI are a highly entertaining bunch to spend time with, and I don't see some of them very often.

Aug 13 (note overlap w/ above), had five-hour practical session doing search patterns in a very very dark two-story building at the training center. Knees and shoulder are officially on strike, but I survived. Still have one sign-off to get from that section, but we're going to do it next time we're at the training center, as it wasn't worth pushing the bad shoulder any farther on Saturday.

Aug 14 (note continued overlap), worked IFC shift in a.m., then actual Indy Zoo shift in p.m. Went home, snuggled dogs, took a nap, and went back to work the dance at IFC. Hung out talking to some of the other Dorsai Folk (that's those of us who work contracts w/ the DI but who aren't DI ourselves) 'til stupidly late. Headed home, anticipating arriving around 2:30 a.m. Got diverted by a fire department page for a motorcycle vs deer accident. Took pictures of downed motorcycle for run report. Finally got home about 3:30 a.m., let all the dogs out to do their thing, put everybody back up, and fell in bed sometime after 4 a.m. Alarm clock was not my friend at 6:45 this morning.

Today is an exercise in trying not to fall asleep at my desk. Whee! Tonight, more S&R/SCBA practicals, hopefully also posting updates to FD website for last several incidents, then sleep... blessed blessed sleep...
This may be kind of stream-of-consciousness, but that's as articulate as I'm feeling at the moment.

Regular readers, either here or on Facebook, know that I've recently joined my local volunteer fire department... not as a firefighter (soooo not in shape enough for that!!) but as their photographer/web/PR person. I'll probably "upgrade" to Public Information Officer at some point, but there's training to be done first, and the next set of classes get taught at the state level and they're not currently on the calendar in Indiana or any of the surrounding states. So for now, I'm the photographer and the web geek and general Extra Set of Hands whenever I can be useful.

That last part is mostly what this post is about. My first few runs after I signed on were pretty benign... a fender-bender car accident w/ minor injuries who'd already been transported when I arrived... a car fire (unoccupied)... some storm chasing. Then we had The Big Fire wherein a store caught fire downtown and tried to take the whole block with it. The building was fully involved when we got there, and there was uncertainty as to whether the man who lived over the store was out of the building, so the guys were preparing to enter and search this heavily involved building. As I looked at the flames pouring from the roof, and thought about the fact that this meant they'd have to go up an old wooden staircase and search the second floor, it began to sink in that this was the first time, in my limited time of involvement, that "my" guys would be going into danger. They train for this (even as recently as last month!)... they signed up for this... but knowing that didn't make it any easier to watch them getting ready to go into an obviously dangerous situation.

We cut because we care... )

And there it was, in black and white... proof that these guys are mortal, hitting a little too close to home. "Can you put a thing on (web)page and Facebook... thoughts and prayers with Muncie Fire and their families... line of duty death."

Muncie, IN, is about 35 miles away in the next county over. A 40-yr-old firefighter there, married with three kids, lost his life yesterday when the roof collapsed at a huge church fire that they were fighting. He'd been a chief in the Yorktown FD, between here and Muncie, before going to work for Muncie FD, so some of our guys may have known him. My friend Wendy, who used to be an EMT, knew him. I look at Yorktown FD's Facebook page, and the comments on the news articles (especially on the firefighter sites, rather than the local newspaper site), and I can see how the whole firefighter community takes these things to heart, even if they didn't know the man personally.

And it makes you think.

And I don't like it. I've only been doing this for six weeks, but it's amazing how close I feel to this group of guys and their families in just this short time. I don't like having to think about the fact that one day it might be one of our guys who goes into a burning building and doesn't come out. Firefighters are heroes and heroes are supposed to be immortal... right? Right???

So I'll go to as many classes as I can. I'll learn Where Stuff Is on the trucks, and I'll learn to change the SCBA tanks in the air packs so they don't have to take the pack off and put it back on again when they're already tired, and I'll learn everydamnthing I can about safety, and I'll do everything that I can to have their backs while I document what they do and why they do it.

And at the end of the day, I'll hope and pray that they all come home.
Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that my latest venture into KeepingDebbieBusy has been to join the local volunteer fire department as their resident web & photography geek. This afternoon, after a month of pulling info together (and some browbeating of people who still haven't sent me their bios...), I took the new site live!

Then, after a couple of weeks with no pager action, we had two back-to-back runs this evening and I actually got to put shiny new content on our baby website. :-) First a vehicle fire (where I felt really bad for the owner, who was just starting the process of rebuilding it when it caught fire... Thankfully, it's an old, solid, mostly metal car and the fire was pretty much contained to the engine compartment where he was going to be replacing everything anyway) and then an "unknown fire" which turned out to just be a really big (and quite pretty) bonfire called in by a worried passerby.

So that's what up in my world. What's up with you?
So... because I needed another project like I need a hole in my head, I seem to have joined the local volunteer fire department.

Seriously!

Not as a firefighter... I'm so not in shape enough to do that! But as of this afternoon, I'm the photographer/web/PR-person for the Frankton Volunteer Fire Department. Nifty, eh?

All this got started a few weeks back when there was a huge barn fire at a dairy farm a couple of miles from my house (no animals were in the barn at the time, thankfully). In the process of watching all the trucks go by... and by again... and back and forth some more (all the tankers were going back into Frankton to refill)... I went looking for the fire department's website and realized it hadn't been updated since 2007. So I mocked up a site in Wordpress and started talking to the Chief about taking on hosting/updating the website for them. (Yay for small towns... need to get in touch w/ the fire chief? Call the town hall and ask nicely and they'll give you his cell phone number. :-))

This afternoon, they had their first monthly meeting since we started talking, and I went to the meeting to give them a demo of the site and to meet the guys. Apparently they liked the site (and me), because by the end of the meeting they had voted me in (which gets me covered by their insurance at incidents), gave me a pager and a key to the fire station, and they're getting me a reflective vest and an ID. As soon as the latter two get done, I can start responding to incidents and taking pictures and video for the website, so my photography and journalism skills will get dusted off and used for something more than writing updates about the dogs. I'm still a little stunned at how fast the official parts all took place... I really wasn't expecting to walk out of today's meeting w/ a key to the station. Eep!

So now I'm working on pulling together updated info so we can make the site live, and I'm hoping to launch the new site by the end of May!

Wheeee!

I remember spare time. I do. It's becoming an increasingly vague memory, but that's okay...

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