“Boots, you need a good pair to run in, in the winter. And many of the responders sleep in their boots during a night shift.” The director of the EFRT Darius was talking to us the newbies on the team for our orientation evening. “It’s like feeling weights on your feet when you are sleeping. You’ll get used to it.”
My head was spinning, so much information to remember. How to use the radio, and what to say when using it. “Responder 2 on route.” I practiced out loud. “Responder 2 on scene.” I think I can do this. I thought with a smile.
“Hi Aime, so are there any clothing that you need to purchase for the team? I’ll buy them, and we can count them towards your Christmas present.” Mum said on the phone to me. It was later that evening after the orientation, and I called my parents to talk about the week and such.
“There are red jackets, red sweatshirts and fleece vests. I am pretty sure that is it. I can get you the prices in a day or so.” I smiled while on the phone with Mum.
“Okay just let me know, do they have EFRT boxers or something fun like that?”
Laughing “No, Mum they don’t. I’ll talk to you in a few days.”
The day came, I finally had my first shift. Luckily, it was an afternoon shift on a weekend. I laced up my boots tight. Making sure the laces were tucked in. A trick my Mum taught me. I walked over to the First Response Office and checked in, waited for the others from the morning shift to arrive.
“No calls! That’s always a good thing!” Andy came into the office; he was another newbie like me. Andy slung off the bright blue backpack and signed everything back in. Part of the sign in process was to check the equipment. Luckily, I did not have the big O2 backpack. That one needs to have the O2 tank checked every time. To make sure it works and is flowing well. I had the backpack with the splints, blanket, and v-vac suction tool. The one coming off shift handed me the radio. I turned it off and back on and pressed the little button on the microphone “Security this is responder 1 for a radio check.” I let go of the button and waited. “You’re coming in 5 by 5 responder 1. Have a good shift.” I signed out the big round keychain of all the keys that would open any building door on campus. It was heavier than I thought. And so many colours on the keys to keep them separated.
“See you later tonight! And not before!” Another responder had come into the office and was checking in and took the O2 tank backpack.
“Yes! For sure! Let’s keep it that way!” I smiled back. There was an unwritten rule with the team not to use the word quiet, or calm. It was a superstition with the team. If one says those two words, it is bound to be a crazy busy shift.
I walked back to my dorm, my boots crunching in the leaves. Most of them were gone by now. And the snow had started to fly from time to time. Not today though. It was a clear blue-sky day. It was getting chillier though. Cold see my breath when I breathed out in the evenings.
SQUELCH!!!! Beep…Beep…Beep…. “First Response please report to….” I jumped up out of the chair I was sitting in! “This is responder 1 on route.”
“10-4 responder 1.” I bolted to my jacket and grabbed the backpack. Off I went running. “This is responder 1 on scene.” The other had arrived on scene too.
“Darius, what are you doing here?” One of my teammates looked at Darius. “Fire alarm, response 4 always comes to those.”
“All clear!” Security and the fire department cleared the problem. “It’s safe, you can go back inside.”
“Security this is responder 1 cleared scene.” As I walked back to my dorm. What a rush I thought!
A few nights later I arrived again to the First Response office for my first overnight shift. Luckily again I had the medium backpack. I said good night to the two others on shift with me. “See you in the morning! And not before!”
I got back to my dorm, and settled in, I had a paper to work on for a bit, so I stayed up some. Placing my backpack and jacket on my chair I attempted to sleep. Sleeping in my boots and all my clothes was weird. The boots did make my feet feel so heavy, like weights. I positioned the radio microphone near my ear and put a blanket over top of me.
SQUELCH! Beep…. Beep…. Beep….” First response please report too….”
I leaped out of bed, I was so shocked, I made sure my radio and keys were on me. I put my glasses on my face, threw on my jacket and the backpack and went running out of the building. “Security this is response 1 on route.”
It was a colder night. My boots were good, I ran to the location my boots did not go loose. “Security this is response one on scene.”
My teammates and I helped the patient. Security turned to me though and said, “uh you’re as red as your sweatshirt, you sure you don’t need the oxygen too?”
He was right, I was finding it difficult to catch my breath some. “No…. I am…. okay.” I got a sentence out.
“No, Aime, I am getting hold of Response 4 and you are being taken off tonight.” Bo said to me.
I walked back with her and signed off for the night. It was way into the night around 3am.
“You’re coughing up a lung dear girl! I will stay with her tonight to make sure she is okay. And tomorrow you’re going to the health centre to get your asthma drugs.”
It was nice to take my boots off and sleep in my bed for the remainder of the night.
Exams were coming too…. had to get ready for those.