Saturday, January 31, 2009

Learning the Rules

Wow, I can actually remember how to post on my blog!

Sorry it has been so long. I've been busy. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So I have been a volunteer chaplain with our local fire department for a bit now, and I am doing a lot of on the job training, learning how the department works (very well, I might add), how I fit it (all right so far), and how things are done.

I have been making a list of the "Rules of Fire Chaplaincy," as they make themselves known.

Rule 1 - Stay out of the way.

I have a specific set of skills and an important role on the scene of an accident, a fire, or a medical manpower assist call. But I do not fight fires, I do not cut people out of cars, and I do not do CPR, so I stay out of the way of those who do. I arrive on scene and see where I fit into what is going on.

Corollary to Rule 1 - "Look, here comes the chaplain." "How can you tell?" "He shows up late and parks too far away!"

Second Corollary to Rule 1 - Wow, those big trucks make nice big ruts in the snow so it is much easier for me to drive to the scene. Thanks, guys.

Rule 2 - Don't park so far over in the garage, and back out slowly, no matter how urgent the call is.

This rule was made known when I was in a hurry the other night to get to a scene. I have been improving my personal response time, but now need to add more wisdom than speed. Which is the nice way to say I smashed the heck out of my passenger side mirror on the garage door frame the other night.

Rule 3 - Don't grab the first shoes available. Take the time to put on boots.

I have a fire jacket and a helmet, for the sake of safety and visibility on scene, but as Rule #1 applies, I don't have turnout boots and pants. But when we have 10-12 inches of snow, and the fire is at a house in the country, walking around in sneakers is a bad idea. I was okay until I got back in the car afterward, and all the ice which had formed around my ankles melted and ran down my socks.

Or as one Captain put it, "Time spent putting on cold weather gear is time well spent."

Rule 4 - Get plenty of sleep the night before a call.

This one gets more difficult with occasional insomnia, like now, when I am typing this at 2:40 in the morning. But it is important to get regular rest, because the pager doesn't keep a schedule.

Corollary to Rule 4 - get the sermon done early, because that regular time set aside for it may get interrupted.

I know there are more just waiting for me to learn them. I'll let you know when I discover them.