California fires and smoking habits
Written by AF
Photographed by Kambiz Kashani
October 28, 2003
Saturday night I came home from a night of drinking
and mind altering from a gathering of so-called "pimps and
ho's." Got home around 3 am. As I walked to the balcony to open
the second pack of the night's cigarrettes I noticed the red sky
and the heavy air to breathe. I soon found out that there was
a fire raging in San Diego. Went to bed at 6 am.
At noon, I found
it very hard to breath, more difficult than the usual flame that
chocks and tickles my throat after a night of heavy smoking.
I got up and went outside. Ashes were raining down from the dark
purple colored sky >>> Photos
Quickly I turned the TV on. It looked lile half
of San Diego was on fire.
The fire was quickly moving towards
our place. In a matter of hours it had crossed the freeway
and entered residential areas. Houses were burning. It reminded
me of Iran. In the midst of these emotions my pager went off.
The hospital was in a crises. Although it had shut down in the
morning, I was now needed to transport the critical patients
to a San Diego based ship.
I washed my face, put my flight suit
on and went downstaires to the parking lot. My car had a thick
layer of black and white ashes, although it was parked in the
covered garage. I drove to work. Most freeways were closed. I
tuned to NPR channel to get an update.
The only freeway heading
towards the hospital was now closed. A single engine aircraft
had no vision and mistakenly landed on the freeway instead of
the nearby airport. It too was now on fire.
I found a road off
the freeway. It was empty. As I drove way beyond the speed limit
I looked at the sky. I had
driven into the first scene in Terminator, and something was ringing
in my ear, "it's
the end of the world as we know it..."
I got to work. The unit was chaotic.
You could see the smoke much better from the hospital. Some nurses were making
frequent stops to the roof top for a better view.
I was assigned a patient
to evacuate if the evacuation was approved (we were on stand
by). While in the process,
he bled in his head (he was AML patient with bone marrow
relapse). I still can't figure out why he bled, but he did. I went back and
gave the mom the bad news. He
was taken off life support
and soon died.
Now that I had no patient to transport I drove
home. On my way back I lit a cigarrette. I was very careful not
the cigarrette out
of the car after I was done it. So last night was the first
time I used the ash
tray in my car.
AF is a doctor who works in a hospital in San