05 November 2006


I have rediscovered my intolerance for idiots today. Some folks had been doing stupid things to annoy me, but I was still making it through by reminding myself that I only had to deal with them for a little while. Today, I think retarded monkeys would've been better company than the idiots I was forced to sit through class with. The majority of the people in the Haz Mat class are part of a firefighter 1 class, so many participants are young, over-testosteroned wanna-be firefighters. They can't keep their fat yaps shut and listen to lecture and they have no practical experience in anything, so the only thing they have to offer the class is their particular idea of humor - which involves inside jokes and guffaws at the expense of one of their own. If I'm ever on fire in the town they're from, I think I'll just keep driving until I get to the next town over.

I'm not entirely sure how K ever made it through a series of FF classes involving people like this. I asked him today, and he reminded me that his class was actually worse because there was one guy who couldn't even read and they were all volunteers who knew they were never going to be professionals. The guys in my class think they're going to be hired some day, so they have at least a small motivation to pay attention. It is very hard to sit and try to learn anything, and I'm about out of patience. Being one of only four women in the class means that saying anything will get me labeled a bitch (or worse), but I think that it may have to be done to avoid any further disrespect to the instructor.


Jane said...

Well now that's funny. I've been through Haz Mat many, many, many, many times... and FF1, although I am not a FF myself (decided that running into burning buildings is not my thing) ... but the VOLUNTEERS I sat in the class with (a) could all read; (b) took the class very seriously -- although we did admittedly have a sense of humor :-P and (c) are very much PROFESSIONALS in the truest sense of the word.

To be brutally honest, I would put up any one of our hick volunteers to five of your so-called "professionals" any day. ANY friggin' day. Our lowly volunteers kick some serious ass and have done nothing to deserve your disrespect. This is a really sensitive subject (volunteers vs. professionals) in the fire service, and it doesn't do any good to go insulting people you know nothing about. Remember, if you ask any of them, they have to put up with you in that class, too! ;)

Last I checked, if we medics are paged to a call, we have to go, we don't get to pick and choose our calls based on whether we like the assisting agency's jokes. "Put up or shut up" as they say -- JMO! having been there/done that (and juggled a few enthusiastic fire service + EMS newbies) for 14+ years now.

Cripes. And EMTs wonder why FFs avoid them. Ding ding ding! ...the clue train has arrived.


Jen said...

Wow - that was a harsh reading of things I never said, Jane. I was actually aiming for more of an indictment of the wanna-be young males than of volunteers vs professionals, but I guess I hit a sore subject for you personally (I'll ignore the fact that you think you speak for the entire fire service).

Obviously, volunteers who are there because they want to be and take their training seriously are indeed well-qualified to do what they do. You are correct that "your" lowly volunteers have not deserved my disrespect, nor have they been given it. Respect and disrespect are both earned quantities.

Quite frankly, I know quite a few professional AND volunteer firefighters and EMS folks from a number of states, so if I'm insulting people, they are those that I know something about. I never said I would not respond to an incident in that town to avoid working with those individuals, I implied that I would not like to be personally served by those individuals.

I guess your admonition not to talk about things and people you don't know applies equally to yourself, since you don't know me from a hole in the ground. Not my experience, not my friends, not who I am, not how I behave in class, nor whether FFs avoid me.

Jane said...

I only read what you wrote Jen. Maybe you need to go back and have a careful re-read yourself. ;) There are a lot of generalizations in your post, and you are very cut-and-dry in your statements. There's not a whole lot open to interpretation -- not nearly as much as you seem to think there is.

Perhaps you meant your statements one way, but they actually read another way, because you have not tempered your commentary with the necessary caveats to put it in your intended perspective. Perhaps you just didn't mean what you said. You were trying to get at one thing, but it came out as totally another. Well m'dear, that's not our fault. This is your ride, you alone dictate what gets put out on your blog. If you don't want to get challenged on a post, think really carefully about what you're saying before hitting "Publish." And if you don't know much about it, for God's sake, research it first.

Yes, you do make broad, sweeping, blanket claims about volunteers vs. professionals. Maybe you didn't intend to, but that's exactly the picture you paint. Complete with corroborating "evidence." And yes, in a way I do speak for everyone, because at least I am aware of many of the issues in the service, as well as how quickly a couple of cutting comments can do some serious damage. I've seen it first-hand, and I know through that experience that the last thing we need is some judgmental holier-than-thou newbie spouting off at the mouth because she's bored and annoyed at a class she doesn't feel like taking. Well tell you what -- all emergency responders NEED HazMat -- if only to understand why they shouldn't be freaking out as they scrape up body parts in the middle of a multipe-explosions multiple-fires scene that no one's identified the cause of yet. Yeah, I've been there/done that too... just a couple of months ago. :-P Only takes one sh*t call to drive home why we need those "fringe" classes.

I can't help but cringe when newbies run at the mouth and then can't understand why people are upset?!?! Because I've been there too. I know how it feels. We all learn that way :-P and that's okay. We each must fall head-first into a big messy mudpit before we learn that often, it is much better to simply shut one's mouth and open one's ears, to better learn about the state of affairs in our local, regional, and the national services. You can't patch a rift you don't know about and don't understand. And awareness is necessary to avoid digging the hole deeper. By opening our ears, listening instead of speaking, we can often see the potholes coming before we stumble into them.

The whole volunteer vs. professional thing is hardly a new issue. It's been around since long before EMS was a glimmer in your eye, or mine for that matter. Spend some time at volunteerfd.org ... I suspect it will be an eye-opening experience. ;) I've never met a company where this wasn't a hot potato. Any person who really thinks their area is plain vanilla & this isn't an issue? -- well that's a clue to open one's ears more. ;)