Category Archives: News

Goodbye EMS

My EMS career has been just over 12 years.

It has been a fantastic time and has changed me in ways that I would never have thought possible.

And it all ends in a little over 9 hours time.

Justin has kindly offered to let me have some space on his blog so that I can say my farewell to EMS and share why I feel so privileged to have spent time in this most amazing of careers.

It seems a fitting place to say my goodbyes. Justin and Ted Setla have been a constant part of my life for the past few years and the opportunity that presents itself to me, that allows me to take my future in a different direction can be traced back to Justins and my ‘Project’ which later became the Chronicles of EMS after Ted found us and brought his vision to the screen.

One person who was watching along was Mathias Duschl, a paramedic from Switzerland who also shared our vision of trying to make EMS better for all of those that we care for. Just over a year ago, Matt and I met in Newcastle, where he showed me this rather cool medical device called the RhinoChill. I was hooked, and our relationship developed until he invited me to become part of the Benechill family. That has led to now, and my new career in research across Europe.

Im not quite done for with EMS yet though, I have this last shift left.

One shift left to enjoy the feeling of being an operational paramedic…
One shift left to maybe make a difference….
One shift left to try not to show my frustration with some of the people who will be calling 999…..
One shift left to avoid the one job on my ‘tick list’ that I still haven’t had to deal with and one that I don’t ever want to see.

But most importantly, one shift left to work with my wife!

We haven’t worked together for about 6 years. It didn’t seem to work once we were well into our relationship and on the way to getting married. I am her boss at work….She is my boss 24hrs a day! I think you can see the conflict.

Tonight will be different, because this is the last chance we will get to work together for a very long time, maybe forever. Tonight is going to be great.

I think that my leaving the ambulance service is harder for her than me at the moment. EMS has been ‘our thing’. We met over a decapitated head (only a medic would find that amusing!), and most of our conversations revolve around the job and the patients that we meet.

She needn’t worry though, she is now my insight into paramedicine on the front line. I will live through her and the stories that she tells me when she gets home.
Whatever control, or the world wants to throw at us, we will enjoy working together and seeing out my last shift at North East Ambulance Service.

But, what about me?

Sandra (my wife) keeps asking me if I am upset to be leaving and I keep saying, no not really. I am excited about the prospects ahead and the work that I can do and contribute to, that may well go on to save thousands of lives around the world. But then I am here, sitting alone in my response car and I realize that I am upset to be leaving. This is who I am.

That’s a simple sentence to write. Five words.

This is who I am.

I am a paramedic.

I am incredibly proud of that title. It is who I am.

The situations that I have experienced, the patients I have cared for, the good times and the bad.

The memories that I have, both happy and sad.
The pieces of my soul that have taken on indelible imprints of people I will never ever forget and who still touch my heart to this day…..

I see them all now, I hear the cries and screams; the blood and the devastation.

The lifeless baby and the hanging body. The man whose hand I held while he looked me in the eye to tell me that he was going to die, and he didn’t want to, he wasn’t ready yet. The grief and the despair.

Its all there….and it wont go.


There is also the joy, satisfaction and happy times.

Laughing so hard with Dominic, that I had to sneak out of patient’s houses so that they wouldn’t see my hysterical laughter.

The caressed hand that brought so much comfort.

The sound of a baby’s first cry and the thank you from the grateful parents.

The visits to the intensive care units to see those that we have saved on their way back to their families.

The times when you come home so tired that its difficult to keep your eyes open, but you know you have made a difference.

The first time I worked with Sandra, when I knew…..she was the one.

There is so much that I could write, but I guess that’s what the 450,000 words were about from my blog.

EMS is not just a job. It cant possibly be. It changes who you are and how you view the world. It can make you hard, but it can also reduce you to tears when you least expect it.

I have been in the ambulance service 12 years. That may not be long to some of you, but it has seemed like a lifetime to me. I can’t imagine that I was ever happy doing anything else.

In my very first year,  a paramedic came up to me and said

“ if they were to cut you in half, you would have green and white checks through the middle of you “ (they were our service colours at the time)

I feel the same now.

I may be leaving the ambulance service tomorrow, but it will never, ever leave me.


-Mark Glencorse, Paramedic

The Original EMS Bromance

The first recorded EMS Bromance was in the late 17th century when two stretcher carriers began to hang out together off the battlefield.

Centuries later a Geordie Paramedic and a Yankee Fireman who spent most of his time providing EMS began reading each others blogs on the interwebs.

Reading led to commenting, commenting led to cross posting, cross posting led to extensive discussions, discussions led to podcasts and podcasts led to a TV pilot.

There was a little more to it, but that’s the gist of mine and Mark Glencorse’s friendship.  It started with curiosity about each other’s systems and led to what will surely be a lifelong friendship.  Mark made a huge impact in my life and my career.  While this therapy experiment called the Happy Medic was helping me heal, learning from Mark and the community that I discovered has helped me grow, both personally and professionally.  I think we can all agree that when I first noticed a visitor to the blog was from outside the US, telling me that years later I would be watching videos of us goofing off around San Francisco and England would have brought a chuckle.

But watching the videos reminds me of how passionate about EMS Mark and I were and how we wanted to share our unique experience with as many people as possible.  That passion remains.  A passion not just for running calls and treating patients, but also looking outside the ambulance for solutions.

I chose a staff job at HQ.

Mark is heading into the private sector.

Although his blog 999Medic was shuttered awhile ago, Mark is still active in the online EMS Communities on Facebook and Twitter.  This week Mark will be working his last shift in EMS.


I have accepted the honor of hosting a message from Mark about the experience very soon.


I hope that when it is up you will read it and share it with your friends, readers and co-workers.

Stay safe,


Man Up NFL – Ditch the helmets


I’m talking American Football.  The game where almost 50 men complete against one another 11 at a time with plenty of breaks in the action to catch their breath.  They are strong, large men, many of them obese and wear enormous pads and helmets to protect them not from the other men, but from the other men’s pads and helmets.  Why do I care? Well, I always have, but watching a college game yesterday made me want to comment on it.

Chris Owusu, a wide receiver for the Stanford college team was removed from the field Saturday after being struck in the helmet by…another helmet.  This was his fourth concussion and reports have him being taken off the field unconscious.

This phenomenon is nothing new in the world of American Football and has been studied for decades.  A simple google search returns studies that talk about ensuring the players hit each other less, or not head to head.  Good luck.


The entire motivating factor in American Football is to hit the other guy hard, yet there is no stat for hits.  So if the culture of the sport is encouraging dangerous play, shouldn’t we protect the players?  Surely stronger pads and helmets will protect them right?  Sadly no, it just adds a harder hit from the other guy.  It’s a lot like arguing that car accidents will be safer if we all had bigger heavier cars.  Foolish, yet that is what the NFL, NCAA and youth programs are doing.  They add more pads and stronger helmets, all the while seeing more injuries and more serious injuries to boot.


I’m not a huge fan of American Football and have a number of ways to make it more interesting to watch, but none of them is “HIT HIM HARDER!”

My first order of business is to remove the helmets in use now and replace them with nothing.  Yes, nothing.  It’ll take a little while for the game to adapt but far less people will be getting concussions if they have to go skull to skull against the other guy.  It might actually require them to learn how to tackle, not just hit.  Look at rugby and Australian Rules Football, both requiring more strategy, fitness and contact to tackle a person as opposed to simply hitting him so hard he passes out.  Imagine an NFL lineman who can run farther than 40 yards…

But American Football fans don’t want to watch men who can play an entire game.  They live for the hard hit across the middle, knocking the player who caught the ball on his face in some form of ancient battle.

Removing the helmets, the radio transmitters and making the players actually play the whole game with limited substitutions (imagine that!) will greatly increase the pace of the game as well as the entertainment factor for those of us interested in a competition, not a battle.  Not to mention, less career ending injuries.


Lose the helmets NFL, what do you think you are? Hockey?  As far as I can see the only hazard on the field is the other team and the only reason is because they’re heavily fortified as well.

Surprise You Make the Call – Prank

I read this story over at Curt Varone’s Fire law blog a few days ago but it’s really had me thinking.  Where does your prank end and vandalism against my property begin?

We’ve all done something funny at someone’s expense which they didn’t think was too funny at the time, but what about the situation in Curt’s story?  Comment here, there or both.


Was that example a prank or something else?


You make the call.

Thank You OCFA Engine 26

10 hours cramped into a fire engine.

450 miles.

14 minutes and 40 seconds that made me cry.

Thank You.

I never would have guessed

Reports of shootings and stabbings just blocks from where Washington DC “Public Safety Officials” chose to deploy firefighters in an effort to deter crime?

You mean it’s not working? Who would have guessed?  I’ll need a minute to compose myself.  Discuss amongst yourselves, I’ll give you a topic:

“Police and Fire are never expected to cover expenses, why is EMS?”

Ah, I’m better now, thanks.


The cartoon Statter911 links to says it all.


It’s not working DC, pull those fire and EMS crews off the street corners and let the police deal with law enforcement.

You’ve been watching too many movies. Before trying anything else sit down for a minute and really think it through.  It seems cardboard cutouts of police cars and fake cameras would have a bigger impact, and be safer.  Don’t forget that your firefighters and paramedics are “public” too and fall into your “Public Safety” arena.


Good grief.

the Crossover Episode 15 – DC Needs their heads examined

The Happy Medic and Motorcop are back with a look into the Washington DC idea of preventing crime using unarmed firefighters, then some tips on how to answer the dreaded oral boards question “Why do you want this job” and we finish with an exciting announcement about cancer and the month of September.


Job Opening – Paramedics needed

Michael Morse is hiring for The EMS.


I don’t swear often, but when I do, I say:

“Michael, Hells yeah I’m in!”

Rip Shears Review

Rip Shear RS-1

A few weeks back I received a care package from the folks at Rip Shears.  Inside was quite the interesting little device, a removable dual blade cutter that can be attached to any standard 7 1/4″ trauma shear. From there you simply start a cut with the shears, then flip and rip. Take a look at this short YouTUBE video from Rip Shears:

This at first had me nervous.  Do I really need an open blade on my shears?  I wear a pair of shears on my duty and turnout belts and adding something so seemingly dangerous had me concerned I’d be replacing belt loops and turnout straps.

This was not the case at all.  I’ll get to the 2 issues I have with the product after I tell you why I’ll always be carrying one with me in the field from now on.


The Rip Shear seems like a simple device and it really is.  The fact that it is small and detachable means I can move it from shears to shears as needed instead of some giant device.  It also fits nearly perfectly into my existing leather pouch, since the shears fit as well.  I don’t wear BDU pants but did have a chance to test the shears snapped into a pair of Perfection pants supplied by Chronicles of EMS uniform supplier ALLMED.

AllMED Perfection EMT Pant

As you can see the gear does not hamper the ability to wear it, but the pocket just barely covers the blade, enough to likely get caught once or twice.

Drawback #1: The blades in the upward position.

When showing this tool around the ambulance yard one morning, one of the EMTs loved it.  He removed his regular shears from a lateral behind the back pouch and inserted the military green shears.  To show how easily they would deploy he pulled them out, not noticing his shirt got caught, and cut a clean rip in his shirt.  From this experience we chose to reverse the blade direction using only a screwdriver and voila, problem solved.





(l) as shipped (r)inverted


I now carry my own rip shear with the blades oriented down, took 45 seconds to switch.  There are no special tools required to remove and replace the Rip Shears, simply use a phillips screwdriver to remove the three screws, remove the blade unit and the guide unit, done.  The setup of the screws and hardware allows for the inverting of the blade and for attaching it to almost anything.

This far outweighs a single use tool that does not already incorporate itself into gear you already have.  Space in the bags and in my pouch is at a premium these days, so this little guy is more than welcome.


Another early concern was that the open blade would catch a finger.  I have to admit I was scared to handle these at first, but as shown in the photo, even little 5 year old fingers are safe from wandering into the blade area on the Rip Shears.  Fear not my thin fingered friends, you’re safe.

A 5 y/o's pinky finger does not fit

It took about 3-4 shifts to get used to having the slight extra height on my pouch and I now remove it to sit on furniture at work, mainly to discourage dirty looks when folks realize what’s on there.

The Rip Shear is available in black and a really neat glow-in-the-dark material that has been handy to have on a dark road on a night MVC.  Since EMTs can be excitable and use shears only to throw them away, I can easily track down my set and replace the Rip Shear onto another standard shear back at the station.

Drawback #2: The shears provided have a lip on the end too extreme to fit many pouches.  Again, easy fix here, just remove it and place it on a pair that does fit.  You can order your Rip Shear already attached to a set of shears, the website advises the manufacturer may change, so this may have simply been THAT particular supplier.  Yours may be different.


A perfect fit

The versatility of this product more than makes up for the out of the box issues we noticed.  When using the shears they worked exactly as advertised going through a few pairs of jeans in their time on my shears as well as the leather jacket of a very disagreeable clavicle fracture.  They cut like they look like they should.  No problems there.


I had hoped to grab an old pair of turnouts and use them to show how well they cut, but recent events here made it seem in poor taste.  Perhaps someone out there has an old set they would be willing to donate to Rip Shears?


Made in the USA and designed with Paramedic and EMT input I can’t think of a better addition to your kit for around $15.

Visit their website for more details and links to where to buy your own Rip Shears.

A Tip of the Helmet – Chico PD

By way of new bloggers Magnum Boots and their BLDG4801 comes this find of the Chico PD PSA.


Atta Boy Chico! A Tip of the Helmet to ya!


Someone has been paying attention in class.
If your Bay Area Fire, Police or EMS agency wants to make a PSA, click over HERE, I know a guy.