Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Taking Naps

What do you do on slow days?

The company I work for has been experiencing a lot of them lately. I know that some of you may be jealous, and I would like to offer my personal apologies to you, but the rest of us are starting to get stir-crazy.

I'll admit that I'm a fan of naps after my station duties have been taken care of. Even with those few moments of shut-eye, I still get those moments where I just want to do something. The problem is, I'm sometimes too lazy to do something useful and sometimes feel to guilty to do something personally productive. TV usually wins the battle.

I am starting to rethink this though. Every time the idea pops up, I think of Greg Friese at Everyday EMS Tips and his article on dealing with EMS down time. In the article, Greg suggests the following ideas to beat boredom:

1. Read a professional (EMS) magazine.
2. Get some exercise.
3. Go above and beyond with station duties.
4. Read blog posts from your favorite EMT and Paramedic bloggers.
5. Listen to an EMS Podcast.
6. Complete a continuing education lesson (online).
7. Write a post for your own blog.
8. Write and submit an article to a professional magazine
9. Participate in an EMS Social Network.
10. Learn about EMS in other places

All of these suggestions are awesome. I won't lie that I've done quite a few of them myself. I thought that I might add a five of my own to the list, partially because new ideas are always helpful and also because some of us are stuck out on the road without a station nearby to post at. So here we are:

11. Detail your truck. Even when I used to work for a private service that kept me posted out on the road, I would keep a few basic cleaning supplies in one of the truck compartments. You'll be amazed at how far a little degreaser, window cleaner, and leather protector can take you. Shine the wheels, climb up and scrub the bugs off those hard-to-reach places on the top of the truck, get the dash looking pretty, and be able to take pride in your rig!

12. Write in a journal. If you don't have access to the internet or the station computer is just backed up, trying pulling out a notebook and jotting away. Maybe you'll write the draft for your next big EMS blog post, or just talk about how your day is going. If you have kids or will later on, they'll love to know what your day-to-day life was like. The best part about journaling is that it is stress-relieving. (Just try to keep your haikus to yourself!)

13. Get involved in your community. With a supervisor's permission, stop by public places and say hello. Having good public relations with your local hospital and schools can take you a long way. If that isn't an option, try posting your truck at a local park or somewhere that the public sees they can approach you if they need help. Be friendly and get out there!

14. Get familiar with your truck. Have you got a new stair chair or one of those fancy auto-CPR devices but haven't had an "opportunity" to use it yet? Get it out and learn yourself on it. It keeps you fresh in your skills and knowlege and keeps the public from doubting you when you need it the most. It looks good when we don't fumble with our equipment.

15. Get to know your partner. Having a good working relationship with your partner is a good foundation for having smooth EMS runs. Getting to know a little about the person that sits next to your for 12+ hours a day will help you to know what to expect from them when your working a code later on without time to chat. You build that certain flow that you see from the old-timers that have been doing this stuff together since the dawn of time. You don't have to be their best friend, but it would be good to make sure they trust you.

Hopefully, these ideas will help you the next time you wake up from a nap and run out of things to do. As for me, I think I've inspired myself to get out of this chair and go clean something!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

EMS for the Cure

After seeing all the pink flying around the EMS Bloggosphere, I got to thinking about everything being said and done for Breast Cancer month. I realized two things; I don't know more than one person with breast cancer (patients aside), and I have never spoke or done much about the subject.

The only person I have ever known to have breast cancer was my friend Sam's mom. I know the woman pretty well, as I have sat and talked with her on many occasions while visiting my friend. She has always been a strong and intelligent woman, and cared more for other people often more than she cared for herself. When she found out over two and a half years ago that she had breast cancer, it came as a shock to everyone. Sam and his brother were devastated, her husband seemed lost, and her friends and family were left speechless. We never expected it to happen to a person like her. In the middle of it all, there she was acting like it was no big deal. She was being strong for her family, like they were the ones with the illness.

That is the way I understand it to have happened to everyone. Nobody sees this coming. Nobody can be ready for it and nobody knows how to properly cope with it. We can't blame this on anyone, because there is no person at fault for their actions when it comes to a situation like this.

Things are different now for Sam's family. His mom is a breast cancer survivor. For the moment, the cancer is in remission and she is regaining her strength more and more each day. She was able to make it to Sam's wedding when nobody thought she would be able to get out of bed. She was able to talk her husband out of his suicidal thoughts when he thought he would lose her. She is able to do so much that other people said she wouldn't be, because of her incredible strength.

I think of my own strengths, and I realize that they are nothing compared to hers. They are nothing compared to any breast cancer survivor or survivors of any other cancers. But their strength alone is not going to see them through one of the most trying times of their lives. That's where we come in.

If you've noticed, I've went pink too for the month of October. Like many other EMS bloggers, tweeters, and podcasters I plan to help raise money for the Susan G. Komen Passionately Pink for the Cure®, through EMS For The Cure. Their goal is to raise money from now until October 15th to treat, educate, and eventually cure breast cancer. This team was started by Epijunky in her blog post Passionate For Pink. The idea was forwarded to The Happy Medic and he ran with it. Here is a public service announcement he made over at Chronicles of EMS. Enjoy:

EMS for the Cure - Challenge from Thaddeus Setla on Vimeo.

So what can you do? What can we all do?

To start, make a donation to the team. I will be later this week on behalf of my family and myself, in honor of our friend Sam and his mother.

If you're an EMS blogger too, or you just want to help the Breast Cancer cause, why not go pink yourself this month? You'll find all the resources you need over at the Chronicles of EMS PSA.

-- Browncoat EMT

Sunday, September 5, 2010

EMS 2.0 - What is the next step?

Unless you're new to reading EMS blogs, you've probably heard of EMS 2.0 by now. A phrase first coined by The Happy Medic, it has taken off like a wildfire. If you are new to the concept, here is a basic run-down from fellow blogger, CKEMPT at his site Life Under the Lights:

EMS 2.0 is a concept that’s time has come. The Emergency Medical Services is on the cusp of fantastic change.

What we call EMS 2.0 is the brainchild of Happy Medic, but it is the product of every EMT and Paramedic that has ever looked at what we do and thought of how we could do it better. Through the brainpower of the readers and writers in the EMS Blogosphere we’ve grown the idea into something powerful. Maybe even revolutionary. EMS 2.0 is the maturation of the Emergency Medical Services. It is the growth of the industry out of the adolescent trade phase and into a grown-up profession.

EMS 2.0 is spreading like wildfire. In a few short months, the idea is hitting the blogosphere like a freight train. It is not the paternalistic style of “change” in EMS that is usually crammed down our throats by outside influences, rather it is the ideas, thoughts, feelings, and yearnings of the EMS professionals themselves that is driving the movement. And yes, it is a movement. “Grassroots” would be a way to describe this… So would “Revolution”.

Join us. I’ve been writing on this a lot since I started my humble, little blog. I think that I’ve helped to kick start this movement… but I don’t own it, we all do.

I couldn't agree more. People like CKEMTP, Happy Medic, Rescue Monkey, Greg Friese, Rogue Medic, and many others have been pounding the pavement in every way they can to advance EMS and in many way, promote the values of EMS 2.0, but it seems the movement has taken somewhat of a back-burner.

This time a year ago, EMS 2.0 used to have a headquarters, as it were. Any person looking to discuss the industry and what it could be simply had to go to www.ems2.org, but I wouldn't suggest trying to follow that link now, because it no longer leads to anything.

Which is exactly my point. Where is it all going? I have noticed that several of the #fireemsblogs have links on their sites for EMS 2.0, and the content provided at those links is invaluable, but they are missing something. They are missing the bonding element.

I am here today to ask one thing: Is EMS 2.0 that important to us? Does it not deserve it's own home? Hasn't it become something powerful enough that we should gather to it, instead of bringing it to ourselves? We have been kind to it, enough so that we have all tried to provide a couch for it to sleep on in our blogs, but maybe it's time we all grouped together to take the next step.

What is the next step?

Thursday, September 2, 2010


I don't know how many of us do this or take notice of this, but EMS workers seem to have the worst eating habits possible.

Any time I clock-in to work a shift these days, I prepare myself for the worst (the worst food possible for my body). If it doesn't involve grease, sugar, and carbs in earth-shattering quantities, it probably won't be on my plate. Hamburgers, fried chicken, french fries, and soft drinks are the mainstays of my diet. Salads and any other foods that don't involve a deep-fryer have no place in the immediate future of my shift. Whatever does happen to land in my lap won't be there long anyway.

It's like we're in a unspoken competition with ourselves and each other to see who can devour our meals the quickest. It is true that we can be on a tight schedule where we are only allotted a few minutes to get our lunch or dinner in, but most of the time we end up sitting around the table with indigestion and tightly-buttoned shirts.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Our eating habits are borderline self-abuse. The more and more I think about it; I find it ironic that the people who sign up to protect the health of others seem to do the least to protect themselves.

Maybe the continuing education classes that we take should be a little more extensive in our personal well-being than just safe lifting techniques. It is entirely possible that we may just need to educate ourselves of the risks our eating habits pose to us. We might be able to take a note out of our brothers in the fire service on their exercise requirements. Perhaps a higher-calorie diet would be permissable if we are doing more to burn those calories in our daily grind.

What are your thoughts on the current EMS diet? Are you currently in a service that has implemented a plan to fight the obesity epidemic occuring within our own stations? How would you personally take charge of this situation?

Your ideas are always welcome!


Friday, June 4, 2010

From the dusty trails...

Soul searching has always been something that is both wonderful and painful to me. Wonderful because I realize all the things that I could accomplish in this life, and painful because of all the things I realize that I won't. Dreams are a horrible thing to bury.

These past few months, I've been like a ship with no rudder. Just going wherever the wind takes me. After a while though, I realized that I may never sail to a friendly shore this way.

School is the only way to get on track. I just can't decide what I want to be schooled in. Somewhere in the medical field is obvious, but after that, who knows? Unfortunately, emergency medical services doesn't put enough food on the table for a family in this economy.

It seems I need to find a harmony between wants and needs. I want to work in something where I'm happy. I need to work in something that I make a good salary.