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July 24, 2012, Midland, Ont. – My (bylaw) partner and I were out on patrol Friday when the pager went off for a two vehicle MVC rollover. (I routinely have a debate with myself when we go out on patrol as to whether or not I should throw my bunker gear in the bylaw jeep, just in case. Chances are that if I have it, I won’t need it, and of course, if I don’t have it . . . well, you get the idea.)

July 24, 2012
By Jennifer Grigg


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July 24, 2012, Midland, Ont. – My (bylaw) partner and I were out on patrol Friday when the pager went off for a two vehicle MVC rollover. (I routinely have a debate with myself when we go out on patrol as to whether or not I should throw my bunker gear in the bylaw jeep, just in case. Chances are that if I have it, I won’t need it, and of course, if I don’t have it . . . well, you get the idea.)

After the first set of tones went out, my partner (the senior bylaw officer, who happened to be driving at the time) asked me if I wanted to go straight to the call. “Yep. Definitely. We’re closer to the call than the hall; hopefully someone will bring my gear,” I replied. Just then my work cell rang; it was the other bylaw officer (our summer student) on the phone.

“Did you just get a call?” he asked excitedly. (We work out of the fire hall and both of my fellow bylaw officers, or minions – as we all jokingly refer to ourselves – are eager to join the fire department.)

“Yeah I did. Can you ask Chris to throw my gear on the truck when he responds?” I quickly replied.

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“I’m not at the hall. I’m at the car accident,” young minion replied. “I was out on patrol and came across it. There are two patients, both out. I checked them both; the lady has a small laceration and the guy is dizzy. I blocked traffic.”

“Ah, OK. So everyone is out of the vehicle, there are two patients and you are the only one on scene? No fire trucks yet?” I asked.

“That’s right.” Dan replied. (Oops, I mean minion . . . )

“OK, we’ll be there shortly. We’re not far,” I said, and hung up the phone. I then heard our fleet mechanic/firefighter on the radio manning the hall with one. I grabbed the mic and radioed Chris to let him know that one of the bylaw officers was on scene, and we were almost there and would radio with an update.

As we came upon the scene, I found some rubber gloves in the glove box (of all places!) put them on (the only PPE I had at the time, aside from my steel-toed boots) and jumped out to check the patients. I had momentarily questioned whether to radio dispatch and let them know we were on scene, but then decided that they wouldn’t necessarily know who “we” are because we were in a bylaw vehicle and not a fire vehicle that had actually been dispatched to the call. However, I am a firefighter and I am on scene . . . I’m telling you, the things that go through my head. Ultimately, I decided to check the patients first and give Chris an update as soon as possible since he was the only one at the fire hall so far, and update our dispatch too.

I quickly checked the first patient, Maggie (I knew her name thanks to the info Dan had given me). She had minor lacerations on her hand and arm, a bruise from the seatbelt on her collarbone, and a red mark on her nose from the air bag deploying – she was one lucky woman considering she was in a vehicle that had rolled over. I had her sit still until we could get a collar on her, and went to check the other patient. He was dizzy and somewhat lightheaded but otherwise OK. We had him stay where he was and instructed him to not move until we could get a collar on him as well. (Still no fire, police or ambulance on scene. Apparently some reports had the accident on Highway 400, which runs parallel to, but can’t be seen from, the road we were on.)

I ran back to the bylaw Jeep and radioed our dispatch. After my stellar update of patients and their injuries, someone at Barrie Fire Control, not mentioning any names (Mary Anne) politely radioed back and advise me that I’d just transmitted across Tay Fire Department’s channel. In case you missed it, I’m on the Georgian Bay Fire Department.

I looked up to see Chris arrive in the rescue truck and breathed a sigh of relief. I gave him a quick update and grabbed the medical bags off the truck. Ambulance and police soon followed and the patients were collared and boarded, traffic was controlled safely around the accident scene with the help of the minions, and our pumper arrived with another firefighter (Oakley, for those of you who follow my blog.)

After the call, as I was filling out the run sheet back at the hall, I commented on having just three firefighters respond. “Three firefighters and two minions.” Chris said, and we all laughed.

Oh, and when I called our dispatch for times, my very good friend who happened to be dispatching the call (the same one who kindly pointed out that I had transmitted my update on the wrong channel) held nothing back. “I could totally hear you say ‘DOH!’ as soon as I told you that you were on the wrong channel,” she said and laughed and laughed and laughed. “I know you didn’t say that over the radio, but I totally knew you were saying it.”

“I know, I know,” I replied. “You were all thinking, ‘Who let the blonde girl on the radio?’”

Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself . . . .

By the way, good job minions . . . Dan and Dustin! You’ll make great firefighters someday!

Jennifer Mabee is a volunteer with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario. She began her fire career with the Township of Georgian Bay in 1997 and became the department's fire prevention officer in 2000 and a captain in 2003. She was a fire inspector with the City of Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services before taking time off to focus on family, and is excited to be back at it. E-mail her at jhook0312@yahoo.ca.


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