Sunday, August 16, 2009

Helping a Helper

I really like this.

Michael Morse, author of my favorite blog, Rescuing Providence, linked to this site.

Besides just being a nice thing to do for someone who clearly deserves it (I can't even begin to describe the respect I have for working Moms and Dads who manage to complete something as daunting as Paramedic school), I think the writer is addressing a real need.

With the world's credit markets still frozen like the Siberian Tundra, school loans are becoming harder and harder to come by.

A friend of mine who runs a Paramedic program told me that the company that once financed the considerable cost of an education at his school notified six members of his last class at the last minute that the money they had counted on would not be coming.

Those six are having to instead wait a few more years to attend school.

I love what's being done here, and I hope some Central Mass Medics readers might be able to help out even a little.

To steal a little more from Morse's last post, here's a link that might explain why this is worth it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Adios, redux...

I've quit EMS in The Big City.
For real this time.
I've left before, once to go to work as a flight paramedic, the other a firefighter.
Both times I remained per diem.
But not this time.
The heart can't serve two masters, or something like that, so this time I made a complete break, and barring unforseen events I will never again wear the brown uniform that has meant so much to most people who've worn it, myself included.
I am very proud to have worked here.
I think I did a good job.
I think I was a good partner, and a good clinician, but ultimately those judgments are left to the people I worked with.
I only hope they enjoyed working with me as much as I enjoyed working with them.
It wasn't an easy decision to leave, but in the end not as hard as I would have thought.
It wasn't the 20-call shifts, or the every other weekend schedule, or the banged up trucks.
Truth be told, while we complain about those things, the reality is that we wear the craptastic nature of some of our equipment like badges of honor.
Miracles have occurred in the back of beasts of burden like 611, or 68, or even in the crop of ambulances that were on their way out when I arrived, the ones with cabs so small that Gomesy drove with his knees pinned behind his ears and roofs so thin that the metal flapped like tinfoil at highway speeds.
And while five new ambulances are planned for shipment soon, there's a grim pride in tapping numbers like "264,500" into the "mileage" field of our newly-installed Mobile Data Terminals at the start of every shift.
It's kind of like when I was in the Marines and you would meet Huey pilots proud of their ships and the way they could get so much from aircraft abandoned so long ago by larger, more pampered services.
Kind of like that.
Though I'll remain forever pissed off that 2667 doesn't have arm rests...
I didn't leave because of the continuous influx of new technology, some of it balky and overly-delicate and maybe released into the wild a little before being ready for prime time.
Nor did I leave because of that new EMD dispatching system -- designed for a completely different model of EMS delivery than the one we use in The Big City -- that sends first responders careening through the city for urinary tract infections because some card tells the dispatchers to make it so, or that sends us and a fire engine and some police officers, Priority 1, EVERY NIGHT, for the same guy who calls at the same time from the same steet corner complaining of "assmar," when all he really wants is a sandwich and some sleep in a comfy hospital bed.
It was none of those things.
Technology improves.
No EMS system is perfect.
Frequent fliers are a bane everywhere.
It wasn't the lousy press we've gotten lately, notably from Tom Caywood at the Telegram, who's more stenographer than reporter, and who has seen fit to ruin the reputations of six medics since April without ever contacting any of the targets of his "investigations," even once, for comment.
Tom, I don't think you can ethically accuse six people of the horrible things you accused them of, name them publically and prominently on Page 1 of the most-read edition of New England's largest metro daily newspaper outside of Boston, and not have the decency to EVEN ATTEMPT to contact ANY of them.
Not once.
Nothing. telephone)....silence.....
The medics you've maligned didn't deserve any of what you've brought upon them.
The press is becoming something we all need to fear, I think.
I was once a newspaper reporter.
I still have friends in the business, and the business is dying.
One of the consequences is that newspapers are too busy trying to stay afloat to pay much attention to the stories their reporters are turning in.
And if those reporters decide to forgo fully reporting their stories in order to make a quick hit before splitting town for, say, a weekend blues festival, then that flies in today's media, the innocent be damned.
This is a dangerous time for journalism, and I had a front-row seat to just how bad things are.
But bad press had nothing to do with it, either.
No, the main reason I'm leaving is to spend more time with my family.
It's that simple.
But I find that the simplest things in life are the most important.
I wish the best for my now-former colleagues, and I hope if you're reading this you'll take a moment some day in The Big City, when you see those folks in brown working yet another shift on some of the busiest ambulances in America, to let them know they're appreciated.
Almost no one ever does, but I bet it would go a long way.

As for this blog, I intend to get it going again.
I had refrained from posting over the last few months during the furor of which I spoke earlier.
It just seemed best to keep on the sidelines.
Also, though, a colleague of mine who writes one of the most entertaining area blogs -- Wormtown Medic -- had gotten some grief from management for his unabashedly honest analysis of various local EMS issues.
It was the first period in my life where I caved in to what amounts to prior censorship.
I'm not proud of that fact.
It won't happen again.