Monthly Archives: May 2014

Under Pressure – Rescue Teams

281-wreck-debrisYou drive by the crumpled vehicles in the median, steam rising from the still warm engines, broken parts on the pavement crunch beneath your vehicle’s tires. You envision trauma, possibly even death. But, do you ever wonder what it’s like to be the rescue team?

Looking at a picture or driving by an accident scene is much different than working an accident. It’s akin to the difference between losing a loved one and being a consoling friend, or like watching a YouTube video of a young kid being beaten by a group of thugs, versus being the beaten kid.

Each part of the experience is different.

For starters, what you see is but a fraction of what the rescuer sees. The obvious is that you don’t see the patient – the blood in all it’s red versions, pale yellow marble-looking fatty tissue, protruding bones, and body parts encased by metal like shrink wrap plastic.

Then there are the non-patient sights. The personal bible crumpled in the back seat, an empty child car-seat, a single partially unlaced boot lying on the shoulder of the roadway.

Only the rescue team will sense the smell and taste. The scene’s odor flows in through your nostrils down to the back palate striking the taste buds near the base of the tongue. You sense the sweet taste of antifreeze, the homeless person odor of diesel fuel, the rotten egg smell of battery acid, and soon the smell of your own perspiration.

As you drive by you might experience some sound – the buzz of the rescue tools. But, you won’t hear the change of the engine as it strains from a difficult cut. You won’t hear the sound of twisting, cutting metal. You won’t take in the short necessary messages between rescuers. Nor will you hear the words of impending doom spoken from a soul about to leave this life.

Touch is another sense that only the rescuer experiences. Popping bubble wrap is the feel of air pockets beneath the skin caused by a punctured lung. The twisting pressure of the Jaws tool pulls sideways on your grip, your hands slick with the slime of diesel fuel and motor oil.

And, most profoundly you won’t sense the pressure. Maybe you think you understand the pressure because you were an athlete back in high school or you have had to meet a short deadline with a project at work. But, no life lies in the balance of a basketball or a football game or a missed deadline. The outcome is hurt feelings, not loss of life.

Saving a life is the goal of the rescue team, but the clock is ticking.

Will they get the patient rescued in time? The right rescue cuts in the right spots equal many minutes difference. Ticktock, ticktock. Will the medics deliver the proper care in time? Spending too much time can be the minutes the surgeon needed. Ticktock, ticktock. Did you park the trucks correctly to protect the scene, did you disconnect the battery so a spark doesn’t ignite the standing fuel? Skipping steps that require extra time can kill too. Ticktock, ticktock.

And what pay do these heroes get for this life saving work they do? Surely it mirrors the salaries of those who play games. Ironically, it’s the opposite – many do it for no pay, and the others do it for a modest sum. Rescue workers provide their life-saving service for the right reasons.

So, here’s the point of this story.

You’ll never fully understand what a rescuer goes through, but that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate what they do. There’s a famous song by the group Queen called “Under Pressure.” When you hear that song in the future, stop and think about rescuers and what they do.

And when you see one, tell them “Thank You.”

KU Burn Trailer – El Dorado Firefighter Training (updated with new photos/video)

IMG_1779The KU Fire & Rescue fire simulation training trailer is is 11 years old. But it is still State-of-the-Art. Purchased new at a cost of $400,000. Thousands of Kansas Firefighters have had the experience of using the training trailer.

There’s a household cooking stove simulation fire. Fire shoots from the top of the stove like the common grease fire in a pan. Firefighters are taught to start low with their fog stream and then quickly raise over the fire to encompass it completely.

Then there’s a bed fire. Fire rolls off the bed and up the wall just like a burning mattress. Firefighters are told to hold off applying water to experience a roll-over where the fire reaches a point of massive ceiling ignition. The roll-over lasts upwards of 8 seconds after which the firefighters are instructed to extinguish the fire.

Then firefighters go through a third scenario. They climb to the topside of the trailer where they then descend a staircase down into the trailer. This simulates fighting a basement fire.

Two KU instructors run the training operation. One is always positioned in a room at the front of the trailer. A control panel is located here and it has numerous operational features including emergency safety turnoffs. These safety turnoffs are distributed throughout the burn part of the trailer also.

Several explosive measuring monitors are also part of the trailer.

The fires are propane fed with a smoke machine providing the smoke. Some firefighters at other sites have complained about the cleanness of the burn. Frankly, it’s a silly complaint. Propane is a hundred times safer for a training fire.

The training trailer is scheduled to go back to the factory to be refurbished. That price tag is in the range of $200,000.

The El Dorado Firefighters appreciate everything KU Fire & Rescue does for us and other Kansas Firefighters. And ultimately we appreciate the citizens who foot the bill.

It was a Great Training Night!

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Face of El Dorado – Her Name is Donna

photo (11)She was originally from Oklahoma. Raised in a little town named Lambert in northwest Oklahoma. She is also the first person you meet when you walk into the El Dorado City Administration building. Her name is Donna.

Donna spent the better part of her youth in Oklahoma – growing up on a farm with her three sisters. Later, she married and opened a restaurant named the “Dairy Boy”. It was famous for homemade “chicken fried steaks” and pies. She also spent some time at the Crabtree Correctional Institute – as a mail clerk.

Donna has two married children – a daughter Kerri and spouse Ryan Smith and a son Kevin and Kasie Frech. Through them there’s grandchildren Bailey and Cotton Smith, and Sydney and Hunter Frech. She is married to a gentleman named Johnie and together they have 5 children and 12 grandchildren.

Shortly after arriving in El Dorado, Donna went to work for the City. But she also had another job. Donna would put in a full day’s work for the city, go home to eat dinner, and then go to work at Dillons. She did this for 8 ½ years.

This coming Friday Donna is retiring after sixteen years working for the City of El Dorado. An ever happy person she has had quite an impact on the community. Through these sixteen years Donna has worked for four different City Managers. And, she has greeted more people than one could count. Many have sent notes of thanks to Donna as appreciation for her assistance.

Donna has recognized many changes through the years. She pointed out that two fire captains had dark hair when she started and now it’s gray.

nice-happy-quotes-thoughts-love-smileI doubt anyone can remember walking up to Donna without seeing the biggest smile. And the tone of her words always match her smile, a smile that’s impossible not to fall in love with.

You can tell that Donna loves her job and loves El Dorado. She declares herself the “Biggest Promoter” of the City of El Dorado.

This Friday will be Donna’s final day as a City of El Dorado employee. An appreciation of Donna’s service will be from 3pm to 5pm in the Commission Chambers. Please come and help us celebrate her career and say:

Thank You Donna!