The more things change, the more they stay the same

From Cedar Street Times

I saw on the news Monday night that Seaside firefighters are now equipped with Kevlar vests and are expected to wear them for protection when they respond to a known crime scene. Otherwise, they’re just going in blind. Sad state of affairs, when the people who are supposed to be rescuing people might end up needing rescuing themselves. Bullet marks on the door of the engine made by the crazy guy who shot two cops in Santa Cruz show that it’s not just Seaside that needs protection from the public.

A hundred years ago, when I worked for the San Jose Fire Department, we got a call late at night to respond to the scene of a shooting. As often happens, we were the first responders on the scene – before the police, before the ambulance. We were trained paramedics, of course, so we started working on the victim.
In the middle of our efforts, the phone in the house rang and one of the crew answered it. “Look, pal, I shot him, I want him dead, and if you bring him back I’ll shoot you, too.”

Lucky for us, we didn’t have to make a choice – the victim was beyond “bringing back.”

There were other incidents: PCP crazy people, gun-and-knife fights, domestic fights where they turned on us instead of each other. We’d show up with nothing between us and eternity but a medical bag, and sometimes not even turnout coats because of the need for mobility. And that was more than 25 years ago. On the west side of San Jose, in upscale neighborhoods, not downtown or on the east side.

Yes, people want to rethink our retirement benefits. I agree. Maybe we should rethink wages and retirement if we firefighters have to wear a Kevlar vest to respond to a rescue call.

On nights like those, adrenaline pumping, we’d go back to the firehouse and I’d make a little snack and a pot of coffee. It was sort of a ritual that the crew performed to calm ourselves down, relive the “run,” and hopefully get back to sleep before the next citizen needed rescuing.

Home-improved tomato soup
1 can or more tomato soup
1 can or more canned, stewed tomatoes (Italian or Mexican is best)
Make according to the directions on the can and serve with grilled cheese sandwiches

Hong Kong Scrambled Egg Sandwiches
I have been to Hong Kong more than a dozen times, sometimes as long ads for a month. When I was in the Navy, we’d all go to the tailors’ to have clothing made. On my first visit, I was having a set of sharkskin whites made and learned that a highlight of the visit to the tailor was that they’d feed us large bottles of beer and scrambled egg sandwiches in an effort to get us to stay longer and, of course, buy more. When I mustered out I had quite a wardrobe, which, when the clothes became dated, I sold to a blues harmonica player.
At the firehouse, I continued this quick and easy snack – without the beer, of course. The advantage is that I usually had eggs and bread on hand, no matter what they had scarfed up for dinner.
To make one serving:
2 eggs, scrambled with one oz. milk or 7Up
Dash each of salt, pepper and garlic

I had made a metal corral from a piece of aluminum bent into the shape of a slice of bread. I put a pat of butter into the corral and as soon as it melted I poured the beaten egg mixture in.
Toast your bread and dress it with butter or mayonnaise or ketchup or salsa – whatever you think you want at 3:00 in the morning. If we were out of bread, I used sliced tortillas, either flour or corn, and maybe even a slice of American cheese. I saw a recipe using egg roll wrappers, but that’s not something a firehouse normally has on hand for midnight snacks.

The quickest of all is a piece of toast with peanut butter. Or a bagel with peanut butter. Or an apple with peanut butter. Or a banana with peanut butter. The common element: peanut butter.

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