Working through the holidays...

It would start like any other task-driven day, and in 24 hours the Christmas rush would be through. Working at the firehouse on Christmas day is a juxtaposition of sorts; joyous season of carolers and gifts, happiness wished to all. One-hundred and eighty degrees opposite would be the alarms called for medical emergencies, auto accidents, fires. You do your job, and you are happy to do it. Merriment comes in odd forms in the house, you are bummed to be away from home, but the families usually flock to the feast cooked by a staff of 10 grumpy men, (women, too) and the Chiefs see fit to abate all drills and inspections, leaving the gang to while away the hours contemplating ways to call in sick without being too obvious.

Most holidays the families come by. The kids get to ogle the fire trucks, rampage the station, and create an atmosphere of “damn kids” with a touch of jealousy at youthful exuberance. We start cooking the dinner early, as you never know when the alarms will come, and when the grinds will get eaten. By the time lunch rolls around, dinner time is set for early afternoon. It is against the rules for the kids to slide down the pole, (punishable by 10 shifts suspension with out pay) so of course, we let them do it. With a relative air of safety surrounding them.

It’s a bit depressing at times, since you know in the realm of the odds, that someone out there in the public isn’t going to have too great a Christmas. You hope to go zero for alarms today of all days, since that would make your day a gift. Chances are none to good for that, as most days are multi-alarmed.

When the alarm sounded over the speakers for a auto-accident with persons pinned inside, all jocularity ceases, and action springs forth in multiple layers of speed. Coming upon the scene you adjust to the sight of downed powerlines, twisted metal and frantic by-standers. Safety for the crew first, you scan the area for tell tale signs of live powerlines, ejected passengers, secondary incidents caused from the crash. A car, twisted into the shape of the folds in the letter “A”, rests on side with powerlines draped over it. Sparks are jumping from the ripped edges of the higher lines, and cascading sparks and showers of electricity. Live lines are touching the vehicles remains.

The highest lines on the electrical poles are the ones flowing the most juice. These are from there. Bad situation has become much, much worse. Gathering equipment, fielding orders, launching into response mode. Approach of the scene reveals that first off, the driver is indeed, DOA. The passenger from sounds, is in agonizing pain. The Captain of the crew, realizing the potential of the lines injuring, or possibly killing his crew, orders them to cautiously approach the wreckage. Upon assessment, it is clear nothing can be done to extricate the victims until the power is off. The passenger continues to scream in pain. All you can do is from outside the radius of live charge is try to assess her injuries. And keep her from going into shock; with out patient contact. Not an easy task. A few minutes of time creep by at pace of ice-shelf movement. In asking questions through the shattered glass, it is apparent that leg injuries are of major problems for this young lady. Possible trauma to her chest area, and head as well. The power finally off, you spring into attack mode at freeing the person. It is obvious that multiple fractures of her femur are present. Ambulance unit sets a IV line and meds given. The courage of this young girl in the time past, is simply short of amazing. Freed of the vehicle, she is whisked away to treatment and hopefully recovery.

You return to the firehouse, reload, and take a look at the loved ones around you with a clearer, brighter light.

The families leave, you clean the station. Your day is closing out, sans excercise, as the day has been long enough for that to be aborted. Secure the station, turn out the lights. Shit, shower, shave and shine. Trudge the 3 stories up to the dorm, and pull out the well worn sheets and blanket. Read something, anything. Check out some surf magazines. Pull the plug on the reading light; head to the pillow. Hope to high heaven old Chongy doesnt have one of his frickin' snore fests tonight.

The drone of the air conditioning unit is broken by the audible screech of another alarm. "Co-response for a sick person" comes over the now irritating speakers, and for the 9,357th time, you head to the pole; sliding down to the rig, and squirming into the turn-outs yet again. It is 4AM. Red, yellow and strobe sensations of light blaze thru the night. Your mind is a mist of over eating, scene repeating, cautious wonder. The address is fairly close by, so you better get right quick. The call caould be anything from someone with a headache, to a full-blown cardiac arrest. Dont forget that a large percentage of the islands population are TB positive, Hep-C positive, and a array of other maladies that you have to protect yourself from.

Because the City doesnt, if you dont first.

Thats a bitch, cause you want to jump right into the foray of blood and mangled parts. Jump off the cliff into the materials oozing with toxic matter. Why? Because thats what you do best. You help people in need. In the world of lawyers, guns and money, (sorry Warren Zevon) Deep pockets wont open for avoidable injuries. So you relegate yourself to the knowledge that I will sacrifice my life for my fellow firefighting brother and sister, but damn if I end up with a virus that could have been avoided.

Your crew pulls up to the scene. It is a old, in various states of dis-repair, home. Someones home. It has what was once a gorgeous lanai (patio), steps, and over-grown garden. Kids played here, for sure. The home is dark. The only light appears to come from a back room, far to the rear of the property.

"Hello? Fire Department! Hello?" you call out. The front door is guarded by a screen ripped and blowing in the humid, (for winter, anyways) night. Peering in, you see a maze of cardboard boxes, stacked over-flowing with various amounts of trash, keepsakes and...stuff undetermined. It is truly a maze to walk through, carrying oxygen medical bag and your 90 pounds of turnout gear on your back. The opening for the "path" is less than 36 inches wide. More like 24. The aroma of urine, mold and rotting food is strong.

The light from a bedroom in the rear seeks your eyes from below the doors edge. Opening the door, a naked lady, perhaps 80 plus years old, shivers. "I just need a blanket or a sweater, dear" Empathy knows no maximum in this. Your mind tries as it may to comprehend how the situation came to this - Grandma, to someone, in a home alone, literally wasting away to dust. Minds of men and mankind are not built to fathom these sights. Not at 4 in the morning, on Christmas Day. You push all that into that box stashed deep in your brain marked "WTF? - DONT OPEN" and do your job. You ask her history, her allergies, her medicines. You take her blood pressure, her O2 readings. You get a pulse reading, and temperature. "I am sorry to make you come here so late" For crying out loud, can I just take you and hold you, and make this all go away? She is in amazingly good health. It is the mind that is failing.

She doesnt know the year, the day or the time. She thinks my Captain is her son. She asks where the dogs have gone, and if Lani is home from work. Answers we dont know.

We gently take her to the ambulance, as no gurney can fit these tight spaces. Holding her is easier than my children. She weighs nothing more than the thick air surrounding us. We load her into the ambulance, we adjust the rails of the gurney. Pulling another warmed blanket over her frailness, she whispers "Thank You, Mahalo for your help, eh?" "Take care, Aunty" is all that can be mouthed.

Paper work is traded, the ambulance departs. We secure her home, knowing with the deepest sadness, that she wont be returning. The powers that be, they will know she cant fend or defend herself. The protectors of our elderly will find a place safe for her.

It is 5 AM.

In the coming weeks, actions will take place at the address. Someone will clean up. Someone will sell. Someone will buy. The will more than likely tear that old home down. I'll pass by it more than likely quite often, not knowing exactly what to feel.

Witness to life; wondering why.



Closing the door on 2007

Here is a toast to 2008.

Blessings to you all.



Mele Kalikimaka All.

Best wishes out to the whole big blue marble we all reside on.

It is so damn busy and hectic I could just barf.

I'll leave that to Kaleo and crew.

From all of us in the middle of the sea to all of you out there -



Echoes, silence, patience & grace.

Weakend by the lack of a strong foundation the house splits amongst the weight.

When the time at hand never moves into the alarm clocks ringing zone, sleep is for naught.

It is funny, how when the inevitable lies in wait, the mind reposes itself to a snails exsistence.

Wonder, yes, wonderment can entice the being to levels of pleasure unknown to those who do not empathize.

It is a long way to one twenty three. I wonder if I will attend.

Dreams in your head, dreams in your mind, dreams of happiness, prosperity, and togetherness. Fodder by the wayside, as time, silence, and deriliction of duty encompass the day.

Aside the problems created, I cringe.

No warm touch, no loving gaze, no connections to be made. Best to leave that telephone disconnected; as the answering machine has adjourned to a remorseful fax.


Love made visible.

Kahil, you write, but they do not listen.

My ears are shut.