Tag Archives: blood

Home Away From Home

February 24, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Volunteer firefighters at the Bennington rural fire station believe saying, “It’s quiet,” could spell the difference between a boring night and one that ends badly.

When the firefighters’ beepers buzz, there is no telling what could be on the end of the call.

“I thought a GI bleed was the worst thing I’d ever smelled, but charred human flesh was worse,” Kim Miksich says.

As a volunteer firefighter for the past year, Miksich expects the unexpected.

At first glance, it seems unlikely that this petite blonde could strap on a 70-pound pack of gear and venture into the smoky darkness of a fire. Yet, a tough determination and reliance is obvious as she recalls her first training runs. Miksich’s heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature heated up just like the flickers of flame as she stepped into the pitch black. Even though she had an experienced firefighter to guide the way, it was still pretty scary.

Miksich, a 20-year veteran of nursing at Bergan Mercy Medical Center, realized at 41 years old that she no longer had a choice. She felt compelled to follow her dream of fighting fires, even if it meant not getting paid.

“I dove in headfirst and went for it,” Miksich says.

It was a longing Miksich harbored for almost 20 years. It took her almost a year to get in good enough shape to pass the Candidate Physical Ability Test.

Miksich now volunteers at least three days of 12-hour shifts a month, staying overnight in the wide-open space of the station.

It was a huge life change. Married for 13 years, she would now have to spend nights away from her husband (who was supportive of her extra hours at the station). “He’s more worried about the dangerous aspects of the job,” she says.

Miksich, along with 44 other volunteers, covered 708 calls, 185 fires, and 523 rescues last year. All for free. Pride in service is evident all over the station, from the clean floors to the gleaming red, yellow, and blue firetrucks, to the smoke-stained coats.

The station—which opened in 2015—is immaculate. The cleanliness of the trucks and living quarters reflect this just as much as the hours the firefighters put in to save lives.

Assistant Chief Ben Tysor believes money normally spent on salaries can be spent on the facility, allowing them to better serve citizens.

It is a far cry from the former small white building down the street. It is no rinky-dink, country-bumpkin fire station. Donated by Darrell and Coe Leta Logemann, the warm brick of the building draws in visitors and volunteers. Tall, stately windows with squares outlined in bright red reflect the rustic scenery.

Opening the door, it feels a bit like a church. The stillness is a reminder of death, danger, and destruction. In the tribute room to the left, a pillar of the Twin Towers tilts to the side in a concrete frozen reminder of what could happen without courageous souls willing to risk their lives for others. The job, “a constant unknown,” matters as visitors stroll past a case filled with helmets, suits, and photos.

Fingers of sunlight reach out to an old hose cart, purchased in 1912 for $13 by the Village of Bennington (a historical reminder of those long-gone firefighters who remain part of the squad).

Chief Brent Jones continues this “family” feeling by staying in touch even with volunteers who have left.

“I spend a lot of time there. It is like a second home,” Jones says.

One of his toughest days recently included 10 calls in a 24-hour period. He hadn’t slept, so downtime in one of the black leather chairs created much-needed relaxation and peace. About eight of these same movie-style recliners are in one room facing a flat-screen television.

Firefighters can also make a meal in the vast kitchen complete with a center island. A stainless steel refrigerator and freezer filled with frozen pizzas, a slab of prime rib, or other items labeled with volunteers’ names fill the insides. Or they can help themselves to a pop from the fountain machine or fresh salted popcorn.

It’s meant to be a home away from home. Upstairs, eight bedrooms complete with bed, television, and desk give it a laid-back vibe. A full locker room comes in handy when someone comes in to use the modern weight room which overlooks the trucks (a reminder to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice—perhaps using the fireman’s pole behind a closed door).

Volunteers must meet three Mondays out of the month for emergency medical or fire training and business meetings. A big time commitment, but necessary.

“[Volunteering] is a disease. Once it is in your blood, you can’t get it out,” Jones says.

Jones, a 14-year volunteer, loves the challenge. But mainly, it is his way of serving the community. Jones spends 25 to 30 hours a week in Bennington, and about 56 hours on his regular job as a firefighter in Lincoln, where he has worked for the past 16 years. His wife also volunteers when she isn’t working as a paramedic with Midwest Medical Transport.

Although downtime seems like a minimum, pranks are still played. Jacked up trucks, water dumped on heads, and snakes in the lockers are classic.

One firefighter laughs as he plans to scratch at the door of a co-worker who believes a ghost roams the station randomly leaving the showers and sinks running.

Some of the firefighters believe they bring the spirits back after a trip. Although it is possible, the building may just be too new.

“Just don’t say the word quiet,” Jones says again. “Something will happen.”

Visit benningtonfirerescue.com for more information.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Omaha Home.

Bed Bugs

May 25, 2013 by

You have probably heard the expression “Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite!” Although once all but unheard of in the United States, bed bugs are being uncovered in many places and have become a hot topic of discussion.

Bed bugs are small, wingless insects that feed on animal and human blood, usually at night. They are reddish-brown and flat in appearance and only about half a centimeter long (about the size of a match head). While bites from bed bugs can be irritating, they have rarely been found to carry and transmit diseases.

Bed bug bites often occur on exposed parts of the body, such as the face and arms. Bites from bed bugs leave red, raised bumps on the skin—frequently in a pattern of two or three—which may itch for several days or even a few weeks. They may be present in the morning or may not show up for a few days. New bites may appear as the old bites are healing. It can be hard, but try not to scratch. Just like a mosquito bite, scratching the bites can irritate them. If they become red or inflamed, they may be infected. If so, contact your health care provider.

When bed bugs set up shop in your house, they find their niches and multiply quickly. There are several different places in your home where bed bugs may be hiding:

  • Mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards
  • Nightstands
  • Curtains
  • Baseboards
  • Upholstered furniture
  • Clothes, backpacks, and luggage
  • Cracks in the walls or floors

Bed bugs can be hard to eliminate. If you wake up with bites, find rust-colored blood stains on your sheets, or happen to catch bed bugs in your covers one night, here are some measures you can take:

  • Vacuum everything carefully, including cracks and crevices. Make sure that you dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag right away. Put the vacuum receptacle in a sealed plastic bag to keep the bugs from getting out.
  • Wash clothes and other items in hot water (at least 120°F or 49°C). Dry the clothes and other items in a clothes dryer on the high heat setting for 20 minutes. This should kill the bugs and their eggs. You can also put pillows and stuffed toys in the dryer, even if you can’t wash them first.
  • Hire a professional exterminator. They may use insecticides to kill bed bugs or other methods, such as diatomaceous earth or special heaters that raise the indoor temperature of a room to 122°F (50°C).
  • If you need to get rid of mattresses or furniture, be careful when you take the items out of your home. You don’t want the bed bugs to spread to other places. Take the furniture to the dump rather than leaving it on the curb.

With the correct combination of methods, you can ward off the bed bugs and not lose any more sleep.

Michael Dawson, M.D., is a Board Certified pediatrician at Boys Town Pediatrics – Pacific Street Clinic, 14080 Hospital Road, (402) 778-6900.