Sunday, June 13, 2010

of cat rescues and research grants

I advanced a step further in my research on cat rescues. Bill from Thunder Bay, who is a true and genuine firefighter, said he rescued a cat that had been in a tree for four days. That doesn't mean that Frank from Fort Frances (who is also a true and genuine firefighter) was wrong when he said he'd never seen a cat skeleton in a tree, but it does lend a modicum of credence to the theory that they have trouble descending upon occasion.

I don't understand how cats get themselves in these fixes in the first place. There are plenty of humans that don't like heights, and who would need rescued if they got stuck in a tree, but they are about as likely to climb one as rappel the CN tower. So why does an acrophobic cat climb trees? Is is a dare from the local alley cats? A stunt to attract the attention of the neighbourhood harem? A simple case of a feline facing its fears?

I can see a scientific study developing here. Maybe I should apply for a grant.


I'm falling asleep at the keyboard. I just got home from a weekend of instructing and cajoling and stretching firefighters beyond their already contorted comfort zones. Up and down stairs, in and out of ink-black smoke, nose to nose with fire, nailed to the hot seat of incident command. An exotic weekend getaway that few care to indulge in.
What other breed of people take a day off work - plus give up their weekend - to sweat and slave and roast and endure abuse from a sadistic pack of instructors. A few of the students will use this as a stepping stone toward job aspirations, but by far the biggest stated reason for taking the course was, "I want to help people."

I continue to harp my twangy tune that volunteer firefighters are undervalued. The federal and provincial governments are more inclined to award grants to study feline psychology than invest a reasonable amount of money in the fire service. Wandering River Fire Department (Alberta) recently decided that they couldn't take the pressure anymore and withdrew their service. It appears that the local residents have stepped up to the plate, and service will resume later this month, but with a reduced coverage area.

Care for our communities is our Achilles heel . . . and our governments know it. It's rare for a department to call it quits. It goes against the grain. Ingenuity and determination are the pillars of our service. As long as we're willing to make do, and innovate, and work harder with fewer people, things will continue as they are.

The philosopher bug has bitten me. I feel the urge to conduct a study on the fatal tendency of firefighters to prop up service even though we know that the purse string holders will use our commitment against us at budget time. It's kind of like acrophobic cats climbing trees even though they know they're terrified of heights.

It's a long shot, but perhaps there is enough of a correlation there to convince someone to give me a grant . . .

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