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Jan. 21, 2013, Waubaushene, Ont. – Wow, what a start to the weekend. I spent more time on the highway Friday night than I did in my bed. My station was paged out to five MVCs in less than 12 hours. On top of that, we were short handed and by the time the fifth call came in around 5:30 Saturday morning, there were just two of us who responded to our hall.

January 21, 2013
By Jennifer Grigg

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Jan. 21, 2013, Waubaushene, Ont. – Wow, what a start to the weekend. I spent more time on the highway Friday night than I did in my bed. My station was paged out to five MVCs in less than 12 hours. On top of that, we were short handed and by the time the fifth call came in around 5:30 Saturday morning, there were just two of us who responded to our hall.

When the first call was paged out around 8 p.m. Friday night, we were at the local (if you can call it that) Canadian Tire, 20 minutes away, getting my daughter’s skates sharpened for her hockey tournament Saturday. I knew I wouldn’t make it to that call since it was only our rescue truck that had been dispatched (as back up, because the call was in another station’s area). No biggie. With the weather we were having, I suspected there would be more calls as the night wore on.

Just as we neared home, dispatch radioed the pumper from our other station. Right away I thought to myself, “They’re going to say that there’s another call.” Sure enough, there was a report of another MVC in the area.

Luckily, we were just a few minutes from home by then. When we got there, I ran inside to grab my keys while my significant other cleared the snow off my car (in retrospect, I’m now wondering why my significant other didn’t just offer to jump out at home and let me take his truck, since it had already been running and therefore didn’t need snow cleared off it. I’ll be sure to ask him.)

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I got to the hall and was the only one there. Since our rescue truck was already out for the first call, it never made it back to the hall. The roads were a mess and it was still snowing. I looked at the tanker and thought, “looks like I’m flying solo.”

I called our rescue truck on the radio and asked my district chief if he still wanted the tanker to respond, as I was unsure which trucks from the other station were still tied up there, and whether they needed our truck to respond as a blocker.

He advised me to respond.

Did I mention that the roads were a mess?

I jumped in my gear, checked all of the compartment doors on the truck (nobody wants a door flying open!) hit the button to open the bay door, unplugged the tanker and got in the truck. Once I found the lights (I don’t drive the truck often, but that’s really no excuse, I know) and then moved the seat up (oops…hope I remembered to put it back) I then started the truck.

As I watched the door roll the rest of the way up, I noticed the red emergency lights reflecting in the snow that was swirling about as if someone had shaken a snow globe. I frowned. Deep breath. Slow and steady. Here I go. As I slowly pulled out of the hall I was secretly hoping someone – anyone – would show up and at least keep my company on this sure-to-be-treacherous-and-likely-to-be-nerve-wracking drive.

Let me interject here by saying that, for the record, I’ve never had an accident in the winter, or any other time for that matter. OK, OK, there was the one time when I was 16 and put my dad’s truck in the ditch when I first got my licence, but who hasn’t done that? Anyway, I am a very careful and conscientious driver (some may even say I drive like a granny) but nonetheless, I certainly prefer to keep the vehicle out of the rhubarb if I can. And I realize that there’s a big difference between the way my little Jetta and that big fire truck handle in the snow.

But, as they say, the show must go on.

Once I had the truck out, I looked back at the hall in my mirror. “Might be out for awhile, I better get out and close the door (totally forgot about the automatic door closer in the cab.). As I stepped out of the truck, I nearly went a@# over tea kettle. It was sheer ice.

“Holy heck this is gonna be a ride!” I thought to myself. Closed the door, got back in the truck, picked up the mic to let dispatch know I was responding . . . and heard the district chief advise dispatch that the OPP on scene advised him that it was the same call. He then stood down rescue 3 and tank 3.

So, I pulled the truck back in the hall and shut the door. As the door was closing, I noticed the tracks in the snow. “So much for my sure-to-be-treacherous-and-likely-to-be-nerve-wracking drive,” I thought, and laughed at myself. It was even funnier when a firefighter walked in a few minutes later and said, “So, how far did you get?”

“Not far. Not far at all.” I replied with a chuckle.

Got home from that call at 9 p.m. Paged out again at 11:30 p.m. Arrived back at the hall around 1 a.m. in time to get paged out to another call. Got home at 2:30 a.m. Fell asleep about 3 a.m. Paged out again at 5:30 a.m. Got home around 8 a.m. Never did go back to bed.

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 and follow her on Twitter at @jenmabee.


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