Fire Friday

10 Sep

This is my most recent column for Boone Talk, our internal publication. Since you might not work at the hospital, I thought I’d post it here too. And so my mom can read it.

My mom is a nurse at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. While my siblings and I were in elementary school, she was always in high demand for field trips and Girl Scout camping weekends. Everyone felt safer knowing that someone on the bus had some basic medical knowledge. Luckily, the most she ever had to do was apply Neosporin and band-aids.

Unlike my mother, I have a writing background. When someone chokes in a restaurant, no one at my table expects me to rush in and perform the Heimlich (although I do have CPR/first aid certification). The first thing anyone does is to ask for a doctor or nurse.

Just because my career doesn’t exactly lend itself to emergency situations, doesn’t mean that I can’t go a little bit out of my way to be prepared.

That’s what Fire Fridays are all about—being prepared. For the past 35 years, Randy Gay has spent a few Fridays each year in the parking lot, so employees can come and practice using a fire extinguisher on a burning roll of toilet paper doused in diesel fuel.

I thought, maybe I have something to learn at Fire Friday. So I spent one morning with Randy as he taught Boone employees the simple steps of pulling out the pin, aiming at the base of the flames and squeezing the handle.

After most people finished the first thing they said was, “That was easy.” And it was. Randy wants everyone to feel comfortable and confident in case of an emergency.

He told me that learning to use a fire extinguisher was a “take home skill” because there’s a much greater chance for a fire off the job than on at Boone Hospital.

Nurse Erin Spears said she came because she doesn’t have a lot of faith in her cooking skills. Other employees have put out car fires and grease fires during off hours.

After putting out a fire in the parking lot, I know that I can use a fire extinguisher. Hopefully I will never have to use my new skills, but if I do, I will not be surprised or confused.

So the next time there’s a fire, maybe someone will yell, “Is there a journalist here?” Even if they don’t, I’ll calmly find the extinguisher and use it because I know how.

I encourage Boone Employees to check out Fire Fridays during the month of September! They’re held from 7 to 9 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. on Sept. 16, 24 and 30.

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