~ What The Heck IS Collapse Rescue, Anyway? ~


Whenever I tell people that My Captain is an expert in Collapse Rescue, and they give me that vacant, polite nod of the head, I KNOW they have no idea what I’m talking about.

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Why should they?  Most people never have a need to be rescued in a collapse, whether it be from a trench, or a terrorist bombed building.  But let’s say for a second that you did.  Let’s say you were unfortunate enough to be in a bombed building, or a collapsed work trench.  What the heck would you do?

Well, first you would pee yourself.

THEN, you would collect your wits and call 911.  The person on that end of the phone would then pee THEMSELVES, and then they would begin the dispatch, which would ultimately end up in someone deciding the resources required were more than your average fire crew.  If the dispatcher decides it warrants a collapse team, they would activate the Special Operations Technical Rescue Team…. or TRT.

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The TRT here in Montgomery County, Maryland, is the same team that handles Ropes (Also called “High Angle Rescue”),  Confined Space, and Structural Collapse rescue as well as the Trench Rescues.   Swift Water and Hazardous Material Rescue fall under a different part of the Special Ops umbrella.

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We’re lucky here in Montgomery County, because our County TRT has many of the same rescuers and technicians who are on the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Team, (Maryland Task Force 1).  Basically, because we live where we live, and MD Task Force 1 is centralized here, we get the cream of the crop running to our aid.

And seeing as how Washington D.C. (AKA, the huge freaking political target) is so nearby, it’s probably a good thing…..

The team trains often.  Not as often as My Captain would like, but there is only so much time in a day, and only so many dollars in a budget. So they do the best they can.

Training takes many forms.  Last week, the team worked on trench collapse at the National Institute for Standards and Technology campus.  First, the TRT came in and used a back hoe to dig a hole, and then simulate a trench collapse.

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After that is in, they place ground pads all around the trench to avoid causing further cave-ins.  It disperses the weight of footsteps around the compromised soil.

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Now it is time to shore up the walls.  They do this with rawthar expensive shore forms made of Norway Fir plywood and Kevlar.  The point of the Kevlar is to make it really strong.  You don’t want to be in the middle of a rescue and have your shores fail.  That would fall under the BAD category.

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They support the rawthar expensive shores with aluminum struts, which are air pressure forced, and then collared for even better tightness.

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Once those are all in place, and only then, can our guys descend safely into the trench to perform a rescue.

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Notice the yellow tube…that is sending air down into the space.

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Helpful to all involved.  The team monitors the air to make sure there are not excessive gasses below. And sometimes they heat the air if it is a cold day and the patient is buried in cold ground.  Heck, even if it is a warm day, and the victim is buried in cold ground, they could become hypothermic because the soil is 50 degrees.

They think of everything, these guys.

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All of this has to happen as quickly as possible, obviously, but it takes hours to get it done, and done safely so we don’t accrue even more casualties.  Hence the training.

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And thank God they do it!!!




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~ Standing Ovation From The Cheap Seats ~

So….I just got a call from the school letting me know that my boy, Critter, the apple of my eye, got a lunch detention because when coming in from PE, he began ringing the school doorbell 50,000 times. (You can’t hear the bell outside when you are ringing it).

Everyone who has a computer connected to that door latch (most of the administration) immediately gets a video notification of whoever is ringing the doorbell before they unlatch the door.

That video message interrupts whatever they are currently working on…popping up in front of whatever else is on their computer screen at the time. They can’t continue working until they minimize that video message.  To sum up:  There is a video message created every single time the doorbell is depressed, and each one must be minimized for the person to continue working.

This means that my son’s video picture ringing the school doorbell over and over and over again popped up on every administrator’s computer screen about 50,000 times.

I sure hope his sister becomes a lawyer.

Blood tells.


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~ It’s Sprung!!! ~

It’s here!  It’s here!  Spring is officially sprung!  Look what I found today!!

downsized_0325161526It’s the first of a whole lotta tulips!

And my cherry trees are blooming!

And my peach trees are blooming!

And my plum tree is blooming!

Everything is here at The Little Cottage is busting open!

(wiggles eyebrows)

If you need me, I’ll be mulching.  For the next five months, I’ll be mulching…….

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~ Beware The Tys of March ~

They’re at it again.

I was just turning to take the kitchen trash out, when I saw a figure at the back door.   It scared the bejeebies out of me, and  I yelped…. not so much because there was a man at my back door, but because it was Caesar!  Actually it was My Captain’s best friend Ty, who was holding Caesar’s bust.

I know that sounds dirty, but there really is nothing else to hold Caesar by, because that is all he is: a bust.

Kind of like my humor at this point:  (A bust.)

And my latest attempt to eat healthy. (A bust)

And my New Year’s resolution to stop cussing like a sailor. (A total @#%$@%!!! bust)

Don’t judge.


Ty was grinning ear to ear as he walked in.  Caesar was his normal stoic self.  But Ty was just as happy as a little girl, giggling and snickering.

I have to tell you, there is nothing more charming than a tall, dark, and handsome fireman with the devil in his eyes, snickering as he embarks on a joke.   There is also nothing more scary.  Just so you know.

st. patty's day at ruby's

This was My Captain and Ty a couple of St. Patty’s days ago, doing some charity bartending.  I can’t remember what group they were benefitting, and I don’t recall any of the women at the bar caring…why?  Because they both rocked those impish grins, and were totally working the crowd, man.  Two laughing, strapping fire captains serving liquor…if that didn’t boost our local economy, nothing would.

Well, Ty wore that same grin this time.

Today’s prank?  He was just returning my Varmint’s latest Valentine prank.  Remember Varmint dressed Caesar up like Cupid and left him on Ty and Maggie’s doorstep.  We never heard a peep out of him about it, which was nerve wracking, I promise you.

Until today.


I don’t even want to think about how long Ty spent on this.


I mean, between the bunny nose and ears, and the ever-so-perfect “C” for ‘CEASTER’….

You have to understand, this medal-recipient of a manly-man firefighting, paramedic hero has some DOPE artistic skills guys!  Seriously.   Not only does he put out hot, orange, singe-y things while balancing precariously on ladders,


he also plays guitar like some kind of modern day renaissance man,


studies other languages, is handy with construction, and tap-dances.

(I’m kidding about the tap-dancing.  Not that I doubt he could do it…I’ve just never seen him.)

Even as we speak, he’s down in Guatemala, on a missions trip, building and fixing, and healing and all those wonderful things that makes Ty, Ty.

But before he left, he just had to drop Caesar off for Varmint.


Varmint walked in from softball practice, took one look at The Caester Bunny, and smirked.   Then she just left the room.

Understand this, my child is plotting.  And I have a feeling that Caesar won’t be sitting on our shoe rack for very long.  And since she is 14, and is wicked smart and equally creative as Ty, I know retribution will be swift and hilarious.

And I don’t blame Ty for skipping the country at all.

But he’s got to come home sometime……


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~ Dapper Moose ~

March has hit The Little Cottage, full-tilt!  The children’s art wall now sports homemade St. Patty’s day clovers from years-gone-by.

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Every year, our family has gathered at the kitchen table to make our own artistic renderings of shamrocks.  No, we’re not Irish, but we do like to celebrate like we were!!!

Who wouldn’t?  No one, that’s who!

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This was Varmint’s, from last year……

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…and this was Critters from 2008….he had a hard time writing his name (Garrick), and so this particular shamrock is known as the “Gorrk Shamrock”.

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And this one was Grandma Jane’s from way back in….oh, wait…it was last year.  Let’s be honest…she pencil-whipped it.  Grandma Jane has a problem with whipping up motivation to make shamrocks.  I think that particular shamrock was her way of saying “Here’s my bleepity bleep bleep family shamrock…can we eat now?”  She’s like that….

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And after we do the shamrocks, which everyone except Grandma happily does, we dress up the Moose.   He has a nice top hat and bow tie.  He’s dapper, that guy.

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You’ll note the yummy muffins in the background.  I wish I could  brag that they were homemade, but this particular carbo-loaded pile is fresh from the store.

I’ll be honest, my muffins suck. No Blarney.  For real.  I’ve rarely been able to turn out a perfectly fluffy muffin.  Got a C in Home Economics on my muffins because I was too rough on my batter.  Some things never change.

Don’t tell anyone.  I live in shame, to this day.

Where was I?

Right, the Moose.  My Captain dressed him yesterday.  He did it super fast, too.  Faster than you could look up how to spell Shillelagh….which took me longer than you’d believe because I’m a bonehead, apparently.

He walked out there, all casual-like, threw the costume on lightning-quick, and hightailed it back to the house before more than a couple of cars passed the house.

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Our Dapper Leprechaun Moose.  Do you think My Captain was embarrassed to be seen doing that for me?  That’s love, I tell ya.

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Eleven more days until St. Patty’s day!   Not that we’re counting or anything!

Don’t judge.


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