Tales From the Tailboard

The Call You Never Want to Receive

Spring break, and all the grandkids were here at the lake. Even though it was still quite cool, they assured me it wasn’t too cold to fish or be in the fishing boat or paddle boat. Weather is very subjective when you’re a kid. Remember?

When the phone rang and the caller ID showed ‘Becky’ as the caller, I thought she was just checking on the kids. Instead she said “are you where you can talk?”  I went into the bedroom and shut the door to take her message–still thinking it was probably going to be a surprise for the grands.

Instead: “I just got a call and Kip has been hurt at a fire. They don’t know for sure, but he may have a broken neck. I’ve called Rob and he is going to meet me at the hospital in Wichita.  But, please don’t say anything to the kids until we know more.”

Need I say that day surely had more than 24 hours?

The scenario: He’d been training a crew. they had the basement full of smoke, and there was a ‘victim’ in the basement. Their part was to enter the house and find the ‘victim’.  When they didn’t come when he thought they should, he stepped onto the landing that was between the door and steep flight of steps into the basement with the intent of finding out why they were hesitating. He was in full gear, which included a SCBA pak, which weighed around 30 lbs. or so.

Just when he stepped onto the landing, the crew came through the door and he was knocked down the entire flight of steps.  Because they were so steep, he actually didn’t hit a step and only stopped when his head hit the cement floor at the bottom of the steps. He hit with such force that the brass eagle on the front of his helmet was flattened. Teeth were broken. There was instant pain, and he couldn’t move.

After hours of x-rays, MRI, CAT scans, etc., they did send him home that same day, but the ER doctor told him he had taken the kind of fall that a lot of people didn’t survive. He was off duty for six weeks. To this day he has pain that will probably always be present. But he’s alive!!

I have to think of the many, many wives, mothers, sisters, sweethearts, etc., who receive such a call and the outcome is entirely different. Their loved one doesn’t come home that day, and will never come home again. Today is ‘voting’ day, and I’m reminded of the men and woman who daily put their lives on the line so that we can enjoy the freedom that we have in this wonderful United State of America.

Yet, knowing all that doesn’t take away the heart-stopping feeling that comes when a mama gets the call she hoped she’d  never receive.