Rescue Rebuild: A Learning Experience
By Chris Coulter, Rescue Rebuild Program Manager
As Rescue Rebuild travels all over helping animal shelters in need, we continuously find ourselves learning new construction techniques or skills. We don’t necessarily know all there is to know about construction or how to build everything possible, nor will we ever. But one essential skill I believe we all possess is the ability to learn quickly and on the spot.
Until our build in Noble, Oklahoma at the Wildcare Rescue I had never learned how to weld. It had always been on my bucket list since I was a child. I would sit and watch my grandpa (in matching welding glasses) as he would weld on whatever project he was working. By the time I was old enough to learn the skill he was too frail to teach me.
So, when I was finally given a chance at the Wildcare Rescue build, I jumped at the opportunity. We had to weld enormous cages for all kinds of wild animals ranging from raccoons to foxes to even eagles. It was an unusually hot August even for Oklahoma. Especially under a mask, thick leather gloves, a heavy, black fireproof jacket, and of course a flame that is hot enough to join metal together. The temperature was low to mid 100’s, and that’s not including the humidity and heat radiating off of the concrete slab we were working on or the welder. It was a “drink lots of water” type day. I joked that we didn’t need a welder to weld these beams together. All we needed was a magnifying glass, and Mother Nature would take care of the rest!
After a couple of days of donning a very hot jacket for hours at a time, I decided to lose the jacket and continue with the welding. It instantly dropped 10 degrees, and I could feel the warm breeze again. It wasn’t long until I burnt my arms from the slag. Then to top off my trial run at welding, I caught my shirt on fire. Yup, not one of my brightest moves. I tried to play it off like I was starting to internally combust from the 100+ degree heat and that we should take a break in the air-conditioned barn. However, as hard as I tried I just couldn’t convince the boss. Ha! So, the jacket went back on, the temperature jumped up to probably 110, and I went back to welding.
All in all, even with the hot temperatures, it was a great build. We were able to let off a little steam with a BBQ Cook-off; Rescue Rebuild vs. Wildcare Rescue. It was an absolute blast, and I even got to learn a new skill that I will be able to use on other builds or at home! Yet another reason to volunteer with Rescue Rebuild! Plus, you never know when we may be the judge for our next BBQ Cook-off.
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