Chicago Fire Season 1 Review “Two Families”: Being Thankful For Heroes

It’s Thanksgiving around the firehouse, but a holiday doesn’t stop people from needing help, as is shown in this episode of Chicago Fire, “Two Families.”

I’m not sure if the runs are actually decreasing or if they’re just melding even better into the drama than last week. However, I will say the writers employed the idea of having some of the runs actually deal with the chracters and having others that are just extraneous. I’ll just go in the order of the episode(at least for the most part), because taking them out of order will be too taxing (and confusing).

First, there’s a gas leak at what seems to be an elementary school. Leonard, one of the people at the school is nowhere to be found, and the firemen find him the basement of the building, passed out from crystal meth that’s still burning. Because the firemen were exposed, they all have to be tested for drugs when they return to the firehouse.

At the scene of the event is the same boy on the bike that we saw last week. Boden has a sneaky suspicion about the boy, named Ernie, and invites him to the firehouse. He’s being friendly, but he’s also trying to suss the boy out–he has a feeling the boy could be an arsonist.

Mills is busy preparing the Thanksgiving dinner when Boden and the boy arrive. By then, Severide has already had ample time to freak out about the impending drug test. The drugs he “bartered” from his pharmaceutical ex-girlfriend are narcotics; Shay even goes so far as to point out that “[e]ven Michael Jackson couldn’t handle those,” so you know they’re strong. Meanwhile, Otis is starting up a podcast about life at the firehouse. His first podcast guest, Mouch, isn’t much for the job.

Mills’ sister is also back at the firehouse, helping out with the dinner. It would seem Severide is sweet on her (since later in the episode, they’re flirting over chopping onions), but I doubt she’ll be as sweet on him when she finds out he’s got a problem with drugs. I mean, I get his reticence to actually get surgery–it’s scary, for one, and it would also possibly leave him without a job, even with the money he’d actually be promised as compensation. But couldn’t he get some sort of big disability check along with what the fire department would pay him for retirement? And who’s to say he couldn’t come back to work ever? I’m not in the fire department, and my dad, Chief Jones, has talked of people who don’t want to leave the fire department no matter what, but Severide is turning his injury into an even bigger liability if he thinks the only alternative to losing his job is doping up on dangerous drugs at work.

Anyway, the crew get called to a gunshot run. The victim is on the sidewalk, shot in his abdomen three times. When the crew try to get to the man, someone starts shooting–the scene hasn’t been secured by police yet (something Boden gives an earful of to the police when they get back to the station). To get close to the victim, Cruz and Shay drive the truck and ambulance respectively while the crew walk behind the trucks. Once at the victim’s side, a boy tells them another man is hurt. When they go see about the other man, Cruz finds out it’s his younger brother, Leon. Cruz, visibly angry with his brother, pushes him into the fire truck so he can get to the hospital.

Leon only has an arm wound, so he’s in no danger, but Cruz is having a tough time dealing with what happened and that his brother is dealing with gangs, so much so that he names the Thanksgiving turkey after his brother in effigy.

The drug-testing guy comes and Severide is doing everything in his power to avoid giving a sample. I really wish he would have gotten caught, but Shay, out of compassion, begrudgingly helps him by giving him her sample, with her taking his empty cup. I asked Chief Jones about the possibility of Shay’s urine being suspect under the eye of the drug-testing dude (since she could have been taking birth control pills for medical reasons, or any female-centric medicine for that matter), and you’ll learn about that (and about the invention that is the drug-testing guy) below.

Through all of this, Shay’s ex, Grace, comes back into the picture. She comes by the firehouse to thank Shay for checking on her baby, and Dawson takes the opportunity to act as the older sister and ushers Grace out. Dawson doesn’t want to see Shay hurt again, and frankly, neither do I. It’s terrible being in love with the wrong person.

Boden puts Herrmann on Ernie duty, and Herrmann is able to find out that Ernie has a bad home life. His dad is in prison, his mom is probably strung out on drugs and his caregiver–his grandmother–isn’t really as alert as she needs to be to be a proper guardian. Herrmann says that the boy fits the mold as an arsonist–someone who needs control in their life and they find it in causing destruction. The one thing that will really seal the deal is if Ernie has suspect materials in his backpack. Boden tries to get Ernie to open his backpack, but Ernie, terrified, runs off, but not before calling the chief the incendiary “B” word.

Somewhere throughout this madness, the crew go on a run to a family residence, where a fried turkey debacle pits the already-dysfunctional family against each other. The crew are annoyed, but soon they have some real work to do when the snowmobile is in the path of the fire. Of course, with a snowmobile, there’s gas.

That little skirmish is settled, but the big run is when they’re called to a 15-car pile-up that night. A man is experience arterial bleeding (as in his all-important jugular vein is open) and a woman is giving birth. Because Dawson is busy with the man, she has to talk Casey through birthing the baby. The baby is delivered, but it’s not breathing. Dawson tells him to breath into the nose and mouth with his mouth to clear the blocked airway, and for several tense minutes, it looks as if the baby isn’t going to make it. But, thankfully, the baby starts crying. Casey is the hero of the hour, with all the firemen clapping him on.

This experience with life has turned Casey into a new man, a man ready to have children as soon as possible. However, Hallie isn’t ready to. In fact, she doesn’t ever want to have children; she only wanted them because he wanted them. When Casey happens to go the same bar Dawson’s at, you can see he’s starting to look at Dawson in an entirely new way. I smell affair.

Speaking of love affairs, Grace has appeared to leave her fiance, saying she couldn’t allow her baby to grow up in a house where its mother doesn’t love its father. Shay welcomes her into she and Severide’s apartment. This can only be bad news.

Before that, though, we see that Shay is angry at Severide for acting like an idiot with these drugs. She says this Severide is not the man she knew and refuses his ride back from the firehouse to the apartment.

Boden also has his own little sadness this episode; earlier in the episode, Herrmann tells him not to view Ernie as the kids he can save just because he couldn’t save his own son. From what, we don’t know yet, but when Boden tries to call his son (Jonathan, I think is the name), he doesn’t get anywhere. This also marks the first time we’ve seen Boden at home in regular domestic clothes. His own personal problems could be why he seems to be so married to the job; he might think it’s the only thing he does right, the only thing he excels at.

Otis has a sit-down at his computer again to record a podcast, reciting a sentiment that was echoed pretty plainly and poignantly by Jones himself–every day, when you’re working in the fire department, you don’t know what to expect. Every day, Chief Jones said, is different. You never get used to it. But, as Otis said, there’s always that day when you are able to save a person’s life or bring life into the world, and those are the days that make it all worthwhile. Otis ends his podcast saying he’s thankful for having two families–his birth family, and his family at the firehouse.

Chief Jones’ fact-checking

Sex again: In the beginning of the episode, we see Casey and Hallie having sex before her sister and her sister’s kids come to pick Hallie up for family festivities. We already know having sex at work is a no-no. I’d think it’s even a no-no if you have your own sequestered room like Casey. Basically, sex is a private matter for a reason; leave it at home.

Drug tests: Jones said that drug tests aren’t generally done inside the fire station. They’re done at a private company that has a contract with the city. Otherwise, if the samples were taken at the firehouse, there’s a big risk of them being compromised, such as they were in this episode. I get why they had to bend the rules with this in this episode, but it might have been even more dramatic if they had to go to the facility to give their samples. The high stakes would have been even higher.

Shoot-outs: Jones told a story of how he was involved in an gunfight event similar to what the firemen had to deal with in this episode. When he and his crew arrived, there weren’t any gunshots being fired, but, because the area wasn’t secured by the police yet, they had to use the truck as a shield, just like the crew did in this episode. The patient was also picked up in a similar fashion to the first gunshot victim in this episode. This leads me to another thing; Jones said he can tell that the Chicago Fire team have done their research when it comes to the calls they feature. He said the show might not be completely realistic, but it has enough believability to keep someone like him, who knows the ins and outs of the job portrayed, watching.

Using the truck for patient transport: Jones said using the firetruck to transport patients doesn’t normally happen, unless there’s a big crisis event like a snowstorm or other emergency situations. Since Leon was Cruz’s brother, I guess that gets a bit of a pass. But I suppose Cruz could have rode with Leon in the ambulance. That actually might have made more sense.

Arterial bleeding: Jones said that a person can actually live from arterial bleeding. As long as you can secure the injury to mitigate the bloodflow and get the patient to a hospital quickly, the patient has a good chance of surviving. Jones said that even if the person has just a pint or two of blood left in their body, they can still survive once more blood gets pumped in at the hospital. However, Jones talked of one time when he and his crew had to take a person to the hospital with just such an injury; the man was alert when he was brought to the hospital, but he didn’t make it because his body just wouldn’t stop bleeding out, even when he was given extra blood.

Male and female urine: Shay giving Severide her sample could be problematic. As a woman, I know first hand of the types of medications us women sometimes have to take, like birth control. Sometimes, we don’t always have to take birth control just so we don’t have children. We also take it if we have irregular periods or some other type of hormone imbalance, such as a thyroid issue (the thyroid governs regularly occurring bodily functions, like periods). Let’s just say Shay was on this medication and she wanted to help out Severide. The con would be found out once the tests came back. Of course, it’s obviously written that Shay doesn’t have this type of issue, so whatever, I guess. Anyway, I must pat myself on the back, since Jones said it was a “great observation.”

Helping babies: Jones said that breathing into a baby’s mouth and nose doesn’t follow protocol. Instead, an infant ambu bag is put over the baby’s mouth and nose and stimulation is given. Stimlating the baby might include rubbing the chest or poking the feet. Even spanking the baby is possible (it and poking being called “painful stimulation,” but that type of simulation isn’t generally used.

Also, Jones talked about two times he and his crew have had to help with the delivery of a baby. Both times, the woman needing help was in dire straits all around and opted to have the baby at home instead of going to the hospital. When Jones and his crew got there, all that was needed was to cut the umbilical cord and send the woman to the hospital.

There were other stories he told me about (like when he had to work on a man who had a massive heart attack), but the jist of this conversation is that the firefighter’s job is a lot tougher than you can even imagine. Even Chicago Fire is only a small glimpse into the life of a firefighter. Sure, I’m Jones’ daughter, but even that blood connection doesn’t put me in any frame of mind to tell you what goes on in his, how he deals with all of this stuff. He says he compartmentalizes it, but he also said that being at work is like waiting out a storm. You know it’s going to come, he said, you just don’t know how it’s going to and you hope you’re still standing afterwards. Eventually, he said, you learn how to deal with it. That shows just what type of mental fortitude you have to have to even consider this line of work, and we should all be grateful for the men and women that do, because they are true heroes. If I know what I’m thankful for, its that I have a dad who is able to help others while helping his family. Everyone should give a big round of thanks to the firefighters in your city and in your lives.