Syndicated Columnists

Stealing the Show

My cousin Caroline, a teacher at the Broad Street School, right in the heart of my first-in district, asked me if I could visit her kindergarten class with the fire truck. She thought her students would love it. I agreed, and we set a date and time. I explained that I had transferred from Engine Co. 9 to Rescue Co. 1 a year ago, and the advanced life support fire department vehicle with lights, sirens, a stretcher, and lots of fun medical gadgets that I would be bringing to her kids would be even more fun than a boring old fire truck. After pleading unsuccessfully for me to arrange for the fire engine to come with us, she reluctantly agreed.


My partner Brian suggested that it might be a good idea to have the crew from Engine Co. 13 join us, as in his experience little kids love and respect fire trucks and firefighters.

“Nonsense,” I said. “All children understand the importance and awesomeness of ambulances, and every child worth half his weight in bandages wants to be a paramedic when they grow up!”

As soon as Rescue 1 showed up, it was abundantly clear that the kids loved the ambulance! My cousin, who is trained and actually quite adept at keeping a hoard of five- and six-year-olds under control relinquished command of her class to me. They could not get enough of my ambulance and climbed all over the inside, messed up the stretcher, got their greasy little fingerprints on everything, played with things they shouldn’t have been touching, and created such sweet mayhem I just couldn’t make them stop.

Honestly, I couldn’t make them stop! I ordered them to stop, demanded they stop, cried, begged and stomped my feet, but the madness continued, unabated.  

Brian, 20 years younger than me, a black belt in karate, and a commanding presence, managed to rein them in long enough to show them how to operate the sirens and lights. Then he stepped back; snorted a sinister chuckle; said something about kids loving ambulances; and stood alongside my cousin, shook his head in dismay, and watched as my “firetruck” was completely ransacked. I was overwhelmed. The lights and sirens were bad enough, but when they found the radio and figured out how to use it, I surrendered. After wrestling the mic out of their little fingers, I issued a Mayday:


“Rescue 1 to Fire Alarm, have Engine 13 respond to The Broad Street School Code C to assist the rescue on scene.”

“Roger Rescue 1, nature for the incoming company?”

“Crowd control.”

There! That should settle the little creatures down. In my head I imagined my saviors cresting the hill at the corner of Broad and Eddy, deck gun pumping 1000 gallons of water a minute, kindergarten kids being swept up in the flood, Brian and Cousin Caroline with their smug little grins washed off of their smug little faces and me, back in control of Rescue Co. 1!

I let the mayhem continue, knowing salvation was a minute away.

(1) Me and my grandson, Jaxon Chase.


“A real firetruck!” shouted one of the kids, and I knew my time in hell was nearly through. The little fiends dropped me and my ambulance like a hot potato and formed a single file line at Cousin Caroline’s request, stood like little awestruck angels as Engine Co. 13 slowed to a stop at the curb. One by one they asked questions, and the firefighters obliged, let them sit in the driver’s seat, let them touch certain things but not others, showed them how the truck worked, made them laugh, smile and jump for joy. And when the firefighters operated to pump for them, and let the kids use the booster line, guess who got wet? If you guessed the kids, you guessed wrong. Very wrong.

Anyway, fun was had by all, and everybody learned something from our visit. Except for me, I still insist kids would love ambulances if not for the fire truck always showing up and stealing the show!


Categories: Syndicated Columnists

What Dilly Wants

EMScapades Cartoon - Tue, 04/23/2019 - 09:49
Categories: EMS, Syndicated Columnists

I’m with you…

Michael Morse - Rescuing Providence - Mon, 04/22/2019 - 09:52

I miss getting to work an hour early, picking up the paper from the ramp, the apparatus floor ghostly quiet, entering

Morning after a multi-alarm Thanksgiving Day fire in Salem, Massachusetts

the boot room, smoke mixed with sweat and leather, gear lined up, squared away, waiting for bodies to fill it.

I miss signing the accountability sheet, seeing who was already there, climbing the stairs and entering the day room, hot coffee ready, quiet now, before the banter begins.

I miss telling the person I relieved they’re “all set,” telling my officer, “I’m with you,” then catching up on the night’s events as the sun breaks the horizon and a new day begins.

It’s the mundane things I miss, almost as much as the fires and rescues. The routine, familiar things that made up my days on duty; the 0800 time signal, housework, washing the truck, checking the equipment, starting the generators and saws, fuelling up, district inspections and yes, even drilling.

There is an ebb and flow in the fire service; routine interrupted by chaos. The chaos gets the glory, but the routine keeps us sane. There is something timeless about that, the firefighters come and go, vehicles get replaced, but the spirit of the station never changes.

Yeah, I miss it, but every day I am grateful that I am aware it exists, and I was once a part of it.

Image Courtesy of Andrew Sievert

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Rural EMS operations during an active-shooter incident

Syndicated Columnists - Mon, 04/22/2019 - 03:55
What can you do if you don’t expect sufficient law enforcement escort into the ‘warm zone’ to arrive in time?
Categories: Syndicated Columnists

The Routine

Michael Morse - Rescuing Providence - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 08:16

I miss getting to work an hour early, the apparatus floor ghostly quiet, the boot room waiting, smoke mixed with sweat and leather, gear lined up, squared away, waiting for bodies to fill it.

Brook Street E-9 and L-8

I miss signing the accountability sheet, seeing who was already there, climbing the stairs and entering the day room, hot coffee ready, quiet now, before the banter begins.

I miss telling the person I relieved they’re “all set,” telling my officer, “I’m with you,” then catching up on the night’s events as the sun breaks the horizon and a new day begins.

It’s the mundane things I miss, almost as much as the fires and rescues. The routine, familiar things that made up my days on duty; the 0800 time signal, housework, washing the truck, checking the equipment, starting the generators and saws, fuelling up, district inspections and yes, even drilling.

There is an ebb and flow in the fire service; routine interrupted by chaos. The chaos gets the glory, but the routine keeps us sane. There is something timeless about that, the firefighters come and go, vehicles get replaced, but the spirit of the station never changes.

Yeah, I miss it, but every day I am grateful that I am aware it exists, and I was once a part of it.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Could Be Karma

EMScapades Cartoon - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 07:29
Categories: EMS, Syndicated Columnists

How marijuana legalization impacts trauma

Syndicated Columnists - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 04:32
Types and frequency of traumatic injury secondary to marijuana intoxication described at EMS World Expo World Trauma Symposium
Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Understanding the new EMS Scope of Practice Model

Syndicated Columnists - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 00:39
Our co-hosts discuss the recently-released 2019 EMS Scope of Practice Model and underscore what has changed for providers
Categories: Syndicated Columnists

It’s what we give

Michael Morse - Rescuing Providence - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 08:32

Life is short. When we are kids our days seem endless, and days and weeks crawl by.

As we age, and count our time on earth in years, then decades, we begin to see just how quickly it all passes.

In our youth, we are fascinated with

Lilyana in the officer’s seat.

possibilities; anything is possible, and the world is ours for the taking.

As life progresses, we learn that it is not about what we take; rather, it is what we give that matters.

As parents, we learn that taking everything we can to achieve happiness is a fool’s game. We know that it is in the giving where true satisfaction derives.

The fire service provides the perfect opportunity to find purpose, contentment, and the elusive happiness that every person craves.

To give our children every opportunity we can imagine, including but certainly not limited to the opportunity to pursue the life we have led, is the greatest gift we can give them.

Denying them the chance to experience it because of the inherent risk is simply not an option.

Sometimes we have to risk everything or live with the regret that not taking a chance breeds.

Some people can live with that and leave the risk taking to others.

Theirs is a sheltered life, a safe life, a life often lived without passion. It is not the life that we have chosen; and, make no mistake, we are the ones who choose to live the firefighter’s life.

Our children, should they choose to follow our path, make that choice as well.

Nobody can do the job without wanting it, and nobody can make another person want it.

If the people we brought into this world have decided that they wish to follow in our footsteps and live the life we have chosen, they do so because they have seen with their own eyes, felt with their own hearts, and know with their intellect that firefighting is worth the risk.

We do not “let our kids follow in our footsteps.” They have seen for themselves what a firefighter is and have chosen to follow our path into the fire service and create their own footsteps along the way.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Article Bites: Measuring the impact of a telehealth program on ambulance transports

Syndicated Columnists - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 04:29
The feasibility of a telehealth program within a large EMS system highlights progress in matching healthcare resources with patient needs
Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Great learner-centered presentations for EMS presenters

Syndicated Columnists - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 04:12
Follow these 5 tips to captivate your audience, include easy-to-see visuals, follow the rule of sevens and avoid panel discussions that will put your audience to sleep
Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Heart of a Firefighter

Michael Morse - Rescuing Providence - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 13:11

There’s something about Fire Chaplains. . .


‘He showed no fear at all as he made straight for the relics inside the Cathedral, and made sure they were saved. He deals with life and death every day, and shows no fear.’

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Context Is Crucial

EMScapades Cartoon - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 09:16
Categories: EMS, Syndicated Columnists

Friendship forged in fire

Michael Morse - Rescuing Providence - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 07:01

By Michael Morse

Before you know it, your career will be over. You may make it 10, 20, 30, or 40-plus years; it matters not, it goes by in a blink. I made it to 25, spent more time than I care to recall complaining about this or that, the shift coming in or the shift going out. As great as the job is, far too many of us wish it were better, or that the public appreciated us, or that the politicians would stop with their endless wants.

Image by Eric Norberg

One thing is certain: The job will outlast each and every one of us. Where there is uncontrolled fire, there are people needed to put it out. Who better than us? Nobody, that’s who. The people we work with are what make the job so great. It’s the people who make us laugh, have our back, give us an endless stream of material to exploit, and keep things interesting.

Enjoy those friendships, for they will not last forever. A fortunate few have the capacity to maintain numerous friendships throughout their lives; the rest of us settle for one or two close friends and rely on family as our years add up and people in our lives diminish.

We are fortunate. Our working years are spent with like-minded individuals whose bond is unbreakable during difficult times, tested under fire, and strengthened by our ability to work together to accomplish the seemingly impossible. Friendship forged in fire is forever, at least in our memories. It is difficult to keep a department full of people on speed dial. And, as the years continue, the calls slow down, nights out are more often spent with our spouses, and the thrill of camaraderie takes a back seat to the satisfaction of raising a family.

I think it has to be that way. I could wallow in misery, thinking that the phone never rings, my brothers have forsaken me, and that those friendships were just an illusion. Or, I can live secure in the knowledge that what we had was more real than anybody has the right to imagine. I can see those friendships for what they are: moments in time spent with people who were, and will always be, vitally important pieces of a life well lived.

We cannot live forever shadowed by what our lives used to be. We were giants once and donned the gear and did things that others call heroic. But that comes to an end, and living life without the possibility of the bell tipping or the tones going off need not be done wishing for something better, more vibrant, more life affirming and thrilling.

We few, we happy few, we can bask in the memory of battles waged, lives saved, and friendship like no other nurtured under fire.

I cannot and will not ask for or expect anything better than that.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Only Twenty

Michael Morse - Rescuing Providence - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 12:29

Image by Eric Norberg

Twenty years ago I thought I would do this job forever. I had a dream; work in Providence till I was sixty and they threw me out, then move to somewhere where they have a volunteer fire department and put my experience to good use. The department offered a 50% pension after twenty years, we contribute 9 1/2 % of our pay toward the fund, the city contributes the rest. “That’s nice,” I thought, never considering I would actually leave after twenty.

Time marches on, and twenty years passed in the blink of an eye. The person I was when I started is long gone, a different, more somber, at times cynical person has taken his place. People who walked in my shoes fought for the twenty year pension deal, knowing from experience that twenty years in firefighter time is a long, long time. They knew, as only one who lived the life will ever know, that for some, twenty years is enough. They knew that at forty-five or fifty, starting a new career is not that easy, or starting a business when everybody else had a twenty year head start challenging to say the least.

I remember sitting in at a critical incident debriefing a few hours after I held two dead infants in my arms. My latex gloves melted into their skin their bodies were so hot as I tried unsuccessfully to revive them with my new CPR skills. I bagged the one year old – Savannah was her name I found out later, while doing compressions on the other, John. It was rough, but it was what I had signed on for. The guy that brought the babies from the fire to me was a twenty year veteran firefighter, a tough guy by all accounts. When it was his turn to speak he filled with tears, and couldn’t. He hung his head and valiantly tried to express his feelings, but couldn’t. He left the room. A few months later he was gone. Retired. He told me much later that it wasn’t necessarily that call that did it, it was all the calls leading up to and including that one that finished him. He simply could not do it again.

I should have learned a lesson that day, but mired in the arrogance of youth I hadn’t lived enough to sense my own frailty. I was invincible. I thought of him the other day, as I drove home from what I thought was an unremarkable tour. As I neared my street, I thought of the little girl who claimed to have injured her knee and refused to move from the gymnasium floor. Her mother looked on from a distance, annoyed as I tried to figure out what was wrong. No bleeding or deformity, swelling or anything really. She showed me her other knee as a comparison, and I noticed bruises, weeks old on both legs, and both arms, and a haunted look on her face. I let it go, we can’t save everybody, and she probably is just an active kid who bruises easily.

Or not.

I turned onto my street, and had to stop the car. Where was the little girl now? Was she home, in her room, reading or watching TV, or was she being punished for being a crybaby, like the kid a few weeks ago whose mother called us because her son “fell” from his bed. Fell and had severe head trauma and curling iron burns on his legs.  It took ten minutes for me to pull myself together before I could walk in my door and not bring twenty years worth of memories with me.

I haven’t been sleeping. It’s been going on for months now, every night that I’m home I’ll go into a fitful slumber around midnight, only to be fully awake at around two. I toss and turn for hours, finally getting some relief from my spinning mind at sunrise, only to be back up an hour later. I grab an hour here and there as time permits but have no idea what a full nights sleep feels like, unless it is drug induced, but I try to avoid that.

What runs through my mind is probably similar to every other person my age; are the kids really okay, will the bills get paid, am I truly happy or is this just an illusion, is that spot on my back the cancer that will kill me or just a mole. Then I get the ghosts.

-the baby that was run over by the eighteen wheeler as it turned the corner on North Main and Doyle, dead in the middle of the street, the baby carriage twisted and crushed one hundred feet from the body

-the guy that was buried alive at sunset on Dorothy, and his lifeless arm that was the first thing we dug up

-the twenty year old guy and his twenty year old friend, dead in the front seat of their Mustang at the Atwells Ave off ramp

-the fifty-five year old guy who was new at motorcycle riding who tapped a rear view mirror, lost control on 195, flipped over the jersey barrier and was crushed by a Toyota Camry full of kids. We found his foot later, still in his boot

-the eighteen year old tattoo artist found hanging in his basement by his roomate

-my friends brother found hanging in his bedroom closet

-a RISD student found hanging from the wrought iron fence at Prospect Park

-the kid found hanging off the side of his house on New Years Eve

-the fifty-five year old who told his wife he was going golfing, started his car, didn’t open the garage door and died next to his clubs

-the forty year old who held up traffic while he considered jumping from the overpass, then did as the crowd that had formed cheered

-the college kid who fell eighty feet to his death the week before Christmas

-the baby who rolled himself into his blanket and suffocated, while his dad was napping on the couch

-my friend Kenny who had a heart attack at his third building fire of the day, and had to be defibrillated, and came back to life but not the job

-the seventeen year old girl who bled to death in the front seat of a car that had struck a tree while eluding police as her friends picked her pockets of the crack vials they were selling

-the baby born dead and put into a hefty bag

-the woman dead in her kitchen with a bullet hole in her forehead and her three children sitting on a couch in the next room

-the two babies that broke the veteran firefighter

-the eight year old deaf girl who broke my heart when I learned she had been prostituting for her foster parents

–the twenty-year old dancer dead in her car after taking all of her pills, and the vomit covered note on her lap

-the family dead behind the front door as the fire burned out of control behind them

-delivering a baby in the back of the rescue and having the mother yell get that thing away from me when I handed it to her

-watching blood gush from a hole in a man’s head while doing compressions

There are dozens, hundreds more, all waiting for that delicate twilight between sleep and consciousness to come uninvited into my mind. More join the parade every day that I come to work. Just this week a twenty three year old hit and killed while waking home from a nightclub, a thirty year old guy shot in the head, back and legs who walked to the rescue then collapsed.

I am not a machine. I am a simple person who signed on to do a job, and have done it well. If I choose to leave this year, I will do so with my head held high, regardless of what people say about how lucky I am to get to retire after only twenty years 

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

What are you bringing home with you?

Syndicated Columnists - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 00:03
Understand how the experiences you have as an EMS provider can shape your relationships with your family
Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Hey Firefighter; don’t you dare apologize for working!

Michael Morse - Rescuing Providence - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 12:05

I’m a lot like most firefighters I know; we work. We didn’t become firefighters because we were looking for the easy way.

The fire service has been very good to me. I put a lot into it, took every opportunity to advance, got the certifications and commensurate pay raises.

Overtime was abundant. That was a bonus I never saw coming, when I was hired in 1991 there was zero overtime, and that lasted for years. As the years progressed the city didn’t keep up with hiring and overtime was used to fill vacancies on our minimum manning roster. Some see that as a union money grab, but those same some would complain if we ran the department with volunteers.

Nonetheless, I’ve always had a job on the side. When I say always, I mean always. When I was old enough and would babysit, I got a paper route. When I stopped babysitting I did the paper route and cut lawns. Then cutting lawns and a job at the closest restaurant washing dishes. Then washing dishes at one place and bussing tables at another. That went from bussing tables to cooking at a third place, which metamorphosed into a cooks job while waiting tables, then tending bar by night and working construction by day. The construction thing led to some clean-ups, which led to my cleaning company by night and tending bar on weekends.

Eventually I was hired as a firefighter in Providence, and I tended bar on weekends and cleaned offices at night to subsidies the six months of minimum wage I earned while in the academy. Once on the job I dumped the bartending gig and kept the cleaning business, which I did up until a few years ago.

Some of us work second jobs to make ends meet. Some do it because they know no other way. Some are happy to do the demanding hours at the station and leave it at that. Whatever works is what I say, and kudos to everybody who finds contentment with what they do.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Always Tell The Truth

EMScapades Cartoon - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 08:13
Categories: EMS, Syndicated Columnists

How the new American Paramedic Association focuses on providers

Syndicated Columnists - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 01:32
Our co-hosts discuss the new American Paramedic Association and its creation out of a need to represent the voices of paramedics in the field
Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Medic Mindset Podcast: Thinking about Syncope

Syndicated Columnists - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 00:14
Austin Travis County Deputy Medical Director Jason Pickett identifies syncope differential and the applications for spinal motion restriction and point of care ultrasound
Categories: Syndicated Columnists


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