Sunday, July 27, 2008

Life as a Fireman - The Injury

Charlotte Fire Station Two was a good place to be during the Shriner and Thanksgiving Parades each fall. The routes started on East Boulevard and went to South Boulevard and then right in front of the fire station. On duty or off, we could bring our families and look out the upstairs window. This made the children feel important since they could be at the station to watch the parade each year and visit their fathers at work.

I took the kids to the fireman's drill tower on East 7th Street where they could see the new firemen being trained to climb ladders and scale up the side of the fire tower. New firemen had to take thirty days of training before they could be assigned to duty. Chief Odis Dowdy was the training officer at this time. There were fourteen men in the class with me when I went through the training. Pam and Glenn still remember seeing me climbing the tower outside as I moved ladders from one floor to the next. 


The times that it was not pleasant being a fireman is when you had to carry someone out of a house that had lost their lives, there were only two times that I had to do that. The first time it was an elderly man and the last time it was a little girl and that is something that I will never forget. Most of the time everything was pretty normal for me until one evening we were at a fire at a dry cleaner on Park Road. There was a shed behind the cleaners that was on fire. We had put out the fire but we had to remove everything from the inside of the shed to make sure that the fire was out. Another fireman and I we were moving an old steam iron out. I slipped, fell backwards, and it fell on me. At the time I did not know that I was injured. We went back to the station and I went to bed that night and thought everything would be alright. The next morning I could hardly get up but managed to get out of bed and went home. I put some heat on my injury all day and it seemed to get a little better. I returned to work that evening, we had a fire down off West Morehead Street and when we I started to roll up the fire hose I could hardly bend over to do it. I told the fireman in charge that I could not roll the hoses; he just said if I could not do the work that I should not be there. When we returned to the station, I told them that I had to go home since I could not do the work required for the job.
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I went home and the next day I made an appointment at the Miller Clinic with Dr. Tracy a day later. He did an x-ray of my back and told me that I had messed up my pelvis and three vertebrae and that we would just have to wait and see what was going to happen with it. He sent me home and made me an appointment to see him in one week and told me not to do anything until my next visit. The pain did not ease up at all that week.

When I went to Dr. Tracy's office for my appointment, he told me that I had to have an operation on my back and if I did not I would be unable to walk and could be in a wheel chair. He said that if I did have the operation that he suggested, I still had at least a 25% chance of having to use a cane or crutches to get around. As bad as it was hurting I chose to have the operation; Dr. Tracy set it up for me to go the Charlotte Memorial Hospital and that I would be there for at least three weeks and then therapy for an additional three to four weeks.

1 comment:

Katherine Gurley said...

wow! That must have been so painful...I can't even imagine! Great post, Paw-Paw. Love you!