Memories of the first 200


Since this project began a little less than a year ago as emsfun blog, I’ve annoyed you with 200 posts about my life and career. My original intention was to simply scream into this empty room as therapy, but then people started to stop by and listen so I started to wander into their rooms and listen to them scream. And now it’s an obsession.

On the way we’ve had over 12,000 hits between the 2 sites and since separating from emsfun and flying solo as the Happy Medic, we’ll be passing 10,000 any hour now.

I wanted to share some memories that stand out in my career as a firefighter, memories I’m sure we all share in a different way. Since I can’t yet tell you who I really am (That day is approaching, I assure you) I’ll tell you what made me who I am.

  • I remember walking into the apparatus room at my first Fire Explorers meeting the day before my 16th birthday. It was ladder drill night and I watched in amazement as my peers were doing the things that until that moment I thought only guys like my dad could do. The next week dad took me to the supply depot so I could get my turnouts, helmet and gloves. Happy Birthday to me.

  • As an explorer, riding along with an ALS engine, I saw my first recusitation effort. The firemen worked seamlessly with the ambulance crew and I thought everything went well. When we arrived at the hospital to retrieve our medic I learned the man had died. The firefighter walked me in to the room where they had recently ceased efforts and I remember standing there wondering why none of the things we did worked. That was the first of many lifeless bodies I would encounter. Right then I realized that sometimes you can run everything right but the patient just doesn’t cooperate.

  • My first night in the fire station as a paid firefighter was supposed to be quiet. In a rural part of a rural state there were 3 of us. One EMT, one Paramedic and me, the firefighter. I was driving the 1974 10 speed double clutch 1000 gallon tender. A call came out for a major MVA on the highway. I sprang out of bed and ran to the tender, started it up and was away in a flash. That old tender moved so slow that the ambulance crew passed me on the freeway and I eventually just turned the lights and siren off. By the time I arrived they had packaged and transported.

  • First day with my shiny new Paramedic license and the morning brings my first recusitation as lead. After 30 minutes of CPR (old 15-2 CPR) and all our meds I was on the phone to the hospital for permission to stop. As the Doctor was reading me the time of death I heard behind me, “He’s back! We got him back! I have pulses!” The Doctor said, “You have what?” I responded we would see him in 20 minutes, we were transporting. I still have that rhythm strip in my little folder in the desk. He lived; walked out a few weeks later. That’s the run I think about when things seem to be going bad.

  • After taking multiple entrance exams around the country I was back sulking at my old job, assuming I had missed the list at my first choice. The wife and I had been checking the answering machine at home every 30 minutes for weeks hoping for word that I got the job. Nothing. One quiet day at Engine 5 the phone rang. My probie (Now their Chief of EMS, why didn’t I stay?) answered the phone and said it was for me. When I said hello I was met by a strange scratchy voice as if someone was holding the phone up…to…an answering machine. “You have been selected for our next academy class, please call me back when you get a chance if you still want the job.” I hung up, called my boss and called off sick. How could I be expected to work at a time like that?

Two years after that phone call I was standing in a busy County ER triage line with a patient I had transported twice that same day, one of our regulars. I was whistling a tune when the nurse asked, “Why are you so happy?” And the Happy Medic was born.

Stay safe out there,

HM

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