Michael Morse - Rescuing Providence

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Updated: 1 hour 11 min ago

The 51st

8 hours 5 min ago

Congratulations to the newest members of The Providence Fire Department!

The 51st

The graduates:

“Every person who raises their right hand and takes the oath of office is from that day forward until the day they die a firefighter.

While never forgetting who we were before, we know that we will never be the same. It is an honor to belong in the fire service, not only because of who we are, but also because of those who came before us, and wore the uniform well, worked, lived and sometimes died doing the job.

At the end of the day, when the smoke has cleared, and the fires are out, and we make it home, we can rest easy, knowing that others like us are on duty, keeping things safe.

We know this because we live it, every second of every day, for life.  –  Michael Morse, Captain, Rescue Co. 5, (ret.) 1991-2016, 42nd Academy

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Taking it with you

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 13:55

Retired Firefighter/EMS Captain Michael Morse


  • She sat across the room, ten, maybe 15 feet away. I don’t think that she was aware that I was aware of her, and her condition. Last week she told me that her due date was two days away, which made her five days overdue.

    She was uncomfortable, and so was I. I couldn’t relax. The checklist in my head continued to grow:

    Blankets? No
    Clamps? Nope.
    Scalpel? Haha.
    Bulb syringe? Oh boy.

    Every time she moved; or grimaced I envisioned a little fella straining to escape. I recalled the last overdue lady who was in my care. “There is no way you are having this baby now,” I told her, seconds before the crown appeared.

    I figured what’s the worst that can happen? Babies have been born since women have existed, and nine or so months prior to that, I think. There were tablecloths and kitchen knives, sturdy string and my own breath if needed. I could do this.

I didn’t have to, but knowing that I could is one of those gifts that my firefighting career gave me

  • He waved to me, and I waved back, marveling at the idea of an eighty-three year old guy pushing a lawnmower. Whenever I drove past his house, or walked the dog by I made sure to look over, and make sure things were in order. There was a pattern to the way he and his wife lived, and over the years I learned to notice when things were out of place. They never were, but you never know. I liked knowing that he knew that I kept an eye on things, he worried about his wife mostly; she wasn’t well. 911 was just a phone call away, and help would arrive in less than ten minutes, but he also knew that a lot of the time I was there, and could be there in less than sixty seconds.


“This is my neighbor, the fireman,” he would say to his sons whenever I happened to cross paths with them, and we would shake hands and then I would go on my way, knowing that my neighbor’s family worried a little less because “the fireman” lived close by.

I hope they never need me, but it is a wonderful feeling knowing that if they do, I’ll know what to do.

  • There’s a lot of out of shape people in the place I call the gym, and they don’t work out all that hard. I don’t either, any more. I spend half an hour on the elliptical, then another half hour lifting free weights; over the years the weights have dwindled and the free space on the bar has grown, but what the heck, I’m still there!

I keep an eye on the folks there, subconsciously mostly, and know exactly where the defibrillator is. I think my CPR card has expired, but that’s okay, it’s kind f like riding one of those stationary bikes that the older folks like to use, you never forget how. I keep up to date on the latest from the Red Cross, and know enough not to hurt anybody should the need arise.


I hope it never does, but if it does…


We take far more than a pension with us when we leave the fire service.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Talking with the public is always a surprise

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 09:36

I was explaining the intricate choreography needed to effectively fight a building fire to a small crowd of people who came to my talk at the library Tuesday night, I was focused on the PowerPoint presentation on the screen, thought I was losing the crowd with my over explaining things, was stunned to see the looks on their faces when I turned around.

The public is absolutely fascinated with what we do, I think we forget sometimes just how wild things look to the untrained eye.

Thanks again to Eric Norberg for the great images.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Talking about Tradition, the Past and the Future

Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:09

My Grandchildren, Kinsley, Jaxon and Liliana

I’ll be finishing my presentation tomorrow at The Warwick Public Library with this, assuming of course I can get through it without tearing up, just writing it was hard enough. As hard as it is for me to believe, it really is over.


Bagpipes, the dress blues, stories of friendship, of sacrifice, of bravery, camaraderie and accomplishment; these are the things that drew me to the fire service. The bucket brigade, Jakes and Pikemen, then Laddermen and Hose Jockeys, horses in the barn pulling the steamers, dalmatians, bells and whistles, airhorns, sirens, flashing lights and everything that ties us to the past and brings us into the future have a solid place in my heart, and always will.

I am a fireman. My kids know it, and their children will know it, and with any luck, their kids will too. My helmet will probably hang on a hook in a garage not yet built, gathering dust until a child finds it, and puts it on his head, and begins the journey that I have taken. I wish him well.


For my last twelve plus years I worked in the Providence Fire Department’s EMS division. It isn’t often now that I have the opportunity to don the turnout gear, and put the helmet on my head. I miss it. But I have no regrets.

EMS traditions are not as glamorous, or colorful, or respected by most. They never will be. Funny thing is, I’m more proud of the 12 years spent on a rescue than I am the dozen I spent on engine and ladder companies. There is something about the personal nature of this job that attracted me to it. And, a few traditions that mean more to me than anything else.

Professionalism. Compassion. Competence. Excellence.

Every time, without fail, that a family member or friend needed an EMS response, those responders were excellent. Not good, not adequate, but exceptional. My father, who in the final stages of cancer would hallucinate and become unmanageable at home was treated by EMT’s from the Warwick Fire Department, not like a nuisance, or a silly old man, but like a Korean War Veteran, and engineer, and son and father who needed help in his last hours. My mother, the victim of a massive stroke while visiting family in North Carolina; by all accounts the EMT’s who responded acted the same way, and managed the scene with grace and dignity. The Paramedics from the air ambulance that flew her home, with me on board exuded such expertise I never worried about a thing. They helped my parents, and in doing so helped everybody whose lives they had touched.

I often hear about people who were involved in a car accident, or had an allergic reaction, or whose grandmother was choking at the restaurant, or the million different reasons we are called. One thing remains the same, by all accounts. EMS was simply awesome.


Big boots to fill. I’m proud to fill them.

My wish is that some day, when the kids find my dusty helmet hanging in the garage, one of them sees the worn jacket, the one with the Providence Fire Department patch on one sleeve, and the EMT patch on the other, and I hope he puts it on.

And I hope he never looks back.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Police doing their job on Rt. 95 in Providence

Fri, 11/10/2017 - 08:45

The Rhode Island State Police and Providence police were forced to put an end to a volatile situation on a highway bridge yesterday. The driver of a vehicle that led the police on a high speed chase refused to exit his vehicle, the doors were locked and windows darkly  tinted. He attempted to barge his way out of his situation, ramming the car in front of him, backing into the one behind and ramming the one in front before the police opened fire.

The incident happened on an overpass that I have worked on numerous times. A fall from the height of the highway would be fatal. The police were forced to end the situation before innocent people were killed.

The body was not removed from the truck before the chorus chimed in. “Excessive force, gunned down, cold blooded killer” went the rhetoric from the public who were shocked when video of the incident was aired.

It was an ugly job with a terrible outcome, but I commend the officers involved. A truck ramming cars on an overpass is an immediate danger to the public, and had to be stopped. The public that was protected will never see it that way, but that is the way it is.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Thoughts and prayers are not political

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 06:20

Michael Morse

It was a ritual that I developed while moving on from tragedy in other people’s lives: I would find a quiet spot, close my eyes, clear everything out except the people whom I had just met–living or dead, and acknowledge their presence in the world and in my life. I didn’t have a name for what I did, but “thoughts and prayers” pretty much summed it up. I never did it thinking that I would somehow lessen the pain felt by the people I was called to help–I knew that nothing I did would achieve that. I did it because it made me feel better.

Now that my response to mass shootings, senseless acts of violence, and horrible twists of fate no longer involves my physical presence, I no longer feel the need to sort things out or make myself feel better. I do, however, still take a moment to silently process whatever it is that provoked feelings of rage, helplessness, revenge, and pity. Sometimes I am even moved to offer thoughts and prayers on my social media feeds, hoping that some power greater than myself understands the helplessness felt by people like me who are far removed from the actual event but are affected nonetheless.

I’m not sure if my life experience as a firefighter makes me more sensitive to the despair that accompanies sudden death or if I understand the importance of connecting with humanity following such events any more than the people who see it on the news, but I suspect that we all feel the same, or at least a similar, need to offer something to the victims. Most of the time, thoughts and prayers are the best we can do. I may be a tiny part of whatever bigger plan there is, but as tiny as that part may be, it is not insignificant. That I do not feel the need to send checks to flood victims or supplies to hurricane survivors or do more for the people whose lives were shattered by the latest mass shooting does not make my thoughts and prayers worthless.

 I try to live my life as lightly as possible. I’ve learned that the more I give, the less burdensome my existence becomes; the more I take, the heavier the load. I give what I can without putting myself in the position of being at the mercy of others. I take care of my family, donate to the charity of my choosing, and offer support to people whom I know personally when they need it. By doing so, I am able to withstand the current popular sentiment that offering thoughts and prayers to people involved in something dreadful is akin to doing nothing.

All I can do is hope that popular trends such as ridiculing offering thoughts and prayers run their course and that common sense and decency return to us. We are now connected with each other like no other time in history. We can use that connectivity to offer thoughts of healing, prayers for peace, and the promotion of understanding our differences while embracing the humanity we all share, or we can further isolate ourselves and deny the power that good will and positivity create. I’ll continue making my small corner of the world the best place I can while offering thoughts and prayers to people whose horrific circumstances brought them to the rest of the world’s attention.


Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Books by Michael Morse, PFD (ret.)

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 12:08
Rescue 911, tales from a first responder   The Human Touch; this is a collection of stories from retired <img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-22593" src="http://www.rescuingprovidence.com/wp-content/u

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Birthday party (under the tracks)

Thu, 11/02/2017 - 08:45

Excerpt from my new collection; Rescue 911…


Under a highway, next to some railroad tracks they made their camp. It was her birthday; she turned thirty-three today. He bought her a cake and a tube of frosting so she could write her name on top. Nobody had ever bought her a cake he told us as the IV went in.

An Amtrak Xcella sped past, fifteen feet from where we worked, whipping up pebbles and dust. The wind it created seemed to draw you closer, but that is probably just an illusion. The fear of death is always close when standing next to a speeding train.

They decided to party, he bought some heroin. It was the least he could do for his girl. Generous by nature he let her have more, nice guy that he is. Put her right into respiratory failure. He tried on his own to revive her, slapped her, dragged her into the rain, soaking her, picked her up, crossed the tracks and tried carrying her up the twenty foot ledge we had just climbed down. He failed there, at the foot of the ledge, and used his cell to call 911. At forty-eight years old their simply wasn’t enough strength left to do the job.

Once the narcan kicked in she was able to get up and help us as we helped her climb the steep hill toward the rescue. He carried the cake, the red scribble that was supposed to say her name nothing but a smudge, washed away by the mist. I wondered if she had died there, under a bridge, in the rain, twenty feet below the rest of us if her life would have been as easily obscured. Gone, just another junkie; homeless and abandoned.

She cried then, once she left the make-believe world under the bridge and entered reality. Her pupils remained pinpoint and her breathing rate slow but I just didn’t have the heart to administer more narcan and take the little high that remained away.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

The EMS Shuffle

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 12:13

We have all seen it, and most of us have done what I snarkly refer to as The EMS Shuffle. Not only do we do it, we defend the practice as if it were our exclusive right as first responders to stroll toward an emergency,  or perceived emergency at our own pace, even if that is as slow as a sickly old turtle.

Nonsense I say. There is nothing more frustrating, stress elevating, infuriating and downright ridiculous as an emergency responder acting as if there is no need to hurry. We can claim that fools rush in, and caution is king, and only Yahoo’s or people hoping to capture the attention of a cameraman and get on the news are those who run all day long, but I suspect even we know how empty those excuses are.

Experienced medics never run goes the conventional wisdom. Well, my wisdom must be unconventional, because I have no problem with a spirited dash to a patient in need. I’m not suggesting an all out sprint, but a little pep in your step never hurt anybody. 

Like it or not, The EMS Shuffle will be misinterpreted as laziness or lack of caring by those waiting for us to arrive. Their emotions are at a high level already, no sense giving them even more time to feed their hunger for somebody to blame.

My advice, for what it’s worth? Move with purpose, walk briskly most of the time, and jog when needed. It won’t kill you, and might even save a life now and then.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Directing Traffic at Fire Engineering

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 10:16





My new Engine Co EMS column at Fire Engineering talks about directing traffic;


…There is no half-hearted way to direct traffic. If you make the decision to get involved, it is imperative that you are all in for the job at hand. People will not respond to a disinterested person telling them what to do. You have decided to be an authority, so you need to act the part. Be visible. Be direct. Be understood…



Categories: Syndicated Columnists

5 Star Review

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 09:05

5 Star Amazon review for my new book, Rescue 911. Thank you Jackmac!

This is a collection of stories from retired Providence, R.I. Fire Dept. Capt. Michael Morse. Morse served as an EMT/Firefighter before retiring in 2013. This is a great collection that brings to light the stressful and sometimes comic calls he has responded to and that fellow first responders in urban settings commonly do.

Morse is a talented author and his descriptions of different situations will move you. In particular his comments on his own Father and the struggles of his Wife Medical issues. Morse gives voice to the frustrations of EMT’s when he states ” I operate as if I’m part social services agency, part homeless advocate, rolling medicine cabinet, part taxi and occasional emergency medical technician.” (p.137). He engages in all of those roles in this entertaining and enlightening book. If you are a first responder you will identify and enjoy this book, if you are not you will have a new perspective of emergency medicine on the streets and those who call for it and those who perform it.


Available now!


Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Providence Firefighters, Then or Now

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 06:28

The fire started in the kitchen, he told me, his mother and aunt had been drinking, and forgot about the pan of oil on the stovetop. It ignited, then before they could put it out the stove caught fire. It was an oil stove, he said, before they had natural gas. He was in the attic bedroom with his brother when he smelled the smoke, and heard the screams from downstairs.

The fire spread quickly, the

Eric Nprberg

entire first floor went up, then the flames came after him and his brother. He was terrified, and thought he would die. His brother went to a window, and stood on the ledge as the fire trucks approached, but he couldn’t wait, and he jumped. A branch from a tree punctured his side, and he died shortly after hitting the ground. He waited, a six year old boy, alone in an attic, fire approaching, heat intolerable, smoke choking him, but he waited, and the firemen came, and picked him up, and covered him best they could and carried him out of the house.

We sat in silence for a moment then, and I looked again at his leg, his entire calf and shin covered with scars from the skin grafts. The scars went all the way up he told me, but those firemen saved his life, and would have saved his brother, too, if he had waited.

“You fellas do a heck of a job” he said, as I checked the flow of the IV, and rechecked his vitals. He’s in his sixties now, has had four heart attacks, lives with a defibrillator implanted in his chest, and deformed legs, and a lost brother in 1954.

The sixty-something year old man on my stretcher still had the sparkle of the six year old kid whose life was forever marked all those years ago as he told me his story, and let another generation of Providence Firefighters do their job.

I closed my eyes for a moment, and pictured the old Jakes as they must have looked back then, and realized they were likely younger than me when they saved my patients life the first time. But to Albert it doesn’t really matter, because when he needs us, we are there.


Categories: Syndicated Columnists