The Day I met Thaddeus Setla

 It was November 2009 and me and a friend in England had this stupid idea to trade places for a week and live in each other's EMS systems. Thaddeus, or Ted to those of us unable to pronounce his given name, met us on a podcast and asked why it wasn't being filmed. Ted was already well known around my parts as the creative mind behind the Level Zero movie filmed in Alameda County.

He had this crazy idea to film Mark and I "fly on the wall style" and focus more on the people rather than the lights and sirens.

The day Mark was due to arrive in San Francisco and begin this adventure Ted asked me to meet him in San Francisco for lunch on my way to pick Mark up at the airport. Not knowing then about my anxiety issues, I planned on arriving at the airport an hour early.

I had never met Ted and had no idea what to expect. Sitting at a bar height table with a glass of red wine was a confident man, tribal tattoo peeking out from under his polo shirt, a short, styled haircut, glasses and a smile that could be seen from space. We shook hands, then hugged, which was the standard second introduction when meeting someone who you've only talked to online for months.

He immediately had me hanging on his every word.

Ted was passionate about showing the world what we in EMS actually do day to day and how it impacts us and our communities. All I could do was nod along. After a very tasty lunch he mentioned we should go get Mark and I suddenly remembered what else we were supposed to do that day.

The rest of that day you've seen in the pilot for the reality show Ted wanted to make, all about EMS systems and the people who make them tick. Unfortunately for him, and EMS enlarge, the networks were confused and scared about new privacy legislation and backed out.

Ted's ideas didn't stop. He wanted to change EMS education to more of an interactive testing and learning experience, not just a video and some questions. He wanted to gather experts to have conversations about patient care, not just lectures and power points.

It was not uncommon to get a phone call from Ted that started with "Hey buddy, I have an idea..." and then 2 hours later feel like you've glimpsed the future of your profession.

Last week that future began to fade. Ted collapsed and suffered cardiac arrest. While the details were slow, as each day slowly crept by each of us on the job knew that no news wasn't good news. Word came out just a bit ago that Ted isn't going to survive this event.

But his ideas are. We are. As much as I try to stop the tears of pain in losing my friend, there are fits of laughing tears remembering a crazy idea he scribbled on a napkin at a conference that we'd later produce and film. The ideas he had to travel the world, and then doing exactly that.

Thaddeus Setla was a giant in EMS. If you don't believe me, look back in another few years at what he set in motion and ask people what their influence was to get into EMS or to improve. I GUARANTEE you if Ted isn't on your list someone who is has him on theirs.

10 years ago Ted turned a camera at what Mark and I were doing and changed everything forever. How do I know? More than a dozen times I've been approached by EMTs and Paramedics in my own and surrounding systems on calls and been asked "Are you that Happy Medic guy that did the ridealong show?" When I respond in the affirmative every comment has been positive with a majority adding "That's what got me into EMS" or "That inspired me to goto Medic school and get hired here!"

Mark and I wrote tens of thousands of words for almost a year. No one talks about how they read about what we did, they've seen Ted's vision of what we did and it changed lives.

I'd argue it's saved as many as it has changed.

So while this is a good bye to Ted's time with us, his spirit, vision and purpose lives on within each of us who saw that glimpse of the future because Ted cared enough to crack open the door of his imagination, if only for the briefest of moments.

I am a better person because Ted Setla was in my life.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have more tears of joy and sorrow to shed.

Go then...there are other worlds than these.