Sunday, March 29, 2009

My number #3 reader

I received this wonderful email when I was asking for ideas. I thought I might try to respond to it tonight.

Hi -I'm your third blog subscriber and saw your last posting. (I've never responded to a blog before so this is kinda neat.) I can't remember how I lucked onto your blog but am so glad I did. I would like to read more about your calls and all the bs you must deal with from not only the patients but hospitals, etc. I'm a nurse but too chicken to do er/trauma stuff but love to read about those who do it on a regular basis. I have a few friends - some nurses- who run calls, as they say down here. I had you pegged as a southern boy and was surprised to find you're not. I'll keep reading anyway! I love the way you write and mix it up and am always happy to see a new post from you in my blog post file. You don't shy away from the more reflective side of things that all of us who work in medicine need to have to survive. But most of all, you make me smile. Great job!

From Virginia,

Let me start by saying thank you. I don't think I have ever had so many ego boosters in one Email. Writing about calls can be a little tough for me. I wish I could remember every run I had been on. But honestly, They all start to run together after almost 10 years.

Some times I wish I was a southern boy. I could see myself on a beach on the Gulf coast. I do enjoy hunting and fishing, and I try to spend as much time in the woods as I can.

There is a lot of BS. To the hospital staff, we are just "ambulance drivers". I hate that term. And it seems like on scene every family member is a doctor. Some of my closest friends are nurses, but that being said, I tend to disagree often with discharge nurses. Some of them seem to be more interested in emptying beds than caring for patients. On the other hand, the ER nurses seem to be wonderful care givers. They are normally interested in our assessment. I do tend to believe that nurses are over paid. You can be come an RN in 2 years and make $50,00+ a year, and work in a controlled environment. It takes at least 2 years to become a Paramedic and starting pay for Paramedics here is about $12 an hour. Ems providers don't get the luxury of working in a well light, controlled environments. We are often working in the cold by flashlight. I hope I didn't upset any of my nursing friends or readers. But let me say this, I love my jobs! I just wished we got paid more. I guess that is the same for any job.

Normally I try to keep my negative feeling to myself and not put them on the blog. Anyway I really enjoyed reading your email and I hope to hear from you in the future. I hope you didn't mind me posting your email. JS

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Medic Fawn

Medic Fawn and me on vacation last year.

A very good friend of mine recently started her own blog. You should go check it out. You can find her blog at Medic Fawn has had a great deal of experiences and I look forward to reading about them. We have a bit of history together and I promise you that she will not disappoint you! Go take a look. JS

Monday, March 23, 2009

Teaching and education of the fire service and EMS

This was a suggested topic from Ambulance Mommy. This was her question: Do you enjoy teaching new firefighters and young EMTS, and if so, what is your favorite teaching story?

The answer to this question is simple, Hell ya, I love teaching. It is often said that those who can't do, teach! I hope this is not the case. I like to think I'm a good firefighter and an ok teacher.

My teaching started over ten years ago when I worked for the Boy Scouts as a climbing/ rappelling instructor and a backpacking guide. Since then I have taught at many Fire Academies, lead a Fire Cadet program, been a C.E.R.T. instructor, and worked as a Field Training Officer.

After taking over the cadet program, I decided that I should go back to school and become a Certified Fire Instructor. It was easier than I thought to become an instructor, and well worth it. Working with the cadets is one of the best things I have ever done as an instructor. I started working with these kids when they were 14, I have seen many of them grow up to become great firefighters. There is one in particular that I am proud of. His name is Jake and he is now in his mid twenties. He started in the program when he was 15, a friend talked him into joining. Jason was an awesome cadet. He did what he was told and did it with a smile. He knew how to pump a truck before he could drive a car. He was so eager to learn. When he turned 18 I recommended that he be hired as a part time firefighter with the department. I was so proud to watch him graduate from the academy. Then he went on to EMT school. He did some of his clinical rotations with me on my rig. Then he put himself through Paramedic school. At age 19 Jake was offered a full time job with another fire department as a paramedic/ firefighter. This is unheard of, for a 19 year old to be a career firefighter so young! We are still friends today.

There are other former cadets that have become great firefighters. I am proud of everyone of these guys. I have since left that department and moved on to a new one. I am currently developing a cadet program for my new fire department. I hope it is as successful as the last program I ran.

I love being able to pass on my knowledge to the next wave of Firefighters and EMT's. As a teacher you are always learning as well. I have learned many thing from my cadets and students. I also enjoy teaching the public about fire safety. I like working with young kids and showing them the basics, such as; stop, drop, and roll. Educating the public is also a lot of fun. I hope this answers your question Ambulance Mommy. JS

Thursday, March 19, 2009

feveral seizure

A great deal of people said that they wanted more clinical stories on my blog. So here is one.

My crew jumps on the rescue, we are out the station in a hurry. The Capt. is driving, that is not normal. We are on our way to a nine month old seizing. We ask dispatch where the ALS is coming from. Dispatch gives us a location almost 15 miles away, so the Capt requests an ALS echo unit from the next station. We figure they can jump on our truck and we can transport if needed.

We arrive on scene. We are met on the lawn by a crying screaming mother. I grab the jump bag with my partners and run into the house. Our patient is in dads arm. Our patient is postitical and wheezing. I start blow by O2 while my Sgt. gets a set of vitals. Vitals are as follows: 140 HR, 44 resp, 100/60 bp, 101 temp.

The echo unit arrives on scene. Family states that they want the patient to go to Big major medical center less than 10 miles away. Als crew says "no way, we have to go to small community hospital" less than a mile away. They then say if you won't go there you will have to sign off and take the patient by car. The crew was rude and down right mean. My crew all look at each other with a disapproving looks. My capt. trys speaking to the officer on the echo. He ignores him. This really upsets my crew.

Luckily, dispatch never canceled the other als unit. So as the ALS transport unit arrived on scene. My Capt., being the highest ranking officer on scene, told the echo unit to leave the scene. While they were very pissed they left. I'm sure the Capt. will be calling their Chief in the morning. So, transport als unit crew takes report from us, they start a line. I call Big major medical center and give report for the transport unit. Big hospital accepts the patient and tell the crew to transport. Now everyone is happy.This also shows that maybe these paramedic need to step back and take a look at their career, maybe its time for a change. JS

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Part 2: The Home Life.

This is the second part to emt-dan's request.

How does EMS effect my home life?
That's a great question. I'm not sure I even know how to begin to answer it. It makes for interesting dinner conversation. My sister is also an EMS provider so discussions about bodily secretions happen quite frequently over a meal. Family dinners often consist of critiquing each others runs and Mom and Dad looking confused.

I'm very lucky to be as close to my sister as I am. She seems to be able to absorb the bad stuff from her own career as well as lend a shoulder to me as I vent about mine. I have been very lucky, my friends and family are very supportive and listen to me ramble about work.

Trying to explain to my mother, my friends, and significant other about why I cannot give an exact time I will be home for dinner is increasingly annoying. You'd think after this many years, they'd catch on and understand "hold over" and "late call" and that I have no control over either situation. It seems like our friends and family some times forget that when you call 911 some one has to show up and save your ass.

Everyone and their brother comes to me with medical questions. The first thing I tell them is to call their doctor. My favorite question I get from my friends is "Does it look broken to you?" I often respond with "I don't have an x-ray machine in my back pocket."

When I'm out in public, chatting with new people, I try not to discuss or bring up my career as it tends to monopolize the conversation. It seems like everyone wants to know about what you do. I would rather just sit back and listen to others talk. I hate being introduced as "This is my friend JS, the firefighter". Why can't I be your friend the SCUBA diver, or boater, or outdoorsmen?

I absolutely HATE the question: "What's the worst thing you've ever seen?" I had somebody ask me that the other day. And I asked them "Are you sure you really want to know?" And of course they said "Yes" So I told them. You could tell by the expression on their face they were sorry they asked.

But back to my home life. Most of the women I have dated work in some form of public safety. So that makes it easy to talk about work. Seeing what we see makes me enjoy life more in my off time. We are often reminded of how quickly our lives can be taken away from us.

I'll be honest, I like to drink and so do most of the people I work with. I don't think I have a problem. My drinking is always while off duty, always social, and never alone. I have learned that life is too short not to enjoy it! I hope this answers your question. JS

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I'm sorry

Let me start by saying I'm sorry. I have not been on my blog in some time. I am currently working on a big project for the city that I work for and it has been absorbing a great deal of my time. I will be finishing the second half of my last post in a few days about my home life and the job. I will also finish answering all of the questions and comments I recieved from my readers. I also have some new stories I want to post as well, but please just give me a little time to wrap this project up. Thank you. Fins up. JS

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fire based EMS and the home life

This one is for you EMT Dan. This will be a two part post.

Part one, Fire based EMS.

The fire service has been around for a very long time. In the United States it can be traced back to Ben Franklin and before. The fire service is very much based in tradition, to see this you have to look no farther than our helmets. With modern turnout gear there is no reason for the large bill on the back of our helmets. The bill was there originally to stop hot embers and hot water from running down our neck, now its primary purpose is to get in the way of our SCBA bottles, but we keep it because of tradition.

As I said in my last post, the fire service is one of the only industries dedicated to putting ourselves out of business. We keep making fire codes tougher, building construction better, and increase public education of fire safety. However fires still happen and always will, they just happen less often. Because of that public officials view fire departments as a good place to cut on a budget line item. They don't think about us until they need us.

So the question is "How do we save our jobs?". The answer most departments have turned to is "Lets run EMS". In theory this is a great idea. But what we do on fire runs differs very much from what we do on EMS runs. Because of this it is almost impossible to keep up on training for both. I like to think I am as good of a firefighter as I am as an EMS provider. I try to stay up on the latest in both fields. But not everyone can or wants to do this. As a result you will often get Firefighters that run EMS or Paramedics that are also trained in firefighting. It is tough to keep the balance.

Now I have worked private EMS as well as fire EMS. I can tell you that there are just as many burned out shitty paramedics in private EMS as there are in fire based EMS. I think all fire based EMS providers should have a love for both jobs, if they don't then they are in the wrong career field and should look for another job. I think fire based EMS is here to stay and we should embrace it. If you don't want to treat patients and fight fire, then go to a major city like New York or Detroit and just run fire. If you don't want to fight fire than work in private EMS. I think the fire based EMS system can work and can work very well. But only we can make it happen.

Watch for part two on emergency services and the home life to come soon. JS

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How did I get here?

EMS-Bear asked me "how did I get to where I am at?", and if I had to choose between EMS or fire fighting what would I do?

I guess you could blame it on Lord Baden Powell. I entered into scouting at a young age and stayed involved in the scouting movement as a youth until I was twenty one years old. I have really bought into the teachings of scouting such as loyalty, honor, duty, and selfless service. So I guess it is fitting that in my adult life I have fallen into a career that is based on the same teachings.

I remember as a little boy wanting grow up to be a Firefighter. I used to play fireman all the time. At about age ten I received an old fire helmet from my uncle and found an old long black coat. That helmet still hangs on my wall today.I always had the garden hose out and was searching for victims. My father's dad retired as an acting bat. chief from the Detroit fire department. I remember hearing stories about him on the job from my grandma and my dad. They would tell stories of what it was like for him being a fireman during the riots in Detroit, and stories of how his men loved him. He always said that if any of us ever worked for the city of Detroit he would kill us. But you could tell that he was proud of what he had done. I wanted to be just like him.

So more than twenty years after his death I started at the Detroit Fire Department. But that is not where my career started. I didn't last long in the DFD. I got hurt during the academy and was forced to recycle into the next academy. Well I still have not gone back, and don't think I will. Maybe it was his way of telling me to get the hell out and stay in the Suburbs!

While in high school I widened my potential career field. I decided that I wanted to be in law enforcement, ems, fire service, or the military. Well, I never ended up in the military but did work for the Federal government. I spent my first couple of years out of high school working for the Boy Scouts. Then I got into security and private law enforcement. That was not for me, but I still do some high end security work on the side.

I had a lead foot when I turned 16 and started driving. within a year of getting my driver license it was suspended due to many speed infractions. About the time I was 21 my driving had gotten better but I still had 6 points on my license. Six points is the max you can have in Michigan and still be employed as a Firefighter. Most department would not hire a guy that already had his drivers license suspended once, still had six points, and no fire or EMS training. But someone did!

As I was driving one day I saw a sign in front of our local fire station that said " part time positions available". So, stopped by and got an app. The Chief of the department met me, but he seemed to lose interest after I told him about my driving record. He asked me why I wanted to be a firefighter. I told him I wanted to help people, and started telling him about my grandpa. As it turned the Chief had retired from the DFD as well and knew my grandpa. He had nothing but good thing to say about him. I guess the Chief had served under my grandpa. Needless to say he hired me and told me to keep my driving record quiet. So, John if you ever read this thank you!

The department paid for my fire academy and my EMT. Shortly after finishing school my Chief retired from our department, I moved out of my parents house and started with a new department.

I spent eight years with that new department. I started as a probie, when I left I was a Field Training Officer, head of the cadet program, and a certified fire instructor. It was also about the time I started with that department that I also started working for a private ambulance service. I saw a great deal of rescue work with that ambulance company. I got the junior coder worked out of my system there. It was also during my time at this fire department that my then Chief got me hooked up with a friend of his at FEMA and got me a job as a disaster reservist with FEMA. This was a great opportunity for me. I responded to a few disasters including Hurricanes Ivan, Charlie, and Francis in 2004, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. However the ambulance service wouldn't grant me leave to respond to Katrina and I resigned so I could respond to the gulf coast. If you would like to know more about my life with FEMA check out my blog posts regarding Katrina and FEMA. It was also about this time that I started teaching at the Fire Academy. I found that I really loved to teach. I have since taught many classes and taken even more myself.

When I returned from the gulf I found a job working for another ambulance service in inner city Detroit and returned to my fire department. While working in the city I saw alot of crazy stuff and got burned out. While I stayed at my fire department I took a new security EMT job for a major bank and got off the road.

I then applied for a job with the DFD and was accepted, it was also during this time I resigned from my last fire department because of possible conflicts of interest. When I got hurt I had to find another job until the next academy started. So, I went to work for yet another fire department in the burbs and got into the ambulance service I currently work for. I like where I am now and make good money for my industry and have great benefits. I might stay where I am now, but the future is not written. That is the condensed version of career. There is so much more I could tell you about my past but that would take way too long.

As far as If I had to choose between Firefighting or EMS? Firefighting would win. Don't get me wrong, I love EMS, but I am a better firefighter than EMT. There is more brotherhood in the fire service and a lot less drama than in EMS. However, the fire service is the only industry dedicated to putting its self out of business. We make fire codes tougher and increase public education. If the public fire service is going to survive we have to provide other functions to the people, and one of the best services we can provide is EMS and technical rescue. Because of this I try to be a good EMS provider as well as a good firefighter. I hope this answers your question on how did I get here. JS

Monday, March 2, 2009

Why I'm not married?

I would really like to know who asked this.. so Anonymous, this post is for you.

There are a few reasons I'm not married. The first is that I have not met the right women yet. I have been in love twice. I spent six years on and off with what I thought was the love of my life. We just were not meant to be together. As a result of 6 years of history we have become good friends and talk almost everyday. Besides I have to be her friend, she took me on an 8 day cruise last year, almost 2 years after we broke up! The second person I fell in love with was someone I dated while I was on a break from the other one. I think I screwed that one up by trying to rush things, we are also still good friends but her husband doesn't like me too much.

I have dated other women, and I have loved a few, but was not in love with them. Needless to say I won't be with someone in a relationship if I'm not in love with them.

The next reason I'm not married is my parents. But not why you may think. My parents have been married for almost 35 years, and they still can't keep there hands off each other. I want that and I'm not willing to settle for less than that.

Reason number three is I'm shy when when it comes to the opposite sex. I don't know why. I can run into a burning building, I can rappel out of a building. But talking to women that I'm interested in scares the shit out of me. I think I fear being rejected. Lets not forget that all women are crazy.

But I am always looking for my soul mate, I hate being alone but have been for a couple of years now. I just keep waiting for the right girl to walk into my life. I hope this answers your question on why I'm not married. JS

Ask the reader Pt 2

I want to say thank you to everyone that sent me some ideas. It is going to take me while to respond to all the emails and comments, but believe me, I will. Please keep the ideas coming either via email or in comments. I will be answering these in no particular order. But I will get to all of them. You can email me at ( Please keep the Ideas coming in. JS

By the way, thats a picture of me riding a donkey in the islands... I don't think he was very happy.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ask the reader

So, I know I have more than just 2 blog readers. So let me ask you this, my faithful reader: What would you like to know? Please ask me some questions. What would you like to know about me, my career, or life in general? Feel free to ask anything, I will answer almost anything. I feel like I am running out of things to talk about on my blog. So I hope with some ideas from my readers I will be able to push on. Without your ideas my blog may become stale and old. Like bread left out over night. So let the questions fly... please? JS