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Jennifer Grigg   

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Feb. 14, 2013, Waubaushene, Ont. - Tuesday morning, I was sitting in my boss’s office, chit-chatting about work, and the tones went off for a single-vehicle MVC.

Feb. 14, 2013, Waubaushene, Ont. – Tuesday morning, I was sitting in my boss’s office, chit-chatting about work, and the tones went off for a single-vehicle MVC.

She stopped mid-sentence and we listened to the pager. I glanced out the window at the fire hall and looked back at her. “Do you have to go to that?” she asked.

I looked outside again in the direction of the fire hall, looked back at her and said, “Yep.”

I did hesitate momentarily because of the fact that I wasn’t at work on the day before (that’s another blog in itself) and we had just been discussing my “to-do” list for the rest of the week.


However, duty called.

As I was doing my almost perfected run-skip-walk-in-heels-across-the-parking-lot shimmy, and feeling a little guilty about running out on my boss, the thought crossed my mind that this would probably be a minor call and I’d be back at my desk in no time.

Hello! Simply having that thought should have been the first clue that it would turn out to be more. It’s like the Murphy’s Law of the fire department: as soon as you think it’s going to be a routine call, you’ve almost jinxed yourself into having one that’s far from the norm.

As I get to the hall, an officer opens the door for me and tells me that she can’t go on the call but she’s started all the trucks and was pulling them out. I run to the back of the hall and jump into my gear. I take my boots off and step into my bunker pants with one leg, then the other. I try to hike up my pants, and realize that I have a skirt on. A tight skirt that goes to my knees . . . I look up to see a co-worker and soon-to-be recruit (you may remember me in a previous blog referring to him as a minion) standing there watching me.

As he’s asking me what we have (he’s hasn’t started recruit training so he’s not able to attend calls with us yet), I’m trying to figure out how to pull up my pants and my skirt at the same time, without flashing anyone. Fortunately, I was able to pull it off. (Not pull off the skirt off! Pull off the manoeuvre, as in pull up my pants . . . oh never mind. I got dressed – let’s just put it that way.)

I grabbed my helmet, headed for the rescue and jumped into the driver’s seat. Another firefighter jumped in the passenger seat and we pulled out of the hall. As we waited to see if anyone else was going to show up, I received a text message from a fellow firefighter telling me that the call we’d just been paged out to had been there for quite a while, there were no injuries, and the driver was just waiting for a tow.

I updated our captain and she advised us to go ahead and check it out. As we pulled onto the ramp to the highway, I asked my partner if he knew what the road conditions were like because I noticed that the truck wasn’t in four-wheel drive. Although the ramp had been a mess, things seemed OK as I pulled onto the highway.

Hello again, Mr. Murphy of the fire service!

As we headed up the highway, a cloud of snow appeared in the center median, and as I pointed it out to my partner, we realized that it was another accident that had just occurred in front of us.

By the time we got close enough to see where the vehicle had gone into the ditch, we were already passing it. I put my foot on the brake expecting to stop – “expecting to stop” being the key words here. We started to slide a little rather than stop and I expressed my shock and surprise to my partner.

We did eventually manage to get to the vehicle and the patient, and our second-responding unit continued on to the original call. While we were on our scene, and our other truck was on the other scene, two more calls came in around the area of the original call, and another one occurred south of our location.

Five calls within 30 minutes. And on the way back to the hall, we saw numerous places along the guardrails where cars had connected with them.

Routine call, my keister!

I’ve got news for you, people, there’s no such thing as a routine call.

Expect the unexpected!

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 and follow her on Twitter at @jenmabee.

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