Thursday, December 29

Happy Awards 2011 - Best Gear

Easy.  Rip Shears.

Tell me you got a set of Rip Shears after my glowing review.  If you carry a pen (2 actually) you should be carrying a set of Rip Shears.

I still carry and will always carry a Rip Shear when in the field.  Sadly, it seems out of place at my desk now that I have a staff job.  But it makes IT think twice about questioning my format on the RCSQL server reports.  What?...

Wednesday, December 28

Using Siren Doppler

Near the ramp that leads to the Golden Gate Bridge is a National Park area under construction.

No, that's not the right term.

It's torn up in 50 different ways in 50 different places by no less than...wait for it...50 different contractors.

Late one night we got a call for a hiker down.  I too heard Mike Myers character from So I Married an Axe Murderer..."We've got a piper down" but I digress.  Since it was a cell phone call it was routed through the Highway Patrol to the National Park Police, then finally to the rescuers with the SFFD, meaning e very detail from the caller has made it to us, the rescuer.  I'll give you a moment to stop laughing.

The location was given as follows:

"Near the base of the bridge, fell down, near a fence."  Oh, well there you go then.

That literally describes the 1/2 mile leading up to the bridge in all directions, including water.  When we asked dispatch for more information they obliged by reading back to us what was on our screen.

A quick aside for our dispatcher friends:  If you have nothing further and do not still have the lost hiker on the line, don't read us back what we already know.  Simply tell us you have nothing further and are trying a call back.  That's all we really need.

With police, us and an ambulance searching roadways near the bridge I realized we had the caller's cell phone number on our screen so I pulled out my phone and called.  When the hiker answered I could hear our siren in the background.

Then as the ambulance approached from another direction I was able to gauge proximity to the rigs.  I'm sure you remember this skill from Paramedic School.  It was after Cardiology but before pediatrics.  Our federal Q was closer than the ambulance's electric siren, so we had them slow and approach our location.With our knowledge of the construction area and the vague description of the hiker's surroundings "rocks and a fence" we were able to roughly estimate where they were.  A few minutes later, there we were, face to bloodied face.

The hiker thanked us and mentioned, "I was wondering if anyone was going to call me back or not."


Sunday, December 25

Happy Awards 2011 - Best Conference Event

A few years ago a couple of guys net up for a trans Atlantic EMS exchange. Maybe you heard about it. A big reason that happened was the early support of ZOLL Medical.

As part of their sponsorship in what Mark, Ted and I were trying to do they invited us to their booth in Baltimore, where we began to expand the #CoEMS family face to face. However, few realize, that the night before the conference we met for drinks with Charlotte and Blake from ZOLL to discuss what we all hoped to accomplish.

Being the social media whores devotees we are, we both tweeted our status and checking in on Facebook.  Literally minutes later we were joined by a few bloggers who happened to be in another part of the restaurant, saw our update and came over to say hello.

And that is how the ZOLL Pre Conference Blogger Bash was born.

Each year Charlotte and the folks from ZOLL but together a little event to recognize the power social media has in bringing EMS providers together and the sharing of best practices.  It is by far the best event at the conferences, even though it's smaller and less flashy than some of the other fare put on when thousands of EMTs descend on these poor cities.

And in case you were wondering WHICH blogger bash I am referring to, it was a tie for Baltimore and Las Vegas.  And in 2012 I suspect yet another tie.


Thanks for making me smile ZOLL!  See you in Baltimore!

Saturday, December 24

Magnum Boots needs you to LIKE them

No, seriously.

Click that big image. LIKE Magnum Boots on Facebook (why haven't you already?), then LIKE their status update about the 12th Day of Christmas. Total time: less than 30 seconds. Impact: $1 to a worthy charity.

After you LIKE it I expect you to share it on facebook and twitter. They should reach this goal by lunch.

Merry Christmas from HMHQ!

Wednesday, December 21

Happy Awards 2011 - Best Small Business

When Motorcop and I dreamed up Kilted to Kick Cancer over a Guinness 2 years ago we never knew the impact it could have, we were just looking for a reason to wear our kilts more often.  Then TOTW informed me of the risks of prostate cancer and we were off to the races.

Along the way we sought out sponsors to help us spread the word.  Some were less than receptive, telling us they were too small a company and that the economy was too slow for them to help out in any way.

Enter Alt Kilt.

The definition of a small family company, they make a product that isn't exactly flying off the shelves.  Especially since each kilt is hand made.

But their own story with cancer explains everything.  September is also Childrens' Cancer Awareness Month and Alt Kilt is a big supporter of any effort to find a cure and spread awareness.  But that wasn't enough.

Alt Kilt's enthusiasm continued with discount codes, gift certificates and kilts for MC and me as well as rush orders for many many others.  They could have very easily said no for the same reason other larger companies did, but there was a connection that went beyond the bottom line.

I think it's obvious by now that the Kilted to Kick Cancer effort made me happy this year, but it was the support of people who believed we could do it that made it all possible.

Alt Kilt, you made me happy in 2011!

Sunday, December 18

Happy Awards 2011 - Best New Blog

EMS blogs pop up all the time, write a few posts, then suddenly nothing.  Maybe they got caught, maybe they got bored, maybe they forgot.  One day I read a post from a new blogger calling their site Captain Chair Confessions.  The style was right up my alley and the stories were so familiar I felt an immediate connection with the author.

The frustration, the angst, the sheer hair pulling insanity that can only come from being in EMS for more than 20 minutes in a system or with a partner or in a place that just doesn't get it.  It's there.

Also there, if you read carefully, is the withdrawing of a burn out in progress.

I think CCC, as they call themselves for short, has been saved by this amazing therapy experiment called blogging.  Even though the political stuff can get heavy from time to time, it is CCC's forum and I can skip a post from time to time, but rarely do.

CCC, thanks for making me smile this year and good luck in the future!  I'll be reading!

Friday, December 16

Tip of the Helmet to Radio

Every single time I have been sent on a wild goose chase by radio based on a cell phone caller's brief description of something fanciful has been erased from my memory ( OK, most of them. Well, some. Alright, the last 2 dozen)because of something they did recently.

Something that got them a phone call from me to say thanks.

I'm in the Captain's buggy for the night and having a decent string of interesting calls when my screen comes alive steering my towards a reported suicide.

The text of this run reads like a teenager's text message both in content and presentation.

In part shorthand is a scenario describing a person who's son was online with another person who told another person they were going to kill themself and that a fourth party had supplied certain pharmaceuticals to make that request a reality.  Did you follow that?  Imagine your kid comes in and tells you Bobby saw on facebook that Jimmy said Ed was going to kill himself.  Now imagine you're telling 911 that.

On scene with half the police watch (with beanbag gun!), an engine and one of my favorite ambulance crews, we're wandering the laberynthine apartment complex looking for the unit in question.  Radio shoots back with a corrected unit number which sends us in the other direction.  For those of you not in the business, this is one of the first giveaways of a BS call.  Radio advises us they're on the line with the cell phone prodiver who is actively pinging the phone and is giving a 91% probability the phone is currently inside the billing address.  They can do that?  Yup, they can do that.  Whether or not the owner of said phone is there they're still in Beta testing on I'm told.

We finally find the unit in question and wake the occupants only to find they did not request us.  As PD turns to go the medic asks an important question:

"Are your children at home?"

They look at each other and then back into the unit. After a brief pause they answer with a question, "yes? why?"

PD's ears are up and they're in the unit faster than you can say exigent circumstances.  They search the unit and find our patient semi-conscious, deep under the influence of medications supplied by a friend.

He had snuck out, ingested the medications, then snuck back in to drift into the ether, but not before sending out a cryptic message on social media that was seen by someone who cared.

That person told their friend who told their parents who took it serious enough to call 911.

And my dispatchers took it serious enough to dig around and find out where the patient was and get us there as fast as they could.  And it made all the difference in the world for this family.

I tip my helmet to the voices...


Way to go, Radio!

Tuesday, December 13

Happy Awards 2011 - Best "Yes!"

Those of you who were around for the Kilted to Kick Cancer events know what a huge role Magnum Boots played.  Motorcop and I went to their factory one day and sat down with their team and simply pitched the idea of a few medics, cops and firemen wearing kilts to raise awareness about prostate cancer.

Before we had a chance to get nervous, they responded "yes!" and followed with "What do you need from us?"

We were just hoping for someone with a wider social media reach to help us spread the word.  Next thing we know Magnum has their marketing/social media Goddess Alexis in T-shirts and with hand outs in Las Vegas for the launch a mere 30 days later.

It would have been very easy for Magnum to squirm in their chairs and tell us the economy isn't looking good or that they were too small a company, but they jumped in with both feet and were instrumental in helping educate hundreds if not thousands of men about their own risks for cancer, and had a hand in helping to raise over $11,000 for the cause.

Magnum Boots made me Happy in 2011.

Sunday, December 11

Coming Soon - Happy Medic Awards 2011

Last year I awarded Rescuing Providence  my Blog of the Year Award.

2011 was filled with so many things that made me happy I have decided to expand the award from just a single blog to cover my entire year.

I considered letting you vote in each category, but then it would be your award, not mine, so I've kept the balloting secret.

As December marches on you'll see random postings of awards for events/products/companies/blogs, there is no restriction on who or what is included.


Coming soon - Things that made me Happy 2011!


Winners receive my heartfelt thanks for making my year better by putting a smile on my face.  I have no prizes, no sponsors, no begs for votes, just a thank you and a little golden Happy icon.  And of course bragging rights.  That's a big deal where I come from you know.

If you have something that made you happy this year, share that experience with your friends and social media circles!

Friday, December 9

Meeting the parents

I have been told by many a patient and parent that our mere arrival at a scene calms folk.  As if we were the reinforcements sent for by the last surviving members of a forward squadron, pinned down by enemy fire.  They hear our horns and calls and smile, because we've arrived to make everything better.

But what do we do when our reinforcements fail to turn the tide of the battle?

I've written before about dealing with parents when their children are under your care and we've also discussed the proper way to deal with death notifications, but what do we do when the two situations are the same incident?

A widow is someone who loses a husband, an orphan has lost their parents but there is no term for a parent that loses a child.  And for good reason.  It is one of the things we don't talk about at dinner parties or at the water cooler.  Losing a child is unimaginable.  There are no words that a Paramedic could tell me that would make me come to terms if my own children had died, so finding the words to tell a perfect stranger may leave us stuttering and stammering.

Falling back into the old comfort zone of "They've passed" or "They're gone" will only get us into more trouble, as we all know, so be ready for the moment when all your efforts have failed.  It's nice in PALS when every kid's rhythm changes, you got IV access on the first try and other difficult situations are handled on a prop or verbally, but we end it there.  When was the last time your instructor played the part of the distraught parent?

During an emotionally charged call as the paramedic supervisor I contacted the mother of our patient in the next room to ask about past medical history and a lot of other things she didn't want to talk about.  As she just began to calm I told her our standard "We're doing everything we can right now..." when she hit me with a whopper I wasn't ready for:

"Everything is going to be OK because you're here now right?" the pure desperation in her voice was outdone only in her cold grip on my arms as she turned me square to her and looked into my face.

It is very important to be completely honest and leave no room for parents to begin to interpret your statement to mean something it does not.  If they ask you what you're doing, don't answer with the gauge of needle, but instead simple terms they can understand like, "we're giving (the child) medicine and fluids and carefully monitoring their reaction to it."

This mother asked me 2 questions I had received in various forms, but never this clearly.  Just as she asked "Is her heart beating?" my mind began to say "no" just as my mouth uttered "We're beating it for her."  "Is she breathing?" was met quickly with "we're breathing for her." and the rest of the conversation revolved around everything we were doing FOR her...not TO her.

Focus on what you're doing to help, not procedures you have done to them.  Take the clinical edge off of your interventions and make it easy for a frightened mind to begin to understand and a breaking heart to come to terms with.



Wednesday, December 7

the Crossover Episode 18 - Where's your car dude?

The boys are back in what can only be described as their Christmas Show.  They discuss how to stay safe when out shopping, what a cassette tape and a pencil will never show our children and why the Elf on the Shelf might just make up for it.


Motorcop from joins me for another 45 minutes of the internet's only Police/EMS/Fire podcast!


The show is now barely legal.  That alone should get you to click play!


Friday, December 2


I never thought it would happen to me.

Her hair was the deep brown of the earth after a summer rain, her perfume completing the vision of a forest in bloom.  The dress she wore, orange and yellow patterns accentuating her curves, hiked up her legs as she arched her back slightly.  Eyes closed and head turned away, her hair covered part of her face which exposed her neck.  I approached slowly, her high heeled shoes nearby a prefect color match to her dress, and I am suddenly excited when I see her take a deep breath and slowly moan.

I lean down, my lips near hers and turn my head.  Eyes still closed she's moaning quietly as if scared to make too loud a sound while we're together.  If her parents hear us, she could get in a lot of trouble.  She's not supposed to be here with me, but right now neither of us cares.

Sitting back up next to her I move my hand along her jaw to her neck, then brush the hair away from her soft face.  A quiet moan escapes her lips as I reach to see her eyes, those brown eyes.  Her eyes are closed as I beg for her to open them like a child wishing to open a present on Christmas Eve.  Alas, she would not give me the satisfaction.


She's not from the area and came running up the block waving her arms swearing to anyone who will listen that she was having a seizure.  She is one of the rare few who have likely seen a seizure before since a neighbor familiar with the conditions that cause it swears it wasn't a fake.

I have my own opinion.

As we approached her breathing was shallow and for a few moments I was afraid she had stopped breathing completely.  My thoughts were on the road of CMS Depressant/Narcotic and I was about to reach for the ambu bag when the moan escaped.  Not the moan of deep inspiration and awkward exhilation as heard with postictal and hypoglycemic patients, but an attention getting moan seen on late night cable TV.

The other rescuers and I shared a glance of confusion.  I reached down to listen to her breathing and smell for alcohol or keytones and felt a pulse.

She pulled away ever so slightly when I leaned in, clearly awake and the decision was made to check her pupils.

And she held her eyelids shut.

I have never met an unconscious person able to do so and I leaned in and whispered this information to my new friend and almost like magic, she was awake and talking.


Almost had me fooled.  Almost.