Saturday, December 12, 2009

Life Lost...

Last Saturday started out alright, for the most part, Tom and I ran and then half way thru Tom went to join others from FBC to collect food for Walk 'n Knock. Afterwards we decided to head out and have some lunch and then some coffee.

On a whim I decided to call home to see if there were any messages - which there was, so I listened. It was one of the Battalion Chiefs from the station telling me that I needed to call the station ASAP. It usually isn't good when a chief type calls your home, so I returned the call and it's amazing how the day can change in just an instant. This BC had the difficult task of notifying FD6 members that one of our firefighters had been involved in an accident and was killed along with another family member. Rick along with other members of his family were en route to Bozeman, MT to pick-up another vintage fire engine to add to the Streissguth Family's private collection of fire engines - you may have seen them in the Parade of Bands. From what I understand the road conditions were icy and and the weather was somewhat blizzard like. The trailer that they were pulling jack-knifed and then left the highway and down an embankment. He and his brother-in-law Doug were both killed instantly and his son Jacob, was seriously injured. Rick's father, brother and a family friend were in a vehicle behind them as this all happened.

Unless you work in the fire service, no one can truly appreciate what these people do for a fallen brother. It was amazing to see how Fire District 6 as an organization kicks into gear and takes on the task of working with the family in making arrangements - this situation required more planning as Rick remained in Montana until yesterday morning.

* A liaison was appointed between the family and the district with one family member acting as the spokesperson.
* Two union members were flown to be with family members that were with Jacob at the hospital.
* Two members were flown to Butte to accompany Rick & Doug home to PDX.
* All week Class A uniforms were either being ordered, altered or updated with adornments. All of this kept "our" seamstress quite busy all week. She worked quite a bit with Rick and pushed aside all other jobs that she had pending to make sure that our guys had their Class A's by Friday. Adrienne really is the best - her services are always very much appreciated!
* The Honor Guard was formed to meet Rick & Doug at PDX and Rick's shift brothers were present to escort he and Doug to the funeral home.

That is just a sampling of what has been going on. This week I made it my goal to help in any way possible so that these guys wouldn't have to bother with the mundane tasks. They certainly were appreciative for the help.

This is the second death that I have gone thru in my 15 years with the District. This one is harder because in the last year, Rick has been working at the station most days except when he was on shift and he was usually at the Felida station. So the Admin staff had gotten used to having him around. He was very vocal, some might even say a little loud, but he was completely dedicated to the District. While I wouldn't say that we were the best of friends, we weren't enemies either. It was a fairly comfortable work relationship. There were days when I wondered when he would go home because really, a little bit of Rick can go a long way ;)

Personally, I'm emotionally exhausted...with all the sadness it is hard to keep on plugging forward in what should be a work week like any other. It is hard to meet people where they are emotionally and each person has been in a different place. Each person shows their grief differently - working so much that there isn't time to think about what has happened or talking openly. The week felt longer than it really was.

Once the memorial is over and all the excitement has faded away, his absence will surely be felt. Then we'll try to go back to business as usual. There will be a huge void and a lot of quiet.

I miss Ricky - truly.

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