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Updated: 48 min 10 sec ago

Not so Foxy

4 hours 12 min ago

https://www.providencejournal.com/news/20190218/adult-entertainment-industry-a-very-powerful-lobby-in-ri

PROVIDENCE, RI 

These places are not pretty, or glamorous, or sexy. Not even a little.

Funny how quickly the illusion of erotica and beauty is shattered by bright fluorescent lights. The girl, who moments ago captivated her crowd of twenty admirers with her sultry swaying, bleary eyed come-ons and spread legged suggestions didn’t look so good lying on the floor next to empty condom wrappers and mouthwash bottles. Her confidant stage swagger dissipated, as soon as the heroin entered her bloodstream, now just a simple girl, whose dreams were put on hold, overdosed, lying among the pubic hair, piss and who knows what other bodily fluid on the floor in the “Ladies Room” of a sleazy strip club in a sleazy part of the city full of sleazy people from all over.

There is no fun in this place. The women hold a temporary power over their admirers, but as soon as they leave the stage, or lap, of the people who pay not for their wit, charm, sexiness or personality, but rather her body parts, they become insecure, plain and boring once again. When they leave the club, their boyfriends count the money, score some crack or heroin and start to party. But the party was over a long time ago. Probably long before the girl ever entered the strip club and took off her clothes for a crowd of dead eyed men looking for a cheap thrill.

I hate these places.They destroy everything that is good about human sexuality and reduce it to body parts on a dying shell.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Getting Hurt

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 16:29

Image by Eric Norberg

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

There is no honor or dignity in it, it 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.

Then, when we absolutely cannot have feelings, and have a difficult 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.

 

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Either I’ll be High, or I’ll be Dead

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:23

By Michael Morse

“Either I’ll be high, or I’ll be gone.”

He opened his eyes. The bugs in his head stopped buzzing, and he looked at me.

“You weren’t breathing,” I said.

It was just me and him in the back of an old ambulance in Providence, Rhode Island. A team of people had helped get us to this point. Some of them lingered outside the truck, waiting.

They used to talk of the “Golden Hour” back when I was new at EMS; those precious 60 minutes between the onset of symptoms or a traumatic event and the arrival at the hands of a competent hospital staff. Times have changed, and so has EMS. We are doing things in the field that no longer need an hour or doctors. I learned a few things over the years, and I used something called “The Golden Minute” when I responded to suspected overdose patients.

My goal was to get my patients breathing, not to straighten them out.

“I gave you enough Narcan to get you breathing on your own,” I explained. “You are probably still high from whatever it was that got you here, and there is a very good chance that you could stop breathing again when the drug wears off. “

The person on the stretcher relaxed a little and considered his options. He could flee and shoot up again. He could find a quiet spot and ride it out, hoping he didn’t go back into respiratory distress. Or, he could take a moment in a safe, clean, quiet environment and gather his thoughts.

“Chasing the high sucks,” I said nonchalantly. “You can never recapture the feeling of the first hit.”

He stopped thinking and looked at me again. I’m was no longer a threat. I neutralized the situation; the power I could hold over a relatively helpless person lying down while I looked down on him had been given away. I lifted the back of the stretcher so he was in more of a sitting position and took a seat on the bench across from him.

“You know the worst part?” he asked. I listened.

“I don’t even care if I OD. The risk is worth it. Either I’ll be high, or I’ll be gone.”

If ever there was a time for quiet reflection, it was now. I closed my eyes and let that statement sink in. I hoped my patient was able to do the same.

The Golden Minute had passed. We could talk all day about getting clean, getting sober, getting his life back in order. I could lecture him and do the “You were dead until I saved you” nonsense talk. I could have the police respond and have them do their thing. I could do a lot of things but chose to do nothing, hoping that I’d already done enough.

A firefighter working as a medic in the city was not going to cure anybody’s addictions, but I could certainly lube the rusty wheels of rational thought with some honesty.

“I’m required by law to transport you to an appropriate medical facility,” I said, not really sure if it was true. “In this case, it’s the closest emergency room. It’s a madhouse, people lining the halls, all the rooms full, overworked staff, and not at all conducive to healing.”

Sometimes the magic worked. This was one of those times. He agreed to go willingly. I stood and opened the side door, told the police officer he was all set, and let my partner know we’d be transporting. It was a five-minute ride, silent but comfortable. As expected, the ER was at capacity, people screaming for pain meds, intoxicated homeless men restrained on their stretchers, bored elderly people scattered about, a dozen ambulance crews waiting for triage, and the staff working relentlessly to care for the never-ending stream of people that we bring them.

I said goodbye to my patient and headed back into the city. Another person had overdosed, and police were on the scene.

Originally published in Fire Life

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Code Red!

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 08:23

 

By Michael Morse

10. When a firefighter acts like a fool, the rest of them put a stop to it right quick. Funny thing about firefighters: When one does something stupid, the entire profession is tarnished. We are held to a higher standard. That’s okay; we’ve earned it.

9.  Firefighters don’t care what color, race, gender, shape, or whatever you are; if you can do the job, you are one of them. You don’t have to be the greatest firefighter who ever donned the gear, but you are expected to be competent and to be as good as you are capable of being.

 

8. If you are unable to do the job and are in need of assistance, firefighters are willing and able to do it for you, every time, without question. Some people are great teachers; others are wonderful cooks, landscapers, scientists, bird watchers, or the million other things that people excel at that make humanity so miraculous. Firefighters possess a lot of those skills, but their most important skill is problem solving when chaos rules–and their willingness to do so for total strangers. That, above all else, sets firefighters apart.

7. Firefighters can cook; a few of them can actually do it quite well.People who never learned to cook never had to take care of themselves, and a people who never had to take care of themselves could never take care of the public they are sworn to protect.

6. Firefighters do housework. Every day. All of them. Together.Firefighters don’t expect others to clean their messes. They are as adept at handling a mop and a broom as they are an ax and a pike pole. Any fire chief who climbed the ranks has cleaned toilets, polished brass, scrubbed the apparatus floor, and done the dishes. Respect is not given, it is earned.

5. Firefighters know exactly where they are going and how to get there when the bell tips. Every time. Everyone. It’s one of our things, and we all expect the others to get us there when it’s their turn to drive.

4. Firefighters don’t fall apart when they are needed the most.Somebody needs to be there to keep the wheels of civilization turning. Somebody needs to be the one whom panicked people look toward when all appears lost. Somebody has to keep cool and keep things together or, when it unravels, do their absolute best to put things back.

3. Firefighters run toward trouble, not away from it. When the public is running away from whatever catastrophe has befallen them, it is reassuring to look over their shoulder and see the backs of the firefighters running toward it. For some, it is all they have to hold onto, and many will never forget that image for the rest of their days. Leading by example, showing what humanity is capable of, providing hope and direction; it’s not something firefighters are aware of, it’s just who they are.

2. Firefighters fight like family, love like family, and treat each other like family. Whoever said blood is thicker than water has never squeezed pressurized water through an old pump into three attack lines and a master stream, charged those lines on command, opened a straight stream inside a fully involved basement, knocked down a wall of fire, drained feeders on a freezing January night, packed a hosebed on a sweltering July afternoon, scrubbed those lifelines on Sunday morning, and drank the cool elixir of lifelong friendship when the job was done. Water is thicker than blood when you are a firefighter.

1. There is no job too difficult, no obstacle too hard to overcome, no living creature unworthy of a firefighter’s best effort, and no excuse for not doing your damndest. Every time.

Firefighters, when among other firefighters, are free to speak their mind, say ridiculous things, be biased, be politically incorrect, get angry, fight, argue, break for lunch, save a life, polish some brass, and argue some more. Then they get on the truck, work like mad, do nearly impossible things, trust the person with whom they were fighting with their life, risk their own life to protect each other, put it all back together, and finish the shift, only to do it again tomorrow.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Grieving for Two

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 12:57

Things they don’t teach in school . . .

Her parents heard choking from behind the closed door. They tried to open it but something held it closed. The stepfather put his weight into it but it barely budged. Some commotion behind the door, then deadly quiet. He kicked the door in.

His stepdaughter, two months pregnant and seventeen years old had tied one end of a stocking around her neck, stretched the other end over the corner of the door then tied the other end to the doorknob. Then she let her body weight go.

The force of the door being kicked pushed her in, and freed the stocking from the top of the door. She was lying on the ground when we arrived, crying. Never have I heard such mournful, desperate sounds. Her body shook, the depths of despair so intense she appeared to be having a seizure.

Red marks on her neck, choking, eyes filled with tears, despondent and alone, in a room full of strangers. And her parents, who stood by, shocked and afraid as we carried their daughter and future grandchild down the stairs and into the ambulance.

We are invited into the most private, heartbreaking and painful moments in a family’s history; not simply brief flashes of time quickly forgotten, but indelible memories that will haunt them for a lifetime.

Be respectful, be kind, be competent, and be worthy.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Do it for Them

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 13:00

I thought my high blood pressure was hereditary. I used to take a reading whenever I had a chance, and for twenty-three years in was in the 140/90 range – high enough to make me worry but not high enough to REALLY worry about. Now that I’ve had some time away from the tones I’ve been at a steady 120/80, give or take. I guess it was hereditary; I inherited it every time I showed up for work!

Ask any firefighter why they do what they do, and once given a moment to think about it, and get past all the “helping people” stuff, without fail those with a family will tell you that they do it “for my family.” We don’t mind the long hours away from home, the wear and tear on the body, or the stressors of the mind. We consider ourselves fortunate to be able to withstand the rigors of a long career on the domestic front lines, and take pride in our accomplishments. Taking care of our family is what makes us tick, and the reason we get out of bed in the morning.

Only those of us who have put the gear away know what it took from us. We know that at the start of every shift the walls went up. We know that at the end of the shift, most of that wall came down. We also know that over time, those small walls grew, and without our being aware, a giant, impenetrable wall grew around us. While in the fight we didn’t notice the small changes. We were too busy “taking care of the family” to see how we changed. But make no mistake, the family we were taking care of knew something was changing, but they could not define those changes until we let our guard down.

People with normal jobs don’t experience flashbacks, don’t have that gnawing feeling in their gut when they drive and are not burdened with the weight of thousands of tragedies. Knights used to wear chain mail under their suit of armor, and we are not much different. Our chain mail is invisible, and grows heavier as the years progress. We wear it under our turnout gear, and it is supposed to keep us safe from the things that keep us up at night. But instead of keeping the wolves at bay, our protective suit doesn’t protect us, it weighs us down

I had no idea how high-strung I was until I retired. Even then, it took a long time for me to breathe normally, to be able to focus on a conversation, or watch a TV show without breaking out in a cold sweat whenever some actor did a good job of portraying a dead body. To thrive in the difficult environment that I called my home away from home I needed to have some thick skin. I wouldn’t have admitted to PTSD in a million years, or at least until I retired and began to see the world as a nice place.

What I did for my family made their

Image by Eric Norberg

lives more difficult than it needed to be. I didn’t have to keep my growing anxiety to myself. I didn’t have to suffer in silence. There was a better way to get through my career than what I knew, what most of us know. We are the kings and queens of the white knuckle brigade. Admitting that things got to us was okay, kind of, but only for a little while. It was, and is much more desirable to “white knuckle it,” and deal with whatever is troubling us by ourselves. The problems go away, we figure, and we’ll be back to our old selves real soon. Unfortunately, our old selves are taken away every day, and replaced with a more somber, cynical and tired version.

Trends have begun to shift; people are not as tight lipped about their struggles with depression and addiction as they once were. PTSD is a hot topic on most Firefighting/EMS forums. People are coming out, and telling their stories. All of this feel good, love yourself, embrace the madness and get better stuff is helping lots of people. Unfortunately, there are lots of us who have no idea that they are operating at levels of stress that simply cannot be maintained. We secretly look at those of us who have the courage to admit their fallibility with thinly disguised disdain. “Too bad for them,” we think as we read about the latest medic or firefighter who crashed. We just cannot see the cracks forming in our own lives. Our walls are formidable, and without allowing ourselves a little humility they will only continue to grow.

So, what to do?

You owe it to the family that you are doing it for to do it right. One good way to do that is to stay as emotionally healthy as possible. If you can’t do it for yourself, and most of us can’t or won’t, do it for them.

Simply being conscious of your own well being is a good start. An honest and thorough self-evaluation every year or two can help keep your life in perspective. Doing such a thing in your own head is nearly impossible. Good, qualified and caring assistance is available. You don’t have to be nuts to make an appointment with a therapist. Paying someone to listen to you is remarkably liberating. Most of us politely listen to whoever it is we are talking with, while formulating a response in our own mind, thus never truly hearing what the other is saying. A good therapist listens to everything you say, and believe it or not, there is more up there than you ever imagined.

 

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Seperating First Responders from Health Care Providers

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 06:37

Paramedics with bachelors degrees with the same status, pay and benefits as similarly educated and trained healthcare proffessionals?

Absolutely.

EMS the third arm of public safety, status, pay and benefits the same as police and fire?

You bet.

For EMS to become the third arm of public safety, right alongside law enforcement and fire departments, some separation must occur.
We simply cannot all be considered first responders while existing with profit as our business model.

For example, private security companies exist for profit, fire inspectors are employed by insurance companies and fire extinguisher businesses flourish. The people employed in these positions are not first responders, nor do they expect to be considered as such.

EMS provides different services under one label. Some are dispatched for life threatening emergencies. Some do routine transports. All of us take care of people who cannot or will not take care of themselves. Only some of the available EMS professionals respond to the unpredictable 911 emergencies.

So, how do we change the public perception that EMS and the people who provide it are almost-but-not-quite first responders or on par with hospital staff?

Seperation. We are all competent providers, dedicated and caring, but we are not all the same, nor do we all want the same things from our EMS experience. There is room in EMS for people who seek nothing more than an 8-hour shift with few complications, transporting stable but unable people.

We have plenty of spots for people who enjoy transporting fragile elderly patients to and from their appointments. Plenty of people need to be taken to dialysis centers and cancer treatment centers. The need for quality healthcare professionals that are capable of transporting critically I’ll or injured people while providing proper care should not fall on the shoulders of first responders. Paramedics with skills comparable RN, PA and NP are needed for these vital roles.

By grouping all of us as EMS, our essential piece of the public safety puzzle is overlooked, and the providers pay the price.
Fire-based EMS is sometimes paid on par with the fire service employees, but often is not. Privately operated ambulance companies pay what the market dictates, quite often wages just above the minimum wage.

The industry suffers from career burnout, depression, lack of motivation and overall dissatisfaction with EMS, leading to increased injuries, excessive turnover and the inability to inspire public confidence.

The common denominator that holds EMS together is the people who respond. We are the people who provide care, professionalism and safe transport to the public, but we cannot expect to all be compensated at the same level as Fire and Police.

Some of us deserve to be on par with our colleagues who work inside the big world of healthcare, and be compensated accordingly.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

#theworkisdifferent

Mon, 01/28/2019 - 13:33

For EMS to become the third arm of public safety, right alongside law enforcement and fire departments, some separation must occur.
We simply cannot all be considered first responders while existing with profit as our business model.
For example, private security companies exist for profit, fire inspectors are employed by insurance companies and fire extinguisher businesses flourish. The people employed in these positions are not first responders, nor do they expect to be considered as such.

EMS provides different services under one label. Some are dispatched for life threatening emergencies. Some do routine transports. All of us take care of people who cannot or will not take care of themselves. Only some of the available EMS professionals respond to the unpredictable 911 emergencies.

So, how do we change the public perception that EMS and the people who provide it are almost-but-not-quite first responders or on par with hospital staff?

Seperation. We are all competent providers, dedicated and caring, but we are not all the same, nor do we all want the same things from our EMS experience. There is room in EMS for people who seek nothing more than an 8-hour shift with few complications, transporting stable but unable people.

We have plenty of spots for people who enjoy transporting fragile elderly patients to and from their appointments. Plenty of people need to be taken to dialysis centers and cancer treatment centers. The need for quality healthcare professionals that are capable of transporting critically I’ll or injured people while providing proper care should not fall on the shoulders of first responders. Paramedics with skills comparable RN, PA and NP are needed for these vital roles.

By grouping all of us as EMS, our essential piece of the public safety puzzle is overlooked, and the providers pay the price.
Fire-based EMS is sometimes paid on par with the fire service employees, but often is not. Privately operated ambulance companies pay what the market dictates, quite often wages just above the minimum wage.

The industry suffers from career burnout, depression, lack of motivation and overall dissatisfaction with EMS, leading to increased injuries, excessive turnover and the inability to inspire public confidence.

The common denominator that holds EMS together is the people who respond. We are the people who provide care, professionalism and safe transport to the public, but we cannot expect to all be compensated at the same level as Fire and Police.

Some of us deserve to be on par with our colleagues who work inside the big world of healthcare, and be compensated accordingly.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Joyous Cacophony

Mon, 01/28/2019 - 10:13
http://www.rescuingprovidence.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2019/01/Voice-014.m4a

 

We’re driving down Angel Street at three o’clock in the afternoon. It’s a perfect late summer day, nice iced coffee in the cup holder, pretty girls in summer dresses everywhere and no runs coming our way.

It has been a grueling tour so far. Sometimes I wonder how I keep it all together and manage to lock things into their compartments to be dealt with later, when things quiet down and I can sort stuff out.

Those little compartments in my mind are imperative, as long as they are opened relatively quickly and the contents sorted through and put away for good. Without them, the ability to savor the moments that make the breadth of a long shift — and career — more vital than the length is jeopardized, and I lose the ability to appreciate the little things.

We approach the Rhode Island School of Design just as a bus from New York is leaving, full of kids going home from a weeklong summer program. The bus is packed, every seat taken. A few daring souls stand and peer out of the windows, breathing in the city air from the five-inch openings on top, looking into the distance, searching for something, someone, or perhaps simply dreaming.

Most of the kids are seated, settling in for the long ride home. The bus creeps away from the curb, ready to bring the kids back to whatever part of N.Y. they came from. Brian slows the rescue enough to let the bus in. We’re in no hurry, and a little courtesy is never a bad idea.

Just as the line of traffic gets moving again, I hear shouting behind us: a happy sound, kids whooping it up. Dozens of them run past the slow-moving vehicles, flanking the bus, jumping up and down, waving and smiling from ear to ear.

The kids in the bus respond in kind, all of them standing now, hanging their hands out of those little window openings, high-fiving the grounded kids who can leap high enough to make contact.

I witness sweet mayhem for a minute, but then the bus picks up speed and moves down the hill, toward the city and the highway onramp.

The spontaneous honor guard follows, escorting the bus, shouting, waving, elbows and knees pumping, hearts pounding (some breaking, no doubt), if kids at summer camps still fall in love like they used to.

They keep up for a while before the machinery outpaces the humans and distance spreads. The honor guard keeps running. They catch the bus at the next light, more euphoria ensues, the joyous cacophony contagious as pedestrians and drivers — and tired EMTs in an ambulance — are caught up in the display of affection and sheer, unblemished happiness.

It is quite a display, and people caught in their daily routines forget about their problems for a minute, click off their cell phones, turn down their radios and join in. They honk their horns, raise their hands in the air or chirp their siren until the bus moves again, finally outdistancing the pack.

The tired runners slow down, then stop, then turn around and head back up the hill to wait for their own bus to take them back to wherever it is they come from, with new friendships formed and experiences that will last them a lifetime.

The group of strangers forming the traffic pattern falls back in line, and we pick up our cell phones and turn up the volume on our radios.

For a brief moment, we were connected, brought together by a bunch of kids who, at a distance, acted like a gang of hooligans. They probably were breaking the law by obstructing the normal flow of things. But sometimes, the normal flow of things needs a little shaking up, and I am grateful that I was caught in the middle of the nuttiness.

I’m stunned by the effect this little moment of magic has on me. This morning’s disasters — a 2-year-old who drowned in his backyard pool, the dead 25-year-old who overdosed on heroin and died in his bed with his parents in the next room, the beaten teen who will hold the rage and resentment inside until it explodes on some other poor soul — the hopeless and lost all recede to the back of my mind as the afternoon progresses and light shines through.

It is a moment of grace delivered at just the right time, and I never saw it coming or knew how badly I needed it.

Another call comes in, and we have to respond.

My voice sounds a little different when I answer the radio, and I wipe my eyes, knowing that no matter what, things will be all right.

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

All for nothing?

Sat, 01/26/2019 - 11:08

Sometimes, think it was all for nothing. Then I give it some thought. What we do matters.

Nothing much tops that.

At the end of your career, when the ink has not only dried, but has begun to fade from the pages of history, it all becomes clear. You DID matter. You were one of the ones who made a difference. And while you were too busy to realize just how important your contributions were, somebody, perhaps your partner, maybe a patient or even a bystander was not too busy to notice, and was able to take some of what you offered, and make it part of themselves, and become better at what they do, and continue to do.

 

 

You are going to miss this. It will always be part of who you are, and who you werewill always be a part of what EMS is.”

 

Categories: Syndicated Columnists

Like Clockwork

Fri, 01/25/2019 - 08:59

Engine Co. EMS

By Michael Morse

“Rescue 1 with Engine 13, respond to Broad and Connor Street, at the nightclub for a reported shooting…”

We were out the door in 30 seconds, on scene in two minutes. A hostile crowd waited, kind of contained by a few police officers. More were on the way, but for now, our “safe scene” was anything but.

One of the firefighters from Engine 13 helped my partner with the stretcher and equipment from the ambulance; the officer of the EMS engine company kept an eye on the crowd; and the remaining two firefighters from the four-person company assisted me.

Sixty seconds later, we had a victim with three gunshot wounds to the torso immobilized, high-flow oxygen running, two large bore IVs established, bleeding controlled, a 12-lead EKG acquired, interpreted and transmitted to the ED. The captain of Engine 13 stepped into the driver’s seat of his truck, his chauffer drove the ambulance, the remaining two firefighters joined me and my partner in the back of Rescue 1, and we left the increasingly volatile scene. Seven minutes from time of dispatch we rolled our patient into the Level 1 trauma room at Rhode Island Hospital. I gave my report, which, because of the excellent work from the engine company, was detailed and accurate. The trauma team got to work and had the patient stabilized and headed up to surgery 15 minutes later.

A man who had every reason to die lived. We barely spoke during the call, every one of us confident in our ability to do our job, and, more importantly, confident in the ability of every member of the team.
You would think that we spent long hours training on how to treat a person shot three times in the torso at a nightclub a mile from our station, but that never happened.

The reason everything clicked is because the officer of the engine company responded to EMS calls with the same vigor as he did fire calls. His crew knew to bring their oxygen, med bag, and monitor into every ALS call, no matter how routine. His crew routinely established IV access on stable patients with recurring chest pain. They knew how and when to treat allergic reactions, knew their medications and correct doses, knew the difference between glucagon and 50-percent dextrose. They understood how the body reacts to adenosine; they learned to titrate naloxone to respiratory rate and did everything in their power to make every call they were dispatched to go as smoothly as possible. They were damned good firefighters and a pleasure to work with.

Lessons learned on routine calls are invaluable when the stakes are higher. Recognizing shock, staying calm and focused, nailing the IV on the first attempt, not fumbling with the oxygen bottle and mask, watching IV flow rates, cutting off clothing, locating exit wounds, re-checking vital signs, having the bag valve mask and defibrillator pads set up and ready to go…these are not skills anybody is born with, even firefighters. Repetition during less-stressful moments helps to develop expertise that shines at times when others struggle.

Even salty firefighters (who have seen it all) can benefit from getting involved on every call they run. When every responder is as efficient as their potential allows, teamwork develops, lives are saved, and the fire department earns the respect of the community.

Originally published in Fire Engineering

Categories: Syndicated Columnists