Pubdate: Sat, 11 Aug 2001
Source: Spokesman-Review (WA)
Copyright: 2001 The Spokesman-Review
Author: Darci Fraser
Note: Your Turn is a feature of the Saturday Opinion page. To submit 
a Your Turn column for consideration, contact Doug Floyd at 459-5466 
or e-mail  or write Doug Floyd/Your Turn, The 
Spokesman- Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210-1615.
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


As a firefighter, I see many tragedies.

I see destruction of houses, cars and lives.

 From each call I take a little something with me. Some good. Some 
bad. As a member of the Spokane Fire Department Hazardous Materials 
Team, I have been on so many meth decontamination calls that they 
have blurred together.

But there is one call I will never forget. We arrived at the 
residence with the police and drug task force team already at the 

It seemed to be the usual meth call. We asked how many males and 
females, and we were told two females.

As the only female on the shift for our Hazmat team, I had the job of 
suiting up and doing the female decontamination. We set up our 
privacy shelter and shower, and I suited up in a big green suit and a 
mask to protect me from the meth-making chemicals.

It was then that I learned one of the females was the 4-year-old 
daughter of one suspect.

I felt my face go red and my throat tighten.

I can look past the fact someone wants to be involved with drugs and 
ruin their own life. But to put an innocent little person in a 
situation that is dangerous -- I cannot excuse that. I saw the mother 
and daughter come out of the back of the patrol car, the mother in 
handcuffs, and make their way over to the shower. The mother seemed 
jittery and annoyed.

The little girl was crying. The mother was uncuffed and I told them 
to step into the shower and disrobe.

It was 17 degrees out. Even with a water heater and warm air heater 
it was still chilly.

The girl cried as she was washed with no comforting words from the 
one person she needed to hear them from.

The little girl was very skinny and the mother held her close as they 
showered. I wondered if that was to keep her daughter warm, or 
herself. I tried to talk to the girl but she couldn't understand me 
through the mask. When they were done they stepped into the privacy 
tent. I placed a towel on the girl's head and around her while her 
mother dried them off. All we have to dress people in is jail 
coveralls so I put her in them. They were so big I wrapped the arms 
completely around her and pulled them up to her chest.

I couldn't help but wonder who else had worn these.

The mother was huddling with the girl and I had to pull her, crying, 
from her mother's arms. I placed a dry towel on her head and handed 
her out the tent door into another stranger's arms. That was the last 
I saw of her. I will carry this memory in my heart for the rest of my 
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