Tuesday Oct 05 2010
Reporter's View: Reporter gets acquainted with Folsom Fire Department
By: Laura Newell
Despite facing an engine company being shut down and the possibility of pay cuts, the Folsom Fire Department is doing every thing they can to ensure public safety. After spending a day with one Station 35 Folsom Fire Department crew, I better understand responsibility of our city’s first responders. I spent the day with Battalion Chief Dean Cross, Captain Clint Madden, Captain Casey Keller, Engineer Lukas Carter, Firefighter Paramedic Dan Hight, Firefighter Paramedic Chris Thompson and Firefighter Caprice Huguenot. “In these times, I want people to realize that we are so multi-versatile. We train, we are professional and we prepare,” Cross said. “We will go from zero mph to 100 mph in seconds.” The day began for the crew with a two-hour work-out session as part of the Wellness Fitness Program. “When we train, we prepare for fires because it can be very exhausting,” Madden said, who has been with the Folsom Fire department since 1995 and worked as a firefighter since 1987. “We carry almost 100 pounds of gear (during a fire). It’s either a hit or a miss, but when there is a fire, we have to be prepared.” Next, they check over the equipment on the trucks and ambulance to ensure everything is working properly. The crew typically works long shifts, 48 hours on duty and 96 hours off. “We live here, we sleep here, this is our family. We trust each other and we look out for each other,” Thompson said. “We are all extremely involved and are a crucial part of the system.” While sitting in the kitchen, lights flashed on the ceiling and overhead we heard, “EMT response needed.” Time to go. The call was for medical assistance for a vehicle collision. Huguenot and Thompson acted with precaution for the injured victim, by wrapping injuries and transporting by gurney. After giving the emergency room staff a report, it was time for lunch. During the drive, the task of paperwork began in the truck and ended later that shift at the station. After every call, the paramedic’s documentation includes a patient care report and the captain’s report includes response times and what occurred, said Huguenot. We pulled into a local grocery store for supplies. “People are always amazed that we have to go to the grocery store and get food to eat,” Huguenot said. “They forget that we live at the station for two days at a time and we need to eat regular healthy meals just like everyone else.” Huguenot, a 20-year department veteran, said even during lunch their plans can be interrupted. “No matter what we are doing we have to stop and drop everything if we get a call,” she said. “We don’t have a choice, we have to go.” After lunch, the crew trained by practicing scenarios. “Day to day, we deal with medical aid calls, but we train for everything,” Madden said. “We train for things that we may never see … or may never use because we have to be prepared.” Next, we received a call that got me slithering away from the situation and hiding behind the truck. They were called to remove a snake from a home. Cross said snake calls are becoming more frequent for the department. “The thing about our job, is no day is the same,” Cross said. “We have to be ready for everything.” Cross, a second generation firefighter, has been with the department since 1985 and plans to retire this October. The crew told me even with all the positives to the job, there are also difficulties. “It’s hard on families,” Cross said. “My wife manages the house for days at a time. It takes a toll.” He said while safety is the first thing on the department’s mind, the job is always unpredictable. “Our wives come to realize that we have a dangerous job,” Cross said. “I’m always preaching safety first. Safety is taken very seriously.” The traditional dinner bell rang, and it was time to eat. The crew said it is one of their favorite times because it allows them to talk and laugh like a family. “We shut down an engine company and we are looking at a pay cut,” Huguenot said. “Even though all that is in our future, we are trying to continue what we do. We are going to do our best and protect the community.” Laura Newell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.