My day off

I am near the end of this particular adventure and even though it was my day off was filled with action. I woke late around 10am and wondered what to do with the day. I have no car but still can enjoy the surrounding lands on foot just fine so decided to reorganize the fire cache which has a bench, free weights, and a punching bag. We received a rubber mat along with some other things so I hung up some lifting posters and tried to make the place more like the All Pro that I know, inspired by Tom Carder. I had my phone on the Like a Rolling Stone station while trying to do what I could and made it a little nicer. Teddy, the horse, was bothered a bit by some Neil Young lyrics but I did not care. Once I finished and had some bench presses in, I walked to the gas station in search of an energy drink to propel me to some hike that I so wanted to accomplish before I leave on the 14th. As I was making my way there I noticed some commotion on the horse trail that visitors pay to ride a short roundabout. I didn’t have a radio so continued on to find my drink, talk to the attendant and head back to the Tower Ranger Station. Once I came to the back country office I knew the commotion was someone falling off a horse. So I stood there near the road and as the ambulance was making its way to it was thrown a radio and told to run to the scene to assess the situation. I had my ipod playing The Wall by Pink Floyd and a tasty energy drink in my hand but went with it anyway. I was not sure whether to drop the music and drink so just started running through the sage brush with Comfortably Numb playing through the headphones and my drink spilling everywhere. When I reached the scene I saw a 7 year-old with what looked like a bruised shoulder although with the wails he was making seemed like his arm fell off. I called in but was ignored. I called again and recommended the ambulance to stay where it was and send the runners with the back board to the scene but was also ignored. So the ambulance went on the stage coach road and Rangers piled out frenzied to reach the scene in time for what they thought was a far worse scenario. I assured them it was nothing too serious but was ignored, possibly because I was not in uniform. I mean it was my day off so whatever. I had on a bathing suit and t-shirt, but I was wearing my FBI cap so there must have been enough authority there for Ron Sprinkle, the retired Secret Service Agent, to give me command of the ambulance. I could not see what they were doing up the hill with the patient so just sat upon the back of the ambulance enjoying my energy drink and wishing I could finish The Wall. Two stage coaches where heading in my direction so I moved the ambulance into the grass and let them pass. The first stage coach had some goofy horses and I was worried they would panic, but luckily the didn’t. After they went by I brought the ambulance back into the trail and waited for what was to come. I again attempted to radio in that the road would be a better place for the ambulance so that we wouldn’t have such a rough drive once the patient was loaded, but again was ignored since the Rangers thought it best not to disturb traffic. So I waited and my energy drink was consumed and that is when I realized that it was my day off. It was not upsetting, but I had some angst about missing my hike. That did not last long when I saw the litter with the child being brought down the hill. I hastily sought out a camera and took as many shots as I could for the record. I had a stuffed animal in my hand for the child and planned to give it to the mother so she could distract him from his pain. She adamantly refused and was quite mean to me, so I just said “screw it” and continued taking photos. Once the patient was loaded into the ambulance I thought I could go back to my place and have some lunch. But since Ron gave me command of the ambulance I was detailed to drive the patient, the mother, and two EMTs to Mammoth clinic, which was about 30 minutes away. I agreed and got into the drivers seat and radioed in to Yellowstone Communication Center that we were on our way. I did my best to avoid bumps in the road but apparently my best was not good enough for the mother who claimed as a lawyer could sue me for negligence or some other tort term she was ranting about. In my opinion she should have been tazed but that is a different matter. We try not to use the sirens so the wildlife is not disturbed and panicked people do not drive off the road, but three times I was forced to because of traffic, bear jams, along the way. The mother refused to wear a seat belt and constantly interfered with the EMTs. The only thing I could hear was the patient screaming so I was self-pressured to drive as fast as I could through the curvy roads even though the situation way not dire. Once we got to the clinic the EMTs, John Kerr and Claire Stout, and I unloaded the patient brought him into the ER, then carried him off the stretcher to the bed and took a minute to breathe. I wandered around the clinic admiring all the stuff, then grabbed the back board and other amenities we provided and prepped the ambulance for service. Once all the paper work was done we headed out. And for the record, the patient was totally fine, perhaps a strained muscle in the shoulder. Good thing for billing, although I knew I wouldn’t see a dime out of the whole operation. I wanted to take a nap on the way back and finish listening to The Wall, but John Kerr made me drive to Claire’s dismay for more experience. We talked about what happened on the way back and when we returned I topped off the tank, parked the ambulance in the bay, and immediately returned to my place for a beer. The night continues now and I hope for some peace and quiet unless the noise is laughter and drunken conversations. Tomorrow is a brand new day.

What now?, what’s left?

Bethany Gassman and her husband Gabe organized a birthday party along with good-bye and long living.

Bethany Gassman and her husband Gabe organized a birthday party along with good-bye and long living.

The final work schedule has just been printed out, at least for me and a few others. 8 work days left with 5 to spare and enjoy what I can is what the deal is. There is no regret and I am ready to return home and see the good people that I know well. Ranger Colette Daigle-Berg will be forever in my debt as well as Brian Wick for making this summer possible. You meet so many people that really love their job and each and every day they get to live here. There is no reason why people everywhere could not wake each morning and feel the same way. Life should be good no matter the situation. Whenever I hear the saying, “life sucks and then you die,” I want to punch the person in the face. And I’ve heard a lot of good people say that, so I hope they don’t say it again in front of me.

This party we had was for many reasons. Of course you need no reason to enjoy the company of friends. We had homemade pizza, we had several salads, we even had bear meat. The bear meat did not sit well the next day, but that may have been the beer. Stories were told but mostly conversation of three people talking of what is to come since most people who work in the Park are seasonal. I heard tales of the back country wilderness borderland. I heard mistakes of youth and how much has changed. It was a shame that night had to end but my ride was tired and I was in no reasonable shape to drive. So we said our final good-byes to those who would be leaving so soon and made our way through the darkness back to Tower Ranger Station avoiding any buffalo we could. I fell asleep before we arrived back and made it to bed and that is when the next day began.

It started off like any other. People asked me if I had a headache or nausea, but I never felt better is what I told them and it was true. The bear jams were not as frequent as usual but we still had a buffalo carcass that had four grizzlies and a pack of wolves hoping for it near the road. And then we had a sizable black bear, let’s call him Balu, attempt to stroll through the Roosevelt Lodge cabins. Rangers Amanda Wilson, Scott Sabo and myself sprinted after the bear in a thunder storm yelling to chase the bear away from the people. The biggest fear was lightening. Balu was almost toying with us as we stalked it uphill into the woods. Once he was far enough away we returned back to wherever we had our vehicles parked. Amanda had dropped her radio along the way so after we found it decided to take lunch. Back on the road again I drove up to Mt. Washburn in the hope I could have some peace and listen to music. Before I got there I came across a developing traffic jam. I knew why they were stopping and hoped that the grizzly sow with two cubs was far enough away to give me some time to disperse the people and give the bear mother enough room to cross the road as she does. After boiling some blood and telling people to not park in the highway, with as much charm as possible of course, I cleared an area of road where I predicted the bears would cross. The people, numbering in the hundreds were crowding behind me and I had to constantly yell across the clearing to ensure that nobody walked toward the bears as they readied to cross. Amanda showed up just before it crossed to provide me with some support, but before she got out of the car the bears were across the road and up a hill heading out of site. So with the show over we ushered the exuberant visitors back to their vehicles and sent them on their way to clear up traffic. They were all so happy to have seen the grizzly, but we were all far too close, probably 30-40 yards. I did my best to keep people back and thankfully the bear did not get mad, although I had my bear mace just in case.

So what comes next? And how will it come? Back home in Cleveland then off to school. Maybe enjoy the pool before hitting the books. All are invited.

Rangers Chris Scheid and John Murray debriefing after bear chase

Rangers Chris Scheid and John Murray debriefing after bear chase