Firefighters are by nature natural problem solvers. If you think about it we get called for everything nobody else knows what to do with. A citizen calls 911 because something in their life has exceeded their ability to handle it.
The call takers and dispatchers are highly trained professionals that spend many hours in educational classes and are constantly being given new techniques in how to help the general public.
Emergencies that are clearly of a police nature go to the cops, things that are medical go to the FD and the ambulance service, fires duh. What about those gray areas? One thing that seems for some unknown reason to always fall to the fire service is water, water in all its manifestations.
We don’t own the water it is a tool we use in our job, but we aren’t responsible for water. When someone has a water leak in their house they call 911 and are worried that the water is going to get into their electrical system and short it out and then cause a fire. So we get the call.
What do we do? We show up, turn off the water and disable the electrical breakers that are affected. But we aren’t plumbers or electricians we can’t fix it. When there is a big rain storm and the streets become flooded we get the calls for that too.
Okay saving someone that has become stranded in flood waters, we do that, we love that it’s cool. But water flooding through your window wells isn’t really an emergency to us. Yet we go.
One last time we don’t do cats in trees. We don’t do bears in trees, or mountain lions, or any number of critters that climb. We have rescued baby ducks and baby foxes from storm drains, but that is just because we got called and because we want to solve problems.
One December night as we had all settled in for some popcorn and TV the doorbell rang. At the door was one very distraught mother and small child. She was on the verge of hysterics. We wanted to help and got her and the child inside as quickly as we could.
In her hands she clutched a shoebox. We got her to calm down and just tell us what the problem was. Between gasps and shudders she explained that Santa had given her daughter a hamster for Christmas, he name was…
“Mr. Cuddles.” The little girl chimed in.
“and I squeezed him too hard and stuff came out his butt.”
The mother pushed the shoebox toward me.
“He’s in there and he’s alive. But he’s kind of dragging his… his I guess his intestines around behind him.”
I took the box. We all exchanged a WTF do we do glance.
“Okay, so you want us to fix him?” I asked.
“I don’t think he can be fixed I called an emergency veterinarian clinic and they said he should just be put down.”
She began to cry all over again and her daughter grabbed her leg and began to cry and apologize for hurting Mr. Cuddles. We assured her we had experience in these matters and would be able to help her.
An outright lie, but she was killing us with the little girl and all the crying, we just wanted to help her out and get them out of the station.
“We will take care of Mr. Cuddles, and do our best. Okay?” I said.
“Will he be okay?” asked the little girl.
“Honey we will do our best for Mr. Cuddles but he may be hurt too bad to be fixed, if that is true we will still take care of him.”
“Promise?” she said.
“Yeah we promise.”
“Thank you guys so much, I didn’t know what to do my husband is deployed and he normally handles this kind of thing.” Said Mom.
“Well thank him for his service and we are glad to help.”
With that she and her daughter left. As soon as the door closed it began.
“What the hell do we do with a hamster with its guts squeezed out?” asked Blue.
“Let’s take a look.” Said Davey our lieutenant.
He took the box and opened it. Inside was a little fuzzy ball, and it met the description offered by the mother. He slipped the lid back on. Now Davey was a country ass Kansas boy and had grown up on a farm, but he had never been presented with quit a dilemma like this one.
“Well I’m open to suggestions boys.” He looked us over.
“What do you think TimO, can you give it an overdose of some kind of drug that will do the job?” he asked me.
“I don’t know Lou, I can’t give him any of my narcotics I have to account for those.”
“Something else then?” asked Blue.
“We could just drown him, put some rocks in the box and put it in a bucket.” Offered Bobby the driver.
“That’s what we used to do on the farm with unwanted animals sometimes.” Said the Lou.
“Is that humane?” I asked.
“I don’t know, you’re the one that said we could take care of it TimO, not us.” Said Blue.
“We could just leave it outside in the cold I’m sure that would do it.” said Bobby.
“What if they come back to see how it went and see the box outside? That would be awkward.” Said the Lou.
“Let me call one of my Docs and see what they say, maybe they’ll have an idea.” I said.
I went to the office and called one of the emergency rooms and got one of my favorite Docs on the phone. I explained our situation and she offered to help. She gave me permission to mix up a little cocktail of meds, our own version of lethal injection and signed off on the treatment.
We buried the little hamster out in the flower garden the next day.