Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The San Diego Inferno


So I’m sitting in my favorite La Jolla coffee shop right now, “working from home.”

Ok, I suppose it would be more accurate to call it “half-working in coffee shop, taking a break to blog,”….minor detail. Actually, I’m usually really productive on the few days I work from home.

So why am I working from home today? Well, Carlsbad happens to be located “in the line of fire”…literally.

San Diego is burning, and North County particularly, is a little chaotic and not where I want to be right now. Yesterday, driving up to Carlsbad was very surreal. Smoke enveloped the freeway, and what would have been a normally clear day with blue skies, was overcast with smoke and everything had a red tinge as the sun fought its way through the ashes.

Looking out to the sky at work was crazy. Half the sky was blue and clear (to the north), then to the south was literally a wall of smoke…insane.

I, being particularly valuable to the San Diego Community as “Premier coupon model and witty blogger,” decided to stay away from the danger :)

My friend Bruno is an EMT/Firefighter and has been sending me crazy pictures of houses going up in flames all day.

His last text: “We broke into a house and pulled a 380 lb woman from her house. Flames were whipping up the driveway. There were burning embers the size of basketballs.”

Note to San Diego residents…when the reverse-911 calls you and tells you to evacuate, DO IT! Fire crews have been diverted from the fires because of people like our width-challenged friend that Bruno (and likely several other firefighters because he is certainly not strong enough to lift a 380 lb woman by himself) have had to be rescued.


Essentially, this is day 3 of "San Diego Fire Chaos." I actually did make it to work today despite the I-5 freeway being closed in both directions north of Carlsbad.

I finally got the full story of Bruno and his "mass evacuation"...and by mass I mean a lot of mass in a single woman.

So it's middle of the night and Bruno and his partner get a call to enter Poway for emergency evacuations. Little did they know what a "heavy" task this would turn out to be.

They arrive at the first residence which is thoroughly smoking. As they walk up to the house, they're forced to dodge giant basketball-sized flaming embers, erratically blowing around.

Note, that as an EMT, they have no fire equipment, flame retardant clothing, oxygen masks, or official fire rescue training. In the midst of chaos though, any and all rescue personnel were utilized.

In an effort to break in and save the yet unseen woman, Bruno runs around the back of the well-secured home, and rips the sliding glass door off the hinges. Now however, the woman is bellowing from the front of the house.

They run to the front, and just as his partner is running towards the door to bust it down, it opens...380 lbs of immobile woman greets them with little gratitude. After harping about her need for her purse and medication, Bruno runs into the flaming inferno of clutter that is her house, and fetches her aforementioned belongings.

The next task perhaps proved to be the most difficult. Somehow, two young EMTs, neither of which are exactly power lifter status, had to get 380 lbs of fragile, old woman onto a gurney and into the ambulance.

Bruno, being a college graduate, deduces that rolling is the best solution. So, they lie her down, roll her onto the gurney, and strap her in. Sensing the enormity of the task at hand, Bruno focused, regained his energy, and positioned himself for an incredible feat of strength. They only had one shot at this, for if they failed, neither would have the energy or the strength to try again.

They positioned themselves on either side of the gurney, and squatted down in ready position. Bruno remembered the old adage of heavy lifting:

Bruno thinking: "Lift with the legs, not with the back. Lift with the legs, not with the back. Lift with the legs, not with the back."

Bruno and partner: "1....2....3...AAAAAAAHHHHHHHRRRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!"

Halfway up, they almost didn't make it. The gurney shifted right. The balance was off! Bruno dug deep into his reserves and siphoned his last bit of strength to complete the lift! Yes...our healthy (and I mean HEALTHY) sized friend made it into the ambulance.

Another day, another life saved.

So things are starting to look better. For awhile, the fires were moving so fast, I thought we'd eventually have to evacuate, but luckily they stopped short.

I met a couple of people on Tuesday night whose houses burned down...really awful. Interestingly, although we've supposedly "turned the corner," the fires are only 10 or 15 percent contained, but I think the weather is cooperating now such that firefighters can get control.

So this week wasn't the typical adventure I plan for, but luckily, for me at least, things turned out OK.

As one who likes to adventure, I may have to become a part-time EMT...the potential for adventure is high.

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