Monday, February 12

A Tax Benefit you never knew you didn't get

As Firefighters and Paramedics the tax laws gave us certain benefits when purchasing equipment, uniforms, mileage between stations and all sorts of other little perks we could deduct when tax time rolled around.
Heck I made a spreadsheet with the mileages from each firehouse to each other firehouse (we have 42) and each January the wife would make me print out my work history and plot all my details to other stations.  Turned out that mileage was deductible that year.

That's all changing this year because of the new tax laws, but I wanted to focus on a deduction many firefighters have been taking for years and not realizing they can't:

Meals.

We've all been there at the dinner table and had someone spout out about how, because we aren't given breaks the meals are deductible.  Nope.

There's also the guys who live more than 50 miles away who read the tax law and said, "Well, I'm 50 miles from home and it says we can deduct meals that far from home!"  Nope.

Still more will argue they are allowed to take a certain percentage of the per diem rate published by the IRS because they are on a work related task.  Nope.

Believe me, I used to be all 3 of those guys.  Then I got a tax pro who set me straight on the law.

Here's an article that can explain more about deducting meals on duty.  The short answer is no, you can't.

If you have been doing so you need to get in touch with a tax professional ASAP.  That link above (full disclosure) goes to my tax preparer, who actually knows their stuff.

Lots is changing this year as to what we can deduct, if anything at all, so you'll not only need a hand with this year's filing, but perhaps the last couple of years and set a plan for next tax season.

We don't listen to the divorced guys when they try to give us relationship advice, why listen to them about taxes.  Get a pro.

Sunday, February 11

A Man Who Needs No Introduction

One of the best parts of working in EMS is having conversations with the moderately intoxicated.  I've told you stories of my beautiful blue eyes, random electronic bands from the 1990s, but sometimes the simplest of comebacks can make your day.

THE EMERGENCY

A man in his 70s has fallen, bleeding from the head

THE ACTION

Not just the head. Uncle Moneybags (Not his real name) has had a few cocktails in the limo on the way to the airport and didn't notice the curb.  This happens often, even with those who have not had so many drinks.  The crew first on scene is having a hard time getting him to consent to a full assessment so they gave me a call to come assist.

Abrasions here and there tell the story, as does the growing hematoma on his forehead.  We snap a pic using the work phone to show him the damage and he is still convinced we are blowing everything out of proportion.

"Hello Mr Moneybags, I'm HM, I'd like to help you navigate this situation if you don't mind."

He was not amused that more "civil servants" had arrived to fuss over him.

"Do you have any idea who I am?" he grumbled, clearly assuming I did.  I had to pounce.

"Well, Mr Moneybags, my name is HM, you just told me that.  Memory loss is a sign of a head injury.  I'm concerned about you."

His frustration was matched only by the smiles of the ALS crew and ambulance nearby.

Uncle Moneybags eventually consented to transport, mainly because the airline denied him passage until the next day, but there's a part of me that wants to google his name and find out if I am indeed supposed to recognize him.

But we never ever do that.

Ever.


Saturday, February 10

the Crossover Podcast - Ep 141 - Fentanyl Meh or Monster?

In this episode, HM and MC welcome recently retired narcotics officer and DRE know-it-all, Keith Graves from Graves and Associates, to discuss the most recent topic du jour in First Responder Land: Fentanyl.

*Cue terrifiying music.

If you’re a cop and you’ve recently been mandated to receive training on the proper handling of Fentanyl and your department’s Powers-That-Be want you to be dressed in full hazmat gear when you search a car, you’re gonna want to play them this episode.
If you’re on the medic side of the aisle, this episode will give you a glimpse into the blue side of the topic when the guys discuss things with which you don’t concern yourselves…like searching vehicles, residences, and people.
For more information and training on drug-related concerns, be sure to visit Keith’s website, Graves and Associates! He’s an excellent instructor and extraordinarily knowledgeable about all things narcotic.

BOLO – None for this week. Give ’em a break…they actually produced a relevant show.

Get MC’s book, Badges & Budgets, for FREE!
Support the Show over at Patreon.com/TCS
Rate the Show!

LISTEN HERE!

Wednesday, February 7

Oxygen Machine Hijinks

The aviation world limits the kind of devices you can take on board an aircraft.  Makes sense.

However, there are many folks under the impression that, if they use oxygen on a regular basis, they can simply use the oxygen on the airplane during their flight.

Wrong.

To fly with O2 you must use an approved concentrator.  Makes sense.

Trouble is that most folks who rent these devices don't crack open the instructions taped over the controls, which clearly state to charge the batteries BEFORE traveling.

THE EMERGENCY
A woman is short of breath

THE ACTION
On our way!

We get an update just pulling out of the station that the caller states the woman now only needs her oxygen machine charged or a bottle of oxygen.
Yeah, because we just keep those in reserve and hand them out for free.

About 2 minutes out from the scene, after slowing everyone down to code 2, I receive the following message from dispatch, "Units responding to the oxygen call, you can cancel, caller states patient is now smoking a cigarette."
I had a decision to make.  A decision that faces all 911 providers when faced with a call like this:

Laugh first, then reply, or reply then laugh.  I did the former.

Arriving on the scene, since simply canceling doesn't actually solve the problem, I am met with a woman in a wheelchair who rented an oxygen machine yesterday and is baffled as to why it isn't working.  The instructions are still sealed in the bag taped over the start button.  Add to that she has checked the charger in instead of keeping it in her carry on bag.

I run inside and catch an airline employee who quickly runs down to the ramp level and retrieves her bag.
Plugged into an outlet and charging the first of 2 batteries she is still baffled as to why they don't rent out charged batteries.

She is not alone.  It is fair to say that more than a few times a week we are called to "change out" an oxygen bottle, only to be met with someone who has a little concentrator and no fresh batteries.

Problem solved, mischief managed, back in service.

Monday, February 5

Don't adjust your internet

I told you big changes were on the way for HMHQ and I was right!

For almost 10 years I've been conducting this little therapy experiment and I think it's safe to say we have enough valid data points to begin making conclusions.

Turns out it works.

Hahaha!

I've moved all the content you know, love and ignore back to the original blogging platform we used back before social media was even a thing, when Facebook was just "what vegetable are you?" quizzes and a way to track down old high school pals.

Getting back to the roots, if you will.  Come along, it'll be fun.

Your pal,
HM