Category Archives: Training

EMS Flashmob

Eli Beer formed an all volunteer First Aid/EMS group when he was 17.  In the process of developing the program he volunteered on an ambulance and was always upset when they would get stuck in traffic.

Eli attributed his dying patients’ demise on the extended response time and wanted to do more for them in the time between when they needed help and when help arrived.

This video goes directly to the core of the Response Time argument and it is important to make a clear distinction between first response and ambulance response times.

We can all agree that getting someone in the door quickly can help guide the rest of the system’s response.  This can be a fire department engine, an EMT Police Officer or perhaps a third service handling first response.  What we don’t need is to send a reclined cot van on every call, nor does it need to get there in 4 minutes most of the time to make a difference.

In this TEDMED talk, Eli talks about how he came to found United Hatzalah and send motorcycles he calls “Ambucycles” to the scene of an emergency to help until an ambulance can arrive.  He touts a 3 minute response time to over 207,000 incidents last year and is using mobile technology to achieve it.

The phone app broadcasts the medical incident to the 5 closest volunteers in the same way CPR needed apps do so in the states.  When he mentioned it was kind of like an EMS flash mob he had my attention.  We’re locked into some old ideas and this one breaks the mold.

 

Why aren’t we as communities encouraging this kind of organization?  Sure there are volunteer First Aid Squads all over, but this is far far simpler than that.  And don’t wave the liability flag here, those folks would have to be trained to get access to the app and with the right kind of basic QA program built in you’re golden.

What do you think of the various things mentioned in this video?

  • Motorcycle first response
  • Volunteers
  • Phone App dispatching

 

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.

 

You got WHAT stuck in a bowling ball?

In my memoirs of EMS (Working title – My Life in CQI: Kill me now, just document it properly) some calls will stand above all others.  This, sadly, is not one of mine, but from a friend overseas.

No, not Mark.

I got an email about a curious rescue his agency was called to and was wondering what I would have done.

So, here is the scenario:

 

A 19 year old male has gotten his finger stuck in a bowling ball.  He somehow wedged it in there so far, it up against the webbing of his hand with very little wiggle room.  Rotating the ball is out of the question as he seems to have the finger next to it wedged in almost just as bad.

25 minutes into the call you’ve tried gel, ice, lubricants of questionable origin (who carries that stuff into a bowling alley?) and brute force.  Prayer is taking place and all options seem exhausted when the decision is made to simply move him, and the 16 pound bowling ball, to the hospital.  What will they do there?  Dunno.

 

What would you do?

Show me the Money

Friend of the blog Bill Carey posted on Facebook wondering why so many in EMS think that salary is the one thing holding us back.

Curious, question for EMS folks on FB: It appears, based on comments to various news stories in the past, that the greatest solution to all that ills EMS is greater pay. Respect is restored, working conditions and staffing improve and the general idea of professionalism is better. Fire-based, hospital-based, third service, doesn’t matter, just pay us more and the service will get better.
Really?

No, not really.

The same issues I had when I got the paid gig for $4.35/hr are here at my current gig where medics average $65,000 to start (according to indeed.com).

EMS in general is paid what the market allows and what we are worth.  Keep in mind that EMS does not require a degree and Paramedics can get licensed in as little as 1 year in some places.  If some kid walked into my office and told me he went to school for something for a year my first question would be “When are you going back to finish?”

Pay is a result of our goals, not our goal.

Increasing our education standards and proving our worth to the industry is step number one.  But of course the stumbling block to education is how to pay for it.

If you think the reason you are not treated like a Professional is the size of your paycheck I think I know where your priorities are.  If your first concern is that you don’t have access to enough education I’ll ask where you live and why you’re still there.

There are high paying EMS jobs out there, folks, I’ve had one for 10 years, but you have to be willing to put the effort into it.  No one is going to wander into the station or yard one day and say “You guys are great, here’s a raise.”  Your employer has no incentive to increase your compensation unless they desire a particular set of skills that bring that kind of salary.

EMTs are entry level and their compensation reflects it.

Paramedics have more responsibility and therefore more compensation.

A flight medic has even more responsibility, so more compensation.

A Firefighter/Paramedic has a different skills set, different compensation.

 

You get the salary you’re getting because that’s what you’re worth to your employer.  If you started off at $10 an hour, got your degree, teach on the side, and are still making $10 you need to talk to your employer about the increased value you can bring to the organization.  Maybe you’re in line for a promotion or reassignment with your increased education and experience.

It all comes back to education.  If you learn more, not only can you increase the care you can give to your patients, but you become a more responsible care giver and show your manager that you’re not just in the seat for a thrill, but to make a difference.  Folks like that make less errors, collect less complaints and are more likely to collect extensive billing and demographic information.

That makes you a keeper and worth more to them.  You increased your value.  That is the only way you will increase your compensation.

 

Let’s imagine that I’m wrong and simply snapping our fingers and giving you more money is the solution.

Now you make twice what you did yesterday.  Now what?  Now will you go back to school?  Teach?  Where is the added value we’re paying for?

The patients are the same, your rig is the same, your protocols haven’t changed and you haven’t changed.  There isn’t much we as EMTs and Paramedics can directly control but our own attitude and education are the easiest to improve in a short amount of time.

Just raising your pay won’t improve your attitude or the attitude of your co-workers.  It won’t help your manager see the worker bees from the cling ons and it surely won’t help your patients.

If you think you’re worth more to your organization than you’re being compensated, tell them, and get ready to pack.  The high paying jobs are out there, but you’ll likely be in a busier system and competing against higher education and higher motivated applicants for the extra money.

 

Case in point: me.

When I left my last job I was a Firefighter/Paramedic serving a suburban area working on both the Engine and Ambulance.  I was making just under $10 an hour on a 24 hour schedule.

When I got my degree in EMS and began teaching I knew I could reach out an look around for something better and have a good chance of landing it.

When I got hired in San Francisco as a Firefighter/Paramedic assigned to a 24 hour Ambulance I had tripled my salary.  Tripled.  But the cost of living was double and my old shifts of sleeping most nights turned into 32 run paramedic pinball sessions that I loved, but took their toll.

I moved 800 miles to get that gig and I have the broken down UHaul story to prove it.

You can get a high paying EMS job.  They exist, but you have to work for it.

What are you willing to do to prove your worth to EMS?

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Interventions Issue 4 – Supervisors

Please enjoy!

the Crossover – Episode 11 – Captain Daddy

In this episode, we introduce a special guest that had a major influence in MC's life…CaptainDaddy! Happy picks his brain about getting out of the job "whole". We also chat about retirement systems, budgets and whether drivers of emergency vehicles should be referred to as such.

Episode 11

Epiosde 10 of the Crossover – Quit being stupid!

Happy and Motor are at it again, finally, and this time calling out some stupid things done by stupid people while representing EMS, fire and police. From the ambulance company who lost $1 million to the 27 year old DUI while driving a fire truck and a special comment from Motorcop about a narcotics officer in Happy’s area caught stealing and selling narcotics. Quit being stupid!

EPISODE 10

Idiot

Another great conference comes to a close and the blogosphere is full of great reviews, so many that I have yet to read them all.

Some highlights for me included meeting new faces, like maddog medic and Shaolin Traumashere at meetups and in the Zoll booth.

The most inspirational moment for me came on the last day as things were winding down.  It wasn’t someone inspired by our content or who writes blogs, or even someone who developed a new EMS system or program, but two sisters.

This was also the moment I realized the importance of being a person before being a blogger and how something so seemingly innocent can easily lead to disaster.

Zoll offers a CPR Challenge station so two people can do it side by side and compare their ability.  As I was sipping coffee in the booth, I looked over and saw two girls barely old enough to reach the CPR set up at the station doing their best, which was as good or better than I’ve seen sometimes in the field by “experienced rescuers.”

It was inspirational!  Here were 2 kids barely old enough to spell Emergency, having fun applying the basics of CPR!  Forget teaching this in high schools, we need to move it forward.

Then I ruined the moment, and in an awkward way.  Being the person I am, I wanted to capture this amazing moment I was witnessing.  My hand went instinctively for my phone and before I knew what was happening I was framing up a photo.

Goosebumps were forming on my arms thinking about how the description of what I was seeing could be applied in so many ways to help rescuers and lay people alike take CPR seriously.

Through the viewfinder suddenly the mother of the children was sternly, and rightly, asking me who I was and why I was trying to photograph her children.

Now this moment was stained by my wanting to be a part of it.  The mother’s interaction with me distracted the kids and the moment I had wanted to capture was gone and I felt like an idiot.  I never did snap the photo and offered my phone to her to prove it.  Apologies spilled from my mouth and I returned to the podium where my coffee was and reflected on what had just happened.

“Way to go” I thought to myself.  I could have simply watched, applauded when they were finished and had a perfect memory to use when convincing schools to add CPR classes.

I let my need to capture things digitally interfere with capturing the soul and emotion of what was happening. Something that, I now know, would have been far more powerful than a picture.

The rest of the day and our entire trip home that moment sank in and I began to second guess not getting the photo.

“Perhaps if I explained why?” The little angel on my shoulder offered.

“Oh, yeah sure, tell mom you’re taking the picture to put on the internet, that’ll go smoothly,” responded the devil on the other side.

Now when I reflect on the moment that was, then was not, I realize there was quite the crowd gathering to watch what happened and I ruined it for them as well.

Idiot.

Mentioned on the cover too

There’s a new article in your March EMS World Magazine.  Something about starting IVs or some such nonsense.

And special props to anyone who can identify where I am in the accompanying photo.

Baltimore Checklist

Alright ramblers, let’s get ramblin’!

EMSToday promises to be another huge success and the folks at JEMS are working hard to make the conference their best ever.

Aside from world class presentations for every level of practitioner, manager and owner/Chief, a giant exhibit floor and the popular JEMS games on Friday night, there are a number of things I’m hoping to see in Baltimore this year.

First for me is the reaction to the brand new Brady/San Francisco Paramedic Association curriculum being debuted pre-conference.  Partnering with Chronicles of EMS producer Thaddeus Setla, the folks that brought you high quality video production for Beyond the lights & Sirens and A Seat at the Table have raised the bar in education media.  Gone are the days of a camera pointed at a lectern passing for multi-media in EMS education.  The team is signed on to complete the entire tract and you’ll likely see it in a classroom near you soon.

While on the exhibit floor, I’m going to check in with the folks at AllMed and see what’s new in uniforms and equipment.  AllMed is the supplier of the dress uniforms for Beyond the Lights & Sirens and they always have something new and exciting in the booth.  And they’re the only vendor I recall that brings a seamstress to hem those new pants right there on the show floor!

A big topic at EMSWorld was ambulance safety and I’ll be asking some tough questions of the manufacturers this year, mostly why they keep putting a little box on the back of a pickup truck and call it an ambulance.

Home this year is exactly that, our little corner of the Zoll booth #3707.  Last year we were added at the last minute and had to carve out a section in front of the closet.  Those who visited remember the crowded feeling and we ended up just standing in the isleway.  Zoll saw the crowds we were bringing in and have actually engineered a separate section of their new floor show just for us.  Come see it, meet Ted Setla and record your own “I am EMS 2.0″ video.  While there, get a free CoEMS T-shirt and find out how you can be a part of the new First Responders Network TV channel.  Oops, I’ve said too much.

The show is going to be great and the folks at JEMS will no doubt outdo themselves again.

But what to do when the classes are over and the hall closed?  That leaves the out of conference activities to us!

Here’s your cheat sheet:

Wednesday night-

Pratt Street Ale House – Directly across from the convention center, second floor, the Zoll Pre-Conference Blogger Bash, beginning at 8pm – 11pm.  A non-formal, smaller gathering to get fired up for the opening of the conference.

Thursday night-

Uno’s Chicago Grill – Farther up Pratt street in the Harbor, THIS is the meetup everyone is talking about.  Hosted by FireEMSBlogs this is the gathering that last year garnered the attention of most EMS bloggers, most fire bloggers and a handful of Chiefs who were curious what we were up to.  I know everyone last year just came to meet Mark Glencorse, but this year promises to be another amazing success.  The guys from GoForward Media know how to throw a party and have spent a year planning this event to blow all previous events out of the water.  And considering their events in Indy and Houston last year, the bar is set pretty high.  You’ll need the Zoll Pre-Conference party just to condition yourself for this one I promise you!

Did I miss anything?