Thursday, May 31, 2007


I wrote briefly a few days ago about my trip to Arizona. I did get a chance to talk to some EMS providers and also got a tour of Southwest Ambulance's headquarters in Mesa, Arizona. The tour of Southwest was a real eye-opener for an EMT that runs in rural New England.

The crew pictured above were nice enough to talk to me about what they do. They are an RN and EMT-P and they run together as a Critical Care team. They had just finished their rig-check and were checking and signing for their drug box when I first met them. Their ALS box was a whole lot bigger than what I carry as an EMT-I here in VT! We talked about our respective scopes of practice; they were shocked that we have no paramedics in my VT district. Thank you to everyone I met at Southwest, especially Ms. Sandy Nygaard who took over an hour out of her busy day to show me around.

I also got to talk to a crew from another ambulance company, PMT. I saw their ambulance parked outside of one of their satellite headquarters, and just walked in. The crew was made up of a paramedic and an EMT-B. We talked about their service area and I was a little surprised to find that EMS in the definitely urban City of Scottsdale, AZ has a lot of similarities to what we do here in rural VT. They have multiple nursing homes in their area and are called to them frequently. One of them even made a comment about not having a highway in their service area (it is served by another service), and thus they got to go to relatively few 10-50s. Sounds familiar!

I tried to stay aware to what was happening around me as I spent several days touring the area. I did see several working scenes that I would have loved to be a part of. The opportunities for a career EMT are plentiful, and the and sunny everyday. Hmm......

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Saturday at EAS

Made it through Friday night without a "Memorial-Day-based" EMS call, though I was not on duty last nite. I left the house to take the kids fishing at 20:15 last evening and clipped the pager to my belt. My wife asked if I was on call and all I could say was, "no, but I just have an uneasy feeling about this weekend." She said I couldn't respond with the kids in tow anyway, but hey, don't we all want to stay connected? I mean if The Big One were to come up, I suppose I could drop them off at a friend's house between the fishing spot and quarters, right??

Friday, May 25, 2007

22:45 Friday Night

My prediction for th weekend is trauma. Freakin-A, warm weather, end of the school year, maybe just a bit of "bored-EMT who knows what-the F is gonna happen this weekend" premonition. But for God's sake, hand the keys off, OK?

Today was a real opportunity for us to explore the retail opportunities, (as well as take care of a few personal financial obligations) in our service area, as well as being fully aware of the first best weather weekend, combined with the traditional party weekend of the year. Bottom line, Jeezum-Crow if the planets ever lined up better for bad-mojo, I cannot remember when. Good luck to all crews out there this weekend!!!!!

Memorial Day Weekend

Besides the obvious connection that EMS has to Memorial Day, the vastly increased number of PD cruisers on the roads today remind me that this is a big trauma weekend.

As a matter of fact, for some reason things are getting off to a hot start a little early, though they really haven't been trauma calls. I ran a possible broken hip call followed to a suicide attempt yesterday, and the other squads in the area have been running staight out as well. This AM shift is only a couple hours old and we've run 4 or 5 calls with AmCare already. As the weekend unfolds, who knows what else is in store.

Goes without saying, but lets be careful out there. Memorial Day means alcohol in increased quantities for those members of the public that wish to go there, and with that comes the potential for violence. Don't get caught between a drunk and the police that are there to secure the scene before you start to render aid.

As well, let's take a few extra seconds to stay aware on the highways if responding to an MVA. Keep an eye out for rubberneckers, and stay safe so you and your partner can do your jobs!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Artist in the Ambulance

One of my favorite movies of all time is "Saving Private Ryan". Near the end of the movie, after Capt. Miller and his squad have finished the battle by the bridge, Miller (Tom Hanks) lies dieing and tells Ryan (Matt Damon) "Earn This." It appears that Ryan doesn't quite understand at first what is meant (neither did I at first as a viewer), but comes to realize that the sacrifice of others has allowed him to have a full and free life, and he ought to always strive to really earn the gift he's been given, to live a good and worthy life. As the scene in the war fast forwards to Ryan as an old man at the foot of Miller's grave in Normandy, he asks his wife (with tears in his eyes) if he's been a good man, because he had obviously tried hard to live up to Miller's dieing advice. What a powerful scene.

I came upon a song recently by a band called Thrice. I interpret the lyrics as carrying the same theme as above: The gift of life ought to be repaid by living out the rest of your life with respect and caring, to never forget the gift you've received.

Anyway, here's the lyrics, the song is great too. I'm sure its available for download at many of the music sites, I can't link to it without permission of course. I'm gonna try to get permission to link to it because I think the song is good enough to be the EMS theme song. Meanwhile here's a link where a sample of the song is available for listen, and the song can be downloaded for a fee:

"The Artist In The Ambulance"

Late night, brakes lock, hear the tires squeal
Red light, can't stop so I spin the wheel
My world goes black before I feel an angel lift me up
And I open bloodshot eyes into fluorescent white
They flip the siren, hit the lights, close the doors and I am gone

Now I lay here owing my life to a stranger
And I realize that empty words are not enough
I'm left here with the question of just
What have I to show except the promises I never kept?
I lie here shaking on this bed, under the weight of my regrets

I hope that I will never let you down
I know that this can be more than just flashing lights and sound

Look around and you'll see that at times it feels like no one really cares.
It gets me down but I'm still gonna try to do what's right, I know that there's
A difference between slight of hand, and giving everything you have
There's a line drawn in the sand, I'm working up the will to cross it and

I hope that I will never let you down
I know that this can be more than just flashing lights and sound

Rhetoric can't raise the dead
I'm sick of always talking when there's no change
Rhetoric can't raise the dead
I'm sick of empty words, let's lead and not follow

Late night, brakes lock, hear the tires squeal
Red light, can't stop so I spin the wheel
My world goes black before I feel an angel steal me from the
Greedy jaws of death and chance, and pull me in with steady hands
They've given me a second chance, the artist in the ambulance

I hope that I will never let you down
I know that this can be more than just flashing lights and sound

Can we pick you off the ground, more than flashing lights and sound

Friday, May 11, 2007

Urban EMS from a Rural Provider's Viewpoint: My upcoming trip to Phoenix, Arizona

A few years ago, before I was involved in EMS, my parents sold their home in northern Vermont and retired to Arizona. They live in the greater Phoenix area, and from all reports, they love it there. Considering they come from families that have generations of roots here in Vermont, it was quite a change for them. While leaving family and grandkids back here must have been incredibly difficult, they were able to admit that the long, cold, messy winters, inflated cost of living, and sameness of it all here was enough to spend their retirement years where the could actually live a little, not just struggle to get through another winter.

Anyway, I am here in Arizona on a brief visit. The weather is warm and sunny and just about what I would design if I could have a "build-your-own-ideal-weather" genie. I hope to do a little research while here into the EMS scene. I've seen a few ambulances running around, but haven't gotten a chance to talk to anybody yet. I hope to get out an talk to a few medics today about what EMS is like here where the population of the metro area is over 4 million people!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Prom-Week Mock Crash Exercise

I mentioned in the last post that I had the opportunity to take part in a mock-crash exercise for the local high school. This was a fun project and from our perspective was another opportunity to work with others within the community. Involved besides AmCare EMS was St. Albans City PD, St. Albans City FD, and St. Albans Town Heavy Rescue. Many other individuals and organizations donated time and materials. Did we make a positive impact on our target audience? It's hard to know for sure, but the reaction seemed positive.

This was the first time I have participated in something like this. I have been involved in a couple very large scale MCI drills/trainings, but their focus was more on learning to work with multiple agencies at a large scale event. The mock-crash we did on Tuesday was not really training-based at all. The goal was to accurately simulate the look and feel of a bad car wreck involving kids, alcohol, and fatality. Knowing this going in I was unprepared to find out that it felt almost exactly like working a real call. A lot was going on and we had only choreographed this thing to a very general point. Kinda cool to see that with very little guidance, all these 1st Responders managed to work together to make it seem like the real thing.

We are up close and personal at bad wrecks as a part of our jobs. We have seen the consequences up close and personally, whereas the general public may only pass a scene on the road or read about it in the paper. I hope this event helped at least some of these young adults realize that their actions can and often do have a large impact on others.

Special thanks to Ronnie Robtoy for the photos. Ron also shot video of the event, and I hope to have time soon to create a short movie that interested readers of WayOutEMS can access from this site.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Back at Long Last

It has been way too long since I've written anything here. I guess the reason is that I've been pretty busy at work but have really had nothing worth writing about call-wise. Today is really no exception, though we were extremely busy. This is the first time I've had to sit down for more than a minute or two since my shift started at 08:00. I'm on a "24" today at AmCare, though I signed up for an extra shift tomorrow, and by the time I get off at 17:00 I will have worked a "33".

I am in another slump as far as "good" calls go, having run my ass off today, driving for all the e-calls and riding all the BLS transports. I suppose it's not that bad, though it gets frustrating when just about every crew and squad in the area ran some good ones today. Last time I griped about this I ended up running an extremely messy code. I guess I should have learned the "be careful what you ask for" lesson. Besides, just because I'm driving a call doesn't mean I am not taking part: The way my partners and I generally work, we share the assessment duties, each of us asking questions and trying to form a diagnosis, playing off of each other to better nail down a treatment plan that makes the best sense.

We did have some fun today, and perhaps made a difference. We took part in a "mock-crash" for prom week at the local high school. I'll follow up this post with more about this, along with some pics as soon as I can get a hold of them. I also have some stuff to write about an upcoming trip to Phoenix, Arizona.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Maple Fest 2007 - Part 2

The Maple Fest turned out good despite typical Maple Fest weekend weather: a steady drizzly rain and mid 50s. I have been on this "promote EMS" kick recently and was disappointed to find out that our staged ambulance was parked quite a ways from the main center of the event. My hope was that we could get a chance to talk to some people about what we do.

As it turned out on Sunday, the final day of the festival, we got to do some promotional things. There was a giant parade and we had an (off-duty)ambulance, preceded by a lot of AmCare's EMTs kids walking with an AmCare balloon-laden wagon, throwing candy to the crowd. My daughter April, who is six, had the time of her life, even though later she told me that the bad part of being in a parade is that you don't get candy!

While the crowd was waiting for the parade to start, we got an e-call and had to disrupt things temporarily to zing through town running code-3. The call turned out to be nothing (false medical alarm), but nobody there knew that, so it looked as though we were doing something other than just sitting there.

After the parade, we moved our duty ambulance much closer to the event's center, next to St. Albans City Fire Department's main truck (311). The two vehicles and crew parked together generated a lot of interest, especially from the kids. The fire truck was a big hit with parents, who took snapshots of their little-ones sitting up in the cab. Meanwhile, I gave several tours of the ambulance, and I was happy to explain to people that we are a mobile treatment center, not just a ride to the hospital. A lot of people didn't know that, and seemed pleasantly surprised to learn a little more about what we do. I also got to walk around with the crowd and talk to a lot of the local people. All in all, the 2007 Vt. Maple Festival was a good time and a success. I hope to be posting some pics here soon.