Thursday, March 20, 2008

Day 2, McKinney Fire Station #4

After spending hours and hours and hours editing the thousands of images taken by myself and my four teammates on Day 1, and then getting only four hours of sleep, I headed back to McKinney Fire Station #4 for another round, this time with the gentlemen of Shift B.

Where Day 1 was quiet and tame (the way firefighters like it), Day 2 was anything but. The guys were just serving up breakfast when I arrived, then settled into the chores, including cleaning up around the station and routine maintenance on the new fire engine. After a meeting with Captain Greg Edwards, we were off to perform a building inspection followed by - you guessed it - a trip to the grocery store. We came back for a fine lunch of grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and tomato soup prepared by Sean Stephens and then it was back out again, this time to the Public Administration building. On the way, a large contingent of stations were called to an emergency so we went to Station #2 to fill in while they were out on call. Interestingly, that station adjoins a fire training academy so I got to see some firefighter training in action, which today included rescuing victims from a second storey window and how best to carry them down a ladder. What strength this takes to balance people on your arms while walking backward down a ladder!

In the midst of that great fun, we were called to the Eldorado Country Club where a car had struck a golf cart. This was to be my first spot news ever and I was extremely excited to be part of it. I was not allowed to photograph any victims' faces, but I worked the scene from every angle, shooting paramedics in action, the crowd of people that'd gathered and even the driver of the car photographing the damaged headlight with his cel phone.

I was tipped off by Barney Tucker from Station 4 that a helicopter would be landing on the green to life-flight out one of the victims, so I ran up the hill to the green to wait with the captain while he flagged in the helicopter for landing. Getting as close as I could, I felt the strong wind from the helicopter blades pushing back my Citizens Fire Academy helmet, the strap digging into my throat. Luckily the camera in front of my face shielded my eyes from flying debris kicked up from the very dry golf course grass. While I do not know the fate of the golf cart victim, I am able to report that I did look at him while still in the golf cart and there were no visible injuries. I was told he was life-flighted because of possible internal injuries, and I sure hope he was OK.

I also learned later that I'd "scooped" the local newspaper photographer, who was sent away by policemen since someone was already there photographing the scene (yes, that would be me!). I've been asked since if I submitted my images to the local news media but considering the circumstances under which I was operating - within a workshop and traveling with the firefighters on their schedule, not to mention having no idea who the local news outlets even were - it just wasn't possible. Maybe next time, eh?

Here are some shots from my exciting second day with the fabulous firefighters of Shift B:

Oh, the irony.

To sum up this experience I'd just like to say a gigantic thank you to the workshop organizers, Huy Nguyen and Bill Holland, to my team leader, assistant and mentors, Tyler Wirken, Jeanine McClintock, David Murray and Erin Adams, and to the uber fabulous firefighters of McKinney Fire Station #4 in McKinney, Texas: Captain John Wallace, Steve Horton, Kelly Rollins, John Whitus, all of Shift A, and Captain Greg Edwards, Sean Stephens and Barney Tucker of Shift B. In addition to feeling like I have some new tools in my arsenal for taking my photography to another level, I've made some friendships I know will last a lifetime. The people I met and became close with on this journey mean a lot to me and I am forever grateful for everything they have given to me.

I'd also like to give a shout-out to my awesome teammates, Tim Forbes, Ashley Langford, Ed Atrero and David Pullum, who made this workshop his first trip ever to the United States from England. Every one of them is a fabulous photographer and I am thrilled to now be able to call them my friends.

1 comment:

oscar+kartika said...

Karen! It was awesome to meet you at FW6! You did awesome! I love looking at your images again! Looking forward to see you shine this year! ^_^