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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Do you manage effectively?

This is a question that continues to plague me, and I believe others feel the same way; How does one go about being a "good manager"?

Leadership seems to be an overall umbrella that covers the "good manager", but I am looking for a more in-depth answer. What is leadership? How does this make a manager good at his/her job? Lets parse this out a bit.

Leadership is a broad term, it is one that embodies multiple facets of a person's personality. A true leader is one who can inspire, promote, enhance and protect those around him/her. Inspire by making him/herself an example to follow (shirt tucked in, cleans up around the office, etc. etc.). Promote your team, that is make sure you give constructive criticism, but be liberal with the gratitude as well. Enhance each member of your team by offering opportunities to grow and have more responsibility. Finally, protect your team members from themselves and each other. Remember, there is no "I" in "Team", protect those around you by listening, engaging and, most importantly, encourage your team members to be innovative (don't destroy dreams, build on them). The best kind of manager/leader, is one who sets boundaries and gives directions, but allows for others to build the route.

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.
Nelson Mandela 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Long Absence and Changes

It has been quite some time since my last post. This is not for lack of wanting to, it is merely an issue of rediscovering what the blog is all about. I stopped posting mostly because I have been going through a difficult time with EMS. Working in EMS, in one way or another for the past five years, has led me through a roller coaster of ups, down, twists and turns. Alas, what job does not offer these topsy turvy times?

I have recently been inspired to write a little more frequently. My first inspiration came from Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase, my second from White Coat, Black Art. These are both fantastic podcasts if you are interested in hearing the thrills, laughs and silliness of flight attendant life or the inspiring and sobering tales of an ER doc in Canada. When dealing with life, often times it is worth sharing with others and I hope I can bring some of you a little deeper into the world of an EMT-Basic.

I have learned some amazing things over these several long months. I know how to be tougher (like a Sabra), wiser, conscientious, and yes...burned out. Being tough is part of the culture in EMS, fire etc. When they say that certain substances flow down hill, they are not kidding...EMS is the trough at the bottom of the hill; However, respect is not given, it is earned and I am working on the earning part harder than ever.

Internal toughness is one of the most challenging pieces to the puzzle of human nature. We all want to be tough, but what does that word even mean? I love the Hebrew word "Sabra" which means cactus. Sabra is often used to describe an Israeli with many past generations of ancestors in the country, a native Israeli more or less. What intrigues me about a Sabra is the connotation that Israelis are tough and prickly on the outside, but sweet and full of life on the inside. This word does not just apply to Israelis, it applies to EMS as well. The challenge with EMS Sabras lies in how easily a patient or hospital staff can reach the sweetness that lies inside of all of us who are partially closed off to the world at work, yet required to engage it in every way. Communicating with nurses starts, for me, with apprehension over whether or not my report will be good enough for the RN or if I make a mistake how I will be treated. I have learned to just go with the flow. Those who criticize and come down hard on you do it because, in most cases, they are insecure themselves or maybe they had an insecure MD give them a hard time and you present an easy target. The way I see it is this: you can let them tear you apart inside while giving them the sharp needles on the outside; you can show them embarrassment from the outside while staying strong internally or you can do both. The point is, remember that being tough is not about putting other people down, it is about holding yourself to a higher standard than those around you. Remember, this is only for now. Respect is another aspect of toughness that can be easily overlooked, but most of the issues with toughness through respect lie in how one presents him/herself to other people.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Keepin' it real on the road

Road Safety

We all think we practice it, we all think we are the best drivers in the world (at least those of us in EMS right?)
My company has just begun to install road safety devices similar to those in AMR ambulances. I guarantee, there are going to be a lot of high pitch tones for the first few months...the exciting thing is...we will be better drivers by the end of it (in and out of an ambulance).

How can one assess one's own driving safety? One needs to have an objective piece with proper parameters programmed into it to give an accurate account of good driving habits. Your partner in the seat next to you is not a good judge of driving. Individuals have different perspectives, but this black box by Zoll has one perspective that is repeated for every operator, creating a universal standard of driver safety.

While driving to a scene lights and sirens sounds, sometimes, like the best adrenaline rush you could have and gives you that feeling of being a superhero, just remember your state driving protocols and remember those who did not get so lucky.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A paramedic was killed late Wednesday in an ambulance accident at Fort Bragg, authorities said Thursday.
The wreck occurred at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday at the intersection of Plank and Turkey roads on post, said Tom McCollum, spokesman for Fort Bragg.
An ambulance from Womack Army Medical Center was responding to a mutual aid call from another military ambulance when the driver lost control and slammed into some nearby trees after overcorrecting, according to Emergency Chaplains, a group that ministers to first responders and emergency personnel."

By Craig Crosby
Portland Press Herald
Copyright 2007 Blethen Maine Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
TURNER, Maine — Allan Parsons' last act was helping someone in need.
Parsons, 46, a paramedic from Wilton, was treating a patient in the back of a Med-Care ambulance early Thursday when the vehicle collided with a pickup truck on Route 4 in Turner, according to Androscoggin County Sheriff Guy Desjardins.
Parsons was pronounced dead at the scene.
The unidentified patient was rushed to the hospital with two other people: Arlene Greenleaf, 68, of Bethel, who was driving the ambulance, and the driver of the pickup truck, Christopher Boutin, 29, of Turner.
The crash occurred at the intersection of Potato Road and Route 4 a little after 3 a.m., Desjardins said.
Greenleaf and Parsons, who were based in Mexico, were taking a patient from Rumford to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston when Boutin pulled his full-size Chevy pickup out in front of the ambulance, police say.
"A witness stated the ambulance's emergency lights were on and the pickup truck was crossing Route 4 from Potato Road to Lone Pine Road when the accident occurred," Desjardins said.
Greenleaf was removed from the ambulance with an extricating device. Boutin was ejected from the truck during the crash, Desjardins said.
Greenleaf was listed in fair condition at Central Maine Medical Center after undergoing surgery, Milligan said.
Officials at the hospital confirmed Thursday that Boutin was a patient there but declined to give his condition. Initial reports indicated he suffered multiple injuries, including head trauma, Desjardins said.
He had no information on the patient who was riding in the ambulance.
It was the kind of crash that could have claimed more lives, Desjardins said.
"It was a violent collision," he said.

(stories courtesy of

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I have begun, recently, to practice a new technique with my stretcher at work. Keep in mind, this is just a small way of keeping me occupied when I am bored; however, the cocoon is a fantastic idea, especially in the winter or when dealing with an obese patient.

Here is how it works:

1) Take a sheet and tuck it in on the stretcher pad
2) Completely unfold a heavy blanket on the stretcher
3) Completely unfold another sheet on top of the heavy blanket
4) Grab both the blanket and sheet and fold a little on the top and bottom of the stretcher (this keeps the stretcher and sheets looking neat and fresh)
5) Take one side of the blanket (right or left) and fold to the other side of the stretcher, then fold back to the opposite edge of the stretcher. Finally, with the sheet/blanket looking like an S, take the end of the fold that is closest to the middle of the stretcher and fold it towards the same edge you just folded to prior to this move.

6) Repeat...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Magen David Adom


As I pull into the base this morning, the sun is just beginning to shine it's first rays of light onto the earth, the still frigid air meets my nostrils, and a sigh reaches my throat. It is the start of my normal 10 hour shift of providing transport and emergency care to people all along the I-95 beltway and Metro-Boston. As I hop into the 55 this morning, the same musty, cleaning solution smell that exists in all of the ambulances thrusts itself at me. Soon, the engine is sputtering and roaring to life like a sleeping beast just rudely awakened.

Lights...check    Equipment...check  Computer...check

Sitting in the back of the ambulance, nothing jumps out at me anymore. I know where all of my equipment is, the quantity required by my check off sheet, and where to grab or discard extras. This is my office. Most people I know come to work, sit at a desk, have a desktop or laptop computer already prepared to be set up and ready for the day. Maybe they have stacks of paper, possibly reports they have to complete by the end of the day. A swivel chair, a desk, a calendar, maybe even a fun picture or post card dangles from a safety pin.

I look around my office. Tools crammed into every nook and cranny the truck has to offer. My desk is my lap. My desk lamp, the rear dome or Action Area light. My computer is a Tough Book. My reports come, sometimes, at a dizzying pace (I never know how many will be completed by the end of the day). My chair is a tech seat or bench seat. Diesel fume dust coats these seats and anything else it can cover in the back.

The radio crackles to life and then silences, another ambulance on its way for a transfer. My partner arrives and soon after, the phone rings. We have our first call of the day. The garage door opens with the crisp outside air rushing over me, the ambulance once again sputters and roars to life. The garage door closes and off we go.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I am at work tonight and I overheard another EMT saying to another group of EMTs, "what other job in the world allows for a non-college educated person to make a steady salary and have multiple days off?" He was saying this to explain why this job is so great. Tell me something, how many people say this about their jobs seriously? More importantly, how sad is it that this is what makes this job great?