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Currently living the dream of moving to Toronto for 12 months for a Firefighter Exchange!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

From our friend, Bob

Hi everyone! It's Bob here, helping Erin and Troy to move forward with the daunting task of updating their blog. If you've been a regular follower, you'll know who I am since Troy has been helping me with the even more daunting task of finishing my nine-year house restoration. I can relate to T & E's year-long exchange since I did a 14 month stint of backpacking through Western Europe, some of the communist East, Israel and then Scandinavia many years ago and I remember very well how difficult it was to update a simple log book. (I still haven't finished my photo album, twenty five years later!) Sometimes we need a push, or a different perspective, so here's mine...

As most of you know, Yvonne & Graeme, Margaret & Roger arrived in Toronto back on February 24th. Their flight was on time, however, I've been told that Troy was not and they had to wait about ten minutes for him to show up in his board shorts and thongs. Chances are that he spent the extra time looking for his summer gear since late February here is usually about -5 degrees, although it was warmer that day. (For your information, although "thongs" used to mean footwear many years ago, the term now is only used to describe women's' skimpy 'dental floss' underwear...) As you can imagine, they were pretty tired after the very long trip so they spent the first few days relaxing and wondering how Graeme had managed to leave their suitcase with his cell phone and all of their borrowed winter clothes at the airport in Townsville!  Most of the guys at the station were a bit apprehensive about the timing of the visit but Troy assured us that the 'Townsville Four' wanted to experience winter, so March it was. The risky part is that March can be a rather depressing month (just ask Erin) with little snow, especially with the effects of global warming, so we all held our breaths and kept our mouths shut for a change. :)

The first time we met the 'four' was on Saturday February 26th when they came to fire station 421 for dinner. They arrived around five o'clock and while Troy gave them the royal tour, we continued to make my 'Pasta Surprise' dinner for fifteen people. (It's called pasta "Surprise" since it doesn't have sauce and the first time I offered to make it, Gus was in a panic all day asking how it could be served with out sauce, and I just kept saying, "don't worry - it's a surprise!") During dinner I sat beside Yvonne and she quickly pointed out that tomato (toe-MAY-toe) should be pronounced toe-MAH-toe and I quickly realized that this was going to be a no-holds-barred vacation! (Troy pointed out, from down the table, that "you're the minority here Mum, so it's toe-MAY-toe." Thanks Troy!)

Everyone had a good time at dinner and we pointed out to the family that even though Troy has been here for 7 months and is usually on the busy truck which runs medical calls, he still hasn't had a VSA, or "Vital Signs Absent" call, nor many fires. Typical of the way it seems to work out, we wound up going to a bad apartment fire around midnight, and arriving as part of the 'second alarm response', we proceeded to the lobby with our medical equipment. Upon entering the lobby we came across a crew who had dragged a woman from the burning apartment and were attempting CPR on her, even in their exhausted state. We Quickly shed our SCBA (breathing apparatus) and other gear and proceeded to take over CPR until the ambulance crew were able to intervene. I've done CPR many times in my 22 years on the job but this situation was very graphic and one of the most disturbing I've seen, however Troy handled it well and we did our best. Unfortunately she did not survive her injuries and we spent the last few hours at the fire scene ventilating the building and then sealing up the windows as best as we could to try to protect the scene for the fire Marshall. (It's hard to attach plastic sheeting to the window when the aluminum frames have completely melted away...)

Despite our concerns about the lack of snow in March, that night it started to snow and since the temperature was right around the freezing mark, the snow stuck to all the tree branches and overhead wires. It was quite surreal driving the truck back to the station with such beautiful scenery, especially after the sad situation we had just left. I dropped Troy off at the house that morning and I went in to order everyone out of bed and to get out to see the snow. Those sort of perfect conditions rarely occur, and as Graeme said, you can tell it's special when even the locals are out taking pictures! Later that day we met up at Candace's house, had an impromptu snowball fight since it was 'packing snow' and then went down to the antique 'flea market' at St. Lawrence Market where both Margaret and Yvonne quickly found things to buy. We introduced them to the Canadian addiction called Tim Horton's (coffee shop) and then had a brisk walk around the downtown core in the whipping winds. On the way back to the car we walked through BCE place and stopped for a few minutes at an indoor fountain while Graeme and Yvonne got stuck in an elevator on the way to the washroom. (Seriously!) I still regret not taking a picture of Troy standing between two adjacent stores: The 'Hockey Hall of Fame' store and 'Roots'. "Ah, decisions, decisions, my two favourite sports!" (For all of you Aussies with your minds in the gutter, the term Roots refers to a line of clothing and nothing else!!! I swear that when I come to visit in a few years I'm going to wear my 'Roots' T-shirt proudly - if I can summon the courage!) After we returned home we went to Candace's house for a wonderful day and a great dinner - with lots of wine, of course!

Stay tuned for another update soon.......

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