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Testing 'Full Moon Fever' With Chesapeake Firefighters

The Virginian-Pilot via YellowBrix

July 27, 2010

Mealtime has the same effect, he says. You sit down for food, and invariably a call comes.

This evening, the firefighters eat a tasty, home-cooked dinner of London broil and clear the tables before the call comes.

It is a false alarm, which isn’t unusual. Then another call — a young woman just home from surgery experiencing some complications.

Two more calls come in before the sun goes down and the moon comes out: a suicide attempt and an intoxicated person who has dialed 911 and hung up.

By dark, the night falls eerily silent.

Woodland spends the next four hours at Fire Station 1, where the men search their memories for strange.

They recall a guy who set fire to his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, and three teenagers who shot each other. There was a report of a zombie, which turned out to be simply a man who’d had too much to drink.

Maybe it was a full moon. Maybe it wasn’t.

When Woodland heads back to Portlock just before midnight, the night is perfectly still. Roads are quiet. Yards are empty.

It is not a fluke.

Over the past couple of decades, study after study has repudiated the full-moon myth.

Maybe we want to believe something like the moon can explain the unexplainable. Maybe we believe it because we’ve heard it so often. Maybe we have selective memories.

Yet at Fire Station 2, silence.

The firefighters and medics of the full-moon shift wake up rested Sunday morning. No major calls shook them from sleep.

It wasn’t just slow. It was unusually slow.

That, some firefighters explain, is because the equation was complicated to start with, and this full moon had an extra variable.

Outsiders. The moon may glow in a perfect circle, but you can pretty much guarantee a slow shift if somebody is here watching. In trying to test the theory, we upset the equation.

Woodland concedes as much. It happened to him once before, years ago, when the girlfriend who would become his wife joined him for a shift. He’d been running nonstop, until that night.

He shrugs.

“You just don’t know.”

Kristin Davis, (757) 222-5208,

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