I have been watching the new show on NBC Chicago Fire.
It has been a really great show and I hope NBC will continue to renew it. The show is about fire fighters working in the Chicago area and it is sort of funny because I have recognized some of the same scenery from when ER was on the air.
The finale show that aired last Wednesday brought back some vivid memories for me. It involved the fire fighters responding to a fire call at the prison. I worked in Idaho Maximum Security Institute for 10 months. After I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice, I applied with The Department of Correction for a position as a Correctional Officer. I scored 100% on my written test and passed the oral board. An offer of employment came shortly thereafter.
I was one of 12 people, and only two women, chosen to work in the maximum security male prison. I have no idea how I was chosen to work in the prison with the highest level of security except that perhaps my degree played a part. We were sent to a training course for two weeks on the grounds of the National Guard. It was in the middle of the summertime and extremely hot. Then we spent a few months with a Field Training Officer as we learned the day to day operations of the prison.
When I started working at the prison an attack on Officer Jackson had occurred three years prior. It was a planned attack where Officer Jackson’s throat was slit by an inmate. I had heard that Officer Jackson was not a very nice guy and made some enemies with the inmates. I always knew there were risks going to work each day in such a high security setting. During my ten months working at max, I saw my share of scary incidents and fights among inmates.
Watching Chicago Fire instantly brought me back to my days at max and even gave me a little anxiety. In the finale episode the power has gone out since there is a fire in the prison. The inmates were able to get out of their cell since the locking mechanisms failed. While the fire fighters are on the tier, one of the fire fighters opens the utility door to find a correctional officer dead, throat slit, and stuffed inside. The inmates are then ganging up on the fire fighters and take one hostage with a “shank”, homemade knife, putting it to his throat. I guess they were not ready to kill off that particular fire fighter and the season ended with nobody else being harmed.
Watching the show was definitely a reminder of that particular time in my life and why I am glad I made the decision to eventually change careers. Fire fighters, police officers, correctional officers, and deputy jailers have a really tough job and put their life on the line daily.