“Ready for the fun?” The hold over crew from the night says as they approach my partner and I doing our rig check.
“What are you taking about there and frankly what are you guys even doing out here, isn’t there a couch to sleep on?” I jest.
“Haha funny, no the Metro apartments are on fire, not even shitting.” was said. The potential of the situation had to set in, even if just a little with the four of us before anyone moved. The apartments are one of several independent elderly housing units. The building is 15 stories tall with 12 apartments on each floor filed with walkers, wheelchairs, O2 bottles and crotchety old folks. Loading up the rehab fire boxes into the rigs the echo of sirens bounce through the stillness of early morning in downtown. A faint ringing of a water bell can be heard from the three blocks away. Our rigs roll out the door and into the unknown.
Having been on the fire side of a high rise fire before in my younger volunteer days I knew the size of the task at hand. Even if the fire was small and confined to a small section of the apartment, the smoke will travel. So will the residents, having to be evacuated off the fire floor and adjacent floors. Then of course the nosey neighbor and nervous Nelly get interjected into the situation.
Arriving on scene we see no glow, no smoke escaping into the darkness. Stepping over supply hose, watching the fire guys packed up shouldering highrise packs entering the building. We work our way to the lobby where command is set up, receiving instructions to set up in the community room off the lobby to recieve evacuees. Making it back out to the rigs we reposition on the back side of the incident with access to the community room. It was not long before the various gangs began to show up. shufflers made their way in, followed shortly by the cane kids. Next came the wheeled walker-walkers and last but not to be out done the tough 3rd floor wheel chair gang rolled there way in.
Our true task was finally at hand, keeping a room full of geriatrics content, well that and doing vitals, keeping track of portable oxygen levels and monitoring CO levels. But mostly trying to keep them from nagging to much.