1. If they are even within 20 minutes of the station, they will
always leave you to go on a call. No matter the circumstances, if you
have a fireman on your hands, he will jet to the car and be on his way.
2. Meeting nights are not something you try and fight with them
about. They are going to leave and you do not have to like it because it
wasn’t up to you anyway. I have learned that these nights are not optional. Yes other people miss them, but not my firefighter.
3. No matter where you are or what you’re doing the minute they hear a
firetrucks horn, they’re looking for it and hoping they’re not missing
anything good. You will learn the lingo. Structures, fully involved
(the good stuff) smoke alarms, cat in a tree (ehh I mean they are
fireman soooo still good stuff).
4. They know the exact difference between an ambulance, cop, and, of
course, a fire truck siren. Which means that you will have to learn,
5. You’ll have to accept that when he has to do hall rental cleanup, you’re going with to help. You fold the chairs and he stacks them:) And I’m talking at like 12 a.m.,1 a.m.
6. When you come around the firehouse, there will be jokes made and they’ll mess with him about you or even you about him. Honestly it’s a giant bromance going on and they prey on this kinda stuff.
7. At first, you won’t really have a name to the fire guys. Until
you’re around long enough. You’ll just be Boyfriend’s name girlfriend.
8. The fire pager goes where he goes. Next to the bed, in the car,
next to your bed, your living room, EVERYWHERE. And even if it’s not the
real pager, it’s the dog app that I can never remember the name of so
dog app it is. (Say that really fast to get the full effect).
9. They will probably wear their station shirt / apparel at least 4-5 days a week. AT LEAST.
10. If you’ve got a good one, you’re always put first. The list will always go “You, the firehouse, me, everyone else.” But secretly they always want to put the firehouse first.
11. You will learn and know more stations, trucks, members, and chiefs than you will ever want to admit. Unbelievably true.
12. When you’re driving and you see a fire station, you’ll have to look at it. If
its an amazing building, you’ll have to remember the name. And then
you’ll have to tell him about it. And then you’ve just proved number 11
correct. Add it to your list.
13. Never make plans while he’s on a call. You can never know when he’ll be back. Even if the calls are short, they could stay at least another hour washing the trucks and being boys, of course.
14. In case you didn’t understand the severity of the first one, if
you are on the phone and you hear the pager go off in the background,
just tell him you love him and hang up. Because if you don’t, he will.
“Got a call, Love you, bye.” Mid-sentence is always what you want to
15. You’ll never want to watch “Ladder 49” again. You will cry like a baby and then want to make him quit.
16. Outside of the stations, fireman tend to forget that fire isn’t a
toy and it’s pretty damn hot. Playing with the lighter fluid or
burning things on the stove* “No it’s alright, I’m a firefighter.”
17. You will start your own station shirt collection. From NYFD
memorial shirts, a station from where you’re vacationing, even acquired
old shirts of his, you will have started your own pile of station
18. You can’t get angry or upset when he is unavailable because he’s
going to go to the firehouse for the fifth time that week, or if there’s
another fire prevention thing to do. You can’t be mad because he’s doing what he loves and also because a man in a uniform isn’t too shabby?
There are a lot more things to know before dating a fireman, but the rest you’ll just have to learn along the way :)
Minor teen MC + her mom are in a rollover crash down a steep, rocky hill (FD arrives first, but is dealing w/ a brush fire + downed power line at the road). Car landed upright, in a stable position. Both lost consciousness; the MC woke again within a minute. She finds her mom unconscious/unresponsive on deflating airbag (blood from scalp/nose; still has pulse/breathing); she calls 911, admits she'd briefly blacked out. Any advice on writing the paramedic response here, or mom's stay in ICU? :)
Hey there! Thanks for sending me your ask. For anyone looking to write about a
suburban / rural car crash, this is a good post to take a look at.
First of all, the engine is going to the car crash, not the
fire (if they know about it; they may already be on scene of the fire when she
calls 911 if you NEED the engine tied up). Firefighters prioritize life over
property, and the brush fire is not as important as the people who could be
dying in the car.
This is also a job for technical rescue, unless there’s an
easy way to get medics / FFs to the actual car quickly. As in, unless you can
basically walk < 100’ from a road to the crash, it’s highly possible that a
rescue company will have to get involved here. Depending on the grade, some FFs
may come down the incline, but they may also attempt an approach from another
Technical rescue is not my forte. I work in an urban area,
and have never treated a roll-down-the-hill kind of a scene. (Shocker!)
Now then, as to the actual crash vics. I think you need to
think about what made your characters lose consciousness. For reference, a
close friend of mine took a turn too fast, hit a Jersey barrier, rolled over the Jersey barrier, rolled about 3
more times and hit a tree, coming to rest on the car’s side. She was
unrestrained. She had the window open. Yes, I have yelled at her.
But you know what she walked away from that accident with? ….
A scratch. Literally one. Because her car had about 10 airbags, all of which
went off, including curtain airbags that kept her head inside the car. So instead of a text about funeral arrangements, I
got a text with “holy shit I’m alive.” She has changed her habits since this
If your character’s car was a relatively recent one, the
good news for humans living is that it’s harder and harder to actually hit your
head on something during the crash. The bad news for writers is, it’s harder to
justify. So you’ll need this to be a slightly older vehicle. There are two
options for hitting their head: either they hit it on the window and/or B post
(driver), or maybe something in the car came loose and clocked them (MC). Ask yourself
why, exactly, you need the MC to lose consciousness. If it’s just for
drama, a rollover, the panic, the generalized freaking-out, is plenty dramatic,
I assure you. If you need them to be sick in different places in the hospital
at the same time, that’s one thing.
The last thing I can think of is justifying it with an
airbag failure in a modern car, but that’s EXTREMELY rare. Like, EXTREMELY
BUT. I think the question you need to have here is, what
level of brain damage do you ultimately want mom to have?
You can get by with your MC being neurocognitively “normal”
after a few days with a brief loss of consciousness secondary to a head strike.
Concussions are a thing; just keep in mind that she’ll likely have some issues
for a few days, included but perhaps not limited to, fine motor control issues,
tiring easily, short term memory issues (including simply not remembering most
of the day in question), fine motor control issues, slurred speech, slow to
respond, disorientation, and/or inability to focus. Keep these in mind while
you’re writing her. I know people had to repeat things to me over and over after my own concussion,
especially in the first hour or two. Symptoms can persist for a few days. But
one of the things that will be a problem is, the kid may be too disoriented to call 911 for herself.
Some cars have an automated 911 system, and *some* areas can
triangulate 911 calls, which will be helpful, but there are plenty of cases of
911 calls where they can’t send resources because someone doesn’t know where
NOW THEN. MOM. MOM IS IN DEEP, DEEP SHIT.
It sounds from your ask like you’re looking to put Mom in a
coma. That is fine, that is okay, but you need to understand something: Mom will not wake up like a lightswitch.
If I could kill one trope in medical fiction, I would kill the “lightswitch
coma”: she’s either asleep or she’s awake! It’s just like a nap!
It is not just like a nap. If mom stays unconscious, this is
someone who is going to have big
neurological consequences. She already has a TBI. (So does daughter, actually;
concussion exists on the TBI spectrum). I’m working on a masterpost series
about head injury, but the bottom line is: your character has brain damage. The
severity will depend on the exact injury, but the fact that Mom isn’t waking up
makes this a life-threatening emergency. She will have memory issues. She may
have personality changes. She may have cognitive deficits. She may lose motor
control over certain areas. She may need to re-learn how to tie her shoes, how
to speak, how to deal with people in society.
This is the kind of things where helicopters get launched
based solely on that fact in a lot of
places. Your mom character is not going
to the local community hospital. She is going to the nearest trauma center, no
matter how far away that is. She needs a neurosurgeon, and she needs them now.
Now, the technical rescue. Depending on the grade of the
hill, which you said was steep, they may have to send rescuers down on lines,
extract the victims onto longboards and into Stokes baskets, and drag them up
the ravine with more lines. They may have another approach, and go that way. A
HEMS (Helicopter EMS) team may insert their people into the scene to do care in
the car or in the… gulch? Ravine? Wherever she landed. (If access is easier,
they may simply get extracted onto scoop stretchers and carried up, or, for
daughter, may even be able to walk out.
Now. Mom is going to the trauma center, either by airlift or
by ground. But if she’s still unconscious, or minimally responsive, she’s going
to get some really good care first.
She’ll get oxygen. She’ll get IVs. She’ll likely get intubated (a breathing
tube put down her windpipe, facilitated by the use of medications). She’ll get
put on a ventilator. She may get medications to lower her blood pressure or
intracranial pressure, like mannitol, or hypertonic saline, depending on the
responding crew. (Most ground medics can’t give these meds; most HEMS crews
Mom and daughter will likely go to the same place, because
family package, but they may go there at very different speeds. Mom is getting
airlifted or driven very quickly.
Daughter can wait, unless she turns to the worse. So she may be in an
ambulance, on a stretcher, and waiting for red lights, because the risk of
accident is greater than the risk of bad neuro outcome from a concussion. Kid
is still going to get a head CT and evaluation by a doctor, of course, but it
won’t be at the same rate of urgency. I can very well see this kid freaking out
in the ambulance about being apart from her mom, where’s my mom, over and over,
possibly to the point of becoming agitated and needing sedation.
I know this post has taken forever so far, and I don’t have
the wordspace to get into all of the intricacies of treating head injuries, but
that’s the first hour or so of care. I think the things I want you to take away
from this are:
Mom is really, really sick, and has a LONG recovery ahead.
Firefighters prioritize life threatening accidents over
non-life-threatening brush fires.
Paramedics are badasses, especially the ones who come with
their own helicopters.
Climbed thirty-one stories in full gear today to raise money for lung disease research, and this is my favorite picture because I totally love my hair here.
My favorite moment, though, was when a mother and her shy little girl approached me and the mother said, “I’m sorry, but she-” (gesturing to her daughter) “-really wanted to say hi because she didn’t know girls can be firefighters, too.” And the little girl was shy but she said hi and smiled, and it occurred to me for the first time that I might sometimes be seen as a role model only because of the uniform I happen to be wearing.