By Lizzy Barrett, Old Vail Middle School

I interviewed three firefighters: Michelle Isely, Chief Allen Yalen and Captain Scott Laird. They work for the Rincon Valley Fire Department which was formed in 1985. The firefighters and I talked about how they work to protect others and safety tips to avoid the dangers of monsoon season. Isely showed me the firetrucks and their features. 

Isley, the only female Rincon Valley Fire District firefighter, was inspired by her dad who was a firefighter and her hero.  He’s retired now but teaches EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) courses.  When she was in middle school, her dad would drive her in an ambulance and drop her off at school.  Although that embarrassed her, she was still determined to be a firefighter.  According to Isley, “This is my passion, this is where I belong; this is what I love to do.”

One of the ways firefighters help is by rescuing the victim when they are on a cliff. One morning, they were practicing on a cliff in Vail. They practiced by tying Chief Yalen on a safety rope and releasing him down into the cliff. Meanwhile, Isely and other firefighters control the rope that holds Chief Yalen. In a real scenario, they would hook cables to a secure point and stabilize the car to safely get the victim out. According to Captain Laird, sometimes the firefighter could also end up being the victim.

People can avoid the dangers of monsoon season by staying away from floods. The National Weather Service started the campaign “Turn Around Don’t Drown,” because flooding is one of the top weather killers in the U.S.  Drivers can do this by turning around and finding an alternate route. Arizona has a “Stupid Motorist Law.” If you disobey this law, you will be fined for the cost of the rescue. Drivers should not go around the barricades to the dangerous flooded areas. According to Captain Laird, “six inches of moving water can wash your car away.” The most dangerous rescue firefighters have to do is swift water rescuing.  

Monsoon season can get really dangerous in the summertime, so we should avoid the storms. One of the tips is to stay away from anything electrical, like power lines. These electrical items can fall down, but they may not be dead. They can electrocute you and seriously injure you. I learned in science class that it is best to stay indoors, but if you are in the middle of a field, you should squat with heels touching each other and cover your eardrums. Thunder can actually destroy your eardrums.

Another way firefighters can help is by getting animals out of backyards. It can be a snake or a raccoon. Firefighters carry a special box that secures the animal from getting out. They then take it far away from homes for the animal to have a safe life.

They receive 2400-2500 emergency and nonemergency calls per year.  Firefighters have to be in good physical shape in order to do all rescue missions.  So, they have weight and exercise equipment to help them.

Monsoon season can be pretty unpredictable, and it can catch people off guard. It is best to stay indoors as the storm rolls in. Storms are really powerful. When monsoon season hits, the firefighters are our heroes in the dangerous storm.

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