Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Too Much Material, Too Little Time, and a Vision of the Future

As I click the blog links that #CoEMS puts on Twitter for the EMS/Fire blog community, I find myself envious. Not only do I wish that I had put out some of that great material myself, but I think of all the things I'd love to blog about but never seem to have the time to post.

At the end of the day when you leave your 9-5 or shift work job, you collect your check and there's a on the other side of the timeclock. When I left the State after a two year project and started working for myself, with it came a whole new level of responsibility and accountibilty. It was all about getting the contract work done, even if that meant working nights and weekends. The downside is having too little time for things that I would like to be doing. The upside of this life is, that I'm not doing any one thing until I'm bored and drooling. Anyone that ever worked EMS would never be happy in some cramped office cubicle crunching numbers.

I don't think I've ever had just one job. When I was an EMT I was also working as an ER Tech. I did Red Cross work and was a Ski Patroller. As a medic, I went back to teach at the school where I was trained. Teaching became something I loved and have been doing since the late 80's. I've never figured out the exact numbers, but I know the EMS careers that started with my training are well into the thousands. Recently, at TAK Response, I ran into a Captain from Sparks, Nevada and recognized him immediately. I think he went through my EMT class in 1987!It's definately nice to know where thier careers have gone. I'm still in touch with quite a few.

So, I teach; do EMS training and QI for a fire department and a dispatch center; and do field training exercises for the federal government during the summer. That's the meat and potatoes. You gotta admit though, at least there's variety. I'm also the training Officer for Disaster Medical Assistance team CA-6, so there's always potential for a deployment.

What's down the road? That's the fun part. 2010 was stellar in terms of opportunity and meeting fantastic people. I was involved in the first ever TAK Response EMS/Fire/Police/Homeland Security conference in San Jose last September; I'm working with a training center called Public Safety Training Group in Brentwood; and I met a couple fire guys that are creating an awesome electronic PCR on an iPad called "iPCR". The product is by and for firefighter EMTs and paramedics and the iPad format is going to rock the EMS world. I will be doing a lot of work for them in an advisory capacity. And then there's Chronicles of EMS.

I "met" Thaddeus (Ted) Setla on Twitter. I followed his links to the "Level Zero Movie" that he created for Alameda County (where I first worked in Northern California) and was blown away at the sincerity and quality of his work.

I can't tell you how many relationships (read: friendships) I've made at 140 characters at a time. Ted always has his antennae out for talented, like-minded people that could compliment his effort of making EMS a better place. When I was in the field I had a lot of great ideas, but the boss would just pat me on the head and tell me to go back to my ambulance or polish my boots. "Boots on the ground" folks had no say in how good patient care can be accomplished much less how an operation should be run. Social media changed all that. Through Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn etc., EMS people have formed a community to discuss, commisserate, share, and create ideas on how EMS should be. We educate ourselves on best practices for patient care; we create CE opportunities that are exciting, interesting and relevant; we can rant on our blogs and can invite other opinions if we have a question. Occasionally we have a live "tweetup" and share a beer. We communicate through social media, blogs, podcasts, websites, Skype, and now video. On an occasional Saturday night someone might tweet that there's a Scrubs party on one of the streaming video channels. We get together, watch an episode of Scrubs, chat and laugh our asses off while @chicagomedic serenades us with his guitar. We have west coasters east coasters, Canadians and Brits. It's a great party with great friends. You just have to bring your own beer!

But, I digress. So Setla gives me a call one day after I first started seeing him on Twitter, and I hear about his vision for Chronicles: having a UK medic and a San Francisco Fire medic actually working within each other's system and filming it. What a great concept! The comparing and sharing of concepts now reaches across the pond. This idea led to the "Seat at the Table" discussion forum on the Chronicles site which allows field people to give voice to thier ideas - that which we never had in the 80's and 90's. I was proud to be among those who were invited to those first sessions. That was the proverbial "tip of the iceberg" of what Chronicles can and will be doing. So many creative people, so many good ideas, and now, so much good collaboration is bringing the Chronicles team up to a level never yet achieved by a bunch of fireguys and medics. Don'tcha love it! the good part is that people from all across the country, and even across the pond, get to be part of it. Wait till you see what's in the works for 2011!

Since this blog goes out to multiple places, I'll also throw out there that creating quality video isn't cheap and the types of things we're doing requires expensive equipment and lots of travel and accomodation expenses. Any vendors out there that want to tap into a huge, committed bunch of EMS people, (with thier own significant following) consider sponsoring Chronicles. Our hope is that PBS stations will also start taking notice of a show with "real people" doing "real medicine". Check us out at If nothing else, it's fun to watch Justin, a fire medic turned spokesperson. He makes me feel all fannygirly!

On a personal note, I've finally completed my BS degree (seems oddly appropriate as I'm generally full of it); done a few EMS podcasts; and want to get back to my own podcast that's been sadly neglected. Speaking of podcasting, I'm having fun doing a major role in a friend's full production podcast novel. Last month I bit the bullet and submitted my novel to a national contest. I guess we'll see if I'm going to spend my golden years writing New York Times best sellers!

Well, this was supposed to be an update, not an explosion of verbal diarrhea. Immodium anyone? I guess I've been holding back too long. I have a guest column coming up, but I think I'll make that a separate post. I'd love to have you follow my blog and/or make a comment. It's feels awfully lonely here with just 11 friends. Maybe more visitors would stimulate me to produce more content! (Maybe I can put Justin's picture on the top? That would bring in the women!)

If you're more interested in my writing life rather than EMS life, pop over to Again, I'd love to hear from you!

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