Monday, March 25, 2013

A Chapter Ends.

The end of an era.  So much history and dedication in this building.  So many memories and tragedies so many drama filled afternoons it was as bad as a soap opera, still I'll miss it like I would miss a crazy uncle who suddenly bought the farm.   This is where I got my chops, it's where I became the clinician I am today.  The people here are the ones who groomed me, propped me up and supported me the whole time I was learning what it meant to be a paramedic.  The very same people who remained with me as I climbed the corporate ladder, past many of them.  They never left my side, they never complained that I got the opportunity to advance and they didn't.  They remained loyal and stayed beside me through all of it.  I can never re-pay them for that kindness.

The best and the brightest came out of this station. It's was a common term that when you came here it was your responsibility to get along with us not our responsibility to get along with you.  You either got along or along (down the road).

I'll miss this place.  I'll miss the people.  I'll miss the profound impact that the station and the spirit of the community had on my life.  There is not much of it I wont miss but right now I've got work to do.  I need to find jobs for those who are remaining on this journey with me and I have to write letters of recommendation for those who are choosing a different path.  Although this chapter is finished a lot of us will start a new story together and I look forward to writing about it.

Keep your head up, walk tall, be proud.  You served and served well.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pot comments.

I've been writing this blog for years and it all comes back to one post I made on marijuana use.  I log in to see comments posted on an article I wrote 4-5 years ago... and a lot of them.

The simple facts are:
Marijuana is mind altering.
Marijuana is illegal on a Federal level with or without prescription.
Only 19 states have medical marijuana provisions. (
No states allow recreational marijuana use.

Every single comment I get accuses paramedics of destroying their liver by being alcoholics. It would seem that the "Pot-Heads" have no further argument other than to call all paramedics alcoholics.

Another simple fact is that alcohol is legal, marijuana is not.

My personal opinion?   Well, guess what... it's changed.  My opinion is that what consenting adults do in their free time that does not affect their job performance is their business. I wouldn't want a drunk clinician in a squad nor would I want a high one.  I don't use marijuana, but I can't say I wouldn't if it were legal, or as legal and controlled as alcohol.

Although my children would strongly disagree, I can't make policy for the world; I can't set the tone for an entire industry.  It's illegal, you will be tested.  If you fail the test you will be denied employment.  If you want that to change, throw more money at it.  Get a stronger political lobby.  "Smoke the Vote" but do so knowing you might go to jail for it.

Consider this.  How much money does the tobacco lobby have? What would be a great market for the tobacco people? Wouldn't it make more sense to try and leverage that industry and money than constantly fight it?  I hear how much "safer" pot is for you than tobacco.  It's all fucking lies, but I hear it a lot anyway.  I mean think about it a second.... burning substance (any substance), minus a filter = bad for the lungs.  You're going to get NO WHERE trying to tout pot as why try?   Get a few big tobacco companies in your pocket to push the agenda of walking into the store and buying "20 Class A Joints" and you might be on to something.

Personally if I HAD to make a choice (and I mean HAD TO) I'd rather ride in a car with someone high on marijuana driving  than someone twice the legal limit on alcohol.  I've never been to a domestic violence scene where the marijuana user was the aggressor but I have been to thousands of drunk calls that resulted in violence.

Until such a time comes when marijuana is LEGAL, not just decriminalized or legalized for medicinal use us poor alcoholic medics will muddle on.

Heres to your liver!

Monday, March 04, 2013


It occurred to me just the other day that "I'm the man" and not in the sense that I think I'm special or above anyone else; quite the opposite really.  Many years ago I started my EMS career and I never gave my advancement a second thought.  I loved what I was doing and if that came with more responsibility I welcomed the challenge.  As I sit and drink my coffee today and reflect on 16 plus years of service and some of the difficult decisions I've made it just popped into my head that I'm now the person everyone bitches about when shit doesn't go the way they want it to.

I'm "The Man".

We are losing hours:  Blame the man.
We are losing stations: Blame the man.

We are working too much overtime: Blame the man.
We are expanding too rapidly: Blame the man.

We aren't doing enough special events: Blame the man.
Damn these special event!: Blame the man.

I'm a decent sized guy, not too tall and not too round but kinda like a fireplug.  Just tall enough to be considered average and just broad enough to lay the weight of the world on my shoulders.  In all of my years on the road I never once needed the assistance of drugs or alcohol to cope with my situation.  I left work at work and tried to give more to my family every day.  Everything I did was to better myself and my family.  They were my rock; my guiding light.

Today, not even a full year into my new job as "The Man" my doctor tells me that my stress levels are unhealthy, my blood pressure is too high and I need to start taking meds for anxiety.  I said: "Doc I'm not barking mad or anything" "I don't yell and scream at my people or come home and kick the cat."  The doctor said: "You don't yet." So I took the prescription and rolled on over to Walmart to grab my nerves in a bottle. 0.5 Xanax appears to be the cure the Doc believes in.

You see, I don't have a problem with death and destruction.  I don't have a problem with the twisted and broken form of the human body.  I don't have a problem with mass casualties or disasters.  These things I can work through without a second thought.  I've managed hundreds of ambulances on a national level through more than 10 of the nations worst disasters including 911, and so many hurricanes I can't remember all the names.  I'm a paramedic and those things don't rattle my type, not even a little.

Now, with the above said if you ask me to call an employee and cut their hours or if you ask me to shut a truck down early or if you ask me to make a "business" decision to close a station I'm a nervous wreck. None of my training covers this shit.  I feel hopeless, lost and completely alone.  I carry that burden heavily and I share it with no one.   I feel the pain of every employee.  I feel the sadness and despair for their families.  I share their uncertainness of the future.  I wonder how they will take care of themselves and their families and it completely wrecks me inside.

When something like this happens the first question is always "Why?" followed by lots of more questions.  I generally don't have the answer they want to hear but I tell them the truth never the less. This is private EMS.  It's a company like any other company in the world.  They either make money or lose money.  When the losses exceed the gains for any length of time "adjustments" are made to keep the company profitable.

Then they tell "The Man" to give everyone the bad news.

CHUCK UFARLY IS ZER0... one and the same.  Nothing to see here, move along.