This last Tuesday was April 1st also known as April Fools’ day. I was at work at station 22 in the morning waiting for my partner to show up who happened to be a new hire I had not met before coming from another station. As we were standing in the bay talking, in walked this young guy carrying a firefighter helmet that was beyond destroyed. The young man carrying it had a look of death on his face. These guys are on probation for a year and can get in serious trouble or terminated at will so his concern was understandable. The reality is he isn’t losing his job over a destroyed helmet. It will just come out of his pay and he will get the nickname of “Flat top” out of it.
It turns out that the helmet blew out of the back of his truck and got caught under the car behind him grinding the top of it off. He said that he tried everything to get the old woman to stop her car, but she refused. He could hear the grinding and see sparks flying. Eventually the helmet wore away enough that it flipped out the back of the car where he could go retrieve it. That little event is cause for concern. If he could hear it then that driver ignored her car shuddering and grinding and continued on while someone tried to warn her of something wrong with her car. Wow!
So anyhow he walked into the bay with this:
I have never seen damage like this to a helmet before. That is impressive to say the least. We all snapped some pictures of it and were talking about it when our driver/engineer made the comment that it looked like one of our local medical helicopter rotors sliced it off (company name withheld for reasons I will explain in a little while). Bing! That gave me an April Fools’ idea. I posted pictures of the helmet on facebook with the caption along the lines of “Don’t forget to duck while loading patients into the (name withheld) helicopter.” I got the predictable comments of “That must be some headache” to a coworker who immediately posted “It is odd that all these close calls happen on 4/1”.
I also posted these pictures just to stir the pot a little more:
The new guy modeling his newly modified helmet
Then just to make sure nobody could say this wasn’t our department or that it was photoshopped, I posted a picture of our very own Andy posing with the helmet.
Then it went viral. Everybody wanted to know if the firefighter was ok. What happened to the helicopter involved? I saw that the photo got shared in other departments here in West Central Florida and even got shared as far away as New York and Ohio. I got phone calls, text messages, and Facebook Pm’s asking if the story was real. Once I told the inquirers the real story they laughed realizing that they had been pranked.
What I never expected was that the photo and phone calls would get to the CEO of (name withheld) medical helicopter company. They were not as amused with my April Fools’ joke. When the company I used to make my story sound real denied being involved people started calling other medical helicopter transport companies in the state. This April Fools’ joke got around. I can only imagine the CEO’s reaction when all of a sudden his phone got lit up with people asking about the firefighter one of his helicopters killed.
Then my Chief got a phone call. At home. I need to say, I have a good Chief. He stood up for me without even having to talk to me first. I was accused of slandering the company. Talk about no sense of humor. In the short time while he was on the phone with the company representative they received four phone calls inquiring about the firefighter whose helmet had been sliced in half by the helicopter rotor and this was late in the evening. I got a phone call asking me to take the post down.
Chief then got on Facebook thinking everything had died down… only to find that our logistics officer had done the same thing taking his own pictures totally unrelated to me and not knowing I had played the same prank!