Sept. 8, 2021

What's it like being deployed as a Wildland Firefighter?


Have you ever wondered what its like to be away from home fighting fires for weeks at a time, leaving your wife and kids behind? 

In this episode on Enduring the Badge Podcast, we will be talking about my wildland deployment in California and how that felt for my lovely wife Annie and how it felt for me to be gone those days. Find out what its like to be deployed at a time, and how you can help your spouse cope with the challenges. This episode is about the life of firefighters, wives, and families.  

Transcript

Everyday Heroes Podcast

This podcast is part of the Everyday Heroes Podcast Network, the network for first responders and those who support them.

 

Introduction

Welcome, the trials of first responders in their families aren't easy. Enduring the Badge Podcast is building a community to help them out. Introducing your host, back by 30 years of experience as a first responder, Jerry Dean Lund.

Jerry Lund

Hi, everyone! Before we jump into this next episode, I want to thank my sponsor, Patriot Supreme, a veteran owned company with products made in the US. Patriot Supreme makes the best CBD products I've ever used. I really love their CBD roll on, it's got a deep freeze feel to it, I use it in different joint areas when they feel a little tight or there's a little bit of a pinch. I also use it on my muscles when they're a little bit sore. You can use that up to four times a day for pain relief, check them out at patriotsupreme.com and be sure to follow them on Instagram and Facebook as well. Let's jump right into this next episode.

My special guest and it's not really going to be a guest, we're just gonna have a conversation is my wife, Annie, we're gonna have a conversation about my recent wildland deployment, and how that felt for her how it felt for me to be gone those days. And we'll just have a conversation about that and kind of just maybe look into what all those wildland firefighters are doing out there and what their families are doing, while they're gone. As you know, the fires are just raging everywhere. And I got the opportunity to go to California for nine days and Park City, Utah for two days. So in my home state for two days, and then out to California. And Annie was not a fan. Why weren't you a fan?

Annie Lund

There's so many things. It's a worry. It's scary. It's a little bit annoying. It's it's a lot of different emotions. I was scared nonstop, because you hear about these wildland firefighters that are dying from trees falling on them, and we're getting hurt and their bodies getting burned. And I try not to read things in the news typically, like that's not me, I don't watch the news. I don't read the news. But these things still pop up on my news feed on social media and other things like that because of some of the groups that I'm involved in. So that makes it difficult, like that anxiety for me as I was there. So I was scared. That was this is our first deployment. And also our longest time that we've ever been apart in the five years that we've been together. And so like I'm used to the two days on at the station, I'm used to the three days on even at the station, and Jerry can tell you every time he has a 72 hour shift and like "I hate this when are you coming home? I'll take 72 hour shifts every week rather than than a deployment ever again. ever again. Um, so lots of lots of thoughts like they're with emotions and being just really honestly, like truly just scared. Dealing with that another. I mean, obviously, I missed you like that was a huge part of it. I don't like being alone. I'm not a person that enjoys it. I know some people really enjoy their alone time. And I'm just not one of those people. Jerry can attest to this when he's at the station and our kids are here. If they're somewhere else or what their other parents are, you know, I tend to keep busy by doing things with friends. I go to dinner I do. Like I don't ever stay home.

Jerry Lund

That's true. I did miss you too wehn I was gone.

Annie Lund

That's good. I think sometimes I just thought you were like out just hanging out with your buddies in camping and having fun. And I know that's not what it was because we were able to talk every day, which was a huge, like tender mercy for me because I needed something every day I needed to be able to hear from you. Me being like a control freak that I am. I wanted to know where you were, I wanted to know that you were at least like safe and enough that I could find you if I hadn't heard from you in hours, I could at least know where your last location was. So like there were some stupid small things that probably seem very silly to you. But were very comforting to me to have like we don't Jerry and I don't track each other's locations on our phones. This is not something that we do. We just don't. We don't have a reason to. And so that was something I asked Jerry before he left if we could set that up so that I could I would be able to see where he was. So that was a big comfort to me, especially in the first week that he was gone. I was checking it pretty often like so. It was just something that helped me. So yeah, I was scared. That was one of my big emotions. I missed you. I missed adult interaction. Adult time. I love my kids, I love spending time with them. So I was able to do that. But it's just different when you're, I was a single parent for a while. So I know what that's like. And it kind of took me back to that a little bit because it's different. Being here, when you're at the station, right? Like, cuz I know you're at the station, you're not far we can come and see you. If I need something, you're around, like, a couple months ago, our sprinklers got left on and our basement about flooded, Jerry was at work. And my kids were here, and they were a great help, but we could not get the sprinkler box to turn off. Well, that situation, all I did was call him when he was able to come like, I don't feel like I have to deal with life by myself. When you're at the station, like you're so close enough that you can, if there's an emergency that happens, you're you're close by, that wasn't the case with this deployment, like I was by myself, like, figure it out, basically, is kind of, you know, and not that you said that, to me, not that there was anything that happened. But that was also in the back of my mind, right? Like, what happens if something happens, I'm I have to do this alone.

Jerry Lund

Sort of, sort of you have your family around. And right, and you have a bigger family, right? The firefighter, the first responder, family, I know any of the firefighters in town would come you know, to help you with anything you need, the police officers would happily come by to help. You know, when you're when you're gone like that there's a bigger community that can help you take over in situations like that, you know, because Murphy does happen. Thank goodness for us, it didn't on this trip. But two of the other, we went on with the four person type three engine to on this deployment. And two of the guys did have things happen at home. But you know, we're a little bit troubling for them that they had to work through over the phone, which was, luckily for us, we're kind of out in nowhere, and just in outside of Redding, California, on the McFarland Fire. And we just happen to catch sell services here and there very sporadically, when we got up on top of ridges and stuff like that, and depends on who you had for cell service, whether you got cell service or not. You know, so thank goodness, I mean, I'll give a shout out to Verizon, you know, they did have pretty good coverage out there. But at the camp, it was a type one incident. So that means that there's things like, there was WiFi at night, that we could come back into camp and use. So we did get to do some FaceTime type stuff. You know, and there was a FirstNet was there, they put up a, like a signal booster plus provided the, I think, a boost for the WiFi that was there. So I think that's very helpful in these situations where, I mean, there's, I was fortunate, I mean, look at these guys out on most of these fires, they don't have those type of capabilities to, you know, to make phone calls or get cell service because you know, they're in the remote area fighting fires or cell towers are down, burned down or overloaded, you know, with signals and stuff. So, we were fortunate to have those conversations, and I think probably would have been,

Annie Lund

Would have been a lot longer for me and a lot harder. The first week, I was a mess. I cried every day. I didn't do well with it brings back lots of memories. I the first week, it's just difficult like him being gone and kind of the unknown, because that first week, a fire had started here, like he said, in Park City. And so two days before he was supposed to leave the fire started here. And we knew that would probably impact where he would go. And I was like praying that he would just stay here because I mean, it's close. And I at least knew like where he was gonna be. And I know the area. And it was just a little bit of a comfort to me that to know that he was going to be close. And then when they actually got dispatched out to that fire. That helped. So I think it kind of broke us into the first couple of days to be able to have him there for the first three days of his deployment. three full days, I should say two and a half days and then driving. And then, you know, like when I found out he was going to California. I had a little bit of a hard time but I knew it was coming. So I had tried to prepare myself. And leading up to the deployment. I had been we knew it was coming. We knew the dates. We knew the time, we just didn't know where but we knew probably were like we had some good ideas. And so I was trying to prepare myself weeks in advance. Honestly, it wasn't just a couple days. You know, church can attest the week before I was a mess, like just it's very emotional. It's a very raw thing for me. It's one thing for him to be here and to put his life at risk on shift every day. It's a whole different thing for me like it was just an extreme to go somewhere else and be so far away and be in a much more dangerous situation than anything that we deal with here. I know it can happen generally, right? I know anything can happen. And I recognize that, but it's just, it's a different risk. And so I was kind of like, why, why do we need to do this, like, we don't need to do this, we don't need to put our lives at risk. But

Jerry Lund

Well, that's true. I mean, in a lot of ways, but that's just, you know, my personality and being in this profession, it's hard not to go help. Like, you see these towns burning down all this devastation, and it creates almost like anxiety in me that I want to go help. And, you know, I don't often get these opportunities to go help on these fires. So a couple times, I was supposed to go to California, and then you know, the engine break down the day before, or just something weird would happen. And I wouldn't get out to California. But it's something on my bucket list of my career to do this type of work. Actually, when I first want to be a firefighter, I wanted to be a smoke jumper . So this is structural firefighting here in Utah is, you know, we have a lot of opportunities to fight different types of fires, we have large mountain on one side, we have a lake on one side, you know, so we get a lot of diverse things. But still, there's just something about going out on these large scale incidents, and being a part of it and feeling like you're making a difference. Although, you know, not everybody that goes out to these fires have these great Instagram moments out there. Um, and so, you know, probably to put any, to ease a little bit the type of work that we were doing out there, it wasn't glamorous by any means. We were out cold trolling, making sure the fires out on the, you know, along about a five mile edge, you know, out in California, and then just, you know, half mile edge in, up and Park City, so we're just not a lot of risk. Just you know hard work, you know, making sure the fire is out. But yeah, it wasn't, wasn't glamorous, like you see all these other people posting on Instagram, a lot of people get those opportunities, but a lot of people don't. And I probably would say maybe it's, I don't know, maybe 75% are still have to do that unglamorous work, I would call it but it has to be has to be done work. So there's still a part of me that's unfulfilled with that, you know, not being able to get in as much action as I wanted to get in and just get that experience. The crew that I went with was, I mean, should have been,

Annie Lund

I was very grateful for the crew, he was with, I felt very, I wasn't concerned about the people he was with. He was with the best people that he could have been with. And I was grateful for that. So that was a comfort. There were certain things that were just that made me feel better about the whole thing. But the whole thing in general, like for me, I still consider myself kind of new to this life, right? We've been together for five years. But and I've grown up in like a first responder, family. So it's not it's not unknown to me. But this is a different level. I'm, it's different when I'm sending my brothers off, right? Like, it's not the same, they can go to work. And it's just different when it's a spouse like I was if there were levels of anxiety that I didn't know that I could have over things, you know, so yes, the fact that he was doing this not so glamorous work, but also for me, it was a safe work. Like, it was a very much of Okay, I feel so much better about this assignment, because I know that he's not out on like the front line. And I was super grateful for that. I know, he wasn't, but I was feeling very, very lucky. And very, it was calming to me, which is what I exactly what I needed while you were there.

Jerry Lund

Yeah. I mean, you know, I think it's just so impactful on people in their families to, to go out there on these deployments. And some, I mean, most of them you volunteer for in a roundabout way. You know, some other departments probably don't get that opportunity to volunteer, you might, you know, get sent in and it's just, you know, for me leading up to this deployment was there's quite a bit of anticipation. You know, I think that my stuff's out, you know, in my room, you know, trying to get everything ready, you know, packed into 14 days. bag, trying to you know, that's all out there. And so I think that's just a constant reminder for me that I was leaving. And, you know, I hadn't done it before. And so my craps all over my room, make sure I have enough underwear, socks, you know, all the things that you need to basically go dirt camping for 14 days, and you can't take enough shirts and socks and underwear, you know? Well, I mean, some people do, I guess, but you find a way to just deal with things in those conditions. And our conditions were, were pretty good compared to a lot of those other larger fires, those guys, you know, we actually work a 16 hour cycle with an eight hour off. A lot of callfire people that come out on Cal fireworks at 24 on and 24 off, you know, through these big incidents. So that's, you know, incredibly hard work to work for, you know, 24 hours straight. So, you know, we did probably get the best of the, you know, circumstances for me going out, but I really have to, you know, just give a huge shout out to those guys who do it, you know, day in day out, you know, during while on season, you know, leaving their wives Plus, you know, you have a lot of departments like ours, it's sends out engines nationally, but you know, we're mainly here in Utah, but seems like on large incidents, but you know, we get the occasional California trips twice a year when the engines up and available. So I think it's some people just, um, I don't know, I think you just really have to give it to those guys. I mean, you know, they saw those guys on the frontlines doing the big burns, and all that stuff like that, you know, they come in exhausted, you know, and they get technically like, eight hours of downtime, but you have to put your time to get all your stuff out, clean yourself up a little bit, maybe the best you can, you know, you don't truly you got to eat, you got to wake up early to pack your stuff and go eat like it's it's hard, hard, hard work that, you know, it's not sometimes very glamorous.

But yeah, I, the crew I went out with I mean, they have lots of years of experience, specially in wildland, I had a lot of years of experience too, but when you go out there on those larger incidents, things just operate quite a bit differently. So it was a good experience. And I think, you know, it's something that we're going to deal with and learn, we, you know, learn about each other in these situations. You know, we work through some things that we haven't worked through. Maybe that just because we're on face to face, and we're talking about things that we don't normally talk about. So I think that you know, kind of help push us through, you know, those days having some different conversations that we wouldn't normally have and getting home and you know, keeping those conversations going and it's as hard as it was to leave you know, it's it's great to come back even though I did go camping for another two more days after I got back.

So that was a little bit unplan that we got a little extra time off that we hadn't planned on and so Annie and the family are on a camping and so I came home and an hour half later we left to go camping. Yeah, I mean, this time I had a tent I mean, last time I had to tent but we didn't use it we just slept outside which is was kind of nice. I'm not a huge outdoorsman or camper or hunter or anything like that. So I think the one night in Park City if they got a pretty good laugh out of me you know the fire started it was a super hot day but in two days later it just turned cold and a downpour so we just barely got off the mountain when it down forward and then we got back to camp or like waiting it out to put our tents up you know in the rain storm and so we finally get along we get our tents out but we're on a surface where they we couldn't stick her tents down. So between the wind and the rain all night long, like the tent collapsing on me back like it was just it was a mess and I know that there were a couple of guys in their tents laughing at me because you know not I'm just don't enjoy tent camping normally, but in especially in those conditions. But I did enjoy you know, in California we did find some actual astroturf but some people we'd stayed in the kind of like a campground and they had some astroturf there and so that was kind of a nice surface to to camp on for us. I mean, we just put our tents out and not our tent, excuse me or just our bags out and just you know slept under Under the Stars, which was cool in a lot of ways, but, you know, those big type of camps, there's hardly any down hours where things aren't being, you know, noisy, or people coming in and out or right off the main road, you know, on on a great sleeper anyways.

And so, you know, I think the sleeping hours really were from about elevens, about four in the morning, and then just camp got got up again and got going, and people coming in and out, and you just get in a cycle of just getting up and getting after and, and doing it. And I think time passes a lot faster for me when I'm out there. But at home, I know it's time passes quite a bit slower. You know, I'm in with my four friends or three friends, I guess, you know, in a lot of ways and ends at home. I mean, we had a, you know, you when you go on those type of deployments with those people, you know, you form a pretty tight bond and get to know everybody really well. And I think we did actually really good because, you know, we didn't have too many of those moments where I think we wanted to throttle each other, just being you know, in an engine, working, you know, those 16 hour days and stuff like that and being together and it can cause a strain. I know, I think people probably like stay 7,8,9. And there's like a little tipping point. Generally in the wildland world, I think people kind of in their mid midway through it and maybe get a little snappy and tired and stuff like that. And then you push through it.

Annie Lund

I think that's natural for when you spend that many days with anybody. If you and I had spent that many solid days together with like eating, sleeping, drinking everything at the same time, like it's still a there's a strain, right. So I get that. And I knew ultimately he wasn't just out having fun camping with his buddies. Like, I joke about that. But I know that that's not they were out there working. And I know that like I could tell when we would talk he was tired. And you know, and that's, it's hard because I'm such a I want to take care of him all the time. And so it was hard to try and take care of you while you were gone. Like I can't, I can't help take care of you. That's just my natural instinct. I'm very much of a service type personality. And that's what I like to do. So. Yeah, I mean, it was difficult there. You're right, though we did we were able to do that. First. Like I said that first week was the hardest for me. I had kind of it was a little bit all over the place, because he left and school started that same week for my kids. So it was also just a really busy week too. And they had gone back to school. I have been I'd had a doctor's appointment that didn't quite go as planned that I would have probably liked to have Jerry there with me when I got some news and nothing like crazy serious, but just things that I was already emotionally unstable from him being gone. And then having that added to it, and to my kids going back to school. And, you know, trying to get into this new routine and trying to do it all kind of by myself, was a little bit overwhelming.

So as that first week kind of ended, it started, I started like calming down a little bit and I was more at ease. And the fact that we were able to talk. And the one night I was really struggling. And Jerry didn't even know it. And I pick up my phone and he's facetiming me and I'm like, wow, this is the best thing ever. And it made my night right like it made it got me through that weekend that I was really struggling. And so like that was like a huge blessing, like huge for me that I'm like, Oh my gosh, we have enough service, it got dark really fast. So we weren't able to really like I saw his face though. And that's what I needed. Like, he had sent me a couple pictures of kind of what they were doing. And but like it's just different being able to see his face and hear him talk at the same time. So it was comforting to me. So he kind of was able to like push me through the next week. And then the next week came and and we'd started having some conversations that we don't necessarily have the time for maybe or the space. If you know we always like when we're home. We're both very busy people. I work full time and work from home mostly Jerry works full time at the station, and then some with also a SWAT and also with podcasting and with like we don't ever stop working. And so we don't always have time. We do dedicate specific things like we have a date night every week and that's something that was huge. I missed that. Like I missed the simple things like Wednesday night came around. And Wednesday night is typically our date night. And Wednesday night came around and I was like this is this sucks like he's not here. This is our date night and I was super negative about it and So I mean, there are things that we dedicate as far as time goes, we do like even though we're very busy people, we have made it a goal and a non-negotiable in our marriage to spend quality time together. And when we go out, we don't have our phones out. We don't, we don't do that. So, and we have those conversations in those moments too. But this was different. We were able to have conversations. We were texting a lot we because we couldn't always be talking on the phone. And and I didn't want to like disrupt their time. When they did get back to camp. I knew he was tired. I knew he had to eat and get his stuff set up. And like they're limited on time. So I didn't want to take I mean, I did I wanted to sit and talk to him for hours. But like I knew that wasn't that it wasn't gonna work that way.

Jerry Lund

And I'm a big talker too.

Annie Lund

Super big talker on the phone. And he's a really great texter. Yeah, yeah, those are the two my main skill isn't isn't talk in person, he talks. And when we have conversations over the phone, it's a little bit different. And it's better. But Jerry generally doesn't like to text he's not. He'd rather just and he's very short, with his text messages. And quick, like, he's not a detail-oriented guy. I am, I like to talk, I'm very much of a talker. So but we were able to have some really great deep conversations about things that we maybe haven't had those conversations before it, because we haven't been in a vulnerable spot, like we were being apart. That was big. Just being able to not have distractions, kind of like, at night, when we would be able to talk like we I wasn't working, he wasn't working. He was at camp. You know, there were some distractions, but it was fine. Like so. It brought us I feel like the the whole situation, the whole experience did bring us a lot closer, in many ways. I've never felt like I've taken Jerry for granted. So I don't think that that's like, I know what I have. I know what we have. And the time that we have is valuable. And I know that and so I think that we just, we both like, I know, I can speak for myself that I really missed, just like the time that we have together, even if it's simple of sitting on the couch and watching a show, which is rare for us. But when we have time to do that, like it's the simple things that you don't you just don't realize I could never be a Cal Fire wife ever. I could never do the month gone. And I've listened to podcasts and I've read books from some Cal Fire wives and I just I don't know how they do it. And I was a nervous wreck the entire time. Like nervous emotional wreck the entire time. Like, the second week was better. I didn't cry every day. I still cried a lot. And it was just yeah.

Jerry Lund

Yeah, we're in our we're actually headed out to date night tonight. It's actually the first Utah Utes game. So we're actually that's why we're in our Utes apparel. Right. We're gonna go check them out. Yeah. And have I ever have a date night that way. So I mean, the deployment wasn't all bad.

 

Annie Lund

No, it wasn't that it was. It was difficult. We would have had this beard. I liked the beard. Yeah, I'm really excited for retirement because I like the beard a lot.

Jerry Lund

It's gotta go tomorrow. Sorry. All right, actually, tonight, got to go tonight. My hair's long, like you just those some of those things, you just

Annie Lund

I will say back to this a little bit. Leaving was really hard. And when he got up to leave, the morning that he left, I was in bed because he left at like 5:30 in the morning, we had talks the night before we had, you know, had some time together, got up and left. And of course, every time before he goes to work, he hugs me goodbye, gives me a kiss, you know, tells me that he loves me. So that was no different. And this time, it wasn't really a whole lot different when he left. I hugged him longer and but I mean, it was 5:30 in the morning, and I'm not a morning person. And I was already super upset. So I wasn't going to put myself through another emotional break. Break down at that time of the day. But we just we did keep saying like, Oh, how sweet the reunion is going to be when you get home. Like I could not wait for the reunion. And the reunion was pretty awesome. Like, like he said, he came home. They got done a little bit early earlier than planned and were sent home earlier and I had made plans with my family to go camping over the weekend. And he wasn't going to be home so it wasn't going to be a big deal. I'm not I've grown up camping. It's something I've enjoyed past five or six years I haven't enjoyed it as much and I don't go very often. I enjoy being in the mountains but I mean I don't like tents and I don't like being cold.

You can say I'm a bit of a glamper, which I'm totally fine with. I prefer hotels now. But when Jerry called me, and he's like, Well, I have a surprise for you. And I'm like, oh, what's the surprise and, and at this point, I knew they were coming home. But anyways, he ended up coming camping with us. And it was great, but I felt really bad. Oh, hey, you've been camping for 12 days. Let's go for two more. Yeah. But it was a little bit different. I told him he could relax and, and we had fun. It was a good weekend. Good. It probably wasn't our ideal way to come home from deployment and to but we did have some uninterrupted, no cell service. No. Like there was no distractions other than just kids and the family. And they weren't really a distraction. Like, we just were able to spend time together and have fun. And I feel like Jerry was able to wind down a little bit from from the deployment kind of, on his own not having to come back and jump right back into things. And so it was a good little break. Maybe wasn't the best camping like, part, but it's all good. It was it was a good time.

Jerry Lund

Yeah. But it was it was good to, I think, come home and relieve the stress. I knew that I put on my family, my kids.

Annie Lund

Yes, there was a lot of stress between all of us. That's very true.

Jerry Lund

Six kids together. You know, parents, all of them all the family members, you know, people worry, worry about you. And so that is a little bit of a burden to carry, you know, while you're out there all the people that miss you and care about you. I mean, it's I guess, I don't know, it's important, it's important to I guess, for me to acknowledge them that, you know, that I knew that they were worried about me and cared about me and reached out to me. And I think that, you know, those little text messages that you get here and there from your family members and stuff like that or make your day. I mean, I'm sure these things are not newsflashes to really to anybody, you know that listening to this, but you know, that communication on those? Is everything right? We know that in every aspect of our life communication is everything, and certainly on these types of deployments and suffer even more so when you can. And I think what questions did you have about me when I was out there? What like, were you wondering what I was eating, like what I, where I was sleeping like?

Annie Lund

Well, again, I'm a very detail-oriented person, Jerry, and I kind of laugh about this because he'll say something that he's talked to one of his girls, I'm like, Well, how are they doing? Well, they're good. What have they been up to? I don't know. Like, this is just how we talk. And so when he went on deployment, it wasn't really any different. I had to really like, so what did you eat for dinner? What are you doing? What's does camp look like? What is this? Like? Because for me, I'm a very visual detail person. So I want to kind of be able to picture it. So yeah, I mean, I was I was asking a lot of questions like, what are you doing? You know, what is your job? Like? He would tell me everyday like, Oh, this is our assignment today. Cool. I don't know what that means. Like. So I mean, I would ask a lot. I did ask a lot of questions of, Okay, well, what are you doing all day long? Like, do you just drive around in the truck and look for fires? Do you have to get out and hike? Do you have to be above? Yeah, I mean, like, I just kind of wanted to know what was going on. So yeah, we would have I would ask questions as they came up.

Jerry Lund

I mean, to look a little bit into these are kind of like these big fires or type one incidents and so they have a lot of maybe niceties like I was saying that other places don't have so we had a great cater like the food I I couldn't complain about like the dinners were great and probably like five to  6000 calories. At dinner at like dinner you got like a bread a dessert of vegetables, meat. Gosh, it was just like a really, really good meal and they were great Gators. Breakfast is where I mean I kind of got tired of you get tired of the same things a little bit dinners are always a little bit different than good, but breakfast was egg, tortilla, meat, muffin yogurt, like eggs in so many different ways. You know, bacon, sausage, and potatoes like those are like the main staples just fixed different ways like it was but it was good. They did a really good job for having up to 900 people there at one time. Um, lunches were interesting. Eight things were I don't normally eat warm like string cheese was one hard boiled eggs. I didn't know you could really eat them after two days and then a bag at room temperature or not even room temperatures profit truck temperature. So yeah, that I think is sick. I got creative like I decided for my lunches I would like the first few days I just ate the standard lunches and stuff like that, which is always some kind of meat sandwich was generally ham and cheese sandwich. Um, so I decided I'm not a big sandwich person. And so I decided to go vegetarian lunches, which actually were really good. I got some hummus, which I love and some pita bread and digging more eggs. Then I decided like, Hey, this is I come up with this idea. I'm like, I'm making an egg salad sandwich. I got a bag out, put my eggs in it, smash them up, put some mayo, mustard, salt and pepper in there, smash it up, and they don't like pita bread, like the lunches were. I mean, just all a lot of high calorie stuff. Like they really did a good job, but you just get kind of sick of like, okay, it's peanuts today, almonds tomorrow, you know, a different kind of cashews another day. And then it's just like, it's just like the same things every three days, you just eat some some of the lunches are fixed, you know, a couple days ahead of time, and they're still good. So that's kind of like what we eat out there.

But I guess I'd on other incidents and stuff like that guys might be eating Emory's and not having as good a caterer as we did. So it's those things add up to your mental health. You know, during that time, nobody wants to work their ass off and eat shitty food, you know, and just doesn't do your mental and sleep like crap. You know, it's just not good. Good for you. So that, you know those bigger fires there is actually you could, somebody could do your laundry for you. If you could time it right. There was a place to take a shower, got a couple of showers, had places for people to sleep, you know that we're working, like night shift. So they come back, they get someplace dark and kind of quiet-ish to sleep and stuff like that. So I think it's a cool if you don't know a lot about wildland firefighting and I think it'd be cool to do some investigating or be happy to answer any questions that you might have about it. But it's just a unique, unique experience and unique bonding experience with your, your crew. I know any had a text message.

Annie Lund

Yep. From another, one of the crew members lives had sent me a message. She's also a firefighter. They're very, like special people to us, we love them. And she had sent me a message. And she had sent it right at a moment where I was feeling really weak, honestly. And all it took was her message to put me into tears, which was it? It wasn't, it wasn't hard for me to cry. It didn't take much of anything. Still, it's pretty raw. Like it's a very raw moment that Yeah, you know, we made it, we did it. really grateful. I pray that he doesn't ever want to go again. But I already know that he does. And I already know that it's probably happening in a couple months. So I'll just prepare myself now. I did have a lot of support here too. I had a lot of people reaching out to me and our great friends were constantly messaging us and messaging me and trying to find out, you know, what they could do for me and, and how they could help. And I went to dinner with a friend a couple times. Like there people were checking on me constantly. And I'm grateful for that, too. We have whether it's our fire family here in the city.

Like I said, I had gotten this great message from from one of the wives and you know, our we have some other friends that work for other departments, and they were messaging me wanting to know, how I was doing and what I needed. And, you know, it's it's hard for people who are not in this world to understand. It's just it's, it's hard to describe, like, this isn't something I think the only one that could really like understand this would be military families. Definitely. And, and I've I've always had like such a great respect for military families. And I've always said I could never be a military wife and I truly mean that I I'm a wimp. I can't do this. Like it was 12 days that Jerry was gone and I was it was a long 12 days it was very difficult and it makes me just feel so much more for our friends that are in the military and their families and what they have to go through because this is just a tiny little fraction of it. So but it's it's really difficult to describe and to to understand from like an outsider's there. You know, some of my friends were like, it's not even about Do your husband's, he's fine. He's in California. He's hanging out. He's camping. And I'm like, No, you don't get it like. And I mean, well, these people mean well, right, that say things, but they're and they, and they honestly, were just trying to comfort me and like, it's, he's gonna be just fine. And I knew that like, well, I prayed for that deep down, but like, I didn't know that he was going to be just fine. There are things that happen. And those things were the only thing like my mind automatically goes to worst case scenario. And that's where I was, most of the time he was gone. So. But we did learn a lot. I'm almost grateful for it, but not yet.

Jerry Lund

Yeah, I mean, it is definitely something I want to do again, I know, it's a tremendous strain. And any, not only a strain, but hates the thought of it and stuff like that. But my time in my career is winding down. And I don't have very many more opportunities, probably to do things like this. And it's just, I don't want to leave this job with any regrets, like, I didn't get to do this, I didn't have the opportunity to do that. And that's really, I mean, about the only thing on my list really, that I feel like I want to, like resolve that desire to go do that and be part of something like that. I mean, I've been very fortunate in my career were that great departments and got a lot of opportunities to do things, fire investigations, SWAT, you know, wildland just different types of rescue stuff, hazmat school, you know, police academy, like all those things have have been great opportunities. I'm so grateful for them. And they've definitely made me a better person in a lot of ways. And just, I don't know, it's just something I have to get out of my system. I guess before that time before I retire, because I think anybody can relate to that as they don't want to leave something without finishing their accomplishments. I want to do that, before I retire, which is, I don't know. Who knows when that is sooner than later. I'll say like my chief said, I'm on the downhill slide of the downhill slide. You know, things so soon, ish. soonish soonish, when another opportunity presents itself, that can be as rewarding as being a firefighter and police officer, I will definitely, really consider it and probably, you know, the offers right? Leave right then to do something that is just as rewarding as this, which I think is going to be a little bit hard to do. But I have faith that something will come up for me and it'll be the right move for my family and I to do that. But I mean, let's, let's take some takeaways from this like, episode of your co-hosting guesting, stuff like that. What? I think we've all recovered, but maybe this is talk like a few things What? What would help you from me, or somebody, let's say they're going out on the wildland deployment, and let's give them some tips maybe that they they can do to help like, easy stuff at home, and maybe just even for the fire guys be a little bit more comfortable.

Annie Lund

Um, for me, maybe, I would say to maybe the spouses that are going out the men or the women, right, whatever, the firefighter, I would say it's a pretty, like vulnerable moment for your spouse. And so like the things that we don't normally need, I felt very needy. In general, I'm not like a needy person. I don't.

Jerry Lund

Just kidding.

Annie Lund

Maybe I am. Sometimes, but I don't feel like I'm super needy. But I think in this situation. Like the simple things for me, literally, it was like being able to see where his location was like, I know, when I asked Jerry about it, he kind of chuckled like really babe, I can just send you my location every day, which he has done before when we have been on like local fires where they've gotten dispatched out to local fires during the summers here when they're out for a couple of days, or even when he's out for 12 or 16 hours and then comes back to the station and then he sends me his location. And so and that's, that's big for me because when he's on a fire, it's just very, like I'm just a wreck the whole time. I just get really nervous and it scares me so much. So the simple things of being able to talk when you can be able to send a quick text message like hey, hope you having a good day. Not carrying on as if everything was just normal because it's not like it's not a normal situation, you're gone, you're not here, you're in danger, you're on a fire with no service or, you know, so taking the time when you actually do have service. And when you have a minute, I know that you were probably exhausted when you got back to the camp every night, but you made it a point to call me. You made it a point to talk to me, even though we didn't have great service. And we got disconnected sometimes. And we had to then finish conversations through text message or you made sure like, Okay, how are the kids doing what's going on here, what's, you know, like, trying to help me from a distance was big for me, like being able to have the comfort to know that you were okay. And I could look at your location anytime I wanted to, and see where you were at. And that was a comfort leading up to it.

I think like we took time to go out on some dates before you left, which was important. I was super duper struggling before he left one night, he was packing his stuff makes me cry all over again. And I literally just laid on the bed and sobbed, soft while he was packing. And he's like, What's the matter? And I'm like, I just, I was feeling all the emotions. And he let me. Like he let me just feel him. He didn't, he was trying to reassure me and tell me that things were gonna be okay. And but he let me feel them like, and I don't know that there's another way to get through it other than to just feel it. And so maybe just kind of being there. During those times, like in the moments before leading up to it. The moments on the phone, like there was the day that I was on the phone with him the day that he actually got sent to California from Park City. That was the day I'd gone to my doctor's appointment. And I like I said I was pretty upset with with the news that I found there. And it's not even anything serious. But it was serious enough that I just felt kind of alone. And he was on the phone just bawling, just sobbing. And he's in the he's in the engine with three other guys. And I'm like, I'm sorry, you know, I know, this is not primetime. Like I shouldn't be talking to you about this right now. And we kind of laughed through some of these things, right? Like, we knew this wasn't like, he's like, it's gonna be fine, you know. So just taking the time, like those simple small things that you guys may think are really silly. Like, is a big, it's a big deal to your spouse, like, at least in my situation with my, I don't know, maybe these Cal Fire wives can can give me some advice here, because they do it all the time. And they're used to it, I don't think that necessarily makes it any easier. I just think they know how to function better with it. And they know how to. So it's hard to say.

But those are the tips that I would say. And then for maybe the spouse that's home, I had to keep busy. Personally, I couldn't, nights were really difficult for me to be home because that's when we typically sit down and and spend our time together or we're able to talk like a lot of the times during the day with the kids here. And with both of us working and trying to get things done. We don't have a lot of time to actually talk during the day. So during the day, I was great. Like I was able to keep busy with work and taking care of the kids and getting them to their things. And that wasn't the problem. It was after everybody was in bed. And when we typically when the house was quiet, or when I was here by myself, which was a lot of the time that he was gone, I was actually didn't have my kids here with me. So that was a little bit difficult. So keeping myself busy, like, do whatever you need to do, like I did, I spent some time at the gym, I can shopping and shopping, I did go shopping. But that was kind of my self care. Like I had to focus and require myself to do things for self care, because I I knew I needed it. Like I needed a distraction. For me, that's what I have to do. So

 

Jerry Lund

Some of the things that be like said, we went and did some dates before I left but we try to have much as like our affairs in order, you know, kind of bank accounts and you know, some life insurance stuff and details about that. And I tried to make sure you know course to try and get the house ready to you know, to be gone for two to three weeks, you know, and don't want to leave with any problems and cause any other issues. I think I mean comfort for me was Annie generally sends me a picture. She like gets ready and driving to work or going somewhere she sends me like her daily picture. So that was a good mental boost for me to have that. That picture each day. So that was one I think one tip right we keep going back to communication but it's just those little little things a little personal, personal things that messages and, you know, we're, we're great to keep you going fires man comfort out there, I learned some valuable lessons about comfort. You know, and I tried to be prepared as much as I could be. But you know, if you're going out there and invest in the socks, you know, the, I use Darn Tough socks is not a promotion for them, but man, they are legit, they're expensive, but you'll definitely love them, once you get them on and start using them. You know, they also make underwear. So just you know, those are just basic comfort things like you know, you were sure, a couple two, three days or pants or seven, seven days, you know, if you have any of that extra stuff that you can get in your 14 day bag, man do it just get those little personal things, you know, that take care of your feet and not have to shower and like put on deodorant, like, smell kind of good for like, you know, for the next couple of days, at least maybe a few hours bucks, and I won't sleep very well, and those type of things. So men invest in the wipes, I threw, they come in smaller size, I threw some of those on my line bag. One day at lunch, I was freaking so hot, and just like, you know, Ash and stuff all over again, just clean my face with it. And I just instantly felt refreshed and better. about, you know, being out there and being just not like the side comfort thing. The other thing is, I mean, this is another sponsor and Patriot Supreme CBD, like I would take that every day at noon, because it just gives it really gives me a ton of energy. And actually, it's a mood booster for me. And just those, those couple of like little things, you know, just little things that can keep yourself you know, upgoing, you know, uncomfort take your vitamins, you know, so you don't get sick out there spent, you know, in that little space with four people.

 

Generally, somebody gets sick. So, you know, take your vitamins and stuff with it. And you know, hand sanitizers these days and mask if you needed these days, like it's just the things that you do in the beginning to set yourself up for going out there definitely pays off in the end, you know, having a good sleeping bag, having a good mat to put underneath. underneath you, I learned that I had this nice little cool little mat, like little slim as my sleeping bag, I'm a tosser and a turner, and it's stuck as a thing keeps sliding out from under me and stuff. But, you know, it's just the investment, you know, try not to skimp on things is it, you're out there and you don't have crap, you know, and you're gonna be hate hate in life. So, you know, those are, those are some of my, my tips, you know, set yourself up for success and don't, you know, don't buy crappy stuff, that's just not going to be worth it and take care of yourself out there.

But I think that's, that's about it far as this episode, you know, goes and it's great to share this experience. You know, I have my wife on here, Annie. And it's, we don't get these opportunities maybe just once once a year, or take the opportunities, I should say, to have her on and see that other perspective of things, you know, life is about communication and stuff, but it's also about perspective is trying to get a different perspective, from any or different perspective for me and trying to, you know, this is not easy, you know, a couple moments in here, I do want to cry and be emotional on. You know, it's like now it just brings up, you know, the memories. And I think that's just, you know, shows to, you know, to each other, and maybe the listener how much we do love and care about each other. And we, you know, do love and care about our audience too, and trying to help them in any way possible. And you know, if you have questions for Annie, just reach out to me, you can do it through the website and send a message at enduringthebadgepodcast.com. Or you can message me on any of the social media platforms, and I can get you in touch with Annie and I guess I'd be happy. I know she would be to give you any advice or any tips to make your life out on a wildland fire and at home a better, better situation and a successful right where everybody wants to come home and not just come home. They want come home healthy. And that's the big, big part of it. Yeah. So thank you Annie for being on today.

Annie Lund

You're welcome.

Jerry Lund

And we will have her back. She's probably a lot better at this honestly than me. She's just kind of a natural. I wish I was as good as her. So. All right. Take care.

Annie Lund

Thank you.

Outro

Thanks again for listening. Don't forget to rate and review the show wherever you access your podcasts. If you know someone that would be great on the show, please get a hold of our hosts Jerry Dean Lund. Through the Instagram handles, @jerryfireandfuel, or @enduringthebadgepodcast. Also by visiting the show's website, enduringthebadgepodcast.com for additional methods of contact, and up to date information regarding show. Remember the views and opinions expressed during the show, solely represent those of our host and the current episodes guests.