Saturday, April 12, 2008

Point North

Last night we had our final drill at the burn site before actually, you know, burning down the house.

This whole thing has been loads of fun and, of course, very helpful. I like to think that after going through all of this, the members of our department will do more good than harm.

So yesterday we focused on building access through windows and search and rescue techniques. We had a smoke machine that filled up a room pretty good. I was on the first team in and was the Tool Man.

The way this works is that the Nozzle Man is first in with the hose. The Tool Man follows carrying (of all things) a tool, such as an ax or halligan. The Team Leader goes last and carries the radio to keep in contact with the outside world.

We make entry and start the search process: hauling hose in and around corners, into side rooms, out of side rooms, around more corners, and finally into the room with the majority of the smoke. Couldn't see a damn thing, including my buddies; but I had the hose, and most of the time I had the Nozzle Man's foot.

Then, after a few minutes, the instructor stops us. He comes up to me, taps me on the shoulder and says, "Point north."

Now, for those of you who don't know me, I have a hard time with directions (unless I have a landmark, like a mountain -- the Lake doesn't count). The father of a high school friend once said of me, "Oh, you're the one who can't find his way out of the bathroom if the door's closed." And, yes, I remember pondering how it was that the sun was rising in the west. This is one of the reasons I like living in Montana. When I first moved out here, I told several seminary classmates, "Come visit me. Go west on I-90 for two or three days, turn left at Whitehall and right at the Moriah Motel."

Also, for those of you who don't know me, my idea of a good tool is
a pen and paper. I do okay with hammers and screw drivers. I've even been known to use a pair of pliers and a wrench. But generally speaking, tools are best left to other people.

So here I am, the Tool Man on a search team, in the middle of a smoke-filled room, being asked to point north.

I got it right.


Rev Dave | 2:49 PM, April 12, 2008  

I kinda miss those days in my life. Been more than a decade since I crawled around with an airpac in the dark.

One of my prize possesions is a shot of me in full gear on the nozzle crouched down while another guy opens the door with a halligan, smoke seeping out around the door and the eaves at one of our yearly actual fires.

Of course, falling ten feet onto my back during a drill was less than fun...

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