It was cold when they left the house.

In the early morning hours they gathered a bag from the trunk of the car and walked to the end of the icy block.

At the stop sign was a friend idling, waiting.  Waiting to run.

Climbing into the warm car they felt a glimmer of hope for the first time in years.  The drive to the airport was silent, the younger one in the back seat falling asleep almost immediately.

It wasn’t until the plane finally left the ground that she took a deep breath, confident in the decision she had made.  4 year old asleep on her lap she allowed herself a drink to calm her nerves on the first flight to Anywhere But Here, USA.

Unfortunately the stress, lack of sleep and drink caught up to her when they arrived and the gate agent was concerned.  Medical assessment finding nothing of concern rescuers turned to the events leading to their arrival without bags or a ride anywhere.

“We are trying to get to Anytown*” she said through teary eyes.

The 4 year old seemed curious about the tiny fire engine outside the window.

“We have a connecting flight but I think we missed it because of…” she pointed to the rescuers, the gate agent, the airport and broke down crying.

The agent confirmed the flight had been missed bit because of circumstances causing their delay and the next flight was being arranged.  That flight was tomorrow morning, a good day away.

After the ambulance ride had been refused and the airline snacks consumed, the gate agent approached with wonderful news.  He had arranged for a hotel room and a shuttle for the woman, her child and their grocery bag of earthly belongings.

As she was assisted to the shuttle stop the reason for their sudden departure crashed awkwardly into the conversation.

“It just wasn’t safe for us anymore,” she said to the 4 year old boy.

“Not for me, not for him and not for who he’ll turn into if we stay,” she mentioned casually over her shoulder.

They were on the run from an unsafe home or telling the most believable cover story ever known.  Violence and intimidation had turned fear into action late the night before.  She had a plan, a friend she could trust and took the next opportunity to run.

“Do the local police know about the father?” I asked looking for the shuttle van.

“He left three years ago.  Decided he didn’t want a kid after all.  His replacement didn’t know what he wanted most days.”

We stood in silence for a good 10 minutes.  I wanted to go straight home and hug my family.

After the van pulled away from the curb local law enforcement was notified of their physical description, origin and location for the night just in case the story didn’t hold water.

A week later I was informed an officer had followed up at their location and confirmed they had arrived safely with family in Anytown.  Hopefully the little guy only remembers the little fire engine outside the window and not the reasons they had to run.



image credit Shanon Wise via creative commons

8 Things Every Internet List MUST have! #3 Will Blow Your Mind

Number 1 on the list is the reference to something changing your world, blowing your mind or in some other creative way changing your basic presence on the earth.  It rarely happens, but what if #17 on the list of ways to reuse tin foil really does change my life?

Second on the list is the image of an attractive woman, this one used from Flickr user Vladimir Pustovit and used under creative common license.

Oh, that reminds me of number 3 on the list of things every internet list MUST have!  This introduction you likely skipped over, just like everyone else.  Who reads these intros and, even worse, who has to write them?  All I want to do is scroll down to the 33 times Scarlett Johannsen smiled in a film.

#4 – Surprised we’re at 4 already?  You skipped the intro didn’t you?

The first listed item is by far the most interesting and will convince you to scroll down to the rest of the list of things you already knew.

#5 – Most lists will maximize advertising by making you click to a new page for every entry or for the “next 4 amazing hacks!”  All they’re doing is getting 1/8th of a cent for the ad that pops up before the content.

#6 – Finally show you the image from the click link, completely out of context, proving they just wanted to click bait you.


#7 – This is about the time you lost track of which of these items was supposed to blow your mind.  It was #3.  You’re welcome.

#8 – Links to other useless lists of images from your favorite films listing facts you learned about the film while watching it. “Tom Cruise added scenes shirtless for his female fans” isn’t included on my list of 21 things I never knew about Top Gun, it’s #1 on my “You Don’t Say” list.

Did I miss any?

Best Fire Department Social Media Presence?

I’m looking for someone who is doing it right.

A Department who understands the power of social and sharing media as well as its dangers and pitfalls.

Do you know of such an agency?  Mention them in the comments, I’d love to learn from their example and possibly recognize them at FDIC in April!


So, I’ll ask again:

What Fire or EMS agency is doing social media right?

Inspiring our Peers

Ambulance Chaser, Driver and friend of the blog Wes Ogilvie has an inspiring post up today I just had to share.

“But if we, those of us who consider ourselves to be ‘good’ providers, motivated by the right things in emergency medicine, don’t make ourselves available as mentors, resources, or peer support providers, then someone else surely will.   These may be the the Low Information Voters who chant the shopworn phrases of low EMS standards.” – Wes Ogilvie

Go read the post HERE.

So many folks in EMS focus on patient care, training or licensing.

So many folks in EMS focus on QI, vehicle design or discipline.

But how many are looking around their immediate area:

The driver’s seat.

Chances are the biggest positive impact you can make as a Paramedic is to mentor or inspire another provider, starting with the grunt taking you from patient to patient.  That person we often think of as simply a means to an end was once us.

Think back to the moment you realized you wanted to be a Paramedic.  It wasn’t watching Emergency! or Mother, Juggs & Speed, there was someone in the right hand seat that made you want to be better.

I’ve told you about my inspiration to do better, but instead of thinking back to your own glory day of inspiration, Wes reminds us that we have an obligation to inspire others.

If you don’t someone else will and there’s a possibility that person believes in EMS Anchor myths of kidnapping, starting large IVs on combative patients, ridiculing the under-served and wants nothing more than to pass along their bad habits.

Perhaps one of the problems in EMS is that we’ve forgotten to inspire while spending too much time looking backwards?

Not a medic? What about inspiring a young beat cop or firefighter instead of just hoping they run into the right folks in the future?

We are the future we’ve been waiting for.


Ask A Firefighter

Uniform Stories has got me fielding questions about the fire service!


Do you have a generic fire service question or a more specific question you need answered?

Shoot me a comment here, on the video or via email


The first response is about to be filmed, so get your questions in now!

Bag Baggage

I am not a fan of all the crap we have to carry around.

We carry the worst case scenario into every single call mainly because the manner in which we are assigned calls for service, by first come first served.  Add to that the impossibly broken categorization of calls into little boxes that has never, ever, EVER, been accurate or efficient.

Because of all that I have to carry my cardiac monitor/defibrillator, Oxygen, clipboard and ALS bag on every. single. call.


Because you never know what is waiting for you.  The 62 year old male with a headache you were dispatched on?  That’s a 34 year old woman in active labor.

The unconscious man in Apartment 4H is actually the 5pm dialysis transfer wanting to get in early.


Since my attempts to change the way we dispatch failed in the design phases, perhaps there is a short term solution to all the gear we carry.  Here at my current assignment I oversee between 2 and 5 ALS first response units depending on staffing.  It seems each crew has their own way of stocking the bags.  We do a lot of hiking with or bags since our call may be to Gate 67 but the patient is now closer to gate 82.

This means all our stuff needs to be carefully stocked and easy to carry long distances.

The roller bag version was suggested, but the size and need to carry it up sometimes very steep jetway stairs made that solution unfeasible.  I know everyone seems to run a different bag in a different set up, but that’s only because we all have different priorities and specialties when on scene.

For example, all my assessment gear is in the top compartment of my bag along with my oral glucose.  That’s my “This part gets opened on all calls” part.  Then inside is my IV bag, meds and intubation kit on the bottom.

I’m not looking to wake the sleeping dinosaur of EMS opinion on bags and bag set ups, just wondering if I’m the only one frustrated that we carry everything everywhere.

On the engine I don’t take a ladder inside every fire, I can go back out and get it, but for EMS, we carry cardiac arrest meds to stubbed toes.

0.5% of my call volume gets in my way the other 99.5% of the time.

“But if it saves one life…?”

But what if it negatively impacts another?

Am I over reacting, whining, or should we try something new?

Police Fail?

I recently completed a patient care report that came about as a result of…let’s just say our boys in blue were involved.  I have to complete a number of codes specific to the situation including the nature of injury, factors affecting care etc.

I never noticed that the code for Factors Affecting Care with Law Enforcement is…


wait for it





I giggled just a little bit.

The little plane that wouldn’t go to Chicago

A children’s tale.


Once upon a time there was a little plane named 757.

757 was told by the pilots that she was supposed to go to Chicago, but 757 did not want to go to Chicago.

She tried to shut down boarding by fidgeting with the gate controls, but passengers continued to board.  Soon after they were all in and she was steered towards the runway she reached out with her magic and made one of the passengers ill.

The Paramedics were there when she pulled back into the gate, pleased that she had stopped the dreaded trip to Chicago.

But what is this?  The passenger is swiftly removed and her crew is given permission to pull back out and into flow for takeoff?!

757 tried and tried everything she could imagine but a few minutes later found herself on the runway given clearance to take off.  If she didn’t do something quickly, she’d be forced to fly to Chicago.

She didn’t want to harm the passengers, but something had to be done!

That’s when little 757 got the perfect idea!

“Flight 554 you are clear for takeoff runway 99 Right, have a good trip.”

“Copy, thanks, 554.”

“Uh, 554 this is Southwest 221 directly behind you, you have an APU fire, you’ll want to pull off the runway. Tower can you send someone out here, 554 is on fire.”

Little 757 had held her breath so long and suddenly blew it out so forcefully that the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) on the rear of the plane erupted in flames.

Perfect!  The fire would mean being towed back to the maintenance facility and certainly no trip to Chicago!  Little 757 had…wait a minute, what’s that tickling?

Rescue 10 had arrived swiftly and put the fire out.  So swiftly it seems that the pilot is now comfortable returning to the gate under her own power and having the mechanics evaluate any damage.

And there almost ends the tale of little 757 and her almost trip to Chicago.

Working on the Holiday – A poem

So you’ve got to work the holidays, or your boss will get real mad?

You work in a big box store in town, and your schedule makes you sad?

Well let me tell you another story, of some folks who just like you,

are working on the holiday, so that others do not have to.

We are your firefighters, your medics, your cops,

your nurses and doctors ready to assist,

just like every other day, not just December 25th.

We’d like to teach you something you’ll eventually figure out,

a holiday is just a number, there’s no need to pout.

Turkey tastes delicious on November 29th,

and sometimes we celebrate Christmas on the 26th, at night.

Your place was open last year and the year before,

on the day so suddenly special you want to blame the store.

So for those of you who complain about working this holiday,

remember the others who are always working regardless of the day.

You won’t have to work the holiday when you get a better gig,

but if you’re lucky, you will, cause you’ll be with us in the rig.



Community Paramedicine doesn’t belong in EMS

Community Paramedicine, or what some would rather call Integrated Healthcare, is a fantastic concept.  Why not take basic medicine and evaluation skills to the patient recently recovering from a procedure instead of making them visit the MD’s office?

Why not follow up with Mrs Jones on how her medications are doing?

Why not have a Paramedic check in on Mr Thompson and his blood sugar levels?

My first paying gig in EMS was for a system that did just this.  We visited our list of clients based on the schedule and checked their blood sugar, blood pressure, medications and checked the fridge for food.  I hated it.  I hated it because it wasn’t what 18 year old me wanted to be doing.  I didn’t see the value in the program until I was about to finish my employ there and noticed we never ran a 911 call on any of our home visit regulars.  We weren’t providing Emergency Medical Services (EMS), we were doing something completely different.  Call it by any name you like, but don’t call it EMS.

Today I’m a huge supporter of decreasing the demand on 911 by focusing on reducing the number of people who call.  One of the proven tools used to combat 911 calls is making people healthier before they need 911.

Community Paramedicine is just the thing each and every community in America can use to reach out to a niche that needs to be addressed.

When I was in England all those years ago Paramedics with only 1 year experience were out on their own making recommendations, referrals and taking people directly to what they needed, not just a 2 person cot van to an ER (Or AE for those who favourite that term.)

The concepts have been proven over and over again and some systems are even carving out revenue streams to make it profitable or, at least, not at cost.

I applaud their efforts and if the opportunity ever comes along for me to get involved…

…I’ll pass.

In my opinion Community Paramedicine is too important to be trusted to the 911 crowd.  We need folks more interested in sitting and talking than squeezing a few home visits in between calls for service.  Some systems have adapted schedules and providers to respond only on the Community cars and that’s great, but a greater separation is needed.

Yes, I’m advocating splitting EMS even further than we are now.  A split that will allow this new sub specialty to thrive.

Community Paramedicine needs to be a specialty, a half brother, not a spin off hoping to get picked up for a second season.

It will not succeed if it is tied to the chaos that is 911 for profit and must succeed if 911 for profit has any chance of surviving another 10 years.  We’re approaching a cross roads to possibly finally squeeze our little patient care machine into the main stream of medical professionals.  Do we want to squander that opportunity by having Community Paramedicine as a side project of EMS or as a full fledged community service independent of the lights and sirens?

I know 18 year old me had a different reason for having this opinion, but the opinion remains:  911 and community care shouldn’t mix.  They should each focus on their strengths and excel at the service they provide the community instead of stretching us so thin only our merit badge classes hold us above water.