Saturday, June 27

How Happy Medic met Motorcop

Your heroes are back with Episode 009 - The origin story.

Some of you know the story, but we felt it was time to share it with the new expanded audience.

From col­lege days and an alleged date between MC and a pre-Mrs. HM to a retreat shared years apart and an anony­mous inter­net date request, MC and HM were des­tined to be.

Enjoy The Crossover Show’s Ori­gin Story!

(No BOLO today…we are noth­ing if not slaves to break­ing the rules. #Irony)


Monday, June 22

the Bucket List Fallacy

Fallacy - a mistaken belief, especially one based on unsound argument.

Bucket List - a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.


Many people these days have created a bucket list.  This is a list of experiences and trips they are going to make before they die.  Many of them are dreamed up by a 25 year old to the regret of the 65 year old.

When the time comes to finally start checking off the bucket list our bodies may not be up to the challenge.

As a Paramedic in one of the world's busiest international airports I have to share something very important that you may not want to hear:

I have your bucket.

I had no idea how many people shared my ideas about retirement.  Mainly that I would bust my ass now so that I can party later.

It makes perfect sense when you think about it.  We're young, the kids are young, no sense seeing the world yet, that's what retirement is for.  Save up the cash, get the kids out of the house and make a run for it!  When we're older we'll be able to afford the traveling lifestyle we deserve!

That is, if you are healthy enough to make the trip.  Every day I meet someone who had my plan. Everyday I meet a man or woman who didn't anticipate 15 hour flights with 2-3 hours in line at customs.  Everyday I meet someone who just wanted to get to (Insert town here) to see their family, but collapsed in line at security because they didn't have breakfast.

Their plans are ruined.  Not just the itinerary expiring as they watch me complete my assessment, but the next trip, and the next.

The entire bucket list revolves around their physical ability to travel and too many people are waiting too long.

The look in their eyes and the eyes of their spouses, children and families when they suddenly realize that the European cruise is cancelled because they have to go to the hospital to rule out a new cardiac event from dad kills me a little every time I see it.

If you take into account sometimes I see it more than once a day, I die a little bit a lot.  It really bothered me until the wife and I discovered a new way to live our lives:

To actually live our lives.

We have adopted a new philosophy: Places, Not Things.

What it simply means is that the trinkets we usually found ourselves spending on for this calendar date or that Hallmark holiday simply become reasons to travel as a family.  To take adventures while we're young enough to make the trip and the kids old enough to remember it.

We have a bucket list of places we want to see before we die, but we're no longer waiting to empty it.  If anything I want to enter retirement with an empty bucket and just see what happens.

Call it foolish, or a waste of money, sure, but go ahead and add up the cost of all those gifts and toys you're buying and tell me that is better than a night a few hours away, just as a family, taking an adventure.

My Father's Day gift this year was a great night away at a local beach side amusement park town.  No ties, no #1 dad mugs, no new cars or expensive gadgets, but instead I got smiles, laughs, hugs and the ability to say "This was great, how can we top this?"


Don't wait until it is too late to get out there and do what you want to do.  Not every one of the average 65,000 daily departures is kept from their flight for health reasons but not everyone of them is leaving on a once in a lifetime trip either.

Do me a favor and look at your bucket list.  Now imagine looking at it at age 60.  65?  70?  Can you still do all those things?


Why not do them now and tell those stories at 60, 65, 70.  Maybe, just maybe, one of your friends didn't listen to us now and can't make those trips.  They'll be glad we can tell them all about it.


If you decide not to take my advice and you happen to find yourself too sick or tired to take that trip of a lifetime don't get upset, just hand me your bucket.  I've got an entire stack of them out behind the firehouse.

Friday, June 19

the Crossover Show Episode 008 - The Uniform Stories Story

The Police and the Fireman are back to bring you an interview from one of the guys behind, Ben Pugh.

Motorcop was hogging the mic this entire show so don't try to adjust your speakers to hear my hilarious jokes and insightful questions, just have a listen to MC and Ben.



The guys talk with Ben about the ori­gin of Uni­form Sto­ries and the (alleged) heav­ily drug-influenced deci­sion to invite our ques­tion­ably intre­pid hosts to con­tribute to the site.

This week’s episode is brought to you by all the words that rhyme with pew.  Don’t worry…it’ll make sense when you lis­ten to the episode.

No BOLO this week as our com­plete focus was on Uni­form Sto­ries.  Check back next week for a return to our reg­u­lar format!

Saturday, June 13

Paramedic Flips Patient Off of Cot, But Why?

So this video popped up in my feed this morning.

It is from Brevard County, Florida, and show Brevard County Firefighter/Paramedic Kenneth Hallenbeck clearly forcibly removing a patient from his cot onto the floor of what appears to be the triage station of a local hospital back in February of 2015.
Go have a look and come back.
Firefighter/Paramedic Hallenbeck was fired for this action and charged with elder abuse.  I've seen worse in most nursing homes, but we'll skip that elephant.

Let's break down what isn't in the video to try to keep this scene from repeating itself.

First let me begin by saying I have wanted to do this multiple times.  We all have.  A patient calls with a non-complaint complaint, qualifies for triage and when they arrive suddenly believe that they deserve immediate treatment in the ED.  They rant and rave about not wanting to be left in triage to wait, "That's why I called 911!" then refuse to get off the cot.  Often their arms are crossed and they're shaking their head like a 3 year old.

That being said, I've never had to flip anyone off my cot.  Forcibly lift, yes. Flip off the cot, no.

After the patient in the video falls to the ground he is seen standing, waving, pointing, wrapping a blanket around himself and doing so without wavering or needing a cane or something to lean on.  I'm not saying the fall didn't hurt him, but if he was able to stand and walk BEFORE getting to the ED, did he really need the ambulance?

Remember, we're playing the "What if" game here.

Let's apply the logic used when Police Officers use excessive force and it is caught on camera:

1) Was Firefighter/Paramedic Hallenbeck in fear for his life?  Was the patient reaching for a weapon?

2) Was Firefighter/Paramedic Hallenbeck at the end of a particularly troubling shift, making him emotionally unstable?

3) Was the patient following Firefighter/Paramedic Hallenbeck's instructions to rise from the cot and take a seat in the nearby wheelchair?


"But Justin, it shouldn't matter what kind of shift he was having, patient care comes first."  You're right, but what happened is not the problem, but I would argue a symptom of a larger problem coming to a boil:

EMS Abuse.

I'm not talking about the "It's not our definition of Emergency, Justin, it's theirs!" folks unclear on the concept, but why did Firefighter/Paramedic Hallenbeck feel the need to forcibly remove an ambulatory patient from a cot?

Why was the patient on the cot in the first place? Outdated urban legends about walking patients and being sued.

Why was the ambulance transporting the patient? Outdated urban legends about abandonment and a lack of options other than an ED.

Why was an ALS 2 person reclined cot ambulance dispatched?  Lack of creativity of the local transporting agency and legislators.

Why did the patient call 911?  Take your pick.

What conditions are not being treated by the patient's medical insurance company that caused the patient to believe calling 911 was a solution?  Again, take your pick.

These are all speculations.  The articles on this story mention the patient is on hospice and none of my questions may apply.

But think about it.  If Firefighter/Paramedic Hallenbeck had the resources to get this patient what they needed instead of a trip to the Emergency Room would any of this ever happened?


What he did was wrong.  But that doesn't get the patient or the system off the hook for setting this Medic up to loose his cool.


Friday, June 12

What Happens When We Die?

I won't get too existential on this one, but a friend just brought up a good point in a Facebook thread:

"I'm planning my funeral and had to ask:  If fire gets a full military funeral and so does PD, what should EMS get?"


Good question.

I've seen full honors given to EMS brothers and sisters who fell in the line of duty but it didn't have nearly the impact to a fire or PD funeral.  You're right.

We refer to one another using the same term, "First Responder" so why not the same type of honors every time a Medic or EMT falls in the line of duty?

Fire lines the streets with flag wavers, so does PD and rightfully so, but what about EMS?  Still the redheaded stepchild of the 3 disciplines?

As I've said before, perhaps it is time the red headed step child stands up and shows his step father how to treat his mother.


If you have the unfortunate burden of planning a funeral for a fallen EMS brother or sister, don't try to re-invent the wheel, reach out to those who know what to do.

Call the local FD and PD and ask for help in making arrangements.  There's a good chance you are working for a company that doesn't have the resources or the will to give your fallen comrade the respect they deserve.

Don't get caught up in that now, get caught up in what you can do for your friend, their family and your co-workers in this troubling time.

You don't need a color guard or random EMSers unsure of what is going on.  Chances are, if you ask, PD and the FD will be fighting to see who receives the privilege to honor your fallen brother or sister.  Let them help.  They need to help as much as you need the help.


We may not have our own traditions dialed in yet, but many organizations do.  Look to the older third service agencies for guidance on dress and protocol.  If you don't know anyone there, like I said, reach out to PD and fire.  No doubt they'll post a watch on the door, help the family and help your agency recover from your loss.


It is my deepest desire that no one reading this ever needs it.




But if it helps, you have my condolences.


the Crossover Podcast - Episode 007

Dun dun...dun dun dun dun...dun dun dun dun...dun dun dun dun...


That's harder than it looks.

MC and HM are back with their super secret spy episode. Get it? 007?

Whatever, dude.

MC throws an unannounced curveball at HM regarding police being "the most regulated industry in the country."

In a recent column entitled "Police leaders: Don't let fear of scrutiny affect cops' use of force decisions", a subheading on the Facebook post made the assertion that police were the most regulated industry in the country.

MC, sensing HM's eventual eye-roll, posed the question to him...Is it true?

Spoiler Alert: HM disagrees.

But that's not the interesting part. That comes when MC starts to throw scenarios at HM and HM's answers shed some light on just how silly EMS regulations (particularly in the state of CA) are.


Go watch Caprica. Then Battlestar Galactica. Trust us.


Special recognition to fallen Rio Rancho, NM, Police Officer Gregg Brenner and his co-workers healing during this obviously difficult time.  Your patch was pulled by chance, OR, Gregg reached in and pulled it for us.

Tuesday, June 9

Inside my head on a 72 hour shift

I rarely stack days like this but the other guys need days off, so here I am.

3 days in a row.  Here's how it feels:

Morning of Day 1:

Take it easy, let's pace ourselves on admin tasks.

Afternoon of Day 1:

Man, I'm not even half way done with day 1 and got all this done?

Evening of Day 1:

Oh well, almost 1/6 done!


Morning of Day 2:

This is no problem, I got this.

Afternoon of Day 2:

Why on Earth did I agree to this?

Evening of Day 2:

Everything is stupid, this pen is stupid.


Morning of Day 3:

I should do this more often, this is easy, I go home tomorrow after all.

Afternoon of Day 3:

Hey guys!  I go home tomorrow!

Evening of Day 3:

Is it tomorrow yet?


Thursday, June 4

Overheard in the jetway of gate A4

Your heroes are awaiting an aircraft to pull into the gate with a reported medical emergency.

"Control to units at gate A4, is the aircraft at the gate?"

"This is 67 at A4, yes the aircraft is here."

"We're getting reports of a fire in the engine, standby."

We just looked at each other, then out the windows as the tones dropped on our radios.

"Rescues 33, 47,56,10,11,65,91,93 AGI (Aircraft Ground Incident) in progress at Gate A4, engine fire.  Repeating..."

I didn't hear her repeat the message - out the door and down the stairs to the ground crew to assess the fire.  Funny how we didn't see it on the way up the stairs not 60 seconds ago.

I'm down and no one sees anything.  We confirm with the pilot there is no fire in any of the 4 giant engines on the A340.

I cancel the AGI and go back upstairs where the crew is treating a minor health condition.  I get a call on my Dept phone and hear laughter.  A dispatcher who can barely keep the laugh at bay relays to me what happened.

"The (giggle) airline got a call from a (laughter from behind them) passenger who called in that...that um...(giggles)(sigh) OK, I can do this...that there was an engine fire at gate A4 (laughter)."

"OK, I'm missing something."

"The translator got it wrong.  (a composed sigh and breath) There was a fire engine at gate A4 not an engine fire at gate A4."

I giggled.

Wednesday, June 3

Arguing for Your Limitations - The Absurdity of the $15 EMT

Oh my the world is swirling with anger over a burger flipper getting $15 an hour while our life saving, life risking EMTs are only making $10.

Friend of the blog Sean Eddy, in his piece at Uniform, not only set a shot over the bow on this topic, I'd argue he has declared war and I hope he'll have me as an ally.  Go read his piece here and come back when you're good and angry.

Let's start by putting down our pitch forks and signs and taking a deep breath.  Arguing for an hourly wage without taking into consideration total compensation is like arguing home run averages without looking at the final score of the game.  It tells a neat story about a brief moment but leaves out everything we need to know.

"Did you win?"

"I should get as many home runs as the other team"

Well, that makes perfect sense, Sparky.

If you aren't making what you think you're worth in EMS you have 2 options:

1) Move

2) Quit


"But Justin, it's a calling."  No shit.  I feel the same way.  That's why when $4.35 an hour wasn't cutting it I moved.  When $7 wasn't cutting it I looked to promote and when $11.50 wasn't cutting it I dragged my wife on a 20 hour truck drive to another time zone.  Now I make more than 10 times an hour what I did my first day on the job 20 years ago.  Benefits are far better too, but you aren't asking for benefits, are you?

Don't come at me with a sob story about how important EMS is to you.  We'll take that as read.  We all want this job.  We tried really hard to get this job.  We love this job.  Apparently some of us just aren't willing to put in the effort.

I want anyone who thinks they are underpaid to think about what you are asking for.  You are asking to be brought level with food service workers on an hourly wage.

What happens when 3 years from now, after still mismanaging what little you get, you want another raise?

You already argued for that and got it.

Richard Bach, in his book Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, describes exactly what you are doing when you scream and carry a sign demanding parity with a part time food service worker:
"Argue for your limitations and, sure enough, they're yours."

You have set the ceiling and placed an arbitrary value on the service you currently provide.  Now, without increasing the value of that service I as your employer and community have no reason to increase your wage until you offer a better product.

"But Justin, aren't we worth more than a kid flipping burgers part time?"

Not according to your own argument, no.

We've covered pay in EMS dozens of times in this forum and others and my answer will always be the same.  If you want more money, go make more and get a handle of your finances.  If you want a better wage, go find out what it takes to get hired with a better service who pays more and do it.

Don't stand around with a sign demanding parity with yourself from 20 years ago.  Get into a class, find a mentor and break the downward spiral of setting yourself up for failure.

If it was up to me I would grant each and every one of the folks crying for $15 their request and do it happily.  Why?  Because now I know what they're willing to work for instead of them bringing value that they can market at a higher rate.

Well done $15 gang, you argued for your limitations and, sure enough, they're yours.