Michael Morse - Rescuing Providence

Subscribe to Michael Morse - Rescuing Providence feed
FireEMS Blogs Network
Updated: 1 hour 19 min ago

Get a job!

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 12:59

By Michael Morse

A part-time job after retirement seemed like a great idea, so I started thinking: Who would benefit most from the vast skill and experience I had to offer?

 

The Hospital?

I was an EMT, after all, and rather adept at handling intoxicated people. Blood doesn’t bother me much, and CPR is second nature. The only problem I might have is I wouldn’t be able to drop the sick and injured off at the hospital and get back to work. That, and I am fairly certain that the emergency medical doctors would not appreciate a retired firefighter used to being in charge trying to take charge of every trauma that rolled through their door.

 

Security?

Speaking of handling intoxicated people, I had a knack for getting them to cooperate, but I’m not sure they give security guards the needed pharmaceuticals to effectively calm those belligerent persons down. As for chasing crooks, I do not have much experience, but I am really, really good at requesting police backup, and I do know how to wear a uniform and can look kind of  imposing when I absolutely have to.

 

FEMA?

Imagine my horror when I realized that every firefighter and medic who has ever retired thinks that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants them! And worse, a lot of those retired firefighters and medics actually took the time and effort to get their degrees, obtain certifications, and pad their resume! I knew that gig was up when the director of my local Emergency Management Agency looked at my resume, raised an eyebrow, opened a file, and showed me what a “real” resume looked like.

I ended up getting a part-time job in a big box hardware store. Little did I know that providing trinkets, gypsum, garden equipment, and lumber to a demanding public would actually be hard! And not only is it physically demanding, but the emotional toll of serving people whose lives are not actually in your hands is exhausting as well. People who are not fighting for their lives have a heck of a lot more gusto when they are not getting exactly what they want when they want it than those who are in and out of consciousness.

I have learned that stress is stress; it doesn’t really matter if lives are at stake or somebody’s gas grill didn’t get assembled in time for the picnic. Our bodies do not understand the severity of a situation when the chemicals responsible for high blood pressure, anxiety, rage, and the swearing impulse are released. All our system knows is that something is amiss, and the fight-or-flight systems go into full throttle.

So, maybe I overreacted when the young guy complained that the box that held his cordless drill was damaged. Perhaps “Quit being a baby and go drill something” wasn’t the textbook response. Maybe I could have been apologetic and offered to get him a new, fresh box for his stupid drill. But sometimes a young guy needs a little incentive from an old firefighter. At least that’s the way I see it. And maybe telling the guys in the warehouse who do nothing but complain that their job “beats doing CPR on babies” wasn’t the most sensitive response, but hey, I’m not there to win any popularity contests, right?

Truth be told, I still get an enormous lift from helping people. The stakes may not be as high, but it still feels great to exceed a person’s expectations. My part-time job is far more challenging than I ever dreamed, and I have a new respect for the people in the retail trenches. The fire service taught me that being competent is of utmost importance, and I try and remember that every time I show up for my shift. I may be a little odd and set in my ways, but I think I’m learning to fit in with the rest of the working world.

http://www.fireengineering.com/articles/fire_life/articles/2018/june/part-time-work-is-not-as-easy-as-it-looks.html

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Engine Co. EMS; the frequent flyer

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 08:52

“. . . The good news? These patients, more often than not, will survive our interventions–or lack thereof.

The bad news? One of these days, and we never know which one, they will die. Their demise may just happen during one of your calls to assist them. It might happen shortly after you obtained a signed refusal, or a day after you transferred care to the ambulance staff without a proper evaluation or protocol-based treatment. . .”

http://www.fireengineering.com/articles/2018/06/engine-company-ems-frequent-flyers.html

 

 

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

20 Clues that your Dad (granddad) is a firefighter

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 14:20

20 CLUES THAT YOUR DAD IS A FIREFIGHTER

You’re a firefighter and let’s face it, you’re a little different from the rest. As the years go by, and the experiences pile up, parts of “the job” begin to define who you are.

It doesn’t happen all at once, and most of the time you can’t even notice it. Your kids, not knowing the pre-firefighter you, simply accept you the way you are.

Ask a kid how he knows his dad is a firefighter and these are some of the things you might hear:

1) HE SAYS WEIRD THINGS LIKE “STAND BY,” OR “ROGER THAT,” INSTEAD OF “WAIT A SEC,” OR “OKAY,” LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.

2) EVERYTHING IS IN ITS PLACE…OR ELSE!

3) SOMETIMES, HE’S JUST NOT THERE, BUT HE ALWAYS COMES BACK.

4) NO MATTER WHERE HE IS, HE ALWAYS KNOWS HOW TO GET OUT FAST.

5) HE HAS MORE FIRE DEPARTMENT RELATED T-SHIRTS THAN DRESS SHIRTS.

6) HE WEARS RED SUSPENDERS TO HOLD HIS PANTS UP.

7) EVERY TIME THERE’S A FIRE ON TV HE SHOUTS AT THE SCREEN, “THAT’S NOT THE WAY IT IS! YA CAN’T SEE NUTHIN!” EVERY TIME.

8) THERE’S ALWAYS A PICK-UP TRUCK IN THE DRIVEWAY.

9) HE MAY NOT BE A BETTER COOK THAN YOUR MOM, BUT HE MAKES BETTER STUFF!

10) HE TELLS THE BEST STORIES.

11) SOMEHOW, HE’S ALWAYS IN THE THICK OF THINGS.

12) HE BACKS HIS PICK-UP INTO THE GARAGE.

13) SOMETIMES, FOR NO REASON YOU CAN THINK OF, HE WAKES YOU UP AND GIVES YOU A HUG, THEN GOES TO BED WITHOUT SAYING A WORD.

14) YOU CELEBRATE BIRTHDAYS AND HOLIDAYS THE DAY BEFORE, OR AFTER THE ACTUAL DAY.

15) EVERYBODY BORROWS TOOLS FROM YOUR GARAGE.

16) IF HE ISN’T ON HIS FEET, HE’S SLEEPING…AND HE COULD BE SLEEPING ANYWHERE!

17) ALL OF THE SMOKE DETECTORS IN YOUR HOUSE WORK.

18) HIS MOUSTACHE TICKLES.

19) OUT OF ALL OF YOUR FRIEND’S MOMS, YOUR MOM IS THE PRETTIEST.

20) IT’S FATHER’S DAY, AND HE’S NOT HOME!

So there you have it. Twenty ways your kids know that you’re a firefighter. I’m sure there are many more that I’m not even aware of. I kind of hope that some day, when I’m long gone, they’ll get together over a few beverages and tell some stories about their dad, the fireman.

by Michael Morse

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Captain Wishart

Thu, 05/31/2018 - 13:29

From Rescuing Providence, 2010 ish. The ” babe” just got sworn is as Captain, Providence, RI Fire Department. She has more lives to save, congratulations Captain Wishart!

Wisdom from the mouth of babes….

I dragged myself into Rescue 5’s office this morning, took the portable from Teresa and got ready to start another shift, this time looking forward to five o’clock so I could get back to Rescue 1 and start the countdown till 0700.

Every now and then a beacon of light enters my vision, so bright it’s nearly blinding. I fumble through my days, always waiting for a shift to end, a call to be over, another cycle in the books. I keep the future in mind always, at ten years I had ten to go, fifteen five more, now at eighteen two more and out, time to “enjoy my life.”

“I have no idea how I’m going to be able to do this for two more years,” I said to Teresa. We work the same shift, “C” Group, her in charge of Rescue 5, me at Rescue 1, Zack at Rescue 4, Doc Vinnacco at 3 and an Acting Captain at 2. We’ve worked together for seven or eight years now, the officers steady with a steady stream of Rescue Technicians coming and going. Some of the techs stick around, Terry’s partner John has been around for a while and doesn’t look to be going anywhere any time soon. Can’t say I blame him. Zack has Stephanie, almost a year now and holding steady. The six of us make a difficult job bearable, at times even fun.

“What if next week were your last?” asked Teresa, wanting to get home and get some rest but staying at work for a few extra minutes to talk some sense into somebody she cares about. “When you leave here you will never come back. A big part of your life will be over. Why would you want that to rush past you?”

“I don’t know.”

“You’re not ready to leave, you love it too much. Think about your friends in the station, the hospitals, even the patients. This is an amazing ride, slow down and enjoy every minute, who knows if you’ll even be alive in two years.”

I don’t think she is even thirty years old. I had been a firefighter for ten years when we met in EMT Cardiac class in 2000. She was just a kid who wanted to deliver babies some day. Two years later she was sworn is as a Providence Firefighter. A few weeks later she was assigned to Rescue 5. A couple of weeks after that she and JoeEMT who comments here responded to Thayer Street for a man in a car who put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. I heard the call dispatched and knew the mess they were heading toward, worried how the sight would effect her. She did okay, and continues to thrive in a field where burnout is almost a prerequisite for employment.

She even dispenses some profound advice now and then. I think she’s delivered a baby or two.

Thanks, Teresa. I believe it’s going to be a good day…

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Heart keeps beating

Tue, 05/29/2018 - 14:18

 

    My Turn: Michael Morse: A beautiful heart keeps beating    

By Michael Morse

Posted May 26, 2018 at 3:00 PM   

A big part of my life was spent at the head of a stretcher. Those of us who work or worked in EMS call it “the captain’s seat.” There, we direct life-saving efforts, communicate with receiving facilities, breathe for our patients when needed and do our best to keep things calm during transport. Sometimes everything works out; far too often, it does not.

In one case, a young woman fell 40 feet from an escalator, struck her head on a steel beam halfway down and landed on a cement floor. Her fiancé and another couple witnessed the fall, called 911 and waited. I cannot imagine their horror between their frantic call and our arrival, or their sorrow for the rest of their lives. I do not have to imagine my own sadness. I felt it for a decade, and it lingers still.

I was trained as a firefighter, and that training included my EMS certifications. It was rigorous, but far from impossible. I learned how to keep people going, always hoping that the emergency room staff and then surgical teams could finish what we started in the field.

When I encountered this particular patient, I knew that everything that I — or those who followed me — could do would not be enough. The choice to start the life-saving efforts was mine. I made the choice based on the horrified looks on the faces of the survivors, and secretly hated myself for putting the young woman through a violent resuscitation effort. We managed to get a pulse, but I knew she would never regain consciousness.

EMS veterans learn early how to bury the things that need to stay out of sight. We feel things the same way everybody else does, but cannot allow ourselves proper time to heal. A different emergency always comes our way. There is no time to process grief, so we hide it, and move along.

Our strategy works for the people who depend on us. They do not need an emergency responder burdened by a thousand catastrophic events responding to their crisis. They need a person who is fresh, focused and stable.

So I moved on. Days later I read her obituary, and learned that she had a young son who adored her fiancé, and he planned to take care of the child. I can only hope he did.

Ten years passed in a flash. I had made peace with nearly every decision I made during my time at the head of the stretcher. I learned to trust other people in matters of health and well-being.

Eventually, I found myself in a hospital room with my wife who needed medical care. For four days we lingered in the surreal world of tests and results, hospital food, doctors’ rounds, worry, hope and an incredible nursing staff.

 

One of those nurses was particularly helpful, and we struck up a friendship. Eventually professional barriers were crossed and our personal lives were revealed.

We told stories of our families, and how fragile the human body is. We shared our mutual experiences with loss, and how we learned to cope. Family is of utmost importance, we agreed. She told us the story of her father, a great man from Liberia, and how important he is to her family. We learned how he was nearly lost 10 years ago, and how his life was saved by the heart of an unfortunate young girl who donated her organs after an untimely death.

“You may have heard of her,” our nurse said in her beautifully accentuated speech, her words sounding more like a song than sentences. “She fell from an escalator in Providence.”

Michael Morse (mmorsepfd@aol.com), a monthly contributor, is a former captain with the Providence Fire Department and the author of the books “Rescuing Providence” and “Rescue 911.”

   
Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Memorial Day Weekend

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 11:44

Memorial Day Weekend is in our sights, I try and remember why I’m able to enjoy it . . .

I think of the people whose lives ended in a foreign land, far away from their friends and families, and their last moments, looking into the eyes of a person they may have known only a little while, but whose bond holds them tighter than the blood shared among relatives or the fond memories of friendship forged in different times, in different places.

Or if they died with eyes closed-life, then oblivion;no time to reflect on what they have lost, what they have preserved or what they died fighting for, I think of them, and though they are faceless now, and without a voice, they have earned space in my mind, and heart and through my actions I believe that in some way, somehow through the collective consciousness that binds humanity I honor them, and let them know that they did not die for nothing.

They died so that others may live, and live well, and by squeezing every bit of life that living sees fit to afford us, and finding joy where sorrow threatens to overcome; happiness in loss, and purpose in a sometimes dreary existence they live on through our eyes; and can be heard in our voices, and though they sacrificed all, they will live forever in our actions.

Live well, be grateful, enjoy life and honor those who have fallen by embracing this life with them, for them and because of them. Freedom isn’t free. We have to earn it.

Our monument in the North Burial Ground. The star with the flag at the bottom is a Grand Army of the Republic grave marker The GAR was the veterans organization for the Civil War Many PFD members were Civil war veterans

Image by Eric Norberg

 

Categories: Syndicated Columnists