Category Archives: Administrative

Celebrating the Voices

I hear voices.

At least I used to hear voices, before I took this desk job at Headquarters, but before that, in the field, I heard voices.

The voices woke me from my sleep and interrupted meals more often than not and always seemed to know someone was ill or injured.  Most of the time anyway.

For all my griping about MPDS, dispatchers and call takers, they still show up everyday to do a job I would fake a seizure to not have to do.

They take the confused, rambling mumblings of someone, code it, send it and away I go to deal with the problem.  So what if it’s not always what they say it is, all they’re doing is telling us what someone told them.

And many times, after listening to some of these calls for QA purposes, “told” isn’t exactly the right word.

A man is shouting to please hurry! please hurry! but won’t say why or what is wrong.  He simply says please hurry.

The woman holding the lifeless baby can’t get a word through her screaming but the voice still tries to talk her through CPR.

The whispers of the young boy hiding in the closet while someone assaults his older brother in another room are barely discernible because the call taker next to them is dealing with the screaming mother from before.

The voices belong to a group of folks who aim to bring a few moments of sanity to an insane world, and all over the phone and the radio.

Call them dispatchers, broadcasters, call takers, whatever, they still always answer the phone and will always answer the radio when you need them to.

So call up your local dispatch center and see if they have an event planned.  If not, step up and put something together.

Now at Uniform Stories

Your pal Happy is proud to be included as a guest blogger over at Uniform Stories.

Uniform Stories allows you to upload a video about your experiences in uniform, no matter the type, and you know I’ll tell you that is a powerful medium.

Head on over and take a look at the site and watch a few videos and I invite you to upload your own.

If your uniform could tell 1 story, what would it be?

See you there.

Suicide: Know when to ask for help

Pussy.  Wimp.  Lightweight.

 

All things you think people will call you when you ask for help.

They went to the same call you did, they’re fine.  They’re not.

They went through a divorce just like you did and they’re fine.  They’re not.

I failed and they didn’t because they’re better than me.  They’re not.

 

“They” are going through the exact same mental roller coaster you are.  I’ve been there to a certain extent.  When I got hurt I went through every emotion I’ve ever known from thrilling excitement getting back on the Engine to crushing depression that I was one call away from being killed in a fire.  I’ve been confused, conflicted, felt like screaming.  Screamed (it helps) and even cried like a baby.

Dealing with depression can be hard, is hard, will be hard.  Regardless of what people want to tell you, things aren’t always going to be better.  One day you’ll look back on today and be willing to swap feelings for anything.  The trick is going to be what you do about it today.

 

No one controls you but you.  The feelings you feel, the things you think, the situations you run out over and over and over in your head until they get so loud it feels like they’re going to come bursting out of your forehead will only get worse unless you let them out.  Only you have the power to release them.

Start a journal, write your feelings on a single piece of paper.  Get out all the negativity, anger, hate and everything else Yoda warns us about the dark side and look at it.  It’s outside your head and nothing is wrong with that.  Now destroy it.  Destroy all the hurt.  It feels good.  Then take a deep breath and feel the emptiness the hate has left.

 

What will you do with it?

This is the part no one tells you about PTSD, that you can address and overcome your fears rather easily, but even scarier is what might take their place.  If your thoughts were that dark before, what will happen now?  Now there is room for worse!

And for better.

Some fill that void with faith, companionship, adventure, music or art.

Others fill the void with solitude, smoke and the bottle.

 

What you do with the space you make is up to you, but I can tell you from experience that looking for a new challenge every day will lead you to places your old self never imagined.

Some departments offer Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) but others do not.  It is important to have an understanding of what to expect from your healing process.

I did a brief series on CISD using the band OKGO:

Part I   Part II  Part III  Part IV  Part V

The hardest part is knowing when to ask for help and realizing that anyone and everyone that tells you some bullshit line about having to have thick skin in this business is falling apart inside just like you and may actually want YOU to help THEM, but they’re afraid to ask.

They’re afraid you’ll call them a pussy or wimp or lightweight, laugh at their sorrow because they can’t take it while you’re fine.

Asking for help early can break the cycle of depression not only for you, but for your coworkers, friends and family.

 

I don’t understand suicide and I never will.  It’s a coward’s move and no one can convince me otherwise.  Besides, why not ask for help and avoid the whole mess to begin with?

There are a number of ways to find help, one of which is by following the Code Green Campaign on Facebook.  Click the green star and follow, talk, heal.

Open, Pending

As the default Risk Management guy for my agency (until the new gig kicks in that is) I get routed all manner of citizen complaint that has anything to do with the Ambulances.

As a result I often have the opportunity to do some public relations work right there on the phone.

Did the mean Paramedics stab you with a needle?  Let me just take a look at your chart here…oh.  It says here you’re a known diabetic and had a blood sugar of 21.  Yes, Sir.  Yes I understand you have trouble remembering to take you medicine.  Yes I do think they should have woken you up first before stabbing you with the needle.  But here’s the thing…

Problem solved.

Most complaints seem to come in about 2-4 weeks following the date of service.

Our billing turn around is about 2-4 weeks.

Total coincidence I’m sure, but every now and again I get a phone call that brightens my day.  Often it has to do with someone most certainly under the influence of a central nervous system depressant and their attempt to recover said intoxicant from the Paramedics that took it.

Take Eddie Dean(Not his real name, but think of Eddie from the Dark Tower series).  Eddie called me doing his best Tommy Chong impression, right down to forgetting to answer some of my questions until after I ask “are you still there Eddie?” “Wha?”

Boils down to this:  Eddie is refusing to pay the ambulance bill because the Paramedics stole his marijuana.  Tough part on this one is that Eddie seriously needed some aggressive ALS care a few weeks back and I’ve got a gold star chart to prove it.  He mixed up a few prescriptions for a few diagnosed ailments and…BAM…altered, parastesias, the whole 9.  Most complaints revolve around fizzled attempts at a Lawsuit Chart, which still has to be paid prior to their surely losing case being heard.

Eddie is worried the Paramedics thought he was high at the time, which he claims he was not and I believe him…until he starts to try to explain how high he is right now.  While on the phone with me.  “Like…like right now, I’m able to smoke some and feel good, but I didn’t smoke a lot that night.”

He swears his girlfriend can corroborate that the Paramedics took his weed so I ask for her number to call her.  Eddie didn’t think that all the way through and is asking that I not call her right away, that he needs to call her first to tell her what to say.

Smooth move, Eddie.

On the answering machine at my office is a message that ends with “If this is a pressing clinical matter, please call (my cell phone number).”

Eddie left me three messages yesterday (Saturday) moderately sober and begging me to call him immediately so I can talk to his girlfriend who “can tell you more about what happened because I talked to her already.”

So now I get to hang onto an open file about how while in the midst of a code 3 scene time of less than 11 minutes  at an 8th floor apartment, my crew somehow had time to grab a few little green bags.

Marked:Open, Pending

 

Overheard in the CQI Office

*Department issued cell phone ringing with hip electronic themed tone*

HM (Our hero): “Good afternoon, EMS CQI, Captain Schorr”

SM (Southern Ma’am-Caller with an almost comical southern accent): “This is Janine from General Freight we have a driver trying to deliver and your gates are locked. Can you send someone to the North Field gates?”

HM: “I’m sorry, I think you have the wrong number.  Who are you trying to reach?”

SM: “Sweetie, I doubt it, just get someone out to the gate for me…m’kay?”

HM: “Ma’am you called the San Francisco Fire Department.  Is your driver in San Francisco?”

SM: “Sweetie if he is he sure is lost.  How ’bout you just get someone out to the north gate and let us in OK?”

HM: “I believe someone gave you the wrong number Ma’am, I’m in a little office in San Francisco.  Can you read the number back to me?”

SM: “I need to speak to your supervisor unless you get someone to…oh…oh my…sorrybye”*click

Yup…never a dull moment in CQI.

 

SCHORR0-R6-037-17

Comments on ‘a flickering flame’ by Captain Chair Confessions OR How to confine burnout to the area of origin

Fellow EMS Blogger Captain Chair Confessions (CCC) has a post up that will likely sound familiar to anyone who has spent more than 10 days in EMS.

CCC is experiencing the first smoldering effects of burn out.

The reason CCC is going to recover and grow from this experience is their ability to come out and talk about it.  Granted, it’s more of a 1 way conversation considering the way the interwebs works, but it’s enough.

Simply recognizing something is happening is the first sign of recovery believe it or not.

I know CCC is feeling more than they are writing, and that’s OK, because everything will come out in the end.  Every emotion, every angry thought hidden by a forced smile with teeth clenched on a transport everyone knows is unnecessary, everything will see the light of day.

That flickering flame CCC is feeling is easy to ignore and is often missed because of pride.  Misplaced pride, but pride just the same.  We tell ourselves that we need to toughen up, grin and bear it, grow a pair or some other lie we tell ourselves and ignore the growing flickering flame.

Worst part is, at this small stage the flame is easy to extinguish.  Even the softest of breezes causes it to waver.  Believe it or not, simply saying your frustrations out loud can be enough to knock down the tiny flame.  Of course the fuel still remains and needs to be dealt with, but try taking a candle apart while it’s burning and you’re going to get hurt, spread a fire and be in worse condition than you are now.

The amount of fuel in EMS is staggering and I’ve seen shovels on both sides adding more.  Admin needs more transports to meet payroll, response times need to be faster, posting moves aren’t efficient enough…you know the complaints.  At the same time patients are getting less and less emergent and are calling more often looking for the quick service we’ve spent 40 years convincing them they needed.

Somewhere between a missed lunch and an angry call from the QI Captain you run a call like the one CCC had and the flame is back, flickering away in the back of your mind, ready to grow unchecked as soon as it can.

Don’t ignore that flickering, fluttering light.  Talk to someone, anyone, write a letter and throw it away, get the frustration out of your system.  Ever heard of screaming?  Go for it.  Find a local supermarket and ask them if you can borrow their walk in fridge for a minute.  Shut the door and scream.  Go ahead, I speak from experience when I tell you that the sky is a little brighter when you emerge.

From there attack the problem.  Get involved, get active and if things can’t change, then you have to.  Staying in a broken system that refuses to change isn’t healthy for you or your patients.  Move.

Again, from experience, it helps.  I got up, got out and landed somewhere where I eventually, just this last week, had a chance to rewrite our C-spine precautions policy.  And it might just pass.

It took a long time to get where I am, but the flickering flame I spotted when I got hurt was doused when I first stepped into this little room on the internet and began to scream.

And CCC is doing the same thing.

Keep strong Brother (or Sister)!

 

If you feel that flickering of burn out and want to vent, drop me an email, I’ll read it, or not, whatever, just talk to someone, anyone.

You’ll be glad you did.

@KYECOMMUTENBC

Proper use of Long Spine Board pre-hospital

Friend of the blog Nick Williams sent a photo to me about Monday’s commuter train derailment in Chicago that left over 30 injured.  It was upon closer inspection of the photo by KyeCommuteNBC that I almost spit beer onto the screen tonight.

Take a look at this photo for proof that long spine boards are an important tool in the pre-hospital setting.

 

@KYECOMMUTENBC

@KYECOMMUTENBC

Without that long board, someone could have been injured…

All Stop! Quick Quiet!

It’s been a while since I took one of those famous blogger breaks and considering the time between posts these days you may not have noticed me stepping away from the keyboard for a bit, but I need to do so for a little while. I’ll leave it vaguely there.

-HM

5 years? Yup, 5 years

Happy Birthday to this black hole of time and space called “the blog.”

Were you to go back to August 31 2008 and see the look of brief relief I felt putting up that first post you’d understand why i keep it going, in lean times and in leaner times.

The last year of the ol’ HMHQ has been pretty quiet but me and my Brother from another Mother Motorcop and I have been busy with Kilted to Kick Caner and our Crossover Show.

 

So thanks for coming by again and hope you see you here next year!

 

-HM

1,000

This is my 1,000th post here on what I now call HMHQ.  One fracking thousand.  Gorram, that’s a lot.

I have been putting a lot of thought into what this forum means to me and even considered shutting it down or at least no longer adding to it.

 

This therapy experiment worked.  I was able to overcome the PTSD I was experiencing and the little blog took on a life of it’s own.  Many a night was spent ignoring my young family and fussing over every little pixel and post, word and emotion, trying to get out on the keyboard all the frustration I was feeling.  I’m not sure how it looks or feels on that side, but it worked great on this side.

 

Since getting my new gig here at work I’ve realized that what I used to post about just isn’t me anymore.  It feels forced to try to put up a post that fits with what I’ve done in the past.  Gone are the days of the funny calls, silly patients and unbelievable dispatcher antics.  Here are the days of data analysis, chart reading and the occasional day in the field to remind me what this is all about.

 

My initial intention was to make post #1000 my last, I even told Motorcop I was going to convert the homepage and just walk away.  A large part of me still thinks that is the best idea.

However, not being one to go with the flow, I’ve decided to give this forum a rebirth of sorts.

August 31st 2013 is Happy Medic’s 5th birthday.  But he’s just that logo up in the corner.  What used to consume my life is now just a part of it.

But this site was never really his and his alone, it’s mine too and I have hobbies and interests that extend past trying to make my day job better.  At some point I came to realize that work is one thing that I do to make home better.

In recent months the Mrs and I have gotten serious about our finances (mostly inspired by GPS Financial Coaching), my eldest is getting way more fun to talk to and the younger one’s personality is beginning to show through the tantrums and crying.  Kind of.

This forum needs to spread it’s base for me to once again blow off some steam and get some things out onto the virtual paper so they don’t drive me insane.  Not that being insane is a bad thing, it’s just a touch inconvenient at the present juncture.

In the weeks ahead the blog is going to split into three main categories.  Don’t worry, all the posts you’ve seen will still be here, but will be organized slightly different.

I’m splitting the blog into “Fire/EMS” “Home Brew” and “Life” to accommodate my new interests while keeping the old ones close.  You can choose to read only 1 or all three together depending on whether or not you like the new topics.  I figured this way when I talk about brewing or the family and all you want is EMS, you don’t need to see it and vice-a-versa.

 

So please excuse the virtual dust as I eek out a few minutes here and there to fiddle with the layout, categories and the like.  There is no set date on this project, just something I’ve been putting off.

 

A special thank you to all of you who participated in the Happy Medic and helped me overcome a rough spot, then inspired me to do better.

Thank You!

-Justin “HM” Schorr