Flying High

Flying High

Sep 5, 2014

My post today has nothing to do with EMS.  We all need a day off every once in a while, and last week I took mine.  With a trio of World War II planes coming to a nearby airport, my dad and I decided to go flying on the last airborne B-24 in the world.  Thanks to a friend at work, I was able to get my hands on a GoPro camera.  The people from the Wings of Freedom Tour were incredibly accommodating and allowed me to mount the camera to the belly of the plane.  It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day.  An absolute perfect day for flying, and I was able to capture the entire thing with the GoPro. Fast forward to about the 10 minute mark if you don’t feel like watching us taxi around . . . The second video all takes place in the air.  The view is great . . . Finally, we circle around a bit and eventually come in for a landing. . . Pretty neat, huh?  The best part of the day though is what happened after we landed. I was able to watch the takeoff and landing from my iPhone with the two gentlemen that I was sitting next to on the plane.  They were both World War II buffs and were very interested in getting their hands on the video so we exchanged email addresses.  While exchanging emails with one of them once I got the videos up, we discovered that we were cousins by marriage.  Who would have thought?  My dad and I take a day away, go for a fly, and end up meeting a relative that we did not even know that we had!  Crazy. Many of us in EMS are wired to work, work, and work some more until we drop.  We are slaves to the “big clock.”  But that does not mean that we don’t need a day off here and there.  Be sure to set aside time away from the “bus” for a day or two.  You never know what kind of trouble you might get in.       Share...

Podcast Episode 3: Where Are They Now? @MsParamedic

I have met a lot of people over the last four years.  Few have had a bigger impact on my life than Natalie Quebodeaux Cavander.  She has been one of my closest friends since I started writing and podcasting, and has been incredibly supportive every step of the way.  Life’s changes take us all in different directions, which is exactly what it did for Natalie.  This week, Natalie and I talk about the twists and turns that her life has taken over the last couple of years, and discuss a few new angles she is taking a look at EMS from. To read some of Natalie’s posts check out her old blog, MsParamedic.com.  Even though she does not write there anymore her posts are still incredibly relevant. It goes without saying that Natalie was also an excellent podcaster.  Check out the podcast she used to be part of known as The Gen Med Show. Also, I feel it bears mentioning that the picture below is from Las Vegas in 2011.  Don’t worry though, we found out after this picture was taken that Jeff Sorenson better known as @Chicagomedic who is standing between us, was not an ordained minister, so like many Vegas weddings this one was over before it started! To download the podcast, click this link!  Otherwise listen on the player below.   Share...

A Friday Trip Down Memory Lane

Fifteen years ago I was just getting ready to wrap up my first semester of paramedic class.  We started in January and ran straight through to December with most of our summer dedicated to ACLS.  My teacher, Gary Childs, was tough on us through the first five months, but once we started getting it, we looked at it less as him being critical and more so of him challenging us.  Many pushed to get in his practical station first and as CJ Bartone, one of my classmates often said, “If you want the bull, you’ve got to take it by the horns!” Through the first two semesters of class, I started a list of what would go on to be known as GAC’isms.  G.A.C. were Gary’s initials, and that is what he put on any check sheet a student might have when they went walking out of class.  This list comprises some of the more common statements he made in class as well as some of the more noteworthy and less frequent ones.  Many of my readers might not completely understand this but I feel like there are many out there that have encountered Gary, either as one of their head instructors at Springfield College, or as a lecturer in some other CEU class.  Enjoy! 1. Then we’re going to turn around… 2. Does this sound like… 3. Do you see where we’re going with this? 4. You’ve got to make the soup. 5. Do you need to know if you’re putting the sugar in the bath tub or in Island Pond? 6. Chase the lion or be chased by the lion. 7. Chase the PVTA bus or be chased by the PVTA bus. 8. Palpate, auscoltate and inspect. 9. A P-Wave… 10. Harley’s going to do his ET(O2)IVMONITOR… 11. That’s a snowball thrown at the police cruiser. 12. Eating the Lion and celebrating eating the lion. 13. The TV set doesn’t know what the cable company is. 14. I want to watch Sipowitz on NBC. 15. We’re hitting the ground running. 16. Its all coming together now. 17. You’ve paid the cable bill. 18. Does this patient need to go to Cooley Dic...

Looking Back

A lot has happened over the last two years during this first week of June.  I was thinking back and reflecting on it the other day, and I realized how much I have been through during this time, as well as my career. June 1, 2011 was quite the day.  I have written about it a lot since the days that followed it, but the Springfield Tornado was one of the craziest days of my EMS career.  Two years later, Springfield still looks different.  All one needs to do is just take a drive down Island Pond Road and look at the lack of trees to realize how much the landscape has changed.  The rebuilding that has taken place over the entire region has been remarkable though, and people deserve to be commended for the work that they have done. This picture is from the evening of June 1st, and I think it might be the first time I actually got to sit down and take a break that night.  We were holed up a convenience store on Island Pond Road just blocks from one of the most severely damaged stretches of streets in the city.  Our dinner that consisted of whatever we could get off the shelves of the store, most of which was bought for us by now retired Springfield Fire Department Captain Stan Skarzynski. Looking back at our choice of where we set up, it probably was not the smartest place to park our 15 ambulances.  At one point during our time there, we received a “take cover” order over the air.  We looked around and realized we really had nowhere to go except for maybe the back cooler in this glass front convenience store.  We got lucky though, and moved on to our next staging location unscathed. June 2, 2012 was the day that I was motivated to aggressively start looking for a new job.  A couple of days later, I posted this post talking about the intersection in my life that I found myself at.  What followed was a very long six months of testing, classes, and worst of all sitting and waiting.  The end result one year later...

A Chat with Brendan Monahan

Shortly after my post went up yesterday regarding WGGB Springfield’s story about AMR’s response time in the City of Springfield I received an email from reporter Brendan Monahan who did the story asking me if I wanted to talk about my concerns with the way WGGB depicted emergency response in Springfield, MA. Even before the story was aired Wednesday night on ABC 40, it had generated quite a buzz mostly on Facebook.  WGGB’s website received close to 400 comments and private messages in response to an inquiry looking for anyone who had waited more than 10 minutes for an ambulance to arrive after calling 9-1-1.  Some of those comments and messages were productive and informative others not so much, but such is the world of social media today. I had a very productive talk with Brendan lasting about 30 minutes.  The first thing that he wanted to point out was that his intention for this story was in no way to attack or offend any paramedics, EMTs, or anyone else affiliated with the industry.  His intention was to generate discussion about whether or not AMR should add ambulances to the upcoming contract, or if the city should consider making some changes.  He felt that he and the team at WGGB were presenting fact based information utilizing data that they had been given by the City of Springfield, and interviews with some officials with the city.  He acknowledged that the information I highlighted as what I felt to be most important in my response to his story was featured in Wednesday night’s segment, however it might not have been as prominent as I wanted it to be.  He stated, and I agree that as the reporter putting the story together, the structure of that story is his to determine. I shared with Brendan my feelings about the quality of response in Springfield as compared to other municipalities in the greater Springfield area as well as nationwide.  I tried to stress to Brendan that while 97% is not perfect, it not only exceeds Springfield’s standards, but it is also much better than some of the largest cities in the country, and if put up against other...

Saying Goodbye

My career at AMR in Springfield came to an end this past Monday night.  I was going to put up a post about my last shift, trying to take all of you through my night step by step, but it was a pretty “ordinary” night for the most part.  There were a few goodbyes sent, a few coffees shared, but all in all, the only thing that made it memorable for me was the fact that it was my “swan song.”  My twelve year career came to a close at 6:30am when I punched out for the last time, took a deep breath, and walked out the door. The rest of my week was spent catching up with friends both new and old to say one last goodbye.  I was humbled and overwhelmed by the turnout at our local watering hole of people who showed up to say one last goodbye and share a beer or two.  Or three.  Or maybe four. I have to say that if anyone is ever in Western Massachusetts and you’re looking to enjoy a beer, O’Brien’s Corner in Springfield is the only place to go.  I’ve had many a beer, a lot of breakfasts and some great memories that were created just by pulling up a stool to the bar. Thursday night was my time to say “see you soon” to some folks from my part time job.  They gave me this great picture as a going away present.  I don’t normally work through the fall so I have not been present for many of the group pictures that they’ve taken from year to year.  Their response was to photoshop me into the picture.  Well done guys! The house was completely loaded into a UHaul Thursday night, and Friday I made the move south to my new “headquarters.”  The unpacking was done, a stop was made in New Jersey, and right now I am in my dad’s car typing away as we roll across the Tapanzee Bridge about two hours away from Springfield.  I’ll make one last stop there, pick up some precious cargo (the cat) and head back south for my four hour trek.  Monday I start...

Leadership

Leadership

Nov 26, 2012

Someone can have the ability to make command decisions that steer an organization whether it be large or small but that person is not a leader until they find someone who is willing to follow them.  In the last year and a half, I have written about a few of the incidents that I have been part of, mainly the tornado that hit Springfield on June 1 and the ice storm that we had last year around Halloween.  Just the other day though, I added another one to my list. In the downtown area of my city, we had what started out as a simple gas leak.  That all changed when four miles away, sitting in our office, I heard a loud bang.  The building with the leak exploded with two of my crews only a short distance away.  Thankfully, they were okay, but we were called to action to organize and take care of close to twenty people who were injured.  Everyone involved is still counting our blessings that no one was killed. In moments, the people that I had in the streets started to mobilize.  Crews cleared the hospital.  People in their homes, not 100% sure what had just occurred started to put their uniforms on and head to work.  I took the new supervisor I was training to take my spot and started a ride that felt like it took an eternity down to the scene.  It took about twenty minutes to get organized, get a staging area setup, and to really start getting a grasp on what we were dealing with but once we did, we were ready for whatever would be thrown at us.  The response from the EMS community was amazing.  At peek, we had more than twenty ambulances in our staging area ready to do whatever it took to make sure every patient got out of there.  The unsung heroes though were the fifteen people who showed up at the office who were not even scheduled to be in that day ready to jump on ambulances and go wherever they were needed.  With all of the trucks that we had assigned to the explosion, we were able...

One Year Later. . .

It is hard for me to believe that it has been a whole year since an EF-3 tornado tore its path through Western Massachusetts.  We were very lucky that day.  Loss of life and the occurance of injury was surprisingly low.  Most importantly though I was lucky enough to work with some amazing people that day.  Back on June 13th of last year, I shared some thoughts on the day that I would like to invite you to read. Late last year, however, an even better opportunity was presented to me: I was given the chance to write a chapter for a book called Springfield Tornado: Stories from the Heart.  The book was officially released today, and I am extremely proud of it.  Clicking on the title of the book, or the picture below will take you to the ordering page for the book.  If you ask me, it is worth the read, but of course, I am biased.   Share...

Words of Wisdom from Clive Cussler

On most Christmas mornings that I can remember, in his collection of books my dad usually had one from Clive Cussler.  If you’ve never heard of him, he is quite the author.  Most of his stories involve the main character, a guy named Dirk Pitt who is an Indiana Jones-type character: a treasure hunter who seems to wear many different hats.  For those of you in the younger generation, the movie Sahara starring Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Crews was based on Clive’s novel of the same name. Excuse me while I shutter uncomfortably for a moment. . . I’m sure you’re asking yourself: “What does Clive Cussler have to do with EMS?”  Well, I got an email from my mom the other day telling me the story about one of their friends who shared with them an excerpt from Clive’s 2006 novel called Skeleton Coast that they thought I might find interesting: Sloane laughed.  “May I ask you a question?” “Fire away.” “If you weren’t captain of the Oregon what would you do?” The question didn’t veer into any dangerous territory, so Juan gave her an honest answer.  “I think I’d be a paramedic.” “Really?  Not a doctor?” “Most doctors I know treat patients like a commodity – something they have to work on if they want to get paid before returning to the golf course.  And they’re backed by a huge staff of nurses and technicians and millions of dollars’ worth of equipment.  But paramedics are different.  They are out there working in pairs with just their wits and a minimum of gear.  They have to make the first critical assessments and often perform the first life saving acts.  They’re there to tell you everything is going to be all right and make damn sure it is.  And once you get the person to the hospital you simply fade away.  No glory, no God complex, no ‘gee, doc, you saved my life.’  You just do your job and go on to the next.” “I like that,” Sloane said after a beat.  And you’re right.  My farther cut his leg really badly on a charter once and we had to radio for an ambulance...

Officer Gene Cassidy

On October 22, 1987, a Baltimore Police Officer by the name of Gene Cassidy rolled up on a dark street corner and attempted to arrest Clifton Frazier on outstanding warrants from an assault that had occurred the week prior that left an elderly man blind.  After a short struggle, Officer Cassidy was shot twice in the face by Frazier. While Officer Cassidy survived his wounds, he was left blind.  On this day in 1988, the case was “put down” by Baltimore Homicide.  All of the evidence led eventually to Clifton Frazier and he was subsequently arrested and charged. I remember the night that I heard about what happened to Gene Cassidy.  I was just nine years old, and my dad was good friends with Gene’s brother Tom.  Tom and my dad had met during his time with Bell Telephone.  The two had a mutual love for photography, auto racing and Volkswagens.  Our families became close, and we spent quite a bit of time together during the summer when Tom and his family would visit down at the Jersey Shore. I met Gene about a year and a half later when he came down to the shore with Tom.  My dad and I took Tom and Gene out on our Boston Whaler for a trip up and down the river.  Although Gene could not see, he had a great time on our little trip.  I remember Tom telling him, “Don’t smile, you’ll get bugs in your teeth.”  I think that the reason our families bonded was we shared the same disturbed sense of humor. . . I recently started reading the book Homicide by David Simon that tells the story of a year that he spent as a journalist with Baltimore’s homicide division.  It’s a very busy one too, handling not only 200+ homicides a year, but also investigating all of the police related shootings that may occur in the city.  Gene’s story is retold in the pages of Homicide and as I read it, I could not help but remember that day late in the season before we put the boat away for the winter that I was able to meet Gene, and it...