Complaint Department

For someone called the Happy Medic I do seem to complain a lot.  A recent discussion with a trusted Fire Service friend who introduces himself as ” A Basic for life” circled back to why EMS folks are always complaining.


We complain about money, hours, crappy bosses, Medical Directors who don’t get it, patients who don’t need it and other agencies who aren’t doing exactly what we want them to be doing.


When he rattled off that list I couldn’t help but stifle a chuckle and agree, “Yup, that’s EMS in a nutshell.”


We in EMS love to be abused and have had plenty of chances to jump off this roller coaster but never do.  We come back over and over again not to complain and bitch and moan about it, which we love to do, but because we love to do this thing called EMS.  For every crappy call I make a difference on 2 others.  For every MD who has no clue what we do another steps forward and smiles when they see the compassion and care we give our patients.


The positives are out there and we see them, we even secretly think back to the times we were instrumental in making someone’s bad day just a hint better even if it was just for bringing them a blanket or putting their little dog in the back room before we left for the hospital.

EMS bloggers are notoriously negative because sharing the good moments isn’t as therapeutic as letting the bad ones out.  Griping about how much I hate little rat dogs (Nothing but love, MsP) relieves far more stress than a post about how nice it is that the elderly can keep pets better these days.  See, rat dog tirade beats observation about Granny any day.


From the outside my blog is a collection of complaints, gripes, wishes and dreams with very few shimmers of hope.  Well, that’s how it is on the inside as well, but if I came to this little wordpress screen and began to tell you all the good things about my chosen profession I would spend 22 hours on it instead of just the 2 I do complaining.


This is still my therapy experiment, shouting into this room of mine that used to be empty, but somewhere you and I connected on something, be it good or bad, inspiring or deplorable and each of you reading this likely has a different reason for stopping by again and again.

The Google tells me most of you like a good misuse of 911 story or a letter in the file of some EMT or Paramedic doing something stupid and I can see that, but keep in mind I have a smile on my face most days because this therapy experiment lets me get those emotions out here and not on scene.

And when we can side step burnout simply by venting, we extend a job into a career, and that’s what I’m here for.

Thanks for reading,




A toothbrush and moral decay

A recent credit card commercial from a company famous for the “Priceless” meme has changed one of their ads only days after it went live.  The more I think about what they changed and why they think they did the right thing, I’m reminded what pull small minorities of beliefs have on everyday life.

I’m not one to pay too much attention to commercials, but if I can’t avoid them I do enjoy looking for one thing:

The awkward marriage establishing prop.

In any commercial that features a man and woman either with children, in bed awaking for coffee or touting a sleep aid, or eating breakfast, there is a shot of a wedding photo, prominent wedding ring or reference to a mother in law that established to us, the slug of a viewer, that the person partaking in these activities is indeed married.  Because if they aren’t I’m not buying that car?

The overt reference to marital status is clearly to avoid displeasing a small minority of viewers who find such things as unmarried co-habitation and children out of wedlock so unspeakable they make sure I have to be reminded that only married people have children.  “What about the children?” they cry.  Well, they’re going out into a world that is nothing like your glossed over commercial wants them to believe.

In the ad aired recently a young man is seen using a credit card to buy a toothbrush.  The narrator tells us “A fresh tooth brush, just in case” and then the price.  You know how these ads go, right?

Then he hustles through a restaurant, using the same card, and we’re told “Homecooked meal…” and the price.

Then into a wine shop where he grabs alcohol and uses the same credit card. “first-date finest” and the price.

After he grabs the bottle of wine he leaps into his apartment, forcefully clears off the table into the dishwasher, throws a yoga magazine over a swimsuit magazine and rushes to the door where a young lady is standing and smiles.


Did they change the part where he lies about cooking the food to impress the girl? No. Lying:OK

Did they change buying alcohol for the date? No, of course not. Drinking:OK

Perhaps the irresponsible act of throwing everything in the dishwasher instead of properly cleaning up? Nay-nay. Living like a slob:OK

Covering up your reading habits with something else? Common place apparently. Deceit:OK

Maybe, just maybe, they tell us why, if he is so excited for this first date, does he have to run everywhere, then toss about his apartment? Nope. Poor time management:OK

No, someone had an issue with the toothbrush.  Well, not the tooth brush, but the “just in case…” text and voice over. Buying a toothbrush: Won’t someone think of the children?!?!

It now reads “fresh breath…” or some such nonsense.  Point being, they changed possibly the LEAST offensive part of the ad.

Before you all go prude on me and tell me it’s about the children ask me what ad came on next.  Go ahead, ask.


An ad with two adults physically embracing, touching, kissing, and a laundry room transforming into a forest no less. Sex and magic.

Remind me which is the offensive one?

It’s not ads showing a man buying a toothbrush that are leading to the decay of what we all once held as wholesome.  It’s not the gays, the blacks, the whites or even the tie dyed.  Not Jew, not Christian, not Muslim, not Atheist or Naturalist.  It is all of them.  All of us.  All groups who demand people see things their way no matter what.  I have my views but have no intent of enforcing them upon you, unless you are abusing 911.  In that arena I become the person I hate, trying to filter what I want you to hear through this medium and others, but I would be hard pressed to ask a third party to change something as massive as an International ad just because of a toothbrush.

We accept ads about erectile dysfunction, glorify murder in prime time, parade celebrities and their children who practice all the things they claim to be against, only to get upset…about a toothbrush.


I read a recent comment on another site that asked where the condoms were.  Good point, but also…good luck.  Condom companies aren’t even allowed to show actual people in their ads, but sex aids like lotions can, and quite graphically by the toothbrush standards.  But again, the lotion ads have the awkward marriage establishing shot making it OK.

Once again:

Married people having sex in the afternoon: OK.  Single guy buying toothbrush: Offensive.


Sometimes I think the drive to ban gay marriage is simply to avoid having to see these establishing shots between guys.


I’m no prude, surely, and am not asking to have total control over the ads I see, I vote with my wallet and don’t buy their products.  That’s my control. But could the people upset about this ad possibly use their efforts to help feed the hungry, stop genocide or something useful in this world instead of protecting my kids from a toothbrush?


Put the ad back and tell the people complaining to go clean out their own house first.

Don’t fill the boot this year

It’s that time of year again. When throngs of firefighters across the country will be standing in front of grocery stores and at street corners asking you to “Fill the boot!” This is the annual run up to the International Association of FireFighter’s support of Muscular Dystrophy research and “Jerry’s Kids.”

Happy is not a fan.

It may have started when I was forced to stand in 101 degree heat for 5 hours in my uniform shoving a boot in people’s faces at a grocery store because C-Shift had raised $500 the day before and we had to out do them.

I support research into debilitating conditions such as MD, but also support other causes. After treating my sunburns from that day and trying to get the sound of the toy machine nearby out of my head (“There’s no telling what you could win!” every 30 seconds) I thought about it.

Filling the Boot for Jerry’s Kids is not a good idea. Yes, you read that right.

Like with most organizations, there is overhead and administrative costs involved in organizing a nationwide campaign and telethon to raise money. This often hovers between 20 and 30 percent. That means for every 10 dollars I raise, $3 goes to pay some folks to collect my money, give it to Jerry’s people, then maybe give some to those kids he brings on stage each year. Don’t get me wrong, they have raised over $1.5 Billion, with a B, dollars to fight a host of muscular ailments and similar diseases since the inception of the Telethon.

That means that in that same time almost $400 Million has gone to organizers, producers, party consultants and other support staff. That money never made it to the kids.

I support keeping the money in the community it came from. Let people rally behind someone in their own community. Tell them to fill the boot for their neighbor, their mother, their friend. Fill the boot to help a family get a room while their child is treated at the hospital. Fill the boot to buy paint to redo the children’s wing of the local hospital. Fill the boot to buy toys to give away at Christmas. The possibilities are endless.

I see no need to be a pawn in some corporation’s fund collection machine, especially standing on a street corner near traffic or worse even, in the median, which I have seen in the past.

Stop sending your community’s money away to a group far away and keep it local. We have a strong influence over people when it comes to respect and support. We may not get it when we’re actually doing our job, but when we ask folks to help us, they almost always reach into their pockets and give something. Give them a face, a name, a local charity, something that will impact their lives directly to think about. When they give that $5 to help the local shopkeeper hire a helper while his back heals, they may just stop in and buy a little something extra to help out.

The local media will love it and you can get your message out to the community for free.

In these troubling economic times folks will be a little more hesitant to give, so give them a good example of neighbor helping neighbor.

If we all did that, that $400 million over the time of the telethon would have gone to help even more people in need. According to the IAFF, firefighters have raised almost $375 million in the 55 years they have supported it. We’ve almost covered the overhead.

But if filling the boot for Jerry’s Kids is the only philanthropy your agency will agree to, then do what you can, safely.

The IAFF encourages their locals to raise money safely, find details HERE.

Top 10 new responsibilities of the Fire Department

Since most of the readers commenting aren’t so jazzed about ALS delivered by the Fire Department, I’ve devised a few new ways for the folks at the fire hall to keep busy and not get closed down.

Top 10 ways the Fire Department can look busy if not responding to EMS runs-

#10 Tree Trimming


Get those ladders out and close the bike lane, Truck 121 is going to work. With the versatility and man power offered by most truck companies these days, they should be able to make quick work of most of the trouble spots as well as whatever the Town Council needs done come the fall.

They are also for hire out to private citizens, provided you can clean up the trimmings when they’re done. They used to tow a chipper behind the ladder, but there was an incident. You know Firemen.

So call 911 today to schedule your tree trimming, free of charge.






#9 Bungee Jumps from the bucket.


All the cool kids are doing it.

And since we’re under the same expensive insurance as the unrestrained passengers on the municipal bus system, I can’t imagine the underwriters having a problem with this. After the tree trimming is through, we set up in the parking lot of the community college and make a killing. I mean a lot of money, not…well…nevermind.

It can double as a high angle rope rescue drill should something go wrong.




#8 Birthday Parties

Every kid dreams of climbing in the fire truck and squirting water on a fire, so why not give them what they want? Bring your group of at least 20 sugar hyped children ages 2-15 by the firehouse and drop them off for a day of fun!
They’ll learn to operate the aerial ladder platform, make and break various hose leads and how to don and doff gear in searing heat.

Each child will receive a roll of municipal toilet paper and a sticker that says “Junior Firefighter” in a gift bag. Reserve now!



#7 Fire Engine races







#6 City Tours in the Engine
Load up the tourists and hit the streets. If your engines are going to cruise, might as well get some cash along the way. The crews can point out where all the best coffee is and where all the hidden alarm panels are.

For added realism, let them put on your coat and helmet. What a great photo op!





#5 Mobile Water Park
Hot day plus bored children plus 500 gallons equals fun! Combine that drafting drill with some good old fashioned water park fun! Kids can frolic in the droplets as your firefighters show what they can do with that $500,000 piece of equipment.

Your kids will be begging to go to the drill yard every day this summer, just don’t forget your towel!




#4 Demolition
Sure we tear down fire damaged houses, but don’t let us stop there. If you need concrete, wood, metal, stucco, any kind of construction torn down on site, call 911 and we’ll send one of our teams right over. Not only will they respond quickly, but they will call more teams out if the job is a big one.

Saws, poles, hooks and axes will be put to use bringing your structure to the ground. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be yours, you can place your order anonymously.

Just remember there is no haul away service included, we leave it all right where it falls.





#3 Code 3 Delivery Service
No longer assisting on that resuscitation down the block, our team is off to #4 Privet Drive to deliver a rather important letter to a rather important boy. That sounds like a great idea for a book.

Lights and sirens in a fire engine beats an Emo kid on a 10 speed everyday of the week.

When it absolutely, positively, has to get there delivered by 3 men in a shiny (not today, they need #2) red truck, call 911 and they’ll come get your package, letter or person to be delivered and whisk them away.


#2 Mobile Car Wash and Detail


When not washing their own cars on company time, why not hire the Fire Department to wash your car?

Engines are deployed throughout the metropolitan area, carrying all the necessary tools to give your car or light truck a great wash and wax.

Call now and we’ll add a burnt food air freshener with every third wash.











#1 Keep private ambulance parking spots filled


They sit at that corner all day, mainly because the coffee shop has clean bathrooms and free wi-fi, but if they receive an ALS run 25 minutes away, they need to return later to the same sweet spot.

Fire engines can be dispatched to “sit a spot” details at little charge to the ambulance agency. They will only be refused when all engines are out on fires, tours or car washes.

10% off if you mention coupon code “System Status Rules”

PSA #1

And now a PSA (Personal Silly Annoyances) notice,

When did it become acceptable to wear pajamas out during daytime hours? There are a number of borderline adults as well as many teenage girls who are wandering the stores in pajama pants, slippers, sweatshirts and large sunglasses.
When did this become the “in” thing to do? Their grandparents would have been scolded for not wearing a hat out of the house in their day and now these folks are in line at the Target dressed like they’re still in bed?
I find it offensive and clearly lazy. Sure it’s a free country and they can wear whatever they want, but they’re idiots. Lazy idiots.

Ahhhhh, that feels better.

Speaking of being in line at the Target, why are there 28 checkout lines but only 3 of them are open?
When they built this Target, and the 18 catrillion others, they apparently expected to have more high school kids working there because it seems every store I go to has at least a dozen registers, but only a handful open. What a waste!

And especially when I have to stand in line with the kid, behind the teenagers in the pajamas wondering why we don’t hire the folks in the PJs to open a few more registers.

I’m just sayin’…