Lifesaver? Hardly.

This lifesaver pin was presented to me to celebrate my first CPR “Save” – when, early in my EMS career, I worked as part of a team of EMS professionals to apply CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) to a Sudden Cardiac Arrest victim, and this resulted in the patient having their pulse restored long enough to be transported via ambulance to an ER for definitive care for their blocked coronary artery. The patient lived, was able to walk out of the hospital, and to the best of my knowledge, lived a long and happy life for a good number of years after that. I wear this pin with pride, celebrating this moment in my career when I worked as part of a team of professionals to truly save a life, to help literally bring somebody back from the dead, to give them a second chance at life. To make the biggest, greatest, possible difference in a human being’s world one could ever possibly hope to make.

Continue reading “Lifesaver? Hardly.”

The People Who Make Up My Life

My wife joined my life journey unexpectedly, and has remained a steadfast and constant source of compassion and comfort.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how people move in and out of my life. Quickly. Slowly. Suddenly and abruptly. Gradually or almost without noticing. The amount of time they spend in my life, in my physical presence seems completely unrelated to the amount of time they remain in my conscious and subconscious mind for days, weeks, and years after we part ways. Did they become a part of my life because I was born into a family they were already a key part of, as with my Gramma, and so I never knew a world without her as I grew up, forming every early memory and becoming the person I am today with so many of her fingerprints all over my way of thinking, of being, how I interact with people, how I think about the world around me? Or were they a coworker who became like a family member to me, a brother or sister, who I could trust with my life in a heartbeat, and who would trust me with theirs just the same? Were they a patient? Brought into my life by maybe the worst part of theirs, expecting me to solve their most dire problem at a moment’s notice, together for perhaps only minutes or an hour, and gone again just as fast.

Continue reading “The People Who Make Up My Life”

EMS Week 2020!

EMS_Week_2020_Final_CMYK-scaledIt’s EMS WEEK 2020! It sure doesn’t feel like it, though. Usually as we are approaching this week, we’re talking about crew breakfasts, the EMS week banquet, service recognition events, team-building, and other fun events. Instead, our discussions are focused on things like PPE utilization, COVID alert rates, disease spread, and community fatality rates. Much of the work that ACEP and NAEMT have done in preparing for EMS Week this year has basically been to support all of us in EMS in continuing to do the job that we love so much in the face of such a strange and challenging pandemic, rather than their traditional roles of cheer-leading and boosting morale during this week. Continue reading “EMS Week 2020!”

Connecting with a Drug Overdose Patient

Freehold-Heroin-Possession-Offense (1)She’s only 20 years old*. 15 years younger than me. Laid out on the ground in front of the house. It’s 40 degrees outside at 1am here in Texas. Her boyfriend woke up and found her not breathing and did CPR on her while waiting for us to show up. The police showed up first and she woke up. They started their investigation before Fire and EMS even made it to the scene, and proudly declared to me that they had discovered heroin and drug paraphernalia inside the house. All around me are public safety employees shouting at this young woman, “what did you take?” and “what are you on?” and “whose drugs are inside the house?” Continue reading “Connecting with a Drug Overdose Patient”

I owe some of you an apology…

Throughout my EMS career, I’ve often wondered why a certain subset of people call 911 so often. Seemingly minor concerns are blown way out of proportion, and, throwing logic and reason to the wind, they demand that the patient be taken to a specialty ER for examination by a specially trained physician.

Who are these people? What subset of the patient population could I be referring to?

Continue reading “I owe some of you an apology…”

Musings on a decade in EMS

You know that song by Faces, Ooh La La, that has the chorus that goes “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger“? That’s how I feel about some parts of my career in EMS. I realized today that I’m about 12 years into my EMS career, and about 7 of those years spent working full-time in EMS. A decade or so of working in public service has shown me a lot of amazing things. I’ve seen people cause each other great pain and harm, and I’ve seen the truly amazing side of humanity – people coming together to help total strangers on their worst day. I’ve responded to MVCs, fires, overdoses, cardiac arrests, asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes, a wildfire, floods, a tornado, and more falls than I can count. I’ve worked for city, county, and private EMS services. I’ve worked as a volunteer, a part-timer, and as a career paramedic. I’ve been on ambulances, squads, chase cars, engines, rescues, and trucks. The one thing that stands out about every single place I’ve ever worked, and every call I’ve ever been on, are the people who’ve been by my side on each call.  Continue reading “Musings on a decade in EMS”

Like my own Gramma

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My  Gramma’s hand, held by my sister’s, a few days before Gramma passed away.

We  were dispatched for trouble breathing. It had been a busy night, back-to-back calls, all kinds of patients. The day had felt rather hurried and frantic. My partner and I were both a few PCRs behind. We arrived on scene at a single family home and a woman waiting out front for us. “It’s my mom…. something’s not right…” she trails off, obviously upset, fearing that we’re going to bear horrible news when we see her mother.
The house is old, with narrow hallways and tight corners. We leave the cot in the hallway leading to the back bedroom because it won’t make the tight turn. I carry my monitor and airway bag.

As I make the turn into the bedroom, my heart skips a beat. The frail, white-haired, quiet woman in bed could have been my Gramma’s twin. Continue reading “Like my own Gramma”