The Ramblings of a Quixotic Dad, Firefighter, EMT, and God-knows-what-else…

Archive for March, 2012

Magic 10

So far, I’ve had 10 blog views today. That’s the most I’ve had in one day, and up until now is equal to more than I had for the rest of the week. 

I’d like to thank saltymedic for the shout-out in her blog today. I’m really new to this, so anytime I get viewers I get excited.

I know. I’m a dork.

To anyone who is/was reading, thanks. Hopefully, my blog can mean something to someone else. 


Pertinent Negatives, Teenage Angst

Something wrong bud?”


In EMS, they teach us to look for pertinent negatives. If they’re not having chest pain, not nauseated, not short on breath, then they’re probably not having a heart attack, and it’s probably something else.

My stepson has the pertinent negatives. He’s not happy, not stuffing his face, and not talking. Especially not to his mom or I. And he’s definitely not crying (he says).

Sounds like girl problems. Or at the very least a bad case of the teenage angst.

Sigh. He and his sisters have been with grandma all week, and this is what we get when he gets home.


One day at work, we ran a drug overdose call. It was my rookie’s second or third shift, and he was definitely new to the wonderful world of EMS.

We walk in to the house and find a young woman in her mid 20’s laying on the kitchen floor, barely breathing. Her boyfriend is there next to her. His parents are standing in the living room holding a baby. They’re nicely dressed, respectable people, obviously unhappy with where they are and what’s going on in front of them.

“What’d she take?”

“Fentanyl. It’s her drug of choice. She drew up a hit for me and a hit for herself, and when I came back to do mine she was like this.”

Long story short, a little Narcan later and she was awake, talking, and pissed to have come off a killer high.

When we got back to the station, my rookie walked over to me and asked me if it’s always like that.

“Like what?”

“That dude just talked about shooting up like she’d just poured a couple shots of whiskey or something. And he had no problem telling you about it.”

You know, it’s funny. We’re not cops. When people have to call us after snorting, smoking, shooting up, etc, they usually don’t have a care in the world about telling us. It’s almost like they’re inviting you into their world as if you were an old friend.

Most people end up talking. Women talk about periods, drug users about their habits, gangsters about their babies cough that has them scared shitless.

And yet I can’t get my own kid to tell me what’s going on in his world.

Sometimes, this parenting shit sucks.




I would shiver the whole night through…

So I was having a minor email debate with my brother today. I sent him a link to the Nirvana Unplugged recording of Kurt Cobain singing “Where Did You Sleep Last Night,” an old folk song that was made famous by the blues singer Lead Belly. I honestly believe it to be the greatest live recording of ANY song. 

He disagreed, favoring Clapton unplugged. Excellent choice, but it never haunted me the way Cobain’s does.

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. The only bad thing is that it makes me painfully aware of how little talent I really have.

Random, I know. But it’s just so dern awesome.


Station(ary) on Sunday

I composed a long posting over professionalism based on a recent experience I had with an EMS crew in my area.

All it lacks is an ending.

I can’t seem to give it one. I’m not sure if that’s because I can’t really condemn the crew for the way they acted, or if it’s because I’m stuck at the station today and just don’t care enough to finish.

Who knows.

So far today I’ve seen one person having a massive stroke while the staff at the assisted care facility kept passing the buck around as to whose patient he actually was and another lady who’s had four heart attacks, two in the last three weeks, one last Monday, and quite frankly was probably having one today (didn’t get to stick around long enough to see the 12-lead).

So quite frankly, I’m just not feeling it today.

Plus, I tend to miss my wife when I’m at work. Seeing as she’s the only real reason I have a blog, I’m sure that’s a contributing factor to my inability to come up with anything remotely interesting.

C’est la vie.

Respice post te! Hominem te esse memento! Memento mori!

It may be just a legend. No one is really sure.

Picture this: The streets are full today. Plebeians and senators, soldiers and scholars; all are there. The delineations between classes are not as apparent today as they usually are.

Over the roar of the crowd, you catch the slightest echo of something. You strain harder to hear it, and there it is again, only louder. Horns. The deep, throaty rumble of horns. The clap of iron sandals on stone. The harsh crack of drums. As the noise grows, the shouts and yells of the crowd slowly meld together into a colossal cheer.

Then you see him.

He rides in a chariot pulled by white horses. His armor is draped with the skins of leopards and the deep purple of royal robes. On his brow sits a laurel crown, the gold leaf glinting in the sun. Behold, the victorious general, returned to Rome and honored for the glory he has brought it.

But it is not the general who catches your eye. It is the lowly slave behind him, the one who almost seems to disappear in the general’s splendor. You can see him whisper into the victor’s ear, but you can not hear over the cheer of the crowd.

Respice post te! Hominem te esse memento! Memento mori!”

“Look behind you! Remember that you are but a man! Remember that you shall die!”

Maybe it’s true. Who knows. The Romans didn’t always keep the most accurate histories. It’s been argued that the story of the servant is more a moral reminder than a literal history.  Perhaps it was meant to serve as a warning to the rivals of Caesar – remember that while you are the victor today, you may fall tomorrow, especially if Caesar wills it.

Remember, thou art mortal.

I’m rambling again. It’s what I do. But this is the story that came to mind this morning as I sat at work. While I was roved out to another station, my regular engine crew ran a cardiac arrest today. I honestly don’t know the specifics, but it wouldn’t matter if I did. They rarely differ. This one did slightly, as resuscitation was ceased on scene. We often ride in, still performing compressions. Not today. No need.

In a recent med refresher course in which they stressed the importance of quality compressions and minimized interruptions (because we didn’t know that already, apparently), they pointed out an interesting fact. I don’t recall the doctor’s name, or what his title was, but I do recall that he was a major player in resuscitation research. One of his key points is that the success of a cardiac arrest resuscitation is almost always determined on scene. If they don’t regain pulses before we put them in the ambulance, they probably won’t get them back at all.

When I first got into EMS, I had to take my CPR class just like everyone else. I was lucky. I had a burned out, retired medic as my instructor, and there were only two of us in the class.

She didn’t sugarcoat it. She told us the things they don’t typically tell you about CPR.

She told us that we would save less than 8% of our cardiac arrest patients. She told us that we would break ribs. She told us we would stare into open, empty eyes while families screamed at us, and that we would begin to feel remorse for working most. I’m glad she prepared me for that.

That’s not to say that I’ve lost my compassion. Far from it. If anything, the calls that haunt me the most aren’t the bloody traumas or massive AMI’s. No, for me, it’s the wife hugging her son in the corner, crying into his shoulder as we pump on the cracking chest of her husband of 50 years. It’s the tears in the crystal blue eyes of a 50 year old man as we tell him not to be scared while we hand squeeze saline bags to try and force fluid into him and to force his pressure above 70. It’s his quiet whisper of “I’m not scared,” while the monitor shows a massive heart attack that has pushed him into cardiogenic shock, and that will ultimately take his life in the next two hours.

What we do is important. CPR is important, and it saves lives. But the ones we don’t save slip in line behind us as make our triumphal entry through the sliding ambulance bay doors with the patient we just snatched from the jaws of death, whispering in our ears:

Respice post te! Hominem te esse memento! Memento mori!”

“This is the way the world [begins]”

“…not with a bang but a whimper.”

Sorry, T.S. Eliot. The Hollow Men is a great poem. Hence I jacked the line. It just didn’t fit my opening, since I’m starting my blog, not ending it (yet; the night is young).

My gorgeous, super-talented poet wife has told me I should start a blog for a couple of years now. I really don’t know what inspired me to finally do it. Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation from coming off-shift and then staying up all night with her while she works on her manuscript. Maybe it’s some need to chronicle my life so that I feel that I’m actually accomplishing something. Maybe it’s the ridiculous number of blogs I just read. Maybe I’m bored.

Maybe I’m tilting at windmills and trying to exorcise some internal demons. Who the hell knows.

I really don’t know what kind of blog this will be. My wife had once told me to do it as an outlet for work. I’m a professional firefighter/EMT, so there’s typically plenty of material from that. People sure do love to give me job security. I’m not sure that’s what I want to write about, though. At least not all the time. EMS blogging carries with it a huge weight of responsibility and liability due to privacy law. So, while I will undoubtedly have the occasional work related rant, I’ll probably just ramble. About anything. And everything.

I ramble. It’s what I do. My wife tends to remind me of that fact after I give the kids a 20 minute lecture when a simple “do your chores” would have sufficed. Maybe that’s why I’m writing this. It’s a place to ramble that won’t bother my wife and kids and waste their time. That way, they can just skip it if they don’t want to hear it (an option I don’t always give them in person).

Regardless, it’s here now. I guess I’ll just have to see where it takes me.