27 June 2023

Burn the Rain

Written by: Josiah Martinez

Saludos once again friends! The most consistent thing about life is its inconsistency and unpredictability. For my second Mano Blog post, I bring a tale of rain, helibases, and official certifications.

When I last posted here mid-April, the Pueblo Interagency Dispatch Center was gearing up for what seemed to be an explosive and busy fire season, with dry heat and frequent fire becoming the office norm. However, by some cosmic force, the rain came and has yet to leave. While we still encounter the occasional escaped campfire, tension around the center has eased with the drought levels. This break in fire weather has given me much room to breathe, learn, and master the dispatch craft. 

As the fires waned, I was offered the opportunity to attend  a D-110 Expanded Dispatch Recorder training class. Much of what was taught in this class directly correlated to my daily duties of resource management and statusing, so it was a natural fit. With this class complete I was able to add yet another certification to my ICS Red Card. Going forward, I have received the opportunity to open and begin progressing in my Initial Attack Dispatcher task book, which upon completion will also add another credential to my Red Card, a further step in my progression in this enthralling career path.

With much less fire activity happening this month, I was given the chance to spread my wings and do what all budding professionals must inevitably do; network. The USFS Monument Helibase located in Monument, Colorado on a former Ponderosa Pine nursery houses a Helitack wildland firefighting crew along with some of the most scenic views of the Colorado Front Range foothills one can find. I was offered the opportunity by our Aviation supervisor, to attend the Base’s annual interagency review. This event hosts out of area peer agencies as they visit, share knowledge, and review the Base’s operating procedures and equipment. I learned much on this visit, the complexity of helicopter operations, how to read a windsock, and most importantly, how to play a successful victim. Being one of the smaller people visiting, I was christened the victim of the Base’s Emergency Evac Drill. Before I knew it, I was told to lie prone on the helipad while the EMT’s and firefighters worked their magic, quickly accessing my status,  restraining me to a backboard, and loading me into the helicopter. For the first time being inside one, I must say I can’t complain. However, I think the highlight of this visit was most definitely the people I was able to meet. USFS, Wyoming State Fire, and Colorado State Fire, all sent out individuals who were  founts of knowledge and insight into the aviation aspects of wildland firefighting.

With the rain came knowledge, insight, and a plethora of new experiences. I look forward to updating you all as my dispatch journey develops. I just hope I didn’t jinx anything by saying things are quiet…

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