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!




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

Official Fire Service Ice Cream Rule

To finally dispel the myths, rumors and falsehoods regarding the Fire Service Ice Cream Rule (AKA Steaks, Cigars, etc) I offer the following definitive ruling on the matter:

Official Fire Service Ice Cream Rule:

1.  Purpose

To establish when a Member of a Company owes Ice Cream to the other members of said company.

2.  Scope

This rule applies to all Fire Service personnel, both paid, paid call and volunteer regardless of rank, station or assignment.

3.  Definitions

Company – A unit or similar single resource.  This can be defined as an Engine Company, Station House or Volunteer Post.

Member – Any person in official capacity at the time of the incident in question.

Ice Cream – While an abomination in the eyes of the Lord your God, something with a crap load of ingredients.

4.  Enough with the bullet points!  Onto the rule!

Ice Cream is owed only if a member of a company is portrayed in the media, be it television, print, online or otherwise (social media not affiliated with a media outlet excluded (see rule 8))  portrays the member in activities not associated with the assignment they are recorded at.  Being filmed fighting fire, cutting a car, rendering aid or performing regular assigned tasks on the scene of an emergency response DOES NOT entitle the members of the company to ice cream from the member involved. Also, for rules on double parenthesis, see rule 9.

5.  Who gets Ice Cream

Only other Members of the offending Member’s Company are required to be appeased with the cold Ice Cream goodness.  Depending on Agency or Department, this may include all units assigned to a house or all shifts on that unit.  It DOES NOT apply to other Companies, units, houses or personnel who wander in to mention being “owed” Ice Cream.

6.  Who doesn’t get Ice Cream

Officers above the rank of front line supervisor (Lieutenant/Captain/Sergeant) unless they were at the scene and may have to answer to the activities of the member caught not performing duties relevant to the scene in question.  All other houses, members and companies not assigned to the offending Member’s HOME Company.

7.  Oh yeah, that reminds me, HOME Company

Ice Cream is only owed to a Member’s HOME Company, not the Company where they were assigned when said incident took place.

8.  Social Media not involving media outlet

That doesn’t get Ice Cream but instead a pat on the head for the person trying, because that wreaks of desperation.

9.  Multiple Parenthesis

Nah, looks weird…or like math, which is WAY worse.


Why can’t the waitress bring me my food?

I can not wrap my head around what is happening in restaurants these days.


We are seated by the hostess and she makes sure we have our menus and place settings.  Well, at least she’s supposed to.

Then an either overly friendly or clearly distracted waiter will come over and offer us an appetizer and to get us started with drinks.  OK, sure, I’ll have a water.  And have you ever introduced yourself back when they tell you their name?  It’s like they’re confused.

Then the server gets deflated thinking I’m only drinking water when in reality I’m ordering it now because if I ask for a water AND a beer, they’ll forget the water all together.


We finally order and are awaiting the food.  No surprise there.  If the food comes out too fast you have to wonder, right?


Then the oddest thing happens.

Someone, not our waitress, brings out the food.

Not only do they have no idea who ordered what, but it’s never how we ordered it.  Why? Because if the waitress had picked it up she would have noticed the salad never made it out, that the wrong kind of meat is in the tacos and that the sauce with the chicken only rhymes with what I asked for, specifically.

“But your food gets out quicker this way.”

No, I never got MY food, I got what they brought, but it was wrong.

Then as soon as it hits the table the waitress magically appears asking if we got everything OK.

No, no we didn’t, where were you?

Why does any Tom, Dick or Harry wandering past the pass think it’s OK to grab my order and bring it out?  If there’s a mistake that is where you want to find it, not when Johnny the under waiter brings me the tray and has to ask about each and every dish.  Sally is serving Table 5, let Sally check on the food.

Each and every argument for the speed or so called efficiency of this system is countered by the fact that your speed is costing quality.

And it’s not just where I ate tonight, but most establishments today.  Waiting for food that is as ordered is OK, rushing me something close and thinking I won’t notice is no way to run a service based industry.  If the servers need help, let the under waiters handle all the drinks and refilling the waters and all the crap that seems to be “bothering” the waitress and distracting her from making sure the orders come out as…well…ordered.

And another thing, while I’m at it, waitresses, please look at the table you’re about to talk to and gauge if it’s the right time to ask if everything is OK.  I once ate at a restaurant where the waiter seemed to be just out of visual range…ALL THE TIME.  As soon as the water was low, he happened to be nearby with the pitcher.  Never once asked how we were or how the food was.  He just knew that since we were there and he was there that if we had something to say we’d say it.

I never waited tables and I’m not ragging on the waitresses, I’m asking this to the managers.  The ones who sometimes bring out said food or are idle in the corner in their tie staring out into the dining room.  The ones who awkwardly go from table to table every hour asking the same lame question: “Everything good here?”

For the third time and while I’m wrangling a kid with my mouth full of food, “mmmphmmdp”

And he’s gone.


Half an Icon has Passed

Brown TwinsYou’ve seen them.

If you live in the City, you’ve seen them more than once.

Dressed to the nines, hair perfectly coiffed and makeup perfect,  their outfits always matching, Vivian and Marian Brown are San Francisco legends.  You will see them sitting having a coffee in Nob Hill or wandering Union Square.  I even met them in my line of work and Vivian was the first one to tell you she was older and always will be.

They did everything together.

As girls in Michigan they always dressed alike.  They were co-valedictorians, they both moved to San Francisco in 1970 and got work as secretaries.

Their style made them a bit of a tourist attraction.

After a fall last year the City banded together to raise money to keep them together during this hard time.

I’m not sure what we’ll do now.

Vivian Brown died yesterday.

Half an icon remains.  For the first time I know of, they did something separately.


Goodbye Vivian Brown, the City will miss you.

Ambulance Facility Must Haves

Many an article looks at ambulance design, Paramedic training, policies and protocols but I’ve been wrestling with a different kind of barrier to quality: The Fleet Yard.


More specifically, I was wondering what your must have list is for an ambulance deployment center.


Is it indoors, well lit, vending machines, training on site, locker rooms, showers, supply techs, drive through ambulance wash…

Here’s my must haves if I could build a brand new facility:

  • Drive through restocking and shift change
  • Onsite mechanical repair
  • Onsite scheduling, CQI and training
  • Indoor secured fleet and employee parking
  • Vehicle Service Techs for restocking
  • In-unit mobile data gateway repair (after I get them installed that is)
  • Crew lounge
  • Locker rooms with full showers
  • Gym

Let me know what your must haves are, maybe you’re thinking of something I’m not.


I got mental health counseling, I wasn’t crazy

Three is a stigma in America that if you seek out someone to talk to about your mental health you are crazy, not normal, weird, not to be trusted, ill.

That can’t be any farther from the truth.

Case in point: Me.


Years ago I thought I had something wrong with me.  I’ve spoken briefly about my OCD issues in this forum and kept it light hearted.  In the wake of recent events I feet it necessary to mention that seeking out psychotherapy isn’t a bad thing.  It’s actually a sign that someone is willing to deal with what they think are their demons.

Think keeping your feelings inside is manly?  “Suck it up pussy!” Yeah, good luck with that.  The absolute worst thing you can do is shut down and ignore your mind’s reaction to events.

Even worse, I learned, is when your mind draws a correlation you’re not aware of and to deal with it suddenly must adjust other elements of your life.

That is the basis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  It’s funny to see it depicted in movies as a desire to triple check that a light is off or the washing of hands for seemingly no reason, but the subtlety of the illness can almost literally drive you mad.

Have you ever seen a picture on a wall that is not level?  Have you ever wanted to fix it?  Not in your house, but someone else’s house?  Or an office? Or even on TV?  Seems silly, right?  Now imagine you not only want to fix it…you HAVE TO.  It has to be fixed and if you can’t fix it it sticks in your mind for days or weeks.

Have you noticed the rings of water left behind by your water glass at a restaurant?  I sure did.  So much so that I had to place my glass back directly on top of the same ring every time.  HAD TO.  I didn’t want to, but if I didn’t I had to fix it and if someone else wasn’t doing it I noticed and it bothered me.

Once at a restaurant my OCD noticed that the little sugar packet holder was not in the center of the table.  I subtly (or so I thought) adjusted it and a friend put it back with a smile on his face.  Then I put it back and he moved it off center again.  I was immediately angry.  For nothing at all, and yet because it HAD to be in the center of the table, just HAD to.

The worst part was that I had no idea WHY I felt this way and it led to frustration, stress, even to anger some days.

I finally reached out for help.  I was lucky that my union bargains to ensure I have access to mental health care.

I didn’t know what to expect. Doctor’s in white coats with orderlies in high collared white jackets who run through the halls but suddenly walk calmly when they find me?  Am I going to be medicated?  What can they possibly do to fix me?


Turns out all we did was talk.


I met with a psychotherapist once a week and all we did for an hour was talk.  She had hot water and I was encouraged to bring tea to sip. Her office was comfortable with table lamps, couches and chairs and I could sit, lay down, stand, whatever I liked.  We talked about anything and everything from favorite TV shows, music, family, life, and only on a few occasions did we discuss my need to rearrange the magazines in the hallway outside her office.  Although I suspect she misarranged them just prior to my arrival to gauge my progress.

Over weeks we finally reached an odd correlation between an event in my past and the onset of my symptoms.  My mind had been worrying about something so fiercely that it was doing it’s best to alter my surroundings to deal with it.

Literally the day after that realization I began to notice all the little things I used to do.  What seemed perfectly normal suddenly felt forced, unnatural.  The way I always HAD to roll up used sugar packets and place them into the half opened creamer packet now seemed like someone else made me do it.


My reason for sharing is that psychotherapy, therapy, talking about things, feelings etc is not a bad thing to do.  If you think something might be “off” and you have access to someone who knows what to talk about, please seek them out.  They understand what you are going through.  You are not the first, you will not be the last, but I guarantee that if you ignore it or think it is manageable on your own you could reach a point of no return where you will begin to damage your life and the lives of those around you.


While my experience was with a low level form of a disorder, there are those who suffer from far more complicated mental health issues.  They need attention and help far more than I did and ignoring their condition or if thinking that dumping them in with the “normal kids” will help you are sorely mistaken.  It can be done but should be done after evaluation by a mental health professional.


Call it TMI, call me crazy, call me a fool, but I got better.  I can walk right past a pile of magazines and not care that it’s a mess.

But then again, should I be worried I still notice?  I say no.  My OCD is a valuable tool when company is coming over and we need the house cleaned up fast.  Point is I got therapy to deal with the compulsion, which is what was causing the disorder in my life.  But I’m still slightly obsessive.  I leave you with this observation:

“Obsessive behavior is when the toilet paper absolutely positively must come off the roll in only one direction and in your house you will change it before using it.  Compulsive is changing it at a friend’s house.”


If you or someone you love is struggling with something you think is out of their control, help them reach out to resources in their community.  They will not grow out of it, it isn’t just a phase or a form of grieving, it’s something that can benefit from an expert.


Thanks for letting me share.



20 Children

The most amazing thing about a blog is that you can take a full day’s worth of frustration, anger and confusion and just let it out.  I wrote an angry diatribe that ended with just under 8000 words.  I blamed the left, the right, the shooter, the community, the family, myself and a host of other groups before I learned that it took getting all of that out to realize the truth:

Shit happens.

It’s not discounting what happened or an insult to the community recovering from this act, but a realization that no gun, no government, no policy or plan from any politician, priest or partner could have prevented a man from believing that such a selfish, cowardly act could solve anything.

Some people needed intervention long ago.  Some people have access to devices that can kill large numbers in short times.  Sometimes they’re the same person.

Some people will default to their core beliefs instead of dealing with what happened.

Few will learn from it.

Will you?

Write a letter about your feelings and destroy it.  It helps.

Hug your kids again, it’s been a rough week.



Back in service

Put Medic 99 back on the board.


HMHQ was hit with a Tabnabbing attack.

In layman’s terms, I got phished.

In terms grandma can understand I got tricked into giving out my login information.


Tabnabbing is a tricky, and scary, thing.  THIS link will take you to an article that explains it as well as giving you a safe example.

Too afraid to check the link?  OK.  it goes like this:

A site like mine with reasonably general security settings based on shareware code gets a bit of code added to it by a hacker.  The code simply waits until you open the page, then tab away.  When the information that another page has been opened goes past, the tabnabber switches my blog to look like a login screen for something like gmail or ebay.  You tab over thinking you had it open and got timed out.  So you log in.  As you do the code nabs your login info, keeps it and then immediately sends it along to the site you’re trying to log in to.  As far as you know everything is fine.


The giveaway, thankfully, was when their code caused the tab for HMHQ to become a drug ad.  As soon as I realized they were logged in as me and locked me out I called Setla and down went HMHQ.


We wanted to make sure this install was clean and knew exactly what had happened before going back up, hence the delay.  Thanks for coming back.


Needless to say I now only keep tabs open that don’t need a login ESPECIALLY email, bank and social media.  This also prompted me to revisit my stellar passwords.


Back to the action soon,


Station Tour + Fire Safety + Training = OCFA Doing it right

You new folks may or may not know why they call me the Happy Medic, but for this post you need a refresher on the Angry Captain.

The Angry Captain was a name given to my father, a retired Fire Captain, because of the way he handled logistics when the USAR team was deployed.  He was a stickler for receipts.  Long story.

But long before he was the Angry Captain, he worked at a firehouse in Orange County, CA.  He was assigned to this house during the years I decided to seek a career in the fire service.  I rode along on Engine 4 as an Explorer and the crew there became my second family as well.


When the Orange County Fire Authority posted this video to their Facebook page I was curious to see what other agencies are doing for inter-Department training using video.

It’s a great tool for standardizing station tours as well as working in home fire safety tips and I recommend it for anyone who ever gets visitors.

OCFA Station Tour Video from Orange County Fire Authority on Vimeo.


So much has changed to that house I almost didn’t recognize it, kind of like seeing someone living in your childhood home long after you moved out.

Does your agency have a standardized tour or does the junior member have to wing it?