Monthly Archives: November 2015


George BailyBy Fire Chief Moody

I must’ve been around four years old, since that’s about as far back as one can recall a memorable event, and this was the Jim Dandy of memorable events.

The sky was clear blue. A bright sunny spring day – a perfect setting for a family picnic. The flowers at Oakdale Park had burst into full bloom in response to recent heavy rains. That same rain had filled the Smoky Hill River bank to bank with fast flowing muddy water.

Parents back in this time didn’t entertain-play as much with their children. Children played with children.

So, my older brother and I wandered over to play on the playground equipment. After a short time we tired of that and decided to explore the nearby river area.

Once at the river’s edge we noticed a rather large dead fish floating on top the water.

I decided to see if I could snare the big beast with a stick. As I neared the shore’s skirt the oddest thing happened – the fish disappeared. Unbeknownst to me the rapid waters had washed out a cavity under the edge of the bank.

So, I got down on my hands and knees and leaned out – a little further, a little further – and  then it happened.

Face first I plunged into the murky waters. My head was under the water just a short time, but I can still remember that moment. The swirling brown particles with eye sight limited to inches.

Somehow my catapult was such that once righted I was facing and still within reach of shore. My arms revolved around like a Ferris Wheel trying to grab something on the shore, but the recent rain had turned the shore into a virtual oil slick.

All hope seemed lost and then then it happened.

It was a hand that locked into mine – my brother’s hand, a brother who put his own life in danger. Mike reached out to me without regard for his own safety and kept me from being a victim of the Smoky Hill River.

My career in emergency service has spanned thirty-seven years and is still going strong. But if not for my brother, I would have never been a part of saving any lives as an emergency provider.

The famous Christmas movie named “It’s a Wonderful Life” is about a man named George Bailey who does what my brother did – saves his brother from drowning. The movie has a moment when an angel named Clarence asks George, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

A few years ago, I was visiting my brother who now lives in Texas. We were enjoying a day at the San Marcos River floating down the rapids on inner tubes. After going through the rapids and drifting downstream, I came to a stop midstream.

Looking back up the river I noticed a mother and small boy hitting the rapids. They fell out of their inner tube and submerged. The boy, still submerged, floated directly at me. When he reached me, I simply reached out and grabbed his arm.

If not for my brother…

THANKSGIVING – Island of Misfit Toys

th (1)The other day my wife and I were sitting on the back deck enjoying what I called the “Perfect Day.” Just then I noticed the tiniest cloud drifting across the completely blue sky. I turned to my wife and said, “Almost Perfect.”

It was a joke.

Imperfections are really what make life so special. And that is what I’m thankful for on this day of Thanksgiving. Let me explain.

One of my favorite holiday movies is the low-budget film “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys.”

I suppose a reason for my connection is my own imperfections. One happened when I was a child. I contracted polio and was affected on the right side of my body. Most noticeable is my right leg that’s one and one-half inches shorter.

Anyhow, the movie begins by drawing attention to the shameful treatment doled out to those who are different from the rest of the crowd.

Rudolph meets up with an elf named Hermey. Both Rudolph and Hermey are misfits. The two run away from home and end up on the Island of Unwanted Toys.

The beauty of the show is when it concludes by showing how being different is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact it can be a wonderful thing.

We strive to be the best we can be and that’s not bad. But, sometimes in our effort to reach perfection, we lose sight of how an imperfection can also be special.

I hope Americans take the time to watch this short movie, and afterwards, ask yourself if you need to do a little bit better at seeing the good in those who are a bit different.

It might even make you happier – and thankful.

Holiday Safety Tips

TG Kansas Fire Marshal offers fire safety tips for Thanksgiving cooking
TOPEKA (November 23, 2015) — The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us and Kansas families will be coming together for a time of celebration and thankfulness. The hours spent in the kitchen preparing turkey, mashed potatoes, pies and all the other fixings, however, comes with an increased risk for household fires. The Kansas Fire Marshal would like to remind Kansans of the importance of taking safety precautions to ensure a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.

Cooking is, and has long been, the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries, and according to the records collected from reporting fire departments in Kansas, home cooking fires increase significantly around the times of major holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Easter.

In 2014, Thanksgiving Day was the second busiest cooking fire day across the State of Kansas. Nationally, Thanksgiving was the leading day for home cooking fires, with three times as many fires occurring on this holiday as any average day of the year.

Overall, according to the Annual Report for the Kansas Fire Incident Reporting System, 28% of structure fires in 2014 started in the kitchen with a reported $4,263,469 in damage, three deaths, and 28 civilian injuries.

“With Thanksgiving being such a hectic holiday, with all the activity and guests in a home, it can be easy to get distracted and lose track of what is cooking in the oven and on the stovetop,” said Doug Jorgensen, Kansas Fire Marshal. “We encourage all Kansans to take common sense precautions to prevent a fire tragedy on their holiday.”

The Office of the State Fire Marshal recommends the following safety tips for cooking on Thanksgiving:

· Keep an eye on what you fry. Always stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.

· Keep things that can catch fire such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels and curtains away from the cooking area.

· Be alert when cooking. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.

· Consider installing an automatic suppression unit attached magnetically to stovetop hoods. Shaped like small tuna cans, these units automatically put out fires when flames reach the hood.

If you have a small (grease) cooking fire and decide to fight the fire:

· On the stovetop, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

· For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

· If you have any doubt about fighting a small fire: Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.  Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number from outside the home.

The Kansas Fire Marshal also discourages the use of turkey fryers which can lead to devastating burns and the destruction of property due to the large amount and high temperature of oil used. Those who prefer fried turkey should look for grocery stores, specialty food retailers and restaurants that sell deep-fried turkeys.

For more fire safety tips, visit the Website for the Office of the State Fire Marshal at


EMERGENCIES – Some They Never Forget

By Fire Chief Steve Moody

sNOW 3It was a cold, snowy day around three decades ago.   A prolonged streak of cold weather helped give the eight inch snowfall added opportunity to not only cover the ground, it also gripped the roadway.

I was assigned to the ambulance.  The emergency calls for the day had been steady, but nothing serious.  Although, those in emergency service know this can change without notice.

We were rounding up restock supplies for the emergency call that just brought us out of our station and to the hospital.  That call was insignificant, so much so, that recall of what it was eludes the memory.   What one does recall is the hospital is three and a half miles from the fire station.

The family was enjoying the warmth of their home not far from the fire station where we were housed.  Pizza was the choice of meal for this evening.   The baby boy sitting in the high chair was just starting to eat adult food.  First one bite, then the next, and then coughing.

At first it wasn’t panic.  But, mother’s finger sweep of the mouth didn’t correct the problem.  Still coughing and a slight discoloration of the face.  Now panic was the reaction.  Mother yells at father to call 911.

Baby choking is a type of call that is not all that strange in occurrence.  Most times the caller calls back to report “all is well” long before emergency crews arrive on scene.   So, we weren’t too frantic when the dispatcher gave us the message, “Baby choking.”

We grabbed our gear, jumped into the ambulance, and headed the ambulance towards our call.  But, almost immediately thereafter we got another Dispatcher message.  “Mother advises that baby is still not breathing and is becoming unresponsive.”    Immediately, we pushed the ambulance as best we could on the snow-packed roadway.

On arrival we were handed a limp, ashen-faced child.  Back blows, followed by chest thrusts, and then repeated. Check the airway, nothing.

My partner grabbed a tool called a laryngoscope.  The tool has a round handle (housing two C-sized batteries) with a straight blade coming 90 degrees off the end of the handle, sporting a miniature light on its end.

The blade was inserted by my partner into the baby’s mouth lifting the tongue and lighting the airway.  There lied the pizza chunk.  A long, goofy bent tweezers was inserted, grabbed the pizza and removed it.

Unfortunately, the baby had gone without breathing long enough that he was now in cardiac arrest.  CPR was administered as we headed to the hospital.  Half way there we got a return of pulse.

Sounds like a wonderful ending doesn’t it.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

The child survived but was severely brain damaged.  His very basic functioning life would continue for approximately nine years.

Just one sad beyond sad event that medics handle.  Some they never forget.