Her Brotherhood

Fire, Loss, Recovery & Team Rubicon with Lauren Bird

October 15, 2019 Abby Bolt & Lauren Bird
Her Brotherhood
Fire, Loss, Recovery & Team Rubicon with Lauren Bird
Chapters
Her Brotherhood
Fire, Loss, Recovery & Team Rubicon with Lauren Bird
Oct 15, 2019
Abby Bolt & Lauren Bird

I had the honor of speaking with Lauren Metzger Bird from Central New Jersey and recently relocated to the greater Houston Area. Lauren shared stories of how she got into the fire service, motherhood, brotherhood, struggling with addiction and the loss of her firefighting father who died in a suspicious fire in his own home. 

Her most recent source of pride is what she is achieving volunteering for Team Rubicon in the wake of our nations natural disasters. 

Here are a few of her highlights:

-Firefighter/EMT/911 Dispatcher/Logistics Specialist (throughout my years of service) 

-In the Emergency Services field since 1999

-Www.teamrubiconusa.org (Disaster Response non profit staffed by volunteer military veterans and first responders 100,000 strong responding world wide - new applicants always welcome - free training, free airfare for response and trainings beyond 450 miles of your home - camaraderie - ability to reinvent yourself and find purpose) 

-Laurbird81@gmail.com 609-613-0026 for anyone wanting to reach out for sisterhood, confidence, drug or alcohol discussion or non professional advise & resources for firefighter education and mental health services or questions 

-www.facebook.com/lpmb81

-www.instagram.com/s0ng0nfire

-www.nationalfallenfirefighters.org

-"Everything happens for a reason"

-"Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end"

-"Tell me I can't and watch me do it twice"

-"You are never alone in your thoughts, in your feelings, in your emotions...Reach Out"



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Show Notes Transcript

I had the honor of speaking with Lauren Metzger Bird from Central New Jersey and recently relocated to the greater Houston Area. Lauren shared stories of how she got into the fire service, motherhood, brotherhood, struggling with addiction and the loss of her firefighting father who died in a suspicious fire in his own home. 

Her most recent source of pride is what she is achieving volunteering for Team Rubicon in the wake of our nations natural disasters. 

Here are a few of her highlights:

-Firefighter/EMT/911 Dispatcher/Logistics Specialist (throughout my years of service) 

-In the Emergency Services field since 1999

-Www.teamrubiconusa.org (Disaster Response non profit staffed by volunteer military veterans and first responders 100,000 strong responding world wide - new applicants always welcome - free training, free airfare for response and trainings beyond 450 miles of your home - camaraderie - ability to reinvent yourself and find purpose) 

-Laurbird81@gmail.com 609-613-0026 for anyone wanting to reach out for sisterhood, confidence, drug or alcohol discussion or non professional advise & resources for firefighter education and mental health services or questions 

-www.facebook.com/lpmb81

-www.instagram.com/s0ng0nfire

-www.nationalfallenfirefighters.org

-"Everything happens for a reason"

-"Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end"

-"Tell me I can't and watch me do it twice"

-"You are never alone in your thoughts, in your feelings, in your emotions...Reach Out"



Buzzsprout - Let's get your podcast launched!
Start for FREE

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/herbrotherhood)

Speaker 1:

Welcome back to another episode of her brotherhood. I'm your host Abby bowl . This episode we are talking to an amazing fire woman from New Jersey who has just recently moved to Texas. She talks about the trials and tribulations that she's dealt with throughout her life and her career. As you know, I like to do everything from an initial discussion or a phone call or an interview. So join me to kick it right off with my first phone call with Laura Byrd .

Speaker 2:

[inaudible]

Speaker 1:

Hey, how are you? I am so happy to talk to you and I know you're like, what? Why would you want to interview me or more? Yeah. You know, I just, because I think we connected on Facebook, right? That Instagram.

Speaker 3:

Yeah , I think, yeah , do this to them initially, like as you were like initially launching , like you haven't even launched it . I think they were just, you know , during your promotion and totally caught my attention and I love the brands you're putting on to see it , to be able to have something like that, but to be able to follow it too. So it's so awesome to see.

Speaker 1:

Oh, that's awesome. Thank you. Yeah, it's just, it's a complete passion project and just something that I wasn't seeing enough of. And so, you know, I'm, I'm a sucker for filling the gap when, when I need to. And I just, I felt like it spoke to me and I'm glad that it, it speaks to folks like you too, so that [inaudible]

Speaker 3:

absolutely . Absolutely. Heather , you know , I thank you for doing it besides, you know , as long as you out there, I'm sure that, you know , have things like that and they just don't, they have their vision but they don't have the drive and yeah , you're following through with it. So, so cars use a lot .

Speaker 1:

Well, thank you. I appreciate that. Uh , my , my family might not appreciate all the time I devote to it, but [inaudible]

Speaker 3:

they bet that other people appreciate the words that you're doing, but you know, sometimes it's lack of at home. I totally understand that. Right.

Speaker 1:

Well, I think, you know, the reason that you caught my attention too , when I would look through your things, it look like you have a very like colorful life and background and you've dealt with some diversity and you have overcome some things. And so I could just see that in you and I , and that's what I really, both of my missions up in flames and her brotherhood is really about sharing stories and experiences of people who have dealt with some really rough things and overcome it. And, and so like when I asked you , um, you know, what, what is something that you have overcome and, and it looks like you shared some really meaningful things to me that, I mean from, from your surgeries to your, you know, to everything looking down through the bio that you sent me. And so it's kinda hard cause like with, with gals like you, it's like, where do I start? Because I always have so many questions and we would have a really great time hanging out at dinner and probably be there for hours. And so I'm just gonna bring it on.

Speaker 3:

Then we can write whatever we don't accomplish here, we can accomplish this.

Speaker 1:

Right on. Perfect. That's how, that's how this works. Right. So , um , that's what I love about the camaraderie of the fire service for sure is, you know, it's, it's makes the world's so small, which can be terrifying sometimes cause you can't get away from things. But at the same time, it's, it's definitely a great camaraderie . Now, where are you calling from because you just moved, right?

Speaker 3:

I did. I actually just this week , um, and been a week , I'm in Houston, Texas, so I need the hugely, and I left New Jersey for the first time ever. Um , I was born and raised and lives in the same County for 38 years. And , uh, just this week I moved halfway across the concern to , uh, start a new adventure and a few other tests are , brings me

Speaker 1:

that is amazing from New Jersey to Texas. So is there a little bit of shell shock going on or how's it going?

Speaker 3:

Yes , it's definitely, it's a shock. It's , um, it's , you know, when I say everything's big on Texas , uh, yeah, they totally, definitely, you know, it blew my mind to just see the size. Um, you know, not only just the state , but just , there's nothing that hasn't surprised me as you from the high res to like the overpasses to shopping malls and, you know, there's nothing small about this, including the traffic. Uh , I'm even seeing it and I had a 2016 Jeep Wrangler versus my, my girl, you know, and put the top down and have some fun. I even traded that in and Renton Percy adult license out of responsible and bought myself a 2019 Honda civic [inaudible] system to be better on gas mileage.

Speaker 1:

Oh man. It sucks to grow up. Huh? Well , we got to make those right. Total adulting. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

So not , but, and you know , but it's the same time. It's like, you know what , okay. You know, responsible decisions and, you know, say a horrible thing to do. So I'll suck it up and do it. And as my decision to move and I'm , you know, doing it the best way I can. So it's an amazing, amazing experience so far. I definitely have no regrets. I'm still happy with the decisions and um, and where it's gotten me thus far and it's only been a couple days to see where somebody go.

Speaker 1:

Well that's good. That's good. I'm glad that you have such an optimistic, optimistic outlook that's going to be great. And something else that caught my eye too, and we'll talk about it later, was like your um, involvement with team Rubicon, which I am a huge asset of. Yeah. Yeah. That was something else too that caught my eye and I was like, man, this girl is doing all kinds of cool stuff. Now tell me, so tell me how you ended up in the fire service.

Speaker 3:

I grew up , um, in small town on [inaudible] Jersey and um, my dad was firefighter. Um, he joined the fire department and won Sunni Academy shortly before I was born. So I'm a, I'm a firehouse baby . And , um, on Thursday nights, that was always the [inaudible] and I are the a the work night and that's where the guys go up and dinner , talk texts and you know, have their meetings and , and you know, their camaraderie. Nice . But it was always , uh , the kid's night too . So Thursday nights was, was always firehouse night. And , uh, so I started as infancy , uh, you know, into the brotherhood. Those

Speaker 1:

was a kid.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. You know, that's the fire dads or you know, the fireman , you know, they have their best stuff that they had going on. And you know, here we were, you know, four or five, six, you know , 10 years old and they're doing nothing and , and you know, work more and firefighter right along with them, you know, and their gear and then playing it and jumping around in a firetruck and having that experience. And we all became firefighters, you know ,

Speaker 1:

Oh , that's such a family situation. It sounds like, like that and family. Yeah,

Speaker 3:

totally, totally followed dad into , uh , into the fire service. He was, he was, the reason that said it is,

Speaker 1:

that's amazing. But like when we talk about the fire services, such a family, I mean what you're describing right now, like literally as a kid, you would go and hang out with your dad when he would have his firefighter nights. And I can only imagine like all you kids running around and it's like you had a whole bunch of cool uncles and you know, was there, were there any women firefighters there at the department at that time? And was this in New Jersey? Where was that at

Speaker 3:

the New Jersey? We had maybe I to say one or two. Um, Lynn was a did back then. Um , the [inaudible] and the wives were more involved with filling his auxiliary and , um, you know, actual , uh, to support , uh, on fire scene two where they was, you know, come out and play on our refreshments and things like that. Um, I do recall any one or two , um, you know, female firefighters that were, you know, active, you know , insulin inferior , but much beyond that, no, I didn't get to grow up, I guess with a , uh , female, you know, influence, you know, too .

Speaker 1:

Yeah. But it sounds like your dad was all you needed. Okay . So great. Yeah. Now, which department was that?

Speaker 3:

Um, I grew up , uh, and he was a number of , uh, playing for a fire department in central New Jersey.

Speaker 1:

And then, so growing up his little girl in the firehouse. And then how did you actually become professionally certified as a firefighter? Tell me how you got there.

Speaker 3:

You know, I think, you know, you were saying, and you know, as we all say, you know, it's family and you know, practice , license, club, once you're , you know, once you're in, you're in , uh , sometimes whether you want to be or not at some time. But , uh, uh , yeah , I mean , yeah , you find that commonality with, you know, with your friends and you know, you, you kind of stick within that crew. So, you know, growing up there, so , you know, little kids that we were running around fire with, you know, we were all still friends and , um, I think out of seven of us, I think four or five of them even have become cheap . Um, so, you know, we pretty much just maintains, you know, close friendships and it was just like thing the crew that you ran with are your group of friends. You know, that was just always what I stuck with. So even though I wasn't, maybe they're old enough to have joined yet or I wasn't , um, you know, on that is that path yet, you know, age wise , um, you know, my friends were still doing it, so I still always had the opportunities to kind of be in the firehouse. So , um, I guess when I looked at her and you know, whether it was just kind of a , my own choice in volition , um, you know, I just kept within that circle and now it's comfortable and it was safe and it was the right people to be with. And uh , it's gotten me here.

Speaker 1:

That's great. Now what are some things, you know, cause some people don't realize, like as a firefighter, you're not just a firefighter, you're not just a chief , you're not just a whatever. Like it's, there is such an like an array of things that we become certified in or that we become leads. And what are some of the qualifications and certifications that you picked up along the way that really ring, like when I ask you that, what comes to mind?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I've gotten , uh , in 1999 was my , my first [inaudible] anything that was going through the fire Academy and graduated the fire Academy. I went back several years later and I got my monthly medical technician , uh , several years after that I went into the N and became a certified as a nine one one telecommunicator and I'm like the medical dispatcher, but I guess I , I'm, I'm one that always is , is huge and strong and belief of um, you know , you never stop learning things in the fire service are always changing. Even our things with or without you. And uh, you know, once you stop learning anything, you know, I feel like the silence stop upcoming and that's my personal opinion. So I'm constantly, constantly looking for, you know, conferences and education and I'm , I'm doing , you know, webinars online. I'm doing, you know , classes online to see my eyes.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. When people ask me like, Oh, where'd you go to school? It's like I have never stopped. No , I don't ,

Speaker 3:

you know , um, some of my , you know, qualifications or ones I guess that me or you know, I guess more meaningful that , you know, or to me anyway, you know, I became very big into, although I'm in vehicle extra patients, so I'm on certified up to a technician level , um, whether they have large location . Um, and that's something that I definitely like they [inaudible] and I love doing. Um, you know , I have my, my incidents man, you know, your 100 700, 200 and 800, you know , but I've gone 300 and 400 level one and level two and snack man, pump operations , um, you know, aerial operations, emergency vehicle operator, driver , um,

Speaker 1:

it never stops does it? No,

Speaker 3:

I don't want it to , you know, I don't want him to it . And so much in the instance . Fantastic. And just, it's crazy how much of this education is out there that you tend to use your own pain. And free and so many people are so unaware of it. And um, yeah, that's definitely, definitely a shame. But I, you know, I, I'm not saying to credit my fault, you know, and to what I've done, you know, I love my book of cert and for instance , they're all in a binder and you know, they're all in the alarming because you know, that to me are huge accomplishments and they will work to get me, you know, alternately something or, or, you know, where I, where I'm going is there , he wants to sell it. They're very important to me. You know, if I have an occasional where , you know, it's been shown , it's like you have all this and you know, you guys can't believe that, you know, you're certifies all that. Yeah . To me it's just, that's just me.

Speaker 1:

Right, right. No, I'm with you. Yeah. It really blows a lot of people away. Same thing like in the military and law enforcement, you know, all the acts like first responder type jobs and there you're never stopping. You're always getting certified in something new and it makes us anxious. It's like, if we're not working on our next steps, then we get stir crazy. I would say

Speaker 3:

Jeff is it lost ? I mean, you know, we look at your EMC and you know, just the , the changes that come out and just in the national councils and you have just the protocol changes. I mean, not only just state the state, but you know, when you're looking at a national level of fan changed as a year and in just protocols and then you have patient treatment or if you go back to [inaudible] and you look at, you know, all these new cars that are coming out in the hybrids and the Tesla , you know , things that, you know, you need to learn how to walk around and also to protect yourself from, you know, I mean you're looking at so many different components of one technology and that's not even fire, you know? I mean, you just constantly looking at

Speaker 1:

basically any day we could have them .

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Well, and you know, unfortunately, you know, it's , it's going to cause a problem with going to get you there. But you know, you don't want to me to secondary of problem on the airbags bows in her face or you know, when you know, you're , you're putting all water on something that, you know, you sharing just Portland water on this husband, you know, to put water on it. You know, it's so important to keep up with the education and if it's going to change, whether, whether you change with it or not, as you know, it's so important that you keep up with that change because it is that , uh , it's going to save you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, exactly. It comes right down to that, you know , where are you at? So starting and we started from the beginning. Where are you now in your firefighting career?

Speaker 3:

I left the fire department in 2018 and it was just a , just the next of a whole bunch of things going. I believe it or not, I , I'm close closer to the end of 40, but , uh , had only split yet. But you know, I , I have been through a lot , um, you know, medically , um, and said the glory and the , it definitely has taken a toll on my body. So though I'm currently, I'm not active, you know, riding on a truck or, or , um , you know, during, into your firefighting at the moment, you know, I had my knee replaced at 36 years old, well over, you know , a dozen servers what you went through . Yeah. So, you know , um , it definitely hasn't been an easy road, but you know, I beat myself up, but we all do. And that's, you know, to me that's part of it. But, you know, I'm kind of taking myself, you know, and completing my education. I'm currently enrolled. Um, yeah , I'm an active online student with Cain university studying orange city management and disaster relief services. Amazing. And I am really big right now in through the volunteer portion , um, with team Rubicon , um, which is , uh, team Rubicon usa.org is a disaster relief organization , um, nonprofit that is staffed by military veterans and first responders who are on the front lines and have them on the ground immediately. Um, usually immediately right after a disaster strikes on and sometimes before. So , um, I am a highly involved with them right now and fulfilling a career and uh, with management within ONC services and disaster relief

Speaker 1:

of that. Is the talk about a comeback girl, I'm looking at, I'm looking at, you know, your stuff from, you know, your, your knee replacement and some of those struggles that you had there. And are you up to talking about some of that, some of the other struggles that you had connected with that.

Speaker 3:

Do you believe that, you know, there's not much I don't believe in . One thing that I do is that everything happens for a reason. Um, and one of the things that I push on my kids is, you know, learn your lessons and you know, go through your life. But you know, take where I failed and people I fall certain learn from me . You don't have to, you know, don't, don't go through it yourself. Um, and I, if there's ever anything that I can do that I can help someone based on. So I've had , um, I am an open book. I, I've , I go with the saying , of course , you know, quite frankly, I , you have the balls to ask me. I will be as honest as I possibly can you , if you can actually ask me, you know, to my face, I'll give you the honest truth, no matter how hard it hurts .

Speaker 1:

Well good cause I want to ask you some questions. So because I really believe, like you're saying that people learn from either their past tragedies or challenges or those of others. And you know, I can see, I mean, hearing your whole life and growing up in the firehouse and you know, coming through and then dealing with some of these things that you did and then now you're developing into something even greater and you're looking at team Rubicon. You have triumphed over tragedy. There's no doubt whether it's tragedy and on emergency incidents, tragedy in your own life. Um, some challenges that maybe part of you, you know, you put yourself into and you got yourself out of like, I'm reading here about how you were, you were basically a functioning addict as a nine one one dispatcher.

Speaker 3:

I was a functioning addict as a , as a firefighter, as a novel , and dispatcher as a mom, as a wife. It turned into my life's on , you know, unexpectedly, you know, unfortunately I don't for a second was Reddit. Cause if I hadn't gone through it, we wouldn't be having a conversation or I wouldn't have had the experiences that I've had and I wouldn't have the strengths that I have and I wouldn't have learned how to come back from that and how to deal with things appropriately and how to live the right way. But , uh, you know, I did. I definitely, I definitely the same that, you know , my injury. Um, and you know, constantly on facts about surveys for quite awhile . And then, you know, in the, in the 90s and the early two thousands, you know, the opiate epidemic wasn't, you know, anything that we were really aware of, it was just, Oh, you have pain here, you can just pills and , and , um, you know, that was how it was for me from my mentee , teenage years. Um, and , uh, you know, between the surgeries and, you know, I, I'm, I went through depression and, you know, I , I , we've gotten, you know, anxiety as austere , as severe PTSD, insomnia. You know, I've definitely, I've definitely had my mental issues, you know, as well. And , uh , I, I, there's not much out of a lot of my years of , of, you know, addictions that I remember. Um, but as odd as it is, I lived slowly , remember the day that I came home from work after a 12 hour shifts and I , Whoa , opened up the linen closet and I was grabbing a towel and I was just going to take a shower. And it was just been, just been one of those days, you know, you know, the horrific day. And I reached for my towel and I looked the last , and not ever before that time had I ever not, or had I ever, you know, deems the medications I had been given, kind of taken them when I didn't need to. And I don't know what within me, but I looked for the last, that I saw a bottle of Percocet and I said, you know what , I'm going to take one and I did and out of so much, but I do not remember. I vividly remember for having that bottle and that was the day that my life started to disintegrate. And you know, I'm glad that I do remember it. Um,

Speaker 4:

it's important for, for you to share that with others.

Speaker 3:

It's so important and you know , it , you know, it wasn't very well the mental health that , you know, was the stigma and um, you know, even even more so my addiction got worse. That , you know , became more of a, you know, people started to know and , um, you know , it became more public knowledge or you know , um, you know, it wasn't so much of a secret anymore back in that time back in, you know, 2008 or so, you know , when my life was literally circling the drain. And I mean, not literally, I don't, I don't know. I honestly, I, I want to know, but I don't want to know. There was so many times that I should , like, I shouldn't be here. The amount of , um, you know, issues. I was taping, I sort of overdosed so many times and somehow I know I've made it through and um, you know, I don't necessarily, like I said, you know , know what that is, but I know it's for a reason. And maybe at some day or some point, and this is it, or I'll find out. I know that , uh , I didn't know what was wrong with me. I didn't know that I needed help. You know , I didn't necessarily, it was the underlying issues . I didn't know that it was PTSD or that it was, you know, trauma,

Speaker 4:

what you have tightened up on date on.

Speaker 3:

I've been, now you're right. I had no idea. I just knew that it works and I, and went and what, and what was it? And , um, you know, I didn't , I didn't necessarily know. I knew it was wrong, you know, I knew it wasn't the right way, but to me it was the only way. And um , you know, I ended up sort of like I said, you know, circling the drain , you know, with my life, I, you know, I lost my job, you know, married two kids. So many things that I had in my life to be so proud of. I was literally flushing it down the toilet on my own and all these things to have a friend who is , was still in love with and so sleep before and so happy about. And I just wanted to talk , go away. I remember there's times that, you know, I would tell my husband, you know, you don't deserve that. This isn't fair to you. Just go ahead and, you know, please, you know, you just don't better than that. I'll sign divorce papers, you know, take the kids and go, you guys are better off without me. Users are better than how you deal with me. Do you want the definition of state that I think a , you know, when you open up, when you opened it up, like my husband's name is there because I know I've pulled this out with, you know, I don't know how I dealt with myself, but I don't know how , um, even after me asking and telling, inciting him, you know , told me his me because you know , he's deserve better, you know ? But yeah , he stayed and then I, I know that I feel fairly, you know, do anything on my own. He stand by my and uh , thank you. Oh , you know, I mean, you know, w what's your husband's name? Jimmy.

Speaker 1:

Jimmy. Well, Jimmy sounds like a really great person.

Speaker 3:

Jimmy . Jimmy is amazing. We , um, we actually had our , uh , started dating kind of anniversary and it stopped the same week of our wedding anniversary and kind of did it purposely, but I, last weekend was 20 years. We've been together 17 years married and the things that we've gone through. Yeah. And you went to deafness and that thing. So again, and genuine strong man. That's the theory is I could never say thank you enough.

Speaker 1:

Well Jimmy's going to listen to this, I'm sure. And there's nothing like showing appreciation to someone out in the open like this, that that's really great cause it's important. A lot of partnerships fall apart in challenges like that.

Speaker 3:

You know, and I , and I know that he took , you know, he outed me. I can't imagine. I know what this is like to have the reputation of, you know, as a, what I saw, what it would like to be called a junkie or a loser or you know, somebody who just can't function but wasn't, he was never open his whole thing and no , but what was it , what was people saying? And it doesn't matter what anyone thinks, what matters is, you know , what happens between the full ball's in my home and in between, you know, the relationship I have, but people had disease and I'm like, Oh yeah, that's the guy. Yeah. His wife had jumpy . Oh yeah. That , that's the guy. Yeah . His wife's an addict. He picked a real winner. Yeah. And you know, he's never, never wavered no matter what the situation was.

Speaker 1:

Oh, it's beautiful. Yeah. That's God. That's so inspirational. My, I'm like, I'm trying not to break into a full on cry who I'm talking to you. That's just really great because a lot of people can't find that out there. And so it's the [inaudible]

Speaker 3:

and he thought he was , he's a fellow firefighter. I mean, you know, we started in the same station and , um , you know, I ended up , you know, in the, in the same town, so people didn't know us or they didn't know who we were, you know, put us together. I mean, people, people knew who we were and , um,

Speaker 1:

they can make an even extra difficult. It's on the good times. It's great, but on the bad times it can be really rough. And I see, you know , and when you lost your job back in 2008 and you were talking about how, you know, there was no brotherhood, you were alienated, you were blacklisted. Like it was like you were all of a sudden nobody. And I can't imagine how hard that had to be.

Speaker 3:

Oh , you want , if you want to choke me up about that. Like , no , we're now and we're, we're looking at, you know, over 10 years later, you know, I'm looking at where things have come and you know, where the brotherhood and, and just then , but the ability to reach out for mental health as a support that's out there and you know , in all forms of CRM Sherpas , the military and police departments and you know, all being family and everywhere you see or know that the Terry's and support the friends of firefighters and you have a peer support. And God, it warms my heart to see them so publicized now and it's so out there and it's so push that it's okay to ask for help. And you're not weak. Hey, there was, those resources weren't available to me and it wasn't okay. You know, for whatever reasons that I had an addiction issue, it didn't matter why anyone does matter, you know, that I had it and I just followed along with that stigma and that and that title of it. Yeah, that's still, I mean he got me to kind of feel about for a minute because yeah, I already felt alone and I, you know, was trying to deal with a lot of that.

Speaker 1:

Well, you've seen the flip flop, you've seen both sides. You've seen what it's like. Yeah . There is no camaraderie and there is no brotherhood and you're just left out there hanging. And the challenge . Yes. And the challenge of, I like it's one thing to be left behind, but then to lose your identity, your professional identity, who you were because the fire service, all of those different jobs are , or that's a way of life.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I literally, I mean, and you're asked , you are absolutely right. I literally lost everything. You know, everything. But, you know, I didn't think that I would ever be back in the fire service. Um, you know, and I had accepted that come to terms with that, but that took me or in his long time of wondering who I am. Who am I, who am I? I help, I help people and I , I can't help myself. Like you when you are nine one one, who do you call when you need help? I couldn't help myself, but I was, you know , helping everyone around me to the best of my abilities . But no one could hear me screaming for help.

Speaker 1:

Right. No , I hear that. But in then the other side of it you saw was in 2014 after a local fire department chief had faith in you. Now tell me about that.

Speaker 3:

We were at the fire farm assumption and uh, you know, having had and had been , uh , you know , dispatcher within the town, I had a, a man sit next to me , uh , dinner table and [inaudible] conversation. He just kept looking at me know this one of those is kinda like , you look at someone , you're like, I know you, but how I know you when I can't place it and it's annoying the hell out of me. And so we ended up talking through the night and he very lovingly and just his personality and I wouldn't have it any other way, then just just throw hand to see us and he says you, he says you're the bitch that woke me up in the middle of the night all the time, setting off my major for fire alarms because I was in his back . So he figured out at that point who I was and you know, cause I had the known who he was and he's a very lovingly and very, very , what's his personality and, and you know, I love that. That's the way he said it. And he is someone that I will for ever the indebted to. And I am forever grateful to have sat down at that table and had that dinner as if that run congresses to have him put the pieces together. You know who I was. And care enough to listen to my story and then to believe in me enough to offer me a second shot. And um, you know, he went above and beyond. You know, there was certain things, you know, that would come in along with my addiction that I had a , you know, the reputation or you know, I, you know, I did end up with , with a criminal record and you know, then that was, that was no frowned upon. And, and this man went to bat for me and the things he did are the reason that I had the ability to do everything that I'm doing today because I never thought that I'd be back in the service. I have pretty much, I had settled myself with the fact that I had my go, you know, I flushed my opportunity and I need to find something new. I sat down at dinner one night and I'm , I can sit here and have this conversation with you. Make cause he sat next to me

Speaker 1:

that's, and he cared enough to look in , like to take that step. It's so easy to take the easy steps for people. It's the , the more difficult ones where you actually have to take some heart and time does, when you see leaders like that take that time, that's, it's, it's all inspiring.

Speaker 3:

It was, and you know, he is the definition of leadership and command and , um, you know, an educator and it just is envision of a man that you want to be. You know, he was so successful career and in his life, you know, he's got an amazing story behind him. Everyone's got a story. He's just , just a person who as amazing as he is, he was willing to give me that chance . And I'm really against this with my husband. Yeah . You know, and, and that tells me that, pardon my language, but you know, what? Like I got my shit together and I supposed to do the right thing and I didn't expect anything for it. I just hadn't learned how to deal and how things live and how to cope and how to function properly, you know, without the use of drugs and to, you know, live a normal life, which, you know, I guess I really hadn't known how and once I started to do that, the good things that have come out of that and um , they're on the daily, you know , they don't, they don't stop.

Speaker 1:

Well I gotta tell you to learn and I hope you know this, that just by you being so willing to be so open and talk about this, like there's going to be people that hear this podcast and you're never going to know who they are. You're never going to hear from them. Some you might, but it makes a Mark in people's lives that are struggling. And then they hear about your struggle and they heard that you were able to get past it even after pieces that you never ever thought you could. And it's going to inspire people and it's really important that people like you share your story. And I, I commend you for that. So thank you. Cause I know it's not easy and neither is the next thing I just wanted to ask you about. Cause you're talking about all these great men in your life and your dad being one of them. And I see that you lost him in 2012 and I'm so sorry for that loss. And it sounds like it was not a good situation as a firefighter. He had a fire in his own home that sounded like there were some suspicious circumstances.

Speaker 3:

There's the definitely suspicious circumstances. Definitely smelling like the tragic loss can tell you , you know , briefly before that, I can tell you that I wasn't active in the fire service when that happened. But I can tell you there is one sitting in the backyard and watching, you know , your parents home , you know, your father's home from and just know you're a firefighter. I mean I literally, I arrived on the scene and I had a top details to me and that was, she's a firefighter to his daughter. She doesn't move unless you move with her. Um, you know, they were afraid [inaudible]

Speaker 1:

well I'm being in the service. You can understand that a lot of Holy nights so hard when you're on the other side.

Speaker 3:

Since my dad's fire , um, you know, I have looked at, you know, residential structure fires a lot differently. I've always been respectful and things like that, but , um , I can say, you know, I, I've been in the shoes, I know how it feels. And that's not something that too many firefighters can say. Yeah. I received their call. I was, I remember making my husband whose child was making dinner June 11th of 2012 I bought a , a message that my dad's house is on fire. It was about 2025 minutes away, pretty much a straight shot down a local highway that we were on. And you know, I got down there and as I'm getting closer and closer to my eyes , I opened the door and I told my husband, you know , I gotta go on my dad's. And I said, what's wrong? And I said, I don't know, the house is on fire. And I wasn't even really concerned. I'm like, this is bad. Like, you know, the house is on fire. Like, he's got [inaudible] yeah, what do I need to worry about? Like this , this man taught me how to be a firefighter, wasn't what am , I didn't even tell me what , you know. So, you know , I got in the car and I went, you know, I contacted a , um , a mutual friend that was actually a local police officer in the area, but who is actually a firefighter from back when I was a child hanging out at the firehouse. Um, he and I had recently reconnected again, oddly enough on [inaudible] and become friends who, you know, the , my husband and, and , uh, as an enhancer , he met me on the highway and I got the , before I knew it, you know, I , I had met him and I had him in front of me and I looked back and I had my husband behind me and , uh , lie about a police escort , my dad's house. As I got closer and closer, the, the header started showing and showing and it got darker and darker and bigger and bigger. And I just went, you know, well, this is what it is. I mean, I don't know where I want to see what I'm going to , when I'm going to turn down the street by the , I can read open assistance and a really black and really sick and really bad. You know , I pulled onto the street, you know, he had a, a fairly newly built home. Okay . Was probably maybe about 10 to 12 years old. And it didn't take me long to get there, but I can tell you about the only thing standing one I did was the front facade. It looked like a movie set and uh , they didn't have hires in the area, so it was all, you know, it was all thinkers and tenders and you know, affordable palms . And um, I , uh, had very big and very big into, into music. I often say music is my therapy and you know, it says what I can't. I remember calling him. I mean when I got the phone calls of the fire, it would just ring and ring and ring. And then that rang and then , and I called back and rang and rang and rang and rang and rang and were just repeatedly, and then it wouldn't, you know, and then it wouldn't ring. It just wants a voicemail and then I'd call again and it just went to voicemail, you know, we knew he was in the house and his car was there and there was a , a new album had been released. So one of my favorite artists, and it seems like the , uh , this one song literally on repeat , um, my entire ride down there and , um, the chorus of the song says , uh , if you can hear me now, I'm reaching out to let you know that you're not alone, but I'm scared to death because you won't pick up the telephone.

Speaker 1:

Oh my God.

Speaker 3:

The tattoos, the lyrics to that song are actually tattooed on my ribs in memory of my dad. Wow . And , uh, we, you know , we got there and we knew he was in the house and then at that point it was a total exterior operation. That was it. We knew he was in there. The basement is obviously everything has coauthored into, into the basement and it was still the water . So, you know , the next day and next morning, you know, we arrived again and they, they pumped out the basement. You know, they ended up finding him pretty much , uh, you know, in , in the basement and the Bravo corner who was a lot of liens at us smokers, but no and [inaudible] as long as things like that. But , uh , he wasn't like , you know , he was on the couch and there were things that were going on that definitely not just the flyer but you know, things that were going on personally within his life that is very suspicious and uh , you know , see it places definitely aware on the case is still open, you know, because it's effective . Promise me that before the end of his career, he was gonna make an arrest for his murder.

Speaker 1:

Wow . That's powerful. And we've seen some amazing things happen many years afterwards. So that is promising

Speaker 3:

the science. I'm so, I'm still hopeful and so I haven't given up hope.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. A friend of mine is a cold case detective out here in California, and, and some of the things that she gets into and that they're able to solve, it's just, it's amazing. So

Speaker 3:

I can pretty much, I can draw you a map and I can tell you exactly what happened and how it happened. I just, I said the proof unfortunately is there. It's not there.

Speaker 1:

Right. Yeah, I hear . Yeah . Well my, my hope to your family that you guys are able to bring in close to that someday in the future. If you ever do, please reach out to me. I would love to know.

Speaker 4:

You'll be singing it from the mountain tops .

Speaker 3:

Yeah, just justice. You know what I mean? They sit there and you can't explain. You know what I mean? People go through life say , I can't imagine how that feels. And you know, there's, there's a lot, but yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well, you're a great example of, you know, we never know what somebody else is going through to like, just look at all the things that you just shared with me that go on in your life and the person that you're standing next to at this store has no idea the history inside of you and you know, it, it just helps us remember to remember what the people that other people in your life might be going through that you don't even know about.

Speaker 3:

No, you're absolutely right. You know what I was like, you never know. And you know , I am grateful now more so that you know, those new sources that are available, that people can reach out. I feel like they can, but like I couldn't just peer support. Um ,

Speaker 1:

yeah. Living in a different year, it could have been a completely different picture for you. You know, it's hard to say, but living another 20 years to that or a hundred years part of that could have been a completely, you know. Absolutely . But now you're bringing up forward in sharing that. And so moving forward in your life, like with all these challenges that you've overcome and the amazing places that it's taken your life, you and your husband and you said you have two kids. Tell me, how old are your kids guy at boys, girls, what you got?

Speaker 3:

We have one of each. We have , uh, we have , uh, our daughter is almost 16. And uh , let me tell you about she , well she can't wait to eat that day so you can sign up to get into the Academy. That girl is on her way. [inaudible] no, wait , wait . She is , she's literally, I mean she's , uh , you know, she is , be able to be eligible in January to add , to join as a, as a junior volunteer member and drag the application . The application is already on her dresser.

Speaker 4:

Oh ,

Speaker 3:

so Suzanne , she is all about the fire life, which is great . I mean, and it's so funny, you know, we , we , we laugh when we do Oak and um, you know, but we'll be going down a street and you know, all of a sudden the firetrucks come in and then yesterday on Snapchat as far as talking with, we bond our firetrucks. Like we'll look at each other, no awesome light packets .

Speaker 4:

Oh cool . Look at that ladder that we'll never need guys to beat dork out on that kind of stuff. May have been a couple of fire geeks. How many mothers and daughters. Right, exactly. Other ones are more worried about, you know, getting some sort of fashion on their Snapchat . You guys are more worried about what kind of Nomex somebody is wearing. That's so cool.

Speaker 3:

Exactly. She's laying you out . We're all about it . It's social . Cause I get is like , you know how many moms, you know , moms and daughters can be like, Oh my God .

Speaker 4:

Oh I love that. You know , we'll talk about cons and you know, not that they were ever around when she was or you know, how amazing, you know, a Mac aerial scope is. I mean, she has no idea. I've never seen one. But you know , she surely knows how an amazing a burial cope is because mommy and daddy, Oh guys , that's really special. That's really special. So it's beautiful. Now you've got a boy, right? We do. And we do. We have a son who's 13 and he is, he is our football man. 13 and 16. Your house must be a little slice of crazy [inaudible] do you know yet ? Yes, he has . Seniors is definitely needed, but you know what

Speaker 3:

them and um, I realized that, you know, the, they're not problem children. Yeah . I feel like my daughter and my son are on the way past and you know, they thought in the opportunity as I did , um , you have to grow up with in the fire service and to them to know right from wrong. And I know that. Um, yeah, so I ended up going down, down the path, you know, I satisfied career and I did, you know, I, I, it seemed my goal of, you know, getting into the forest service and, you know, just asking if it's like that. And I, I would say that, you know, I was, I was a fantastic teenager. I didn't get in trouble because I knew what I wanted to do and I kept my notes being , I said, you know, I got married and had kids and then decided to just revert. And that's , um, you know, I think she's there . They're both, they both had amazing opportunities to see what it's like to be a helper and what it's like to be the problem. Um, in [inaudible] society, you know, my M my son was his heart on his sleeve and he's just the biggest ever. And you know , he tells me I could never do as you do, but you're like, you know , you're my hero. Like I said , you know, I was using scenarios in real time. I would get my bag out. And it's like, all right, well, you know, I'm on standby for deployment. You know, Elisa , this hurricane, he said , you know , mommy, I'm gonna miss them when we still words that you know, that you're not safe. And I'm gonna, I'm gonna worry the whole time you're gone, but it's okay because I know you're helping people and I know that they do more than I do. Wow.

Speaker 4:

Wow. So there he called him the old man, so yeah, that's great. Sounds like you have a couple of really great kids.

Speaker 3:

I do, I do. And you know, just , you know, you're just looking at, you know, the phrase the world say and just some of the way things are and siding and , um, and things like that. I know that [inaudible] time and uh , you know , life's not always easy. And if it was, then, you know, it wouldn't be right, I guess, but , um, it could be a hell of a lot worse. Um, I'm very, very lucky with the, you know, the, the manager stuff ,

Speaker 4:

right? Oh my God. Yeah. There it was. Her husband or coworkers all there and that's great.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And you know , the children that we had together and you know, just the way we're able to parent and you know, have the cloud , um, of having their tenure and want to follow us even though I haven't done like, and you know, I haven't been at specific example and I am very much an example of what not to do.

Speaker 1:

Yeah . Sometimes that's just as important,

Speaker 3:

proud of the fact that, you know , learn through me. You don't have to go through it, you know. Yeah . Let me, let me have gone through it for you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. That's gotta be really powerful in your home. I'm sure. That's really great. Well, so I didn't realize that, you know, I didn't really think about like, Oh, this be a teen good time to plug team Rubicon, but why not? Yeah. I love that. Yeah . I love that you're with them and that they have you, that's, you're such a great asset. So just give me the quick rundown, like why you care about team Rubicon so much and uh , you know, why you want to be involved with them. Why , why are they so awesome?

Speaker 3:

I think so the list of the shorter, if you were to ask me why are they not awesome?

Speaker 1:

[inaudible] like give me an example of a, an incident or a natural disaster they've been a part of and what they've done for that community.

Speaker 3:

All right, well here's, here you go. I'm in Houston. Okay . To Houston. I had , uh , you know, I kind of played a small part on and putting together other nations. I've been back in New Jersey when hurricane Harvey hit Easton Anya several years ago. And , um , I, you know, I didn't know that some of the time you guys know that they were, you know, the , um , there's the sleep pattern and the insomnia and the , uh, the fact of being nocturnal at this . Then it hits a lot of us know , about 18 months ago, two years ago, three in the morning, I stumbled upon a site of, you know, seeing little Kong and he's like , okay, well, what is this? He's like, all right, that's fine. That's for me . You know, it's a nonprofit organization that the spa and, you know, it's charity and , uh , you know, basically staffed by volunteers who are , um, you know, military veterans and first responders. They're multinational focused . Um, you know, they'll go in right now. I mean, immediately, you know, we go in and we're often there . Um, you know, we kind of have our , our, you know, command dental staff will be on the ground, you know, before the incident and immediately, immediately within. And that way if the people, you know, you likely to take the , to use to muck out someone's out with someone's home to, you know, to take everything and that process ruined it, you know, and drag it off to the curb for them. He'll basically, we are, it's a worldwide organization. Um, well we'll do everything , um, humanitarian need . We have a Honda not that long ago. Um, you know, we have people in The Bahamas right now. We have, you know, we gonna have a goal . We had a , you know, the, the tropical Sloan , the troubles , depression actually, you know , hit Houston, which just causes damage to an operation currently in Houston. Going on. Um, if he's on the West site with his buddies and again , got seen verbal upon dsa.org um, you can definitely read about, you know, all about the organization. Um , and there's actually a map that shows where our operations have been previously, what operations we see bleeding and what operations that we're currently working on. We're also in my lane, kind of brought it full circle for me was , uh, you know, I ended up, you know, putting together other nations as the supply for hurricane Harvey that to send dads here. And um , that was my, that was my compensation . That was what I could do. And I'm proud to have done it, but I signed up the , he moves on and he live , uh , Khan has committed to rebuilding 200 homes in Houston for two families who have their, you know, had their homes and their lives destroyed by hurricane Harvey. And they don't have the financial means to have it done the other way. You know, they, they've been living in the houses as is with the, you know, with the mold and you know, what the conditions with the ceiling falling through with, you know, income can , I still no walls collapse . So within that they have , uh, a Houston rebuild and um, you can sign up and you come, come on up for a week. Usually , um , this one time and female con will fly you, is not a dime to you. Um, they will fly you around from wherever you are to Houston. They think if they know the day they house you will meet people that I came, I honestly said I've been [inaudible] he's been rebuilt to help someone. It helps me more than it will ever help anyone ever. I've used , you know, a lot about myself and um, realize that I need to make some changes in my life to better myself. And that is because I came down here, I'm may and I did that weekly bill . I've made some friendships and I've made some connections and I've , you know, made some changes that are literally life changing. And I actually, believe it or not, I actually was down here , uh, I moved here, have you a week tomorrow . But the week before that I flew to Houston and I did a second week of a rebill. So I flew in on Monday. I have rebuilt houses all week. I flew home on Sunday. I picked up my car and I drove in here

Speaker 4:

and I moved. Whoa. And you're like me, you're not afraid to just be like all over the dang glove and yeah, no, no, no variances. And you know, I did. I totally was like, well what can I do? What can I know what consumer population ? Well , I'm a firefighter . I'm dumb to turn this stuff apart, right? There are some times where you're like , do you need me to pick up trash? I'll up trash. Do you need me to

Speaker 1:

do this? I can do that. You know, it's just about being there for the people.

Speaker 3:

Yup . And that you like you, you know, you want to learn, Hey, there it is nothing wrong. There's no negative comments , nothing and any negative shade of light or there is not anything that is not a nine times positive or can not be said about this organization and the way that they are for their volunteers, the way the thing, you know, they treat us and they would expect that what they do for free attorney to houses I've worked in as my COO who rebuilding something sound station. We're doing Shiva one day because there was no studio wall and this is of no charge to these people. They don't [inaudible] buildings houses with hand over the keys. I would say,

Speaker 1:

what do they mean using organization if you're , I don't know if you're a certified public information officer, but um, I don't think you even need to be team Rubicon to definitely be tapping in to you. You are definitely sharing their message in a very bright light manner. And uh, yeah, so anybody listens for to this from Rubicon. You guys check her out. His , she's amazing and she obviously is, is putting it out there for you guys. That's beautiful. Yeah .

Speaker 3:

Oh absolutely. You know, you don't, you don't have to be smaller , you don't have to name military veterans, you know, we are. Yeah. We used to just be willing to help and uh, you know, the organization, nine years started out as, as for military veterans who um, you know, had the earthquake in Haiti. They couldn't sit here and not do anything. They made their way and over focally before four day period, they made their way to Haiti and they started, this is how team Rubicon started. They brought us back and it started with four guys and an earthquake nine years ago and nine years later we are 100,000 volunteers strong.

Speaker 1:

Wow. That's amazing. That is something else. Yeah. I've been watching them grow and grow and it really seems like an amazing organization. Well, yeah,

Speaker 3:

it's fantastic.

Speaker 1:

Uh , Lauren, it has been a pleasure to chat with you and I'm literally thank you for taking the time and sharing all of that with me. I can't wait to share this with other people and what an inspiration you are. I mean, we just, wow. I'm so glad that I'm so glad that I connected with you because these are the real stories that need to be out there.

Speaker 3:

Has the fact that anyone has any kind of wow reaction after speaking with me just like blows my mind.

Speaker 1:

You're a dynamic woman and you're very interesting and inspiring and the biggest inspiration comes from people who have been and the bottom and pull themselves back up and you have done that and it's, I commend you for that. You're an inspiration.

Speaker 3:

Oh , and I, and I appreciate that, you know, because it's , it's not easy. And if it was, you know, I don't like just moving here, you know , I don't , I don't really know many people. I don't really know what I'm doing. I know that I did better and I needed a change and , um, I knew that I need a better life for myself. And just knowing that I have, you know, so supportive people. I don't know, just like I know I have it, it's out there for people who do , I mean , I know that they have it, you know what I mean? I, I'm a firm believer and you may get what you give and you know, my phone is on 24, seven. Um, there's not a person who has come to me and said , um , you know, Hey listen, I need to talk or you know, I need to know, can you refer me to, you know, I need some help, you know, inpatient, outpatient or, you know, listen, I just need an ear or you know, I need someone I can relate to whether I know you or not. I don't, I don't care. You know, my phone is on 24, seven send me an email and a Facebook message. Yeah , send me a text message, call me all of those I need to talk or can you point me in the right direction or

Speaker 1:

this is a little peer support can go a long ways.

Speaker 3:

It absolutely can. And I'm any of my [inaudible]

Speaker 1:

well I will have whatever you'd like out there on our show notes and if there's folks that want to reach out to you, it'll be there for them to check out. And that along with the team Rubicon information and whatever else you feel like you need to share with people. If there's any other helpful links or resources, please send them over and you know , I'll be sure to put them on there . Oh, thank you so much for sharing your story. I love it. Thank you. Really great day. Okay, thank you so much.

Speaker 3:

Thank you for your time and thank you for your service and the wonderful message that you're putting out because without you you wouldn't be able to put in the stuff like this out there. So thank you for what you're doing.

Speaker 1:

Thank you. I appreciate it. Have a really good day. All right , that'd be great . All right . Bye bye. Bye bye. Thank you Laura so much for giving us your time and your emotion and your experience. It was amazing talking to her. Now you guys can find all the information that she talked about, her contact information and so much more in the show notes. Please do so. Reach out to her, let her know you're here. And with that, thank you so much. It's been an honor to serve you. Thanks for coming along with me on this journey of her brotherhood.