I live on the edge of a very large forest. Therefore, fire is a very large priority, whether it be forest or house fire. I am delighted to learn from a recent Optic story that we will have a third fire station in this very large area. This station will be up in the Sapello Canyon, near San Ignacio.
Yes, the main job of the fire station is to house fire trucks. But these stations do so much more. They are the meeting, greeting (and sometimes eating) places for the big community area they serve. They provide comfortable and safe places for county voting locations. If any kind of disaster hits, these fire stations become the central and center for all sorts of activities, from temporary Red Cross staging areas to a central place to hold a bake sale, yard sale to fund the upkeep, the maintenance and acquisition of much needed new equipment.
If a major fire should break out here, the nearest fire station probably would be the first site picked for evacuees, mainly because everyone who lives in the area knows where the fire station is.
Our firefighters are trained in many ways and they are on call for so much, which includes car wrecks (car fires can be deadly) and their jaws of life cut victims out of smashed cars. Their first responder, emergency medically trained people save many lives, lives that would be lost if they weren’t on the scene so quickly. They have radio contact with all law enforcement and medically oriented facilities. They often call up a medevac helicopter if needed in an emergency. I have seen these responders in action many times and I always come away from these heartbreaking experiences happily surprised and thankful for everyone who lent a hand at the scene.
The local Search and Rescue teams work hand-in-glove with the fire departments and many of these folk are also firefighters. This old ranch has been the launch site for several search and rescue missions and has been a base camp for nearby forest fires. A small and very successful rescue of a dehydrated, very sick hiker way up on Gascon Point brought back many memories. Our neighbors come to help almost instantly when asked to help.
The rescue of a very sick individual can be dangerous for all concerned particularly if the victim/patient is not prepared for the high altitude and the ever-changing weather conditions. Hikers get lost in the wilderness every year and when found they usually have terrible footgear, light clothing, no jacket or raincoat, very little, if any water, and often not even a candy bar to sustain them. They lose or forget to take their cell phone, they don’t tell anyone where they plan to hike and they rarely have a map or GPS with them. Last but not least hypothermia can play dangerous tricks with one’s mind, and our mountains turn very cold after a storm.
I’ll step off that soapbox for now. But do spread the word about proper hiking rules if you know someone who plans such a trip. Last but surely not least, Mike Robbins was a dear friend of ours and he always dreamed of having a fire station up in Sapello Canyon. Now your big wish has finally come true, and you surely do have a special place in Heaven, Mike. We all thank you.
Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.