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  1. #1
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    Default Stressed-out Probie needs some advice...

    I'm in need of some advice because I need to make a difficult decision. I'm a volunteer at a very nice fire department that has offered an in-house EMT-II class that is free of charge to all members. (I'm currently an EMT-I which = EMT-B in the "lower 48. EMT-II is like EMT-Intermediate.) My department is in dire need of "Lead Medics" and EMT-II's and I feel that they are kinda counting on all of us B's to fill in the gaps. And we are more then willing! I've signed up for the course and the department has made plans to pay for (or already have paid for) my attendance. I totally want to be an EMT-II and I've been waiting for ages for this class to be made available. I love firefighting and EMS and I have big dreams of being a Paramedic some day. (Becoming a Paramedic when you live in Alaska is next to impossible!)
    Here's the problem:

    I've lost two deputy fire chiefs LOD - both of whom where not only great friends, but mentors as well. (One in March, the other in July) In May I was badly injured and I've been busting my hump at physical therapy which is nothing short of pure agony since everything hurts like crazy. (The injuries hurt and the treatments hurt!!!) I'm glad to say that I'm healing but it sure is slow as heck and I'm about as frustrated and stressed out as a person can get. Well...I guess my problems really aren't THAT bad but I'm suffering terribly inside and outside. I'm on non-response status so I dno't even have the joy of going on calls to soothe everything. I'm having a difficult time with college since I'm still stressed out and so far I've totally screwed up my classes. My emotional pain is improving every day but I'm still hurting and this is causing me to be ... lethargic in some areas like studying and sitting in class.

    The EMT-II class takes place during Christmas Break and even though I want to attend I can't help but think that I want to go home and see my mom and dad. I keep thinking, "It would feel so good to go home and spend a month with my family and have them all around me...Mom, Dad, Step-Mom, Step-Dad, little sisters...their crazy cat..." I don't have a husband or a boyfriend to turn to right now and so I keep thinking that a month of relaxing with Mom and my family would be the perfect thing to help me de-stress and get back on track.

    Would it be wrong of me to ditch my fire department, ditch the EMT-II class and just be like, "Sorry - I'm heading to Massachsuetts for the next month. See ya!" ?

    Well...sorry for babbling on and on about this. I'll quit typing before I post a book.
    Probie Name: HurryUpMichelle!!

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    Michelle,

    I think you already know the answer to your question. You need to take care of yourself in order to be able to help your dept. and the public you serve.

    Take a few weeks to get yourself straight.

    Your dept. will be there when you return.

    Good luck,

    Jim

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    Michelle,

    I agree with AVF&R452. To function at the best of your ability in the EMS field, you need to learn all you can in these classes. If you're that stressed out, you won't have the time or mental stregnth to devote to learn that you need to. Then, you aren't as effective in the field. That doesn't do anybody any good. Take some time, chill out, get some rest, remove yourself (and judging by all the posts you have on this site, this is gonna be the hardest part) from this field entirely for a little while. You don't wanna get burned out before you even start. Good luck with everything. Remember, EMS and the fire service is always about "looking out for #1.
    Life is only temporary, but freedom goes on forever. God bless those who gave all.

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    Michelle,

    Jim is right, take a break and worry about taking the course once your back in action.

    Lt. Chris Shields
    NFPA 1001 Firefighter
    New York State EMT-D
    Onondaga County
    Syracuse, New York

    [ 11-18-2001: Message edited by: SIGNAL99.COM ]

    [ 11-18-2001: Message edited by: SIGNAL99.COM ]

  5. #5
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    yeah...I'm on injury leave anyway. I guess my department wouldn't exactly be short-handed if I went home for a month. I just feel so guilty for saying I'd take this EMT-II course and then just up and leaving.

    I see what your saying about the class and how I wouldn't be doing well in it. I'm having difficulties with my college classes and EMT stuff is always more intense...

    I'm not all weird and stuff because I'm stressing out over these small things am I? I mean...it's not like I was at Ground Zero or anything. I hope I'm not some kind of wussy.

    [ 11-18-2001: Message edited by: Michelle Ann ]
    Probie Name: HurryUpMichelle!!

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    Michelle,

    Hang in there...You will make it. I had some problems a few years back with regards to my personal life {Just plain Stupidity} and it took me having to give up the Fire Department in NJ for over a year and moving to Nevada with my parents to get my life back on track. ~ Once I did what I needed to do I returned to NJ and I'm glad to report I got married, Have an adorable 21 Month Old Son and now and excellant Job as well as belonging to a great Volunteer Fire Dept. I say this to you because I kind of know how you feel....Although I wasn't injuried Physically I was an emotional mess. But I came through it as I know you will too. Like others have said....Take care of your-self first and than worry about the department.....Good Luck
    ***The Opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect those of the Department to which I am a Member ! ***

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    Michelle:
    What's your hurry? You have a lifetime ahead of you and it sounds like you are trying to cram it all at once.
    I've seen the "brightest flames" burn out very quickly. We had a guy that only lasted six weeks one time.
    You can't be effective, if your head isn't right. Spending time with your family is a great idea. I don't have either parent left and I cherish the time that I was able to spend with them. I have no regrets, because I was able to see alot of them while they were on this Earth. They always helped me find "center" again and especially after a "bad one". Like the time I lost a 9 month old. I was an EMT and we helped this little guy fight for his life and when we got to the hospital, we all felt so good because he was alive when we got there and thought he would pull through. I read the next day that he had died. I called my mom, bawling and told her about it and she talked me through it. I didn't need a CISD team; I had Mom and Dad.
    There was a time when I was a firefighter, an EMT, a village board member, working 70 hours a week at my regular job, trying to be a father and a husband. I finally had to make some hard decisions because if I wasn't taking care of myself, it would be tough to take care of others. The fire department became my focus after my family. I am pleased to say that I have been at it for 21 years now and have been chief for 15 years. And my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year. There is a song by Cat Stevens that goes: "take your time, think alot, think of everything you've got, for you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not." I believe that he was saying that life is harder if you try to ignore your problems.
    In regards to your PT; it hurts to feel good!
    I have had my knees reconstructed 11 times. I am looking forward to having them replaced. You have to have good mental health in order to get the most out of your therapy. We hurt every day, but the worst thing we can do is give up. Sometimes, we have to lighten our load. Then with new energy, we can come back and start working on our goals again. Take a leave of absence. There is nothing wrong with that. It's better than quitting and with a leave, everyone will know that you are coming back; better than ever. You have to do what's best for you. That may mean giving less to others.
    Once you re-prioritize, your stress will become more manageable. And things will start to make sense again.
    If Arizona can win the World Series, there's hope for the rest of us.
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    Michelle -

    Hey, you're young, you're enthusiastic, you're a go-getter. You have plenty of time to pursue your studies and training. I think someone else said it best - you won't be able to help anyone until and unless you help yourself first.

    Take care of yourself, mentally and physically, and you can come back strong as ever, and be a real credit and asset to your department and a blessing to the people you'll help.

    Take the time. You won't regret it.

    Take care, and stay safe!
    "Let's roll." - Todd Beamer, one of a group of American soldiers who handed the terrorists their first defeat.

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    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone (but you can borrow them )and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated (but then again, they just may not be thinking clearly).

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    From what I've read of your posts, Michelle, you're nothing if not enthusiastic about your chosen calling. Taking a couple of weeks off to be with your family will not cause you to rethink being a ff/emt. If anything, it'll make you all that more enthusiastic to get back into it once you've recuped. I remember what they taught us in t&i classes: take care of YOURSELF first. Otherwise you can't help anybody else. Your department will understand.

    Take the time off and have an enjoyable holiday with you loved ones. There will be other classes, and ALWAYS more runs. Things will sort themselves out.
    I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine.

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    Michelle...take the time off that you need and go home to visit your family. After all, Massachusetts in November has got to be warmer than Alaska (it was 58 degrees here today!)
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Michelle, You don't say how old you are but I get the impression you are fairly young, and you don't go into what happened to your friends, the circumstances of their passing. You also don't go into how you were injured. If you don't feel comfortable letting the board know why that is fine, but I wonder if maybe your feelings now have anything to do with some CIS or post traumatic stress? Many of the symptoms you are describing are very similar to those experienced with CIS or PTS. If this is indeed the case, then take the time you need, but if you need to find someone you feel comfortable with and deal with the other issues that may be rearing their ugly head right now. Don't ever be ashamed to ask for help, I'd hate to see a young promising career snuffed out because of it.

    If you are just plumb worn out, which is also a possibility, the darn it girl, get some rest and relax. It will all be there when you feel yourself again.

    Take care
    IACOJ

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    Michelle -

    What is the first lesson one learns in emergency first response? To make sure the scene is safe BECAUSE you are no good to anyone if you are injuried yourself. I believe that also includes the person, not just the scene they are responding to.

    I know you will be great at what you do. The lessons we learn and remember are the ones that helps us be the rescuers we are. It is also the dynamics that make us who we are as individuals. Please, listen to your heart and your gut - we all can give you advice...but the ultimate decision is yours to make. The fire department will still be there whatever you choose to do.

    What I heard from you was you love firefighting and want to be a paramedic....a delay will not change that passion. I believe in you. I have been around firefighting ALL my life and all I am able to focus on is that you must be okay first to do your job well. Like I said - I believe in you!! There is a lot going on for you and taking care of yourself is VERY, VERY important. The rest doesn't matter if you are not in your best skin.

    I send tons of hugs. I welcome an email at bubblesboyd@yahoo.com to let me know how you are and to stay in touch. We may be separated by distance but we share a common passion. I will support you in whatever you decide to do.

    Keep Safe.
    "Dance as though no one is watching you, Love as though you have never been hurt before, Sing as though no one can hear you, Live as though heaven is on earth."
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    Oops, looks like I might be on the other side of the fence here...

    Did you commit to either?

    (hint, your answer is "yes"- I've signed up for the course and the department has made plans to pay for (or already have paid for) my attendance.)

    In the fire service, your word is your bond.

    I understand that you are a volunteer, but you made a committment and now it is up to you to keep your word. Especially if they have already paid for it.

    Skip out on this and here's how it goes next time you want to get some special training.

    "Didn't she ask us to go to something and then back out after we both agreed she could go and we would pay for it?"

    "Yes"

    "What happened?"

    "She changed her mind"

    "OK, no."

    But then again, you are doing this for free.

    Just remember future credibility rides on todays decisions.

    [ 11-18-2001: Message edited by: mongofire_99 ]
    It's only my opinion. I do not speak for any group or organization I belong to or associate with or people I know - especially my employer. If you like it, we can share it, you don't have to give me credit. If you don't, we are allowed to disagree too (but be ready to be challenged, you may be on to something I'm not). That's what makes America great!

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    Mongo,

    While you do make a valid point...let me add this thought, if her heart and mind aren't in taking the class at this time what is the point? She will not be a good student in the class and will not effectively learn what is necessary.

    Michelle Ann,

    Stress is a killer, both physically and emotionally. Take the time off that you need and heal your body and your mind and your spirit. I believe that your enthusiasm has shown through many times on the forums. That leads me to believe you only want to give your best. And I think that you believe you are unable to do that now for that emt-II class.

    I have been stressed and burned out myself...paying attention to yourself and doing what you need to do to be able to come back stronger than ever is the single most important thing right now.

    Take care and let us know how you are,

    FyredUp
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    Family, work, vol. That is the way it always been for me, grant it my family knows that sometimes I have to make sacrifices for the other two to flow smoothly. But family is always first. As for already making a commitment, you kinda got yourself in a hard place but no matter how good people can work under pressure and that is what a lot of public saftey personal do, I don't know a whole lot that learn all that well under pressure. Finaly not to sound like a pesimest or a person who worries too much there is always another class somewhere sometime but there may not always be another time to spend with your loved ones, I think that reality has set in to everyone. But despite my ramblings and the others you are the one who has to live with whatever you decide.
    the truth never hides for long

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    You all make so much sense and I feel a lot less "stupid" and "wussy" then I did when I first posted all of this. That's why I made the post - I figured you guys would be the most helpful since you are all emergency workers too!

    I'm not burned out from EMS or firefighting - I'm burned out from friends dying and me being seriously injured. I love going on calls! I love being in that ambulance helping people or hopping in my bunkers and going to help people. I love it so much!!!!!Maybe the fact that I'm stuck on non-response status is a major part of my frustration. Sorry if I sound like I'm all whining and stuff. I'm just trying to be blunt so folks know why I'm stressed out. LadyCpn if this helps you (and anyone else curious to know why I'm stressed) One of my friends died when the engine flipped on an icey road. His head was crushed and the cab of the engine was coated in his blood. Those two facts still bother me. Right now I don't drive rigs because I am mad at them. I know that must sound soooo dorky but ... Fire engines aren't supposed to kill us, you know? I mean, they take us to emergencies so we can save people - not get our heads crushed on the way to the scene. I lost some of my trust in "fire trucks" for now so I'm taking a "leave" from driving them until I finish healing inside. I am healing too! Slowly but surely. I made a pact with "my" rigs - that once I feel better about them, I'll become the best driver I can possibly be.

    My other friend was talking to me on the phone and he said "I have to go! - I'll call you when I get back." but he never came back. He just keeled over and died. They were both deputy Chiefs and dear friends and having two fire chiefs died rocked my confidence for a while. I always thought that Chiefs didn't die because they knew everything and they were the guys in the white helmets that kept their firefighters from dying - and they didn't go and die on us! All of us firefighters were not supposed to be burrying our Deputy Chief. That was just toooooo freaky.

    In between these two deaths I got into a bad accident during firefighter training and have been recovering from incredibly painful injuries via PT which, in my opinion, means Pain and Torture, not Physical Therapy. Give up? Heck no! "Quit" is not in my vocabulary. Even though I hate PT and loathe that long walk to the PT office in the mornings I set my mind to getting better and getting back on duty. Even though I miss my friends and I'm very sad I have no itentions of quitting or giving up on life. NO WAY! It's still very hard though and incredibly frustrating. Grrrrr! Living in constant physical pain gets taxing on the nerves after a while! That's another huge reason I'm stressed out. I can heal from my friends being dead more and more each day but these blasted injuries are right in my face 24/7. Please don't think I'm whining...I'm kind of explaining what's going on and venting all at the same time and it feels very nice to let this all out.
    If I go home, I'll have my family, my childhood friends, my church group and my Priest - I can hang out with them, laugh with them, and if I'm needing to talk I can talk about what's bothering me without worring about them thinking, "Oh Michelle is nuts. She shouldn't be on the department anymore." I don't know why but I'm paranoid about my Chiefs thinking that - even though my Chiefs have been nothing but wonderful and supportive through all of this.
    Yeah, you guys are right. I need to go home, relax, heal, and get myself "centered" again so that I can bounce back and be my usual happy enthusiastic self both in the fire service and in college! I'll talk to my really cool deputy Chief and explain what's up. (he's a very good listener and he always has good advice and we all trust him a lot because he's so down-to-earth. Whenever he's on duty I'm tagging along behind him asking a million questions and he's always ready and willing to answer them! The fact that he hasn't choked me by now because of all my bumbling probie screw-ups and endless probie questions is a mystery haha!)

    Mongofire, if the department is going to lose out on a lot of $ I'll offer to pay for the course if it's non-refundable. Maybe that will make amends. I know I made a commitment but if I'm unable to concentrate in class at college I don't think I'll be worth a bean in EMT-II class! There is a chance that I'll be able to go home for a month and still make the EMT-II class due to me withdrawing from my college class for medical reasons. I'll be praying about that...

    I'll fly home to WARM Massachusetts (while growing up in Mass I never said it was WARM in the winter!) and bask in some "real" sunshine and enjoy the fall leaves and stuff myself to the gills with both of my Moms' home cooking!
    Thanks once again for helping this confused probie out. I never expected all of this bad stuff to happen and I hope I haven't made the impressing that I'm some drama-queen whine baby. I'm usually very very VERY cheerful and happy and full of laughter! (I've even been all of this during these hard times too - I just have "bad days" now and then.)
    By the way - I'm 26 years old. The reason I don't quit or give up easily is because I know life can be REALLY bad and that it can get REALLY REALLY good again after time passes. I'm a Gulf War vet and a US Navy vet and I learned a lot about life and the realities of life while in the service. Now, no matter what, I believe that life is worth living and no matter what happens I know the bad times WILL get better if I apply myself to making them get better. I just get confused and frustrated and I turn to all of you and my firefighters here in AK to help me sort things out!
    THANKS!!! I feel so much better!!


    [ 11-19-2001: Message edited by: Michelle Ann ]
    Probie Name: HurryUpMichelle!!

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    Michelle-
    I'm with everyone: go home! Get yourself rested up and come back ready to go. If you stay and regret it, you might project those bad feelings onto EMS and firefighting and burn out before you're old enough to drink! I'm in a miniature version of your problem right now in that the UCLA EMS requires you to work for them year round, regardless of whether or not school is in. That takes me away from my family a lot more than I'd like. However, I think you'll find that your supervisors will be suprirsingly understanding about the situation. Everyone needs a little love from mom and dad every once in awhile to keep going, and your superiors are going to want you at your best. Good luck! And have a great holiday no matter where you are!

    Ps. Where do you go to school?

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    Old enough to drink? hehehe I'm 26...

    I go to the University of Alaska where I major in geology. I love rocks!
    Probie Name: HurryUpMichelle!!

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    Hi Michelle-

    I think if you perhaps exaplined the situation to the department's heirarchy (who I'm sure are also reeling from losing two chief officers), they'd be more than understanding about granting the time off and allowing you to take the time off...

    And another suggestion...It was mentioned before to take some time off. I'd say do that, totally. Leave the pager, uniform and everything else at the station. Turn the radio off. Do something else; try hobbies...Rocks, the ballet (it's just about Nutcracker time), photography....

    I remember my senior year at Ohio State- that December was the fire in Worcester. I had an awful time of it cause a member of our department had also passed while off duty. I talked about it with people at my station, and some friends at OSU, but in the end I needed to take time completly away from the FD to get it together. Maybe the time in Mass might do good....But whatever you do, take care...We 20-somethings are the future of the service...Make sure you don't push so hard you burn out....


    Take care....
    My opinions only.

    AGS-SGA 091101

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    I've been keeping nice and busy! It's not that I'm sitting at home on the couch brooding over my hurts. I'm staying very active and very happy and healthy but I'm suffering nonetheless. This kind of stuff happens.
    Lucky for me my Fairbanks fire dept wasn't the dept that lost our deputy Chief. The other deputy Chief was in Maryland on another dept. Therefore I'm not surrounded by sad suffering firefighters. My firefighters in Delta are sad and so full of pain. I can see it in their poor sad eyes. I avoid Delta right now because I can't deal with it just yet. I only go there every few months.
    Probie Name: HurryUpMichelle!!

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    Michelle-
    I am with everybody else- go home to visit your family- take some time off from the fire department. I took some time off from my department this summer to relax and destress. I am also 26 years old, been in the department since I was 14. I decided that I was not going to let the stress get to me and burn me out totally. So that's why I took a vacation from the department. I am now slowly starting to get back into it. I realize that your circumstances are alot different than mine, but stress is stress. It can be a killer if you don't stop it in time. It might not get ya now, but eventually it will. Like was said, you are your #1 priority. So go home & have fun!

    -Chris
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    Michelle,

    I agree with everyone else, go home and take a break. A little R and R is great for stress reduction, especially if you have people there with whom you can talk with about the stress. I have found times myself when the stress gets too much and you just need to walk away and take a break in order to remain sane. It makes it so much better when you come back to the action. I have had friends who just would not take a break, and then they ended up getting so burnt out that they finally quit and have never come back. We lost a lot of good guys that way. You don't want that to happen to you.
    As for the class your department is sponsoring you for, I am sure they will understand about what is going on. Maybe they can even find someone to fill your spot. If you are not fully into taking the class, it means you will not get as much out of it as you should, and that can be detrimental to the department. Also, if your stress levels maintain high, you could end up like my friends, and then what good would that do the department if you ended up leaving.
    So I know I sound like everyone else, but I just wanted to say take a break, and come back with a bang!

    Best of luck

    ps the weather in New England has been awesome over the past few weeks.

  23. #23
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    Michelle:

    In order to do your best job you need to have a straight mind and be physically able to do the job. Right now you are neither of those things. You are possibly a danger to yourself and to those that work with you. I am not trying to upset you it is just that the best thing you can do is take some time off, relax, get your strength back, and then come back to the Firehouse and WOW em'. You are never going to make everyone happy, and that is something you just have to accept. Some of the guys will be jerks about you pulling out of the class, but the ones that really know you and care will understand that you did the right thing by getting yourself in shape before jumping back into anything too stressful. Believe me, I have been there. Both with losing a fellow ff and with being injured. You have to take care of you before you can take care of anyone else. Best of luck to you! And have a great holiday season.
    Never forget those who went before and sacrified to make us better and stronger as a fire service and a nation. 09-11-01 forever etched in time and our memories. God Speed Boys!

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    You're a Gulf War vet? Were you in the Boy Scouts Navy Explorer Post?

    Have you read your own posts on here? They are a rambling mess of word salad. Placing blame on fire engines and making a pact with your rigs....huh? Chiefs don't die, because they are all knowing?? He should have known about seat belts.

    All of your posts make it sound like you have two brain cells and they are fighting with each other. You're in. You're out. You're in. You're out. You're in. You're out. Look at your posts. You're having a conversation with yourself.

    Perhaps this isn't the popular opinion, but to answer one of your questions...Yes, I do think you sound like a whiny, babbling mess.

  25. #25
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    new england
    Posts
    19

    Default

    Hey Michelle,
    Add my vote to the go home and be with the folks.
    It sounds like you have been in your own personal "Ground Zero" for the past few months, and you need to be 100% in the class mentally to make it work, otherwise you won't make it through. Go be with your family and take some deep breaths.
    As far as your dept paying for the class already... I have never taken a class that didn't offer some sort of tuition refund.

    ps
    How long are ya comin' for? I'm in Little Rhodey if ya need a fellow fire-sister shoulder....

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