Tidying up my drafts folder- wrote this ages ago
I am a member of our State Emergency Services, primarily because I married somebody already deeply entrenched and carving out more time together meant absorbing his interests.
I’ve been unofficially monitoring the welfare side of it for a few years now (welfare is all about the hot drinks and the cold drinks and the lollies and supplying meals for training nights), just so I could be the camp cook for extended training periods and thereby see my husband.
But I’ve always resisted ‘Taking the Orange’ up until last year, when it became apparent that the local Unit Manager was accepting my services without insisting I adhered to volunteer guidelines: I appreciated her stance but didn’t want to get her in trouble by continuing to be outside the rules.
I can’t tie knots to save my own, or anybody else’s, life. I am next to useless when it comes to searching properly. I can’t navigate. Basically, I offer very little skills but cooking and big vehicle transfer driving are two things I CAN do. Plus great field first aid but that never seems to be needed.
I’ve done a lot of courses just so that I can be part of the unit but I’ve never gone out before on a call-out. There are loads of sms asking for team availabilities but it hasn’t worked out before for me.
But I am still part of the duty team, regardless of how faraway I am and how little I can do: yesterday the planets collided and it was a day with nothing else on and I felt I should at least offer my services, no matter how basic. It was a Car vs House: terminology for driver losing control and crashing into a house as he took the corner. There were four team members responding and the fire service were handing it off to us as there was no real danger.
The car had stoved into the rear wall of the house and the entire side of the house was sagging down as a complete unit. Worst damage was in the toilet but it was quickly ascertained that shoring up the wall at that point would make things weatherproof and stable.
The owner of the house came out and did a tour through of damage with the Team Leader. They went inside again and then came out to talk the situation through the team. The woman (late forties, maybe) immediately saw me, the only female on the team and started to talk to me. She was very distressed and I tried to soothe her, whilst redirecting her attention to the team leader. But he was obviously annoyed and interjected that she should be talking to him. He went as far as saying “Did she or didn’t she want us to help with the problem”.
He was really rude to her, at a time that I thought she needed empathy. I immediately stopped interacting with her and started doing what I was told to do. Which wasn’t very much. I apparently had enough skills to clear the pavement of sand and shattered bits of fence, which I did. The Team Leader stopped me after a while though, saying it didn’t have to be that clean.
I was actually really distressed with the way he spoke to her (and his response to me wasn’t that great, either), but I tried to suck it up and give the benefit of the doubt.
I did not at all like being treated like a five year old, as regards our interactions.