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,


Blogger down, 999medic signs off

Writing about emergency medical services, most specifically the events that can shape a career, is a mine field.  That mine field has claimed a good friend and colleague today.

Due to pressures from people who do not understand what we do Mark Glencorse is making the decision to discontinue his world famous and award winning website

In a release today Mark cites perfectly understandable reasons for stepping away and I still support him 100%.

It was reading his posts about how EMS was so different outside the US that got me inspired to change my own system.  Forget that he was the one who dreamed up what would become the Chronicles of EMS when he reached out to an anonymous blogger in the states who hid behind a cartoon character.  Mark is a trusted voice in the pre-hospital field and for reasons they can not explain, people around him want him shut down.

Patient privacy is a serious concern.  So serious agencies the world over are willing to take the risk of having uninformed rescuers so that a little old (he was really only 25) woman (no it was a guy) I ran last shift (it was 3 years ago) on that dark night (it was a rainy morning) with the unique EKG can be protected.

Medic999 was the voice of a nation, a system, a different way of doing things that made me a better Paramedic and hopefully, because of his inspiration, a good supervisor as well.

There is no bad guy here.  Please don’t blame Mark or his service, I’ve been there, they are good people looking out for their population.

No, the enemy here is fear.  Fear of the ability to share information in real time without a 3 month vetting process.  Social media, whether the establishment likes it or not, is here to stay.

We are not the ones they need to be worried about.  The ones who are irresponsible online are policed by us, the community, and when something seems too close to the truth we call them on it and we get results.

Gone are the days of posting pictures of patients, gone are the days of making inappropriate comments while on duty.  Use this event as a lesson that we are having an impact and as such share a responsibility to use it properly.

Mark will still be around on twitter and facebook, but his daily sharing of life saving tips and tricks will have to wait until this kind of forum is better understood.

I feel like a piece of the future of EMS has died today and that makes me sad.  It also makes me want to prove that people like Mark, the Ambulance Drivers, the Michael Morses, the countless authors of EMS books and articles who draw on experiences to teach us all are doing the right thing, not endangering the privacy of someone who screamed for an ambulance for a broken finger at the top of their lungs in a busy subway station.

Since I have no blogger flag to lower on this day, I will place a black band on the banner for a bit in memory of Mark’s contributions to making EMS blogging a legitimate way to gain information and insight for both new and old providers alike.

Be well, Mark.

Meeting the NEAS Executive Team – My UK EMS Conclusion

It all comes down to this meeting doesn’t it.  The entire project, everything I hoped to learn comes down to sitting with Mark’s supervisors and policy makers in the UK and making a solid impression that American EMS is not awash in profit driven patient care.

But then again, we kind of are.

I started the meeting starving hungry from my hours in the dispatch center downstairs and was told this would be a kind of working lunch meeting.

Sandwiches and various appetizer type dishes were brought in and my personal favorite, fresh coffee.  The conference room at the NEAS appeared to have been recently remodeled or redecorated as there were literally dozens of legal sized computer generated signs reminding those reading not to place cups directly on the table.

So what do I do?

Yes, and luckily I had Peter right behind me to place a saucer beneath the cup and shoot me a “Hey stupid” look.  It was in this framework that the rest of the administrative team made their way in and began a presentation on the stats of the NEAS.  Population, call volume, etc.

It was made clear to me ahead of time that Fiona, the Chief Executive’s aide, had prepared the presentation and Simon Featherstone gave credit where credit is due.

Mr Featherstone, the aforementioned Chief Executive of the NEAS, seemed like any other person I had met on my travels so far and that made it very easy to listen to him discuss his system.

A few slides in he turned to the dozen or so folks in the room and suggested we do more interacting.  This was, after all, common knowledge to all but one person in the room, me, and they wanted to hear from me, not their Chief Executive.

I went into a brief overview of my system in the SFFD and also explained other systems around the country.  Much time was spent, and not surprisingly, with their fascination with the idea of for profit ambulance services.

Each member present asked a number of questions about billing and a person’s ability to pay and I had to remind them many a time that that doesn’t come into play until well after the call, but does drive policy decisions in the end, therefore changing our field care decisions.

Each time I snuck a bite to eat another question would have me or Mark discussing his observations of the system as well as his tales of life in a San Francisco Firehouse.

When it came to Mr Featherstone asking what differences we have observed patient care wise, I brought up CPAP and cardioversion and that those are widely used skills in the US.  Pacing and cardioversion along with adenosine surely more common than CPAP, but it is such a wonderful tool more services should invest in it.

In true executive fashion Mr Featherstone turned to his clinical care person and said, “How soon can we look into doing these things?”


Right then and there, slightly leaned back in his chair, the Chief Executive might be moving forward on something that can directly benefit the patients Mark encounters as well as giving him tools to help more people.

The meeting ended with handshakes and wishes of luck, but very little was said regarding the lack of Ted Setla and the Chronicles of EMS team in the room to record all of this fantastic learning and sharing of best practices.

But I understand that.  England is a far less litigious society than the US, but they still have to concern themselves with the appearance of the service and those who function in it.

Everyone reading this post knows Mark and his blog are a source of incredible knowledge and a commitment to improving himself through new pathways.  If Mark wrote a book about EMS I would buy it.  If he had a radio show I would listen to it, but until those things happen (If he had a TV show I’d watch it) I will follow the media he uses to become a better Paramedic.  Right now that is his blog, twitter @ukmedic999 and on facebook.  All media that is growing not only in popularity but usability and relevance to what we’re trying to do in the pre-hospital care fields.

I don’t expect every service in the world to be open to bloggers sharing patient care and contact stories, regardless of permissions, and the few that value the following some EMS bloggers have are doing so very carefully.

One of the things Mark and I hope to work on in the years to come is acceptance of new media and new ways to share information that still respects a patient’s privacy while allowing those doing the care to share insight and best practices in real time.

A unique airway solution is discovered in Australia, blogged about, read by an ECSW in England who passes it along to their Paramedic who posts a link to twitter where I read it. Suddenly a technique that 5 years ago would wait months to get considered for a trade journal has been seen by thousands of caregivers who are about to share it with their friends and co-workers, and all in minutes, not months.

After a morning of listening to the Pathways system work in the dispatch center, then seeing the openness of the Executives to concepts and treatments, I think Mark is in a good place with the North East Ambulance Service.

In Conclusion-

The NEAS provides a high quality service in a straightforward manner to a well informed population.  Powers rest with the Paramedic at the scene to determine transport, not the patient ahead of time like in my system.  Front loading and getting eyes on a patient is a reliable way to handle system resources and gauge response.

The service is not reliant on insurance companies reimbursing for the services rendered nor are their paramedics passing perfectly capable ERs to reach a certain carrier’s preferred spot.

Mark Glencorse was a gracious host and everyone I met from A&E tech to Chief Executive was welcoming and asked great questions about American systems and I did my best to represent all of us in a professional and knowledgeable fashion.

The food was great, the coffee we can work on in future visits.

Will the NEAS model work in San Francisco?  I won’t know until tomorrow when I get a tour of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service by Station Manager Peter Mudie.  Fire readers, this is the post you’ve been waiting for.  But like most of what we do, EMS comes first and accounts for 80-90% of what we do.  Why should my UK story be any different?

On the Ambo in the UK

Subtitle for this post: Can you reach that for me?

Coming off a superb time on the Rapid Response Car, nappy time aside, we’re on the vehicle today.  The vehicle is what you and I would call an ambulance, but since anything that can take people to the hospital is an ambulance, it needs to be narrowed down a bit.

The car is certified as an ambulance since it can take people.

The vehicle can, as that is the main purpose of it.

But hiding around town, and just out of camera range as we drove by were swarms of non emergency ambulances, almost buses in their capacity.  When asked their function, Mark and our ECSW Becky (more on her later) informed me they take folks to their appointments, get tests and from one facility to another.

Collecting my jaw from the floor I explained to them and reminded Mark how many times we activated 6 people to do just that.  Becky shot me a look from the driver’s seat of the vehicle and asked a great question I still can’t answer.

“Why not just give them a ride in a van or bus?  Why send the ambulance?’

Why indeed Becky, why indeed.

I could try to explain to her how, in America, people have become so expectant of lights and sirens whenever they want them that they’re willing to sue if they don’t get them.  Regardless of the condition, reason or outcome, folks will threaten a lawsuit and managers will blink and change protocol. Why inconvenience the few when we can just take them and inconvenience the many, right?

That was the start of my shift on the vehicle.  I’d love to tell you that life on a UK ambulance is so much different than in the US.  But when it finally gets to comparing apples to apples in these systems, having someone in the back is it.

Previous posts have covered my impressions of the ambulance layout and ways I think they can be improved to benefit patient care and provider comfort and safety.

Mark had difficulty accessing most of his equipment from the cabinets.  Everything he needed he got to, but not without ducking around the patient, around the family member, then leaning over.  The trash was also oddly placed, lying directly behind the family member so that to dispose of bloody mess you have to ask them to lean aside.

But that being said, with the current layout based on “safety” there is no other place to put these things.

Mark described to me the regulations in place to protect the persons traveling in the back of the vehicles and it makes perfect sense.  Until we have to actually do patient care.

After my description of the ambulances in a previous post I was contacted by an ambulance manufacturer who wishes to remain anonymous, I’ll call them Box inc.  Box inc wanted my thoughts on what makes the perfect ambulance and I told them I have yet to see it.  But, Box inc had some new ideas about making your ambulance more versatile when on post, more on that another day.  But Box inc will still take a van or pickup truck, rip off the back, slap on a place for a cot and make it flash, there really isn’t another option at this point.

But back to Newcastle and the McDonald’s parking lot.

Yes, we’ve found our way to the parking lot at the McDonald’s, on post if you can believe that, so I snuck in for a coffee.  It’s an addiction, I know.  We had a chance to talk on camera about Becky’s role in the NHS and what an ECSW is.  But as we talk about it, a few points to look for first.

I am sitting on the cot and Mark in the chair for family members.  The pass through to the cab behind him has a small door on the top that leads to the trash bin behind that seat he’s in.

The cabinets behind us and between as as we talk contain all of Mark’s equipment.  Just from the layout you can see how challenging it could be to access them with a poorly patient in the back.

When I said that Becky was above an EMT, the comments section at youtube went insane.  What I meant was that she can give pain relief without medical direction.  She can do something I can’t do, mainly because I’m told I need more education and training to deliver pain gas to those in need.  Becky is proof I do not.  So when I said she is above an EMT, I was referring to her ability to medicate them in that manner.  An EMT can transport, Becky can not.  Apples and Oranges folks.

Our jobs on the vehicle were similar to what Mark and I saw on Medic 99 in the City, moving folks with this complaint over there and that complaint over here.

It was on the vehicle that we encountered the only person, out of dozens, who demanded transport.

As you all plainly know, my clients demand transport 90% of the time and need it 5% of the time.  Newcastle respects their Paramedic’s opinions, likely because they can get in and get seen outside the A&E in a reasonable amount of time compared to here in the US.

This person activated 999 to report an assault and we entered the house cautiously.  It was quite a bit reassuring knowing that the occupant was most likely not carrying a weapon that could mow us down from 40 feet away.  I’m no ninja but I’ll take a clipboard to a knife fight over a knife to a gun fight any day.

The local police were close on our heels, again, without firearms (hard to get used to) and the scene was more than secure.  Very secure the police confirmed, poking holes in our patient’s story.  Then there was the recounting and description of the event given and none of that matched what we were looking at.

Clearly there were behavioral issues in play and the decision was made to transport based on the inability to confirm normal mental status.  We’ve all been there and trying to communicate with eye movements and physical gestures must have appeared as though Becky and I were flirting.

My eyes said “Look at the door, the things piled in front of it, it opens inward, no one broke in there.”

Her eyes said “What?”

My body, arms crossed, said ‘Over there, look, the door!”

Her body, arms raised to the side and shoulders up said, “Huh?”

Mark’s eyes said “Stop it!”

Mark does not ring down, or pre-alert, the hospital himself, but relays it through his control center.  When I saw what the control center did the next day, I decided that was unnecessary.  If your service relays patient reports trough a third person you are introducing another player in the telephone game and just another chance for pertinent information to get lost.  I would love to be able to forward my report to that point to the hospital and they can move that information to a bed and await our arrival.

Oh, did I nod off?

Right now my service gives audio radio reports to whichever nurse lost the coin toss that day and has to answer the radio.  I tell them what I have and why, vitals and hang up.


Many Americans may shudder at the idea of waiting 2 hours for an ambulance but I met a woman who disagrees.

Mary, I’ll call her, fell down on a friday afternoon and injured her hip. Being of a stoic generation, she didn’t want to bother anyone with her trouble, so she hobbles through the weekend until her doctor’s office opened monday morning. She called the office and spoke to her doctor who advised her to go into the A&E to be evaluated since his office had no x-ray capabilities.

The doctor called the ambulance and the call was classified as an €œurgent€ meaning there was no life threat, but still a need for a transport. This call is then put in hold in the system with a maximum wait time and an ambulance is assigned as soon as the system has the available resources.

Mary met us at the front door and walked us in with a slight limp, dressed and ready for her trip to the A&E like many of my lights and sirens patients. We took our time making sure her medications were gathered and the stove turned off, then into the chair and down to the ambulance.

Because this trip was arranged her medical records were waiting at the hospital, as was a bed reserved for her and she was seen as soon as she arrived. I asked her if the 2 hour wait was too long and she looked at me as if I asked her what color the sky was.

€œI waited all weekend to call, another few hours wasn’t going to kill me, son.€

I wanted to hug Mary right then and there.

After a day of back and forths on the vehicle and torturing Becky with the American and the camera duties, we were close to finishing our shift when that dreaded job came in.

The late job.

We were planning on meeting some of the rank and file for a social evening and this job would put us over our shift and we’d be late.

We screamed through the streets of Newcastle, pushing old women off the road and opposing traffic wherever we could.  OK, not really, we were sent on a common case that would later bring out our common response “Same patient, different country.”

With the patient on board and her friend safely secured we made our way through the evening traffic to St Farthest, all the while talking and keeping our patient in good spirits.

The day went fast in retrospect.  Traffic still doesn’t get out of the way when you’re rolling lights and sirens, you still have to go hunting for the extra blanket at the hospital and the nursing staff is still often glad to see you when it counts.

The evening was a night out with some of Mark and Sandra’s co-workers, we were fashionably late after some creative dropping off and ride sharing.  I got to talk to them about Mark without him listening and their opinions were high and genuine.  Mark is a respected and admired Team Leader in his station and his system.

Swalwell 405 – Day 2 in Newcastle


This is a continued retelling of my adventures on Part 2 of the Chronicles of EMS, the one we weren’t allowed to film.

Day 2 in Newcastle, Day 1 on the car.

The iphone rang so early I thought I was still dreaming.  Sure it said 5:15 AM and Mark would be along to pick me up in 30 minutes time, but I felt destroyed.  My body still thought it was 10 PM and was gearing down for night.

NO! I yelled to myself and turned the lights on.

This was going to suck.

I got cleaned up and dressed, then went to make a cup of coffee.  Coffee in England is different than in America.  In America you get a nice drip brewed cup of joe from perhaps a Peet’s, or even a Starbucks or gas station.  In room 501 of the hotel, my HMHQ for the week, there was a water kettle and a baggie of freeze dried coffee.  A taste I choked down at first and then missed as soon as I was on the plane ride home.  I had come prepared for the coffee situation, however, as you may recall from this video I posted later in the day:

Mark took me over to his station, the sun yet to rise.  Inside I met a few of the night shift going off duty in the ambulance room of the Fire and Ambulance Station.  It immediately took me back to microwaving 25 cent burritos and drinking tap water during my internships.  There was a TV in the corner, 4 very nice green chairs (green is the color for EMS there) a couple of side tables, small kitchenette with sink and a microwave.  We really are the same.

Craving more coffee I went to fire up the kettle and prepared another cup of the freeze dried goodness as Mark took me out to the floor and to Swalwell 405, our Rapid Response Car for the day.

It was exactly as I had imagined.  A ford station wagon, appointed with safety markings, emergency lights and the ever important aspect to the RRC, the label “Ambulance.”

The RRC with the Appliances at Swalwell Station
The RRC with the Appliances at Swalwell Station

Mark led me on a quick overview of the equipment kept inside and what I could carry on a job and what I should stay away from.  We talked about interventions I could perform, such as assisting persons to stand or to walk, the basic stuff we all do, but at no time was I to use his giant Lifepack 12 to cardiovert someone in unstable SVT.

As soon as we were checked out we were sent on a system status post in a nearby neighborhood.  Not to get Mark in trouble, but I needed more coffee (some have cocaine, others a hobby or “life”, I have coffee, let it go) and the only place that pours a cup is a place I hadn’t been in over two decades, the McDonald’s.

We were on post for an hour when we were called back to the station.  You see, Mark and his co-workers are given a rotation back to the station each hour for bathroom trips, food and what not.  When we left our area, another vehicle or car would fill in.  This seemed simple enough at first, but a few days later, while watching the allocators try to juggle all the breaks and rotations, I wondered just how important that 1 hour mark was.

At the station Mark’s point to point radio came alive.  I had trouble understanding the accents at first to decipher our assignment and there was no station alarm or alert system.  Perhaps it would have awakened the firefighters upstairs?  We climbed in the car and away we went, blue lights flashing to a reported fall victim.  Specifics aside this was the perfect first call for me to see the NHS in action.

I in my station duty uniform with badge of office and Mark in his now famous green jumpsuit made our way in and found a run we EMT and Paramedics handle all the time, a minor muscular injury.  Mark went into his comfort zone, patient care, and I handed him the BP cuff and placed the stethoscope across his shoulders to have it in reach.  That got me a look I often saw as a small child when I would break something expensive.  No one over there stores their stethoscope around their neck.  I only do it on scene, mainly so I don’t lose it, but throughout my trip I never saw one ‘scope around one neck.

As I recovered from that faux pas a walking Saturday Night Live memory came through the door.  The patient’s neighbor was a Scotsman, a true Scotsman, and when he found out I was American he began to tell me a story about an American he knew back in the 60s.  I know this because Mark translated for me later.  I could only make out a few words here and there, no unlike watching TV in a foreign country.

The Scotsman was ignored when I heard Mark tell the woman she should take some Peracetamol and the ambulance will be along in a moment.  He is allowed to let his patients medicate themselves for new conditions.  Now, I can create a gray area and make it work, but imagine telling the receiving facility that you let your patient dose up on Tylenol (paracetamol) for a new injury.  The ambulance crew arrived and away the patient went and we were back in service.  Nothing extraordinary, a simple run of the mill job we both encounter all the time.  The only difference was arriving at the scene in a car, and alone (without me) would be challenging at first, but some days, with some crews, I am kind of am responding alone.

In my next post I’ll describe the odd moment when we were waiting in the middle of the highway for a second ambulance as a fire engine drove by, not assigned to the accident and something I think the NEAS needs to change immediately to better serve their citizens.

My first day in Newcastle

After following Mark’s day by day adventures, I’m dragging you right along on the second week, the one not covered by the Chronicles of EMS cameras.

But why is this going up at 11PM your time Happy? Because that is 7 AM Newcastle time.  Wrap your head around that one and let’s get started.
Mark’s San Francisco adventure covered 10 days in total and he was clearly as exhausted as I and likely more. I last saw him at the BART station on the way back to the City and then to the airport.

I wouldn’t see him again for 48 hours.

In that time I let my girls crawl all over me, literally and figuratively, all the while packing and preparing for my England trip. When the time came to board the plane emotions were high. The littlest one giggled when I gave her a kiss, the older one asked me to say hi to Mark in England. She seemed to be taking this experiment remarkably well considering the enormity of it and her comparatively small understanding of the world. The Mrs was understandably emotional and supportive, something she does very well. I had already given 10 days to this project rarely seeing the girls awake, if at all, and was about to give 10 more.

Into the airport I saw the car drive away and took a deep breath. This was not going to be easy.

The plane was packed. I had one of the window seats, but they neglected to tell me the foot room is severely restricted thanks to the new video on demand units. I had been to Seat Guru, but it seemed every seat sad that.  In exchange for a place to put my feet I had dozens of movies to watch to take my mind off the tingling in my lower extremeties.

The time difference was 8 hours ahead. To help deflect the impact of the time change I knew I would have to get on the plane, eat and get to sleep as soon as possible, then sleep most of the flight. The last time we flew across the Atlantic I fell asleep during the safety video, then not a wink the rest of the flight, I was exhausted 20 hours later.
Imagine my surprise and pride when I finished dinner, put on my headphones and fell asleep. Then again we medics have been known to fall asleep in odd places at odd times.

I was awoken an unknown time later (6 hours I discovered) to the following conversation:
(This was an Air France flight)
“Keep heir on ze oxee-jin and we can moove heir to zee floors.”

Oxygen? Moving someone to the floor? This sounds like a job for…
…the flight crew.

Watch this video from my layover in Paris to find out what happened next:

After a quick commuter flight from Paris, we landed in cloudy, rainy, windy Newcastle, met by a somewhat rested Mark Glencorse.

I was whisked away to mark’s home and welcomed as family. It was nice after a long flight to sit down on a couch surrounded by familiar names and voices. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner (Tea, I was told to call it, the evening meal if you prefer) and the perfect start to what would become an exhausting week.

Even though my family was far away, I had a new one just a few minutes down the road.

I had shared a family story that my late Grandmother was fascinated by the King Arthur legends and that recent research believes Arthur to have been a Roman General defending Hadrian’s Wall from Northern Invasions.  I had mentioned this in passing on an episode of EMS Garage and Mark and Fiona had heard me.  Fiona scheduled a dinner meeting at the Swan Inn in a town called Heddon-on-the-Wall who’s cathedral was built with stone from the wall.

I was hoping for a brief time during the trip to go out to see the wall my Grandmother spoke of, but didn’t expect much at all.  Little did I know that, on the drive back to the hotel, we passed by part of the wall there in the middle of town.  Mark made it a nice surprise and swung the car around, parked and said, “There’s your wall, Mate.”

I froze.  I had trouble moving for a moment. It was kind of like meeting someone you admired.  I climbed out of the car into the cold night air and took a deep breath.  I could hear my Grandmother’s voice as if she was right there with me.  “He stood here.  He garrisoned here.  This is history.”

It was a small section, only 6 feet wide, maybe 30 feet long and a few feet tall, in a protected grass area near homes, but it was the wall she spoke of.

I took a few photos and a quick one of me on the wall before heading back to the hotel to rest.  As is now a Chronicles of EMS custom, the internet was pay as you go, so uploads were going to be difficult.

Mark dropped me at the hotel and I went straight past the pints in the lobby and straight to bed. The first day on the Rapid Response Car was waiting for us early the next morning and I wanted to be ready for it.

That story, and video of what I look like before coffee, next time.

Chronicles of EMS: Episode 2

Also posted at Chronicles of EMS .com HERE

This is mainly to get everyone to stop sending me emails on how to watch Episode 2 of the Chronicles of EMS.

We haven’t made it yet.

That isn’t to say there isn’t one, but keep in mind it costs nearly $10,000 to film an episode and Setla Films put together a knockout punch premiere for far less than that.

We have a ton of footage of me and Mark in the fire station, riding the engine and having in depth conversations about calls we showed you.  So in essence, if we put together a second episode from the SF adventure and held it to the same standards I would have to go back into the studio and re-record a lot of voice over to cover set ups and explanations of what was happening, otherwise it would be the Justin and mark interview show, which is currently under the name A Seat at the Table.

You have all been so wonderful in your acceptance and spreading of the first episode and it was indeed an amazing experience to make it, help prepare it and then release and share it with the world.

To put things in perspective, you are all the happy first time parents of this baby, the Chronicles of EMS, and we just rolled over for the first time.

You’re excited, the calendar has been marked and you’re calling all your friends to tell them what just happened.

Do you want to see us roll over again or start to crawl?

Crawl or walk?

Walk or run?

Run or race?

This is the beginning of a lot of firsts for us and for you the audience.  Feel free to keep emailing your thoughts and concerns to me ( and to Mark(  We not only welcome your comments but demand them because, after all, this is about community above all else.

We made 2000 facebook fans in 3 days while filming and the ning site is still gaining members.

Keep the word spreading and when the next episode comes out you won’t have to help us spread the word, just sit back, relax and enjoy.

So, in summation, we’re rolling over, you like it and we’re doing more and more every day. (Wait until you see what we’re trying to do for EMS Expo! I’ve said too much already)

If you want to see a new episode sooner, get on the phone to your ambulance salesman, equipment supplier and union rep to get in touch with us about sponsoring a trip to your system or a system you want to see.  You’d be amazed what magazines are charging these days for an ad that gets looked at once, then put away.  We offer a part in the future of EMS, all they have to do is think like Pepsi.

EMS Today in Baltimore

Thanks to the Chronicles of EMS, both Mark Glencorse and I will be attending the JEMS EMS Today Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, March 5th and 6th.

It’s a big deal for us to be able to spread our message to as many people as we can and there is no better way to share ideas than face to face.  Even though we can communicate here in the internets machine, Mark and I didn’t really see what each other meant until we stood shoulder to shoulder in each other’s systems.

Since it will be a little while until we can get to everyone’s systems and learn from everyone how best to deliver EMS, heck even what EMS means anymore, we’ll travel as much as we can to meet you and keep the dialogue open.


That’s where our sponsor ZOLL Medical comes in.

SFFD Zoll Rep Roy Kniveton was kind enough to give the Chronicles of EMS team a run down of things coming from Zoll and let us put the new E Series through some quick tests.  Not any of that scientific lab type stuff, but medics dragging it around a room type tests.  Roy even offered to let the 100′ aerial ladder truck run over it to show it’s durability.

The truck officer declined the request.

But aside from coming in and letting us see what was new, Roy actually listened when we told him about our growing following.  He was genuinely interested in the EMS 2.0 movement and did some quick searching to see what we were interested in getting from our equipment in the future.

We must have done something right because our near future included a generous sponsorship in our pilot episode and flying Mark and me to Baltimore for EMS Today.  We will be Zoll’s guests at their booth and we’re looking forward to meeting all of you and answering questions about the Chronicles show, new concepts coming in social media TV and anything else you want to talk about.

I’ve never had anyone fly me anywhere before.

And to EMS Today no less.  Check out the web page HERE and look for JEMS Editor in Chief AJ Heightman to wander in to give you the details on all the exciting things happening around me and Mark.  Yes, there will be more than us ruggedly handsome frumpydumple fellows.

If you get a chance to make the premiere of the Chronicles of EMS in San Francisco on Feb 12th, we’d love to have you, sign up to let us know you’re coming HERE.  And a special thanks to and AAM Consulting (Randy Africano) for sponsoring the premiere event at the Hotel Frank.  More about them soon.

See you in SF.

See you in Baltimore.