Report day 14: 20 januaryLos Angeles, California.
My adventure in Los Angeles starts early in the morning. At 4:45 my alarm sounds and at 5:15 I find fire captain Gregg and his pick-up on the parking lot. De shift change in LA is at 6:00. Gregg takes me to fire station 98. Home of a ladder truck, 2 engines a battalion chief a paramedic ambulance and a BLS ambulance.
Upon arrival I eat breakfast, get installed and find a spot on the ladder. At 8:00 we start wit the 'Denver drill'. The exercise is named the Denver drill after an accident in Denver. A firefighter got in trouble and went unconscious. Although his colleagues found him, they were unable to safe him, because they were unable to lift the firefighter out of the window. The drill shows a way to safely lower a colleague firefighter or victim down the ladder.
We are still practicing on the roof when the alarm goes off: Structure fire! We take off with 2 engines and the ladder truck. The fire is in a low income neighborhood. The neighborhood looks messy and is far from a cosy place to settle down. Inside the house we discover a fire in the dryer. I can actually spot flames when I go inside the house! A cloud of plastic smelling smoke hangs from the ceiling halfway down the room. The engine crew quickly extinguish the fire and take the dryer outside for final extinguishing. Inside the dryer we find a few cans and plastic bottles. No logical explanation for this is giving by the owner. After overhauling the house we head back to the station.
During the day we get a few medical calls but nothing special. In the end of the afternoon I here the dispatcher announce a 'traffic accident'. When we arrive on the scene we don't see any car that is involved in a traffic accident. However somebody drove onto a fire hydrant which could not resist that force. A 5 meter high column of water sprays out of the street. It is a hilarious sight to see but nothing special for the crew of station 98. The crew shuts down the water through a valve in the street. Meanwhile a police officer arrives with the hydrant. The driver drove 2 blocks further with the hydrant stuck under his vehicle. According to the police officer the driver claimed not to have noticed any of this. Just like me, the police officer is not buying this story either.
When we get back to the firehouse Brian disappears in the kitchen. One hour later Brian calls us down to the kitchen for dinner. The food is healthy and of a quality that many restaurants can't top. After dinner I have my first encounter with the LA ghetto problems. The dispatcher announces a stabbing in the same neighborhood we have been earlier that day for the dryer fire. When we arrive on the scene a guy is laying on the street. He has stab wounds that look like small puncture holes on his back and chest. Although he is not bleeding much his heartbeat is slow and there is almost no pulse. When I look around me I see a lot of people that are watching us. They do not seem to be very unkind but it is not the kind of people I would walk up too and have a conversation with. One of the police officers is trying to get some information but nobody has seen anything, even though there are many people out on the street. Altough I am not feeling unsafe I do begin to understand why the bullet proof vests are handed out to the people on the firetrucks. During our ride to the hospital the condition of the stabbed patient is getting worse. We leave him in the hospital in critical condition.
One hour later we are on our way to a Ford Explorer that has gotten of the road, flipped over and ended in a ditch. Despite our efforts to look for the vehicle we don't find it. The captain passes this message to dispatch but seconds later another fire engine claims to have found the vehicle. The driver and his passenger can exit the vehicle with the help of the crew from the other fire engine.
In the middle of the night we are on our way to a structure fire. After a few minutes we arrive in a neighborhood with family residences. I can see flames coming out of the backyard. In the backyard a pile of wood is on fire. The fire is extinguished before it can reach the house.
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