Friday, October 26, 2012

Am I Paranoid?

Or is that really a helicopter following me down the street?

Actually, I was in El Cheepo Jeepo, stopped at a red light when I heard this helicopter on short final to the pad at the local hospital. As my camera was in arm's reach, I pulled it out and snapped a few shots before it landed.

Fear not, the Saint I Am Married To was watching the light for me while my attention was focused in the rear view mirror. No motorists were inconvenienced while shooting this picture.

That is the only the second time I have seen the helipad used. The first was at the dedication ceremony when a Mercy Air ship landed for the ceremony. I know it gets used more, I just don't get to see it.

I would really like to get up on the pad when a helicopter lands, the hospital would make a great background. Maybe I should work on that.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekened.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Who has it

Jennifer has it. The seventeen yr. old proved it just a few hours after graduating from a lifeguard academy. She was at the beach with a few friends when she saw another young lady caught in a rip-tide, going down for the count. Another person had attempted to rescue the stricken swimmer but realized that they were not going to be able to and had returned to the shore. Jennifer dove in and swam toward the victim, realizing that the rip current was going to prevent her from bringing the victim to the shore. Jennifer knew that if she could put the swimmer into a rescue position and get her head above water, they could wait it out until the lifeguards showed up with a boat. That's what Jennifer did. Did I mention that all of this went down in the dark?

Jessee has it. Jesse was on his way to work sometime after midnight when he came across a car that had just crashed into a cabinet shop. The car had gone into the structure so far that only the trunk was visible from outside. Jessee saw that the debris from the building and it's contents was preventing the occupants of the car from getting out through the doors and that the occupants were not able to kick out the rear window.  Jessee also saw that the engine compartment of the car was on was some of the crash debris. Jessee proved that he had it when he jumped onto the car and kicked the rear window of the car, then assisting the occupants out of harms way.

Elaine has it. Elaine is a second grade teacher who was assigned to supervise the pick-up area after school. When she saw a SUV burning in the driveway, she approached it and noticed that there were two toddlers strapped into their car seats in the rear seat and the driver still behind the wheel, struggling with his seat belt. Elaine opened the rear door of the vigorously burning SUV and along with a parent, removed the toddlers from certain peril.

We all like to think that we have it. For those of us who are trained responders, our experience, training and education raise the threshold of where we begin to perceive risk.  In other words, we may be in a situation where people watching believe us to be at risk, but as we have been there and done that, we don't feel the risk level is very high.

Most civilians do not have the luxury of the training experience and education that most of us responders have. Their actions are based on instinct, inner strength or a deep desire to help others despite personal risk. I think that is why I am so impressed with the stories above. They are the stories of those who have it, the ten percent or so who can be relied upon when the fecal material strikes the rotary ventilator.

Well done.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, October 19, 2012

Off to Sacramento

The Saint I Am Married To and I are loading up the car and spending the day driving up North to Sacramento. I am heading up to shoot the California State Firefighter's Association Valor Awards Ceremony which will be held tomorrow night.

The ceremony honors recipients of CSFA Valor Awards, whic are awarded to firefighters, law enforcement officers and civilians  who have really hung it out there and placed themselves at great personal risk in order to save another from death or serious injury. It's real hero stuff and I am honored to be able to shoot it.

I have photographed a few of these type events before and have really been impressed by the actions that some have taken to assist their fellow man. It is humbling in a way, because I know that not everyone is capable of some of the acts that these people have performed.

The event is held on the same weekend as the California Firefighter's Memorial Ceremony, which we will be attending as well. I will be marching in the procession, which travels from the steps of the capitol to the memorial site.

I attended the memorial ceremony two years ago, when the name of a good friend and colleague was added to the wall. His name and several others from my department are on the memorial, it is a sobering moment when I see their names carved into the stone.

There will be quite a few members from my agency attending either or both of the two events - most active duty, some retired. It will good to see them, hoist a few drafts and remember our fallen. The good thing is that we remember the fun times, the laughter and the joy that our gig can bring.

On Sunday, the Saint and I will goof off and spend some quality time together before heading home on Monday. The weather is supposed to be good and I am looking forward to the drive. Speaking of which, I'd better get busy - the car isn't going to load itself.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, October 14, 2012

I watched it... was awesome.

Felix Baumgartner just parachuted from a balloon at an altitude of over 128,000 feet, breaking a record that was last set in 1960. It was freakin' awesome to see, I watched it live on The Discovery Channel.

As a kid, I saw grainy film from the previous record which was set by a USAF officer named Joe Kittinger. I found it kind of haunting, the image of a lone man standing at the opening of a balloon gondola at 102,800 feet and throwing himself into the uncertainty of the middle stratosphere.

That effort was made by the air force as a research project as part of the space program. Oddly enough, Joe Kittinger was part of today's effort - he served as the person who was in direct voice communication with Felix in the capsule as he climbed to jump altitude.

Today's effort appeared to be privately funded, primarily by Red Bull energy drink. It was a first rate operation, years of planning, development and training went into it. The mission appeared to be well supported, the cost must have been huge. 

The result of the preparation and of mission support paid off with a nearly perfect result. It was truly amazing to see Baumgartner take the giant leap and then fall  toward the ground. The miracle of modern telemetry and visual documentation made for incredible images.

Baumgartner was the right man for the job, he is an accomplished adventurer with experience in extreme parachuting and ballooning. This has to be the highlight of his extreme career. There were so many factors to overcome, 24 miles is a long way up.  Low temperatures, minimal atmospheric pressure and a lack of oxygen all conspired to kill him, technology, training and skill overcame those risks.

I am sure even better video will become available as time passes, you can be sure that I will keep my eye out for it.

Until then, I can't help but wonder. What will Felix Baumgartner find to do next?

Thanks for reading,