Everyone got their cup? Everyone comfortable? Good.
Sitting on the tailboard talking with my crew about the historical events of late Sunday and yesterday I was urging them to be ready. Our response area isn't New York, Chicago or L.A. but it is pretty much right next-door to a large metropolitan area of historical significance to the U.S. of A. It certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility that whoever steps-up to fill the vacancy suddenly created by a well aimed shot of American lead might see our area as a target to punch at the historical pride of our country. So, if Ayman al-Zawahiri, or whoever else decides they would like to be target practice for a special-forces operator in the near future, is planning the retaliation for OBL's demise we need to be ready, see graphic.
So what does that mean? It is up to our department leaders to make the wide-ranging plans and preparations. It is up to us individually and as companies or houses to prepare for our specific roles in those plans. Maybe it's time to really fix that finicky trigger on the saw that everyone knows about and just kind of works around with that "trick" we've learned to get it running. Maybe it's time to fix the wiring on the rig floodlight that we've just sort of ignored because it's a big project and all the other ones work. Maybe it means going over the tools we don't use a lot to ensure we know how and refresh our memories a bit; air bags, struts, Triage systems, winches, torches etc. Maybe we get out to a local construction site and ask the foreman if we can practice on some scrap concrete, steel or building systems like roof or floor trusses. Those air bottles that are usually good enough a few hundred pounds low, maybe not so much anymore. Is it going to happen tomorrow or next week? On the grand scale, I doubt it. These guys are going to plan something out to hit us hard and dramatically. However, you never can tell when the individual psycho-nutball will go into a local shopping center and start shooting. Or make some home-made explosives and try to martyr himself. That's what I worry about in the near future. Start thinking about what are possible targets in your area and go look at them. What are alternate routes to them if roads or bridges are damaged, blocked or missing altogether? What are routes in and out for evacuation and apparatus? Part of this will fall under your departments overall action plan but we all know that the first-in companies set the tone for an operation. We can start preparing now for a successful operation in the future.
What about preparing ourselves? I carry an accessory bag on the rig in the winter. It has an extra t-shirt or two, an extra set of firefighting gloves, an extra pair of socks etc. I think I'm going to start carrying it all the time now. If something does happen odds are it is going to be an multi-hour at best operation and perhaps on to multiple days. Throw some extra work gloves, a stick of deodorant, baby wipes and some easily packaged food like granola bars, energy bars or even MRE's from the local Army-Navy store. Spare batteries for your flashlights are a great idea too. Start talking to your families. Talk to your spouse and explain that if something happens and I'm on duty I'm going, I don't have a choice. Talk about what that might mean. Discuss the fact you may not be able to make contact right away or even for a few hours. Maybe come up with some kind of code you could text or something just to say, "I'm here and I'm o.k. I'll call you when I can." Talk to them about if it hits when you're off-duty and that you may have to go in and be gone for a while. Talk to your kids at an age-appropriate level. Explain as best you can that sometimes Mommy or Daddy's job means that they can't come home for a while because other people need their help but that they'll always be on your mind and in your heart. You certainly don't want to panic anyone unintentionally and you certainly know your spouses and loved-ones much better than I so use your best judgement as to how and what to talk to them about. I just think it's better now than them flipping on the TV and freaking out later.
These aren't the type of people who are going to stick their heads in the sand and hide or decide they poked too big a bear (remember when we put that cruise-missle through the bedroom window of Muammar Gaddafi's house? Didn't hear from him for almost 30 years. Might be time for a refresher). That just won't happen. There are two things I am sure of. 1) Something will happen and 2) when it does this nations fires responders are going to be just that. Start gettin' ready lads and lasses, cuz it's a'comin.
Now getjerbutts of 'da tailboard and go make sure everythings ready!