Syndicated Columnists

Living the dream

Michael Morse - Rescuing Providence - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 14:43


I first felt it nearly twenty five years ago. A glow in the distance, cold wind snapping through the tiller cab, not needed to keep me awake, the promise of fire in the distance got my heart pumping. A tillerman on the Providence Fire Department heading toward a two alarm fire in the middle of a cold winter night is the King of the World. Everything is in focus, the rear of the ladder truck your only responsibility, the wheel in your hands keeping you grounded. Three triple deckers burning, high tension wires falling to the ground. The first fire building let go, the front of the building collapsing in front of Engine 12, cutting off their water supply. A forth home ready to ignite, the vinyl siding already melting to the ground, the family who lived there running out the front door. Me and Danny Brodeur taking a 2 1/2’ attack line from the rear of Engine 7, Carl Richards at the pump squeezing a little more water out of the overburdened pump so we could save the exposure. Lieutenant Healy, standing in the loft of the third fire building before the smoke had cleared, looking toward the east, simply stating “we’ll be here at sunrise.”

The same feeling returns, again and again, this time years later, in the loft of an abandoned home on Bowen Street, me and Peter Sperdutti, heavy fire, a window and a charged 1 ¾ line. Two other houses burned on either side of us. I was on my third pack, just about spent, as was everybody else on this Memorial Day afternoon. It was us or the fire. The fire lost.

Me and Chris Lisi on the third floor of a filthy tenement on Smith Hill. A woman called because her husband was sick. He took his last breaths as we walked into their apartment. We strapped him onto the stair chair and hauled him out. I called for back-up, Engine 7 could be heard in the distance as we put the man on the stretcher and started CPR. I sat in the captain’s chair and watched the guys work, IV, 02, ekg, epi, atropine, check pulse, epi, atropine…all the way to the ER. They had a pulse when we left. When things quieted down I looked into the back of the rescue, recalling the effort just put forth and felt it again.

A guy with two bullets in his head, still breathing, fighting, dying. We did our thing, got him to the trauma room. He’s still alive. I wrote about it and posted the experience on this blog. A few days later, the patient’s sister left a comment after reading the post, thanked us for a job well done and let me know her brother was still alive, still fighting. That same feeling returned, stronger than ever.

I am not a religious man. I don’t believe in fate, or destiny. I’m not sure of the existence of God. All that I’m sure of is what see and feel. The things I’ve seen in twenty five years make it difficult to believe in much of anything. What I’ve felt is a different story. When surrounded by chaos, my life and the lives of others relying on how we respond to the challenge before us an indescribable calm takes over. It’s as if the rest of my time is spent merely existing, it’s when when crisis hits and the outcome is in question that I truly feel alive.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Paramedic Chief Digital: Defining EMS providers' role in the opioid epidemic

Syndicated Columnists - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 08:00
Despite national recognition, widespread access to naloxone, and millions allocated to grants to combat the opioid epidemic, drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, killing an estimated 60,000 people in 2016. In this issue of Paramedic Chief, learn from EMS pioneers who are piloting community paramedicine and mobile healthcare initiatives and leading the charge ...
Categories: Syndicated Columnists

EMS Today 2018 Quick Take: Swift water rescue safety and techniques

Syndicated Columnists - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 11:24
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A successful shore-based swift water rescue begins with pre-planning, the right equipment, thorough training and an effective scene assessment. In their session at EMS Today 2018, presenters Greg Merrell, EMT, major, Oklahoma City Fire Department; and Brian Weatherford, owner, Mid America Rescue Co., discussed on scene actions to facilitate a safe rescue with the following objectives: ...
Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Misery Schedule has been posted…

Michael Morse - Rescuing Providence - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 11:18

Due to the overabundance of

The misery mask

misery in the emergency medical field, of which yours truly is an active participant, I hereby suggest the following schedule of miserableness be implemented:

0800-1000 hrs Firefighters

1000-1200 hrs EMT-Paramedics

1200-1300 hrs Lunch-misery at will

1300- 1500 hrs Nurses

1500-1700 hrs Doctors

1700-1900 hrs Security

1900-2000 hrs Dinner-misery at will

2000-2200 hrs Secrataries

2200-midnight Group misery

Midnight-0800 hrs complete, total, utter misery with brief moments of tolerableness

Please keep substitutions of misery to a minimum as the miserable people struggling through their shifts in a completely overburdened, overwhelmed, over-tired and overworked state depend on a non misery inflicted person to lighten their load.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Superficial burn care for the fireground

Syndicated Columnists - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 13:10
Sponsored by Masimo By Jay MacNeal, DO, MPH, FACEP, FAEMS, NRP We are taught from a very young age to respect the awesome power of fire. It was employed as a means of renewal and destruction long before humans ever found ways to utilize its fierce strength. We in public service have a special understanding of how fire can impact one life or millions of lives. In reflecting upon fire as a constant hazard ...
Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Do the right thing

EMScapades Cartoon - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 09:08
Categories: EMS, Syndicated Columnists

Station Fire, 15 years and still struggling

Michael Morse - Rescuing Providence - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 08:39

Surviving the Station Fire, fifteen years later…

The Station Fire Memorial

“Don’t you make fun of me!” she shouted at the super market customers who walked past her. People came and went, some gawking, some ignoring, some just glancing our way. A spilled gallon of milk rested between her legs, a bag of groceries sat next to her, filled with what she had planned to be the ingredients for a “nice night.” A 1/2 gallon of ice cream, some steaks, a can of veggies and some boil in bag rice packages were supposed to be put together for her and her man. Fate intervened. “A friend” offered to “split a pint.”

“Joann, why did you do it?”

“To kill my pain.”

Last week I found her at Kennedy Plaza, unconscious at Bus Stop K. We get a lot of drunks there, usually homeless men, worn out from life on the streets. A blond, young woman stood out, even lying down. She stirred when I shook her but was unable to get up, or even get on the stretcher. We lifted her, she struggled. Somehow during the struggle her shirt and bra lifted, exposing her torso. 80% of her body had been burned, badly. Her breasts were there, but instead of smooth skin and nipples something that resembled wet particle board had taken its place. Any nourishment or pleasure that may have come from her body burned away.

She lay in the stretcher, covered now by a few sheets but still semi-conscious. I sat in the Captains Chair and watched her sleep. The fire spared her face, but her hair had to be carefully combed to hide the bald spots where the grafts prohibited new growth. She was pretty, troubled and scarred, emotionally and physically.

The people continued to stream in and out of the store. Normal people doing normal things. Things Joanne should be doing, rather than drinking a pint with another desperate soul at five in the afternoon.

“I have to take you to the hospital.”

“Can’t I go home?”

“You’re drunk and high. I don’t think so.”

We helped her to the truck. She managed to stay upright in on the bench seat. She told me her address.

“Is anybody home?”

“My man.”

“Will he be mad if I take you home like this?”

“A little.”

They would have let her ice cream melt if I took her to the hospital.

And thrown away her dinner.

And her man would wonder where she was.

And I think she has suffered enough.

I took her home.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Book excerpt: A quarter-century of a responder's emergency calls inspire 'Rescue 911'

Syndicated Columnists - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 14:37
Sometimes I think about the lives that I have been a part of and realize just how incredible my EMS journey was. In this patient story I mention the possibility of a tree growing in a spot where I nonchalantly threw an apple core out my window. During my twenty-five year career as a firefighter and EMT in Providence I responded to well over 25,000 calls for help from people in some kind of distress ...
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Burriville, RI LODD

Michael Morse - Rescuing Providence - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 10:15

Beautiful moment during a heartbreaking time, citizens, career and volunteer, paying tribute to one of our own.


“We saw some incredible support today as we escorted our friend back to town; Providence Fire, Limerock, Manville, Woonsocket, North Smithfield, all of the Burrillville companies, Pascoag Utility, the workers from WellOne … but out of all the things I’ve seen the last couple of days the most touching has to be when our escort drove past the Burrillville High School, this was truly amazing, thank you.” ~ Brian Venditelli

Firefighter dies after collapsing at Burrillville fire scene

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

50 years in the making: '911, what's your emergency?'

Syndicated Columnists - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 09:01
This single question shaped the meaning behind these three dialed numbers, 911. Up until 50 years ago, dialing 911 wasn’t an option to call for help. Even today, its convenience only reaches 96 percent of Americans. [1] Dialing 911 first occurred on Feb. 16, 1968, in Haleyville, AL, by then Senator Rankin Fite. [1] Prior attempts to create a nationally-accepted emergency number originated in 1957 ...
Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Rapid response: School shooting EMS, police response has to be faster

Syndicated Columnists - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 09:30
What happened: A former student entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14, 2018, near the end of the school day. He wore a gas mask, threw several smoke bombs into a hallway, pulled a fire alarm and then began indiscriminately shooting an AR-15 as students ran through the smoke. Seventeen people were dead on scene or later died at the hospital and 16 were injured by the time ...
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Rapid response: MCIs are not contained to any one environment

Syndicated Columnists - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 09:23
I spent part of Wednesday afternoon watching yet another school shooting unfold on live television – this time in Broward . As these horrible, senseless events have become routine, it is clear that they are not confined to any one location or environment. EMS providers must be trained, equipped and mentally prepared to respond quickly to active shooter situations. Key take away points include: ...
Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Some shoot, some respond

Michael Morse - Rescuing Providence - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 07:39

Thoughts and prayers for the victims, thanks and respect for the people who respond, like Aaron Feis who died protecting his students. . .

“Terror has no place in the mind and actions of the first responder. We are the antithesis of terror. We are representatives of the potential of humanity–the kindness, compassion, competence, and care that far outshine the hatred, resentment, and cruelty that precipitate our arrival. People need reassurance when the world around them implodes–not only the people who are unfortunate enough to be present during an attack but the millions who feel helpless as the drama unfolds and they become aware of the latest attack as well.”

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

3 things EMS providers need to know about supraglottic airways

Syndicated Columnists - Wed, 02/14/2018 - 15:57
Supraglottic airway devices have emerged as valuable tools for airway management, particularly in cardiac arrest. When compared to endotracheal intubation, in which some studies have found high rates of misplacement, skill degradation and prolonged pauses of chest compressions during cardiac arrest, supraglottic airway devices are an attractive alternative. Some studies have shown improved survival ...
Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Prove it: Video laryngoscope usage in airway management

Syndicated Columnists - Wed, 02/14/2018 - 15:42
Medic 14 and Engine 27 respond to a report of breathing difficulty at a private residence. The engine arrives first to find a 68-year-old male experiencing severe shortness of breath. The patient’s wife states the patient has not been feeling well all day but suddenly became worse about 30 minutes before she called 911. The patient is slumped over in a recliner in the living room. Although the ...
Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Top 10 events that should be in the EMS Winter Olympics

Syndicated Columnists - Wed, 02/14/2018 - 08:32
The 2018 Winter Olympics kicked off February 9 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. While temperatures during the games are predicted to be in the negative numbers, most of us will be watching the spectacle while warm on our couches eating a cheese ball and drinking hot buttered rum, thinking, “Curling" Meh, I could do that. They wanna sweep some ice, they can handle up on the front walk to the ambulance ...
Categories: Syndicated Columnists

It’s all fun and games, so nobody loses their mind

Michael Morse - Rescuing Providence - Tue, 02/13/2018 - 14:09

Men, especially men who do tough jobs make fun of each other. We do it loudly, in public and don’t hold back. We exploit each other’s weaknesses for our own amusement.

There is no honor or dignity in it, it

    42nd Training Academy 1992

is not kind or dignified. We hurt each other’s feelings, then do it again. More times than not, the harder we hurt, the funnier it is, and the deeper the laughter.

We learn right quick that the best defense is to acknowledge whatever it is we said, thought, wore, acted or other, laugh at ourselves and hit back. Harder.

When we absolutely cannot have feelings, and have a tough job to do, it becomes crystal clear:

We torture each other because we care, and don’t want any of us to get hurt. Really hurt.

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