Monday, November 16, 2009

Tioga Boar Hunt '09

It was 7am when I parked my ambulance, changed, and headed home to pick up two good friends, Louis and Eddie, for a wild boar hunt in Pennsylvania. I hadn't slept yet, but I was excited and it kept me up. After a few gear issues, (Eddie forgot his ammo) we headed up Rt 17. It was about a 4 hour drive, and as pleasant as you can make it for three 6 foot men and hunting gear in a Ford Ranger.

Our destination was a ranch in North Central PA. You can find their website here:

We made our way to the office and got checked in, then taken to our living quarters for the weekend. It was a small, cabin like house with two levels, the bottom of which was mostly a lobby type area. A small dining room and kitchen were on the left, and a TV room off to the right, but we didn't spend any time there. At the top of a steep set of stairs were several bedrooms, and we took one with 6 bunks and settled in.

Once our gear was in order, we took off for the range across the street (Ok, it was a dirt path) to the range to make sure we were still sighted in and nothing had been rattled off zero in transit. My Savage .30-06 and the Nikon scope mounted on top were still dead on, so I spent a few rounds practicing kneeling and offhand shots before I was satisfied that I would hit my mark the next day.

Louis had no issues with his NEF 12 Gauge, and we expected none. After all, it was wearing iron sights, not a scope and there is very little to go wrong with a solid single shot gun.

Eddie's rifle was a different story. Eddie is, out of the three of us, by far the worst marksman. He can generally keep his shots within a 14 inch circle at 100 yards and not much better. That's rested, of course. Ed had sighted his rifle in previously, but only to a point, and had expected to fine-tune it here. That was a mistake we'd warned him about. He couldn't seem to figure out how to use the low rest at the range comfortable, and decided to forego the rest entirely. He couldn't seem to get hits at 100 yards, so we moved back to the 40 yard target, and he still had trouble hitting. After about 10 rounds I took the rifle and fired a shot at 40. It hit about 3 inches high, which would be about right at 100. So we knew it wasn't the rifle. Frustrated, he put the rifle away to shoot Louis's Ruger .357 for a bit.

It's a fine pistol, and very accurate with a 6 inch barrel. The .38+P rounds we were shooting were mild, and they hit where you wanted them to at 25 yards. Louis and I left Eddie to shoot some more. After another 8 rounds or so, he'd managed a decent group and was satisfied with the rifle. It was a fine gun, a pre-1964 Winchester Model 70, but the scope was ancient and foggy, with a post reticle that was hard to master.

I laid down for a nap until dinner-Elk stew with buffalo sloppy joes. It was an outstanding meal. We sat up and chewed the fat with the other hunters for a little while after, then laid down for the night. Wake-up was 0600.

The morning was chilly, in the mid 40's but not uncomfortable, and very clear. We followed our guides for the day up the dirt path in my pickup and headed out to the area we would hunt.

Tioga's hunting is "canned", in that the animals are kept in fenced preserves. But it is not as simple as it seems. They have over 1500 acres of land with which to hunt, and our area was at least 300. Fallow deer, water buffalo, white-tails and of course, boar all co-exist in some sort of fantasy ecosystem inside the wire. Both Bald, and Golden eagles flew overhead, and I spotted an osprey once. There were a few Coopers hawks flying around the trees looking for songbirds as well.

Once inside the wire, we split up. Eddie went with one guide, Chase, hunting for a smaller "management" boar, while Louis and I went with the other guide, Carmen, after a trophy pig. They were in contact via radio, and we set out looking for pigs. We didn't find many right away, but Eddie did. We heard a shot ring out below us, and another just a few seconds later. Over the radio I heard that they thought he has wounded "a little spotted pig." Great, I thought. Now we're looking for an angry, wounded pig. This could be interesting.

We saw quite a few fallow deer, and heard of pigs elsewhere on the radio, but saw none in the first hour. I was glassing the pines ahead with a pair of binoculars looking for Eddie's wounded pig, when Eddie's guide said over the radio that a nice red trophy boar was headed our way. We quickly moved to head it off and I spotted him alone, working his way through the trees 100 yards off. I moved up, little by little from tree to tree at a crouch. Finally at 60 yards I took a knee and raised my rifle. I waited until he came out from behind a tree, a good broadside shot, and squeezed the trigger just as he started walking forward again. My rifle bucked, and the pig squealed, then dropped, his back legs useless. He turned and whirled, looking for whatever had hurt him, but found that he could no longer move. I moved up a little closer, and put another shot right behind his shoulder to finish him.

When he'd expired, we walked up to take a look. He was a nice sized pig as far as I could tell. I was upset because my first shot had landed too far back. It took out his spine, but wouldn't have done anything immediately lethal, and I'd ruined some meat. The second shot was a perfect heart/lung and I wished that I'd pulled that off the first time.

We linked up with Eddie and on our way, saw his spotted pig with another group. It didn't look hit at all, and they hadn't found a blood trail, so he had missed it entirely. We sat behind a stump for the next hour. I threw in a lip full of Skoal and watched a white-tail buck amble past. A group of pigs came over the rise behind me, and when I finally turned and spotted them, they took off. Louis and I moved on, splitting with Eddie once again. Our guide had found a pair of pigs bedded down in a field. They were tired and done running. We got close enough for Louis to get a shot off with a slug gun and open sights, but not close enough to endanger ourselves. Going by his first shot, we maybe should have been closer. He placed the first slug into her neck, and they both took off as if he had missed entirely. The slug passed cleanly through nothing but fat. She barely knew that he'd shot her. Eddie shot twice more soon afterward, with 2 more clean misses.

We tracked her about a mile back, down pine slopes and through a swamp. Carmen spotted her 100 yards out and wheeling back around, coming towards us. We got situated behind a huge stump and waited. She got within 10 yards and stopped, but it was a frontal shot. She might have scented us, but kept going. As she got broadside to the log, she caught a look at me. There was blood in her eyes, and she took 2 trotting steps in my direction before Louis dropped her with a well placed shot behind the ear. She died on the spot. She was no more than 3 yards from me. I realized that my hand was in my pocket looking for shells when he had shot. That pig wanted my bacon.

We trekked back to meet Eddie once again, while Carmen went back to grab an ATV and get our pigs back to the lodge. He fired once when we were walking up the hill, but once again, no pig. He was unable to get a follow-up shot in because some other hunters came up in front, they had radioed their position wrong. Lucky they were in orange.

We sat with Eddie for another half hour or so, but no pigs came through, and we started to walk back to the lodge, so that Louis and I could take a look at our pigs and get more pictures. Eddie was planning on going back out when we got back, but on the way out, I spotted a white head in the bushes. I almost didn't get us stopped in time, my first inclination was to hold my fist in the air in a military "halt", but then realized that I needed to actually say "hold up." Eddie managed to get within 25 yards from it, and finally put it down. He shot once, a little far back in the ribcage, missing the heart/lung but doing some damage to the liver and spleen. It was still on it's feet though, and he put a second shot in just to be sure.

Back at the lodge we learned that my pig was much more massive than we had originally thought. In the woods, he hadn't seemed exceptionally large, but next to some of the other pigs, all in the 200 pound range, his size was exceptional. In a class by himself really. We never exactly weighed him, but they had to use a backhoe to hang it up, and I would guess he was pushing 300 lbs, if not 325. There is more meat in my freezer than I know what to do with, so I will be having a BBQ this weekend if the weather holds, and may give some of it away as well. I still have a deer tag to fill, and no room to put it in.

It was a great experience out there, and a good entry to big-game hunting. I've hunted plenty of small game before, and tried to hunt deer and bear with no real success. I'm hoping this year will be different, and now I have little to worry about with 'buck fever', because I know that I can perform in the woods. Next time I'll be hoping for a one-shot stop.

Happy hunting, and stay safe.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Horror and hindsight

I am disoriented and groggy when the high pitched, two-toned call pierces the air. It is dark and I roll over once groaning, then sit up. "WNXX-527, Stony Point Ambulance and Medic One respond to an Motor Vehicle Accident, Palisades Parkway Southbound, between exit 16 and 17. 3 month old infant involved. Time now 0230."

That woke me right up. I cursed under my breath and laced my boots up a little faster, then ran for the ambulance bay doors and cranked them open. We rolled out a moment later. We were right around Exit 15, so the ambulance had to go North past the scene and turn around where there was a spot for it. We would have crossed the median, but there were too many trees in the way. No sense causing another accident on our way. Luckily there were very few cars on the road at such an early hour.

After what felt like an eternity, but was probably less than ten minutes, we arrived on the scene. There was a blue minivan on the shoulder, perched up on a tall rock, and the front end in a small tree, maybe a foot in diameter. Shining my flashlight I can see two adults in the van, huddled over a small, crying baby. That's a good sign.

To a medic, a crying baby is a good baby. Kids cry when they are hurt or upset. It's their way of telling you that something is not right, when many times they are unable to say what. It also tells you that they have a patent airway, and they are breathing, with adequate air-flow to scream. A quiet child who has just undergone major trauma makes me nervous. He may be brave, and perfectly OK, or he may be silently slipping off the cliff that is a child shock profile.

I take the baby from Mom, who is crying and hyperventilating herself, and a quick assessment show's no injuries except a fairly deep, clean laceration on the left side of her chest by the pectoral muscle. Bleeding is mostly controlled. It looked to have been caused by one of the plastic adjusters on the car-seat that she was strapped into. I put her back into the car seat and take it with me. We don't have any C-spine materials that small, and with all her thrashing with the crying, and her parents having moved her, I didn't see a need to stress her more.

Both parents are patients as well, and Tommy is with me so they both climb in the back. They are insistent that we only treat their baby. Mom is hyperventilating and complaining of a severe headache, but refuses to let us look. Dad claims he is sore but nothing else. Neither one will allow us to board and collar. Dad is like a helicopter. As I hold pressure on his baby's wound, he leans in as if in a panic, and says " They baby is dying! The baby is dying, do something!" I am a calm individual and simply told him that nobody would die in my ambulance today. When he continued, Tommy, and our ALS for the night(at least 450 pounds between the two of them) told him that he needed to calm down, or go with the nice police officers that wished to speak with him.

I was actually shocked that he wasn't arrested on scene. The police pulled him out of the ambulance, I believe he had already signed an RMA. He was not carrying a license and driving his fathers car. He claimed that a deer had jumped out and that he swerved, and ended up on top of the low, sloping rock that we found the car on, but there was something off there. When the police took him away from the back, Mom went nuts. Her hyperventilation increased severely, she cried and screamed worse than the child laying on my cot, in a total panic. We let him come back aboard mostly for that reason.

It was an easy ride to the hospital. I made repeated offers to check out Mom, and her head- she refused, though it seemed to be giving her severe discomfort, and she kept rubbing one particular spot. Dad continued to panic, asking me once when the baby finally relaxed, "Is she still alive?? Does she still have a pulse?" I told him that she did. I told him that I didn't even need to feel for it. I could see her heartbeat causing her skin to pulse around the fontanels, and her color was fine. He tried to then grab her head, as if he couldn't see and wanted to feel the pulse I had mentioned. I stopped him and told him that touching a baby's head like that could be harmful, and not to do it again. He leaned back against the bench and calmed down a little longer until we reached the hospital. I gave my report, wished them luck, and said goodbye.

A few days later I was told that a police officer needed to speak with me about a call that I'd worked the previous week. Earlier that evening Tom and I had done an obvious domestic violence case. A woman's boyfriend had pushed her down some stairs and thrown dirty cat litter on her. She claimed to the police that she had tripped over a cat, but it was easy to see her black eyes through the makeup and I don't think the police officer bought it. She told us the truth in the truck, and swore us to secrecy but I wrote up the wounds as I found them, and wrote the Chief Complaint as I'd found it. I figured that he would want to talk about that call, but I was very wrong.

Three days later, dad had spent the day with Mom and her child. Before he returned home for the evening, he asked to hold his child one last time for the night. He then took his beautiful, new, lively daughter, and swung her by her ankles, hitting her head repeatedly against an iron railing. She had died instantly, an he was tackled by a horrified neighbor before he could run. Police were looking to see if there was any kind of precursor or warning to this. They'd found a Leatherman tool in the car, with brown hair that looked like it was from mom's head on the floor of the car. Apparently it had been wrapped up in her hair with the knife blade to her throat. The skid marks show that the car was traveling in excess of 90MPH, on a slight uphill grade. It started to click. Her headache, and her reluctance to allow examination. His panic, not because he was scared for his daughter, but because he had wanted her dead, he had hoped she would die. The crash was attempted murder. He wanted to kill everyone in the car. I felt like I had missed something. Alarm bells were ringing in my head the whole time, but nothing I could place, nothing I could act on. And now a child was dead. I held no sympathy for Mom. To me, she was almost just as responsible for her daughters death. She could have told us, while he was gone. She could have let us examine her, find out for ourselves. She could have let the police arrest him. She could have gone to somebody when she realized what a freaking psycho he was. But she did not.If only he'd gotten a bit more aggressive and I'd hit him, and THEN he'd been arrested, But I wasn't given that opportunity. And I am still left feeling like I missed something.

Neither one of us was ever called into court to testify. There either was no provable connection between the crash, and the savage murder, or they had such an open-and-shut case we weren't needed. I never found out what happened to him, or his enabling girlfriend. A google search showed plenty of stories if the incident but no sentencing info. I hope he rots in Hell. Maybe he's already dead. Even most inmates have a conscience when it comes to children.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Attention Drivers!

I do not turn on my flashy red lights and sirens for no reason. I'm not making a coffee run, nor am I just trying to be cool. I'm way past the point where all that noise and red light will give me a rush. I am responding to an emergency call. Somebody is sick, or hurt, and I need to get there, without dodging your sorry ass because you can't be bothered to pull over for five seconds so I can go through. My red lights do not give me a license to speed, so no, you should NOT simply go faster than I am going to avoid pulling over. That will only piss me off. The lights and sirens are a warning to get out of my way, so that I don't have to worry so much about drivers up ahead making sudden maneuvers while I am en route. Your going faster means that at some point up ahead, I'm gonna have to snake my way through clogged up traffic at a red light, and get within inches of your tiny little car in order to make it through with my big ambulance. It only makes both our lives harder. And I'm still ahead of you. So pull the hell over already.

To the lady who looked at me this morning as I entered the busy intersection with both my sirens and horn going, I hope that one day, if something bad happens to you or somebody you love, that there are more courteous drivers on the road that recognize that there are indeed things more important than making it through the yellow light or getting their morning coffee. Hell, I didn't get mine yet.

And the the not-so-gentlemanly guy who stopped at the intersection, than darted out in front of me as I proceeded through...I don't know if you're an idiot, a jerk, or what, but trust me, the vehicle I'm driving will probably run through your little Honda like a hot knife through butter. I'm pretty sure I'd come out on top there.

That is all.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blast From the past Pt 2

This is a poem I had to write for one of my classes in my first college semester.
It made my mother and her entire office cry when they read it. The poem is about my life, and where I saw myself 10 years in the future. Back in those days I had wanted nothing more than to become a forest ranger. This poem actually helped me realize though, that a family and a home of my own were what I wanted most out of life, and how I got there didn't really matter so much. In a way, it helped validate my dropping out, to myself at least.

Morning mist muffles birdsong and squirrel call.
The sun, shrouded in cloud struggles to rise.
It casts a pale, growing glow on a moss covered cabin.
Lonely in the dark, damp forest.

The ranger is up before the dawn,
Window panes cold and growing a frost.
He lights a lamp in the dark, dresses.
Gun and badge glisten in subdued radiance.

He is tall, and strong, but his eyes are friendly.
They are seared with the memories of friends and strangers lost.
But they shine with confidence
And love for life and family.

In the kitchen, the hound stirs.
He chases rabbits in the night,
His tail, quivering, shivering,
Like the flame on a match.

Awake to the smell of frying eggs and coffee,
His wife, bleary eyed and sleepy
Pads down the hallway in her robe.
She is beautiful in her tired morning glory

They are quiet, as forks tinkle against plates
And the lanterns flicker weakly.
The heater is on, and they are warm.
But soon the ranger must venture out.

The clock says 5:04 and it is almost time to go.
He wanders down the hall once more,
And enters on the left to see,
His daughter, cozy.
She is much like her mother.

He leans over the bed,
Plants a kiss on her snoozing cheek.
She will be five in as many short months.
And she will have a sibling sooner.

In the kitchen again,
His wife, embraced in his arms.
She will be back in bed soon.
With a kiss and a tip of his hat,
The ranger is off to work.

The days are long, and demanding.
Headlights are used, coming and going from home.
He climbs from his truck, stiff with exhaustion,
But satisfied with his days work.

From the cabin comes his child, ecstatic
And she is swept from the ground,
By strong, proud father’s arms.
She tied her own shoes today.

The ranger’s wife has felt another kick today.
It was strong, and the baby is active.
She thinks they will have a son.
She smiles across the dinner table at Daddy.

It is another cold night, and snow is falling.
Tomorrow is another long day.
The ranger ponders the glistening white ground,
And puffs a honey cigar, gently.
He is wreathed in smoke.

He thinks back, ten long years ago.
He was just a boy then
Though he liked to think himself a man.
He didn’t miss much.

His high school days of falconry, had long gone.
He hadn’t the time to hunt his hawk each day.
So he had given it up.
He missed the autumn afternoons
In the crisp leaves with his hunter.

And the days of college parties,
They’re over too.
But he didn’t miss them much, fun as they used to seem.
He had a need for responsibility now, to set an example.
And his beer was much better while it could still be tasted.

His child is asleep,
And as it gets later, her parents must do in turn.
His wife clicks out the lamp,
And they crawl into the covers,
For another restful night.

Blast from the past...

Some stories on my old hard drive, from high school and that failed first college semester. They're between 3 or 4 years old now. Since I haven't been writing I figured I'd out them up. Enjoy!

Popped My Code Cherry

Most 16 year olds would spend their Wednesday nights doing homework, or out with friends if their parents were lenient. I on the other hand, found myself sitting in the back of an ambulance checking its supplies. My shift had started at about 7 PM. I don’t think I was sitting in that rig very long before the tones rang out.
It was an ominous feeling, because I sort of sensed it before it happened. Almost like my brain could see it coming before the radio picked it up. It startled me nonetheless and I snapped to attention in the seat of the rig, already hastily replacing the cervical collars into the long blue bag. The sharp, two-tone alarm rang hung in the air. I don’t think there was a longer pause between the tones and the dispatch then normal, but looking back, it felt like an eternity. I knew something hard was about to hit us.
“WNXN-527 on the air, request for Stony Point Ambulance and Medic 1. Please respond to number 123 Fake Street for a 41-year-old female, not breathing. Time now is 1914.” I stifled a curse and hopped from the back of the rig to open the bay doors. I climbed back in, grabbing the giant blue first-in bag, equipped with everything from oxygen and airways to a BVM, and trauma pads. I dropped the handheld suction in the top of the bag as well. I didn’t want to bring too much in since we would have to move fast, but suction would likely be important.
Eddie Conklin, our driver, slammed his door shut. He turned back to me sitting in the captains chair and tossed a big binder back towards me. “Hey, Junior!” he yelled. “Fake Street, and make it fast!” The binder was an alphabetical listing of each street in Stony Point, with directions on how to get there. I wasted no time in locating the street and relayed the direction up front as the EMT Tom Peterson reached his seat. The rig pulled out of the bay and I was out the back, closing the doors, and back in the rig in a matter of seconds. Seconds counted.
I’m not entirely clear on how fast we were moving, or how long it took us to get there. My thoughts were moving way faster then an ambulance ever could. This was my test as a First Responder. Could I really do this? Would I remember my training? Would I fail? Would I choke? All the while I made sure that the supplies we needed were there, that the crew had gloves. As the rig stopped, Tom made sure I got right out and did not wait.
There was snow and ice still on the ground. The moon was high up and it’s light caused the snow to glitter. The beauty of it was offset by the on and off strobe of red flashing emergency lights. I ran through the door of the house where a police officer was waving us. All beauty disappeared.
It wasn’t a large house, and it was a mess because furniture had been hastily pushed aside. My eyes moved to the floor. Lying on a light brown carpet, lit from the dim glow of a dying light bulb was our patient. A police officer was doing CPR, with one hand. A man to my left was breathing with a bag-I don’t remember if this was another cop, or her husband.
The first thing that caught my eye was her stomach. It was large and bloated. “Is she pregnant?” I asked, more to the officer then anybody else. Tommy was there as I knelt on the floor next to the officer on compressions. Turning to Tom, the man bagging her said with frustration, “Her jaw’s held shut, I can’t get any air in!” Tommy pried with his hand and I handed him a measured oral airway but to no avail. They couldn’t get her mouth open.
“Let’s try a nasal,” I suggested. I dug in the bag for a few moments. A pang of fear hit me when I didn’t come up with it right away. I cursed myself. I’d just checked it myself, dammit! But there it was a moment later, under another OPA bag, a little orange tube. I measured that and lubed it, then handed it to my EMT. The medics arrived through the door as Tom was midway in getting it in.
The dialogue is a bit sketchy for a big part of this, mostly because it was curt and quick, and we all knew what needed to be done anyway. The paramedic team asked the normal cardiac arrest questions-how long she’d been down, what had happened. She was without pulse for about 10 minutes before they walked through the door. He husband had left her watching TV to take a shower. When he came back she was down. He’d started CPR and rescue breathing himself-but had not extended her airway properly, hence the stomach bloating. She was not pregnant, and each of us breathed a sigh of relief.
Though her jaw was locked before, it opened on contact for the paramedics. One of them spread-eagle on the floor pushed a tube down her throat. Now we no longer needed a nasal airway. They pushed an IV into her arm, and gave me the bag to make sure it kept dripping. Suddenly I found myself with everything, and nothing, to do all at once. It was am important job. But I found myself wishing that I could be doing more-giving this woman CPR or on the bag. I didn’t feel as if I was using my skills properly. So I became a bystander and a player all at once. I saw the medic perform accelerated CPR to circulate the drugs faster, and I saw them hook her to an AED. Asystole, no shock-able rhythm. They put her on a chain of light shocks-called pacing-to try and stimulate her heart to beat.
Eddie Conklin had grabbed a backboard and the stretcher. They rolled her, and lifted her onto the stretcher with the board beneath her. We made our way quickly to the ambulance, careful of the ice and snow. One of the police brought our equipment out.
There was music in the rig, which died down when Eddie got in. It seemed so fitting-and yet discourteous. In the movies, everything has a theme song. Here it was not the time. The husband rode up front. I sat in the captain chair, Tom to the side in the CPR chair. The medic that rode along with us, Neil, was on the bench. We quickly put a cervical collar on, a job that fell to me being at the head. It would keep her from getting whipped around and keep an open airway. I began to bag, while Tom compressed and the paramedic did his thing.
The thing about it was, everything was so different. It wasn’t at all how I imagined, to rush in and be the knight on his white horse to save the day. Not at all. This was sad, and harsh. This wasn’t like the books. This was not a mannequin. This was a wife, and a mother. And my patient.
Our ride to the hospital was a longer one then most corps. It still couldn’t have taken long. But it felt like we were driving through the next millennium. At some point, Neil leaned towards the two of us. “At this point, she is dead. But because she’s so young, and because her husband is with us, we’re going to keep working.” He looked down at her face. There was a yellow-green fluid leaking from her mouth and nose. “Do me a favor, grab some 4X4’s and clean her up a bit.” I nodded soberly. I was still holding out on a miracle for this woman, as resigned as I was that this would likely be the first patient I would ever lose.
Though I was at the head, and bagging the whole time, cleaning her up was the first time that I ever had really looked at her face. The gunk I was wiping up never gave me the willies or anything-but it saddened me. It killed the idea that we would save this woman. When I finished, however, I looked at Tom Peterson; mouth cocked half open, red in the face, pressing down on her chest over and over. CRP was no easy task, and this woman had a chest harder than most, although I‘ve since forgotten why. “Switch with him,” the medic gestured towards me. Tom insisted he was fine, but Neil stayed firm, and I slid past Tom into the CPR chair, benchmarked her chest, and pushed. I continued the next few minutes until we arrived at the hospital. Before we got there Neil gave a bit of a pep talk. “Keep working hard, put on your game faces. To her husband, it’s not over yet.”
Stone-faced we unloaded the stretcher, entered the code into the doors, and wheeled her into Cardiac 1. Doctors and nurses kept working for another few minutes. When they called it, and went outside to tell her husband, he burst into tears.

It took awhile for the full effect of everything that had just taken place to hit me. It was a bittersweet moment returning to the building, and returning home. Everyone was so proud-myself included. Tommy even wrote on my evaluation that I handled the call “like a seasoned veteran.” But I wasn’t sure there was anything about losing a patient to feel proud about. Weak, grim smiles accompanied the news for anybody who had asked about it.

It had to be two days when it took maximum effect. The day I had read her obituary in the paper. I saw it and went out for a walk. It was dark, and cold. I was walking fast, franticly. I lit up a cigar and puffed on it as if my life depended on it-ironic in that I was killing myself in the process. I broke into a run, my brain swimming with emotions and images that wouldn’t leave. The idea that she would die didn’t occur to me before. I knew the statistics on CPR, but of course I never thought that *I* would loose a patient. The idea that perhaps, she was watching me now from above was a little eerie. Voices echoed in my head. As we had left, her daughter had given her dad a hug, and through tears, said “I love you daddy.” “I love you too sweetheart,” he replied.
Before I reached home again, coyotes were howling on the hill. I listened to them for awhile trying to take my mind off it all. I sobbed relentlessly in my room later that night-that became the release, the turning point. That night I came to terms with what had happened. She changed my life. I later found out that she had suffered a major brain bleed. Even if it had happened to her on the table, she probably could not have been saved.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Burn Out....

Sorry folks. Burn out's a bitch and I've been pretty well burnt all month. I'm working on a few things, I should have them up soon.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Great rant by a black man, on Obama. Read it here:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Dear Main-Stream Media,

The war we are fighting now is NOT VIETNAM! Instead of every day, telling me how many of my brothers and sisters in arms have died overseas, how about you report on some of our victories? Tell me how many we got, too. We may have lost 4 in a firefight that cost them 20. The way you tell it though, our armed forces are nothing but cannon fodder for an enemy we couldnt possibly win against. (My eyes are rolling as I type that, by the way) And although every life lost is important, far more important than that is the humanitarian victories. I want to hear when we put up a school, fix a road, dig a well, get those towns electricity. I'm glad that people are voting in Afghanistan right now-report on that and not just the violence associated with those who would see that those people live in fear every day.

Much Obliged- BangBangMedic

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pay Issues

Just did a long-distance trip yesterday, and along the way I started thinking about EMS professionals, our hours, and our pay.

Anybody involved in EMS is painfully aware that we are the redheaded stepchild of emergency services. Cops and firemen get all the glory. Their pay is far better, even without overtime, and they usually get a pension. It's a perk that comes with being a civil service job, employed by the state or city, and one of probably the only good things that could come out of government healthcare-EMS might turn into a government job with all the perks that come from that.

EMT B's in my area start at ten bucks an hour, medics at about $16. After two years I'm almost to 11 per hour now. It adds up to about 22K a year, depending on how much overtime I pick up. My company does offer a respectable healthcare plan, and a 401K for full time employees, which is nice. That's about all though. It's kind of pitiful considering the ambulette drivers start with at least $12 an hour, and even a janitor in the school system can make enough to support a family.

What I realized though, is there is so much money there-even in this starved economy, we are always a little short staffed, and there is plenty of overtime to go around. For those that want to, an 70 hour work week is not unheard of. Overtime, like most anywhere else, is time and a half where I work, which bumps those EMT-B's up to 15 per hour. Why not simply hire a few more staff members, and raise the pay a few bucks? Burning yourself out with an insane amount of hours is dangerous to the tech, their patients, and anyone on the road with them. It can hurt patient care, and it's not good for mental or social welfare of employees either. Would it be so hard to pay everyone say, $13 an hour, and have a few more employees to cover the shifts that would otherwise be overtime?

Next up: How the volunteer EMS system is killing EMS as a career!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More soon

Just got back from the shore-I have lots of pictures and a bunch of stories, I'm going to get a post up soon. Also, the third chapter of my story is taking much longer then expected, but it *IS* coming. Bear with me, folks

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I've been noticing lately, wherever I go, people tend to look at me like I'm a dead man. I tell them I'm a soldier, and invariably, theres a few moments pause. Their mouths drop open just a tiny bit, and their eyes get soft and it looks like I've just told them that I have terminal brain cancer, or that my puppy died. They they usually pull it together and shake my hand. Some of them react as if I told them that *I* killed a puppy, but those people aren't worth continued conversation.

The thing is, I don't want sympathy. I volunteered to be a solider. I LOVE being a solider. I knew the risk when I signed up-for God's sake, we've been at war since I was in 8th grade-I accept that risk freely. There is no shame, and no need for you to feel sorry for me. So please don't. I want support on the homefront, I want a president who isn't hell bent on apologizing for our actions, who isn't frightened of the men he commands. I want the proper tools to do my job, and I want rules of engagement that dont force me to fight blindfolded, hopping on one leg. Do that, instead of cringing when I tell you that I'm off to war.

I'm not a dead man walking. I'm more likely to get shot as a tourist in the nations capitol than I am in Afghanistan, actually. Is that friggin sad or what?

Monday, August 3, 2009


I'm back from the desert about a week now, and I definately prefer being home. My unit has alot of issues, which I won't discuss in serious detail, however, not having a budget for medical equipment is a serious issue. So is spending millions of dollars for high speed desert training-and then not doing anything. I qualified sharpshooter on the M9 9mm service pistol, was promoted to E4, and helped out as a medic with another unit that HAD equipment...and thats about it. A whole month in the desert and very little to show for it. Hooah.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chapter Two

Well, I'm back from the desert, and back on the Bolance already. I'll post some pics and stories later, when I find the time. It's a busy week, I still have an Army Weekend among other things. For now, here's the 2nd chapter in my story:

“Amy,” I said to her. “I want to quit. I want to find a job where I can be here for you. Last night was too close for comfort, and they don’t pay me enough for that.” I looked up into her brown eyes, and they were full of worry. Her brow creased a little as she tried to frown at me, but I’d never seen her frown. I don’t think she was capable of it. She settled into a rueful smile instead.

“Paul, in the six years I’ve known you, I’ve never heard you talk like that. Not even a word of it. You are a great EMT. I knew that’s what you were when I married you. That sense of purpose you carry around with you all the time is one of the things I love about you the most.” She slipped into a chair next to me and started to undo the buttons on my uniform shirt. It fell to the back of the chair, and crumpled. She ran her hands up my arms, her fingers pausing on the tattoos on my upper arms. A caduceus painted on one shoulder, A soldiers cross on the other. I’d cut my teeth as a medic in Mosul straight out of high school. Underneath the boots that made up the cross were the words “We bury our mistakes.” She read that aloud to me. “Don’t bury yourself with them.”

Her touch, her words shot across me like a wildfire. I still wasn’t sure what I planned to do, but I knew she would be with me anyway. I needed her at that moment more than anything else in the world. I kissed her forehead gently, and she leaned up, pressing her lips into mine. Her hands tightened against my arms and slipped up my back, scratching my skin and sending shivers up my spine. I stood up with her, felt her tense up and I pulled in closer. Her robe fell away from her body at my touch and we made love right there in the kitchen. I was able to forget everything. My world was Amy, and nothing else could be a part of it.

We laid there together on a blanket on the floor and she drifted into a contented sleep. My arms moved with the slow rise and fall of her breathing and my mind wandered back to six years before when we’d met. I was a 21 year old just back from a war. I’d taken home a few scars and a devil-may-care mentality. I had a brand new Chevy pickup and all I wanted was to get drunk and crawl into a hole, to wallow in failure for the guys that didn’t come home with me. Some of my buddies tried to get me away from the house for awhile. They took me to a bowling alley on the main drag. I wanted to be anywhere else. I sat on the side, with a pitcher of beer to myself.

Somewhere after my first few cups I decided it was time to step out for a cigarette. I sucked at bowling and knew it. I stepped outside into the cooling September air and reached into my pocket for my smokes. They weren’t there. “Damn,” I said aloud to nobody in particular. There was another pack in the truck, so I began to walk out to the parking lot. Alongside it was a girl fiddling with something in her trunk, cursing worse than some of the infantry guys I’d run with. I unlocked the door and she turned around a little startled.

“Didn’t mean to scare you. Just needed a smoke.” I told her. The lights in the parking lot were dim and flickering. All I could see was a slim shadow in the dark, and I was pretty sure she smiled. I inhaled a long drag off the Marlboro. “I didn’t even hear that much profanity from my drill sergeants. Need help with something?” She paused for a moment. “My name’s Paul, by the way.” I couldn’t see more that a vague shadow in the dark. She came to about my chin, and she looked thin enough. Probably white. She had dark hair tied back into a ponytail that stopped about her shoulder blades. In the dark, there was nothing more to see.

“Just having a bad night. My friends and I had a falling out. I’m trying to get out of here and relax, but my fishing lines are all tangled up. And I’m Amy. It’s nice to meet you, Paul.” Her voice was clear, and musical. Not too shy, not overbearing. She held out her hand and I shook it. Her grip was soft, but not limp. My hand dwarfed hers, and the contrast between the calloused, scarred hand I’d offered, and her soft, warm skin was striking.

“Going down to the river to hit into some stripers?” She nodded again.“I have an extra pole, if I can get it untangled. I saw you in there, I don’t think you like bowling too much.”
“That would be a very astute observation there Miss Amy.” I crushed out the butt of my smoke. “I have a few poles in the truck myself though. We can use them if yours are too far gone. I’ll meet you at the sea-wall jetty then? Right by the park.” I climbed into the cab as she pulled away, and followed her out onto route 9W, through the main drag of town, stopping for a six pack of Budweiser. Just down the hill from town was the Hudson River marina district and this time of year Striped Bass ran back down towards the ocean for the winter, on the tail end of their yearly spawning run. The fall return to the Atlantic was often better than the initial spring run, and I hadn’t gotten a chance to fish in over a year. I never did tell the guys that I’d left.

There was a bar across the street from the river, mostly for older folks, and guys with boats on the smaller marinas without their own clubs. I never went in there much, but it made parking convenient. I pulled in next to Amy’s little Jetta. My heavier vehicle sank slightly in the mud but I could get out no problem. I grabbed a pair of cheap Eagle Claw surf rods and stuck a can of beer in each of my jeans pockets. The rods were already rigged up. I stepped onto the jetty next to her, and we each hooked a bloodworm on, then cast out into the inky blackness of the river. I caught the sliver glisten of water droplets as the weight splashed through the surface of the water and sank down slow, then parked the rod between some rocks, sat down on the bench and waited.

It was a dark night. There was a tiny sliver of a waning moon, mostly shrouded in clouds. Across the river, some lights from the next county fought a loosing battle to be seen. Even the lights from the power plant across the way offered little illumination. Some small boat lights added a little definition to the black water. It seemed thick, like oil as the breakers hit the rocks a few feet below. The water seemed to pull at them and leave reluctantly, willing them to slip back, underneath the surface and sink to the depths. At night it always looked like the river could swallow you whole. For a long time it seemed that the water was calling me too. I felt like sinking into the unknown beneath the black slick. Somehow that night, it became less appealing. I wanted to feel the chilly breeze on my face and listen to the whistle of wind blowing through the guides of my rod. In fact, I needed it.

“Want a beer?’ She took the can I offered her and sipped slowly.
“Thanks. I wondered where you went. Are you going to be able to drive home?”
“If the bite’s any good I’ll be here awhile anyway. I can always sleep in the back of the truck if I have to.” As I said that, her rod suddenly bent double. The reel started buzzing as line played off. She set the can of beer down and reared back sharply. The rod began to bend and twist, she had a fish on, and a decent fighter at that. I watched for a few moments in admiration. She could handle the drag like a pro, and despite her thin frame, I didn’t see any signs of weakness as she fought him in. Then my rod began to arc wildly. “Looks like we might have hit into a school!” she yelled. I grabbed my rod and began to fight.

We caught four good keepers that night but let them all back. I didn’t trust the fish from the Hudson, no matter how many times they tried to clean it. I just liked to catch them. We moved back across the street when the bite slowed down and sat down on the tailgate of my truck. I lit a smoke and we opened up the last of the beers. We hadn’t talked a whole lot while we were fishing. I liked that, but I could sense the questions coming. We were both dappled in shadows. I felt like Amy could see right through me anyway.

“You don’t talk much. And you walk like you’re carrying a big weight on your shoulders.” I never expected her to be so blunt. I figured the least I could do was return the favor. I’ve been home from Mosul about a week,” I told her. “But not everyone made it home.” I saw her stiffen up a little bit, like she had just made an embarrassing mistake in a public place.
“That’s not your fault though. You know that right?” her voice had softened. She’d lost some of her initial confidence. It was a little patronizing too. Her tone reminded me of my mother, trying to tell me a nightmare wasn’t real. No matter what was said, it never made the fear you felt any less real.
“I was a medic, Amy. My job was to bring my boys home. They didn’t all come home. So that’s on me.” She didn’t say anything for a long moment. I’m not sure what she could have said. I came home certain that people had died because I wasn’t good enough. I knew that came through in my voice.

“Are you a religious man, Paul?” I shook my head.
“I used to be. I believe in God still, if that’s what you mean.”
“I know it’s cliché,” she started. “But sometimes there are things that are out of your control. You’re still here for a reason. So don’t let the war take you. It wasn’t supposed to.” She had a way with words, and I wanted to kiss her at that moment, but I didn’t. I needed to keep talking, and she seemed willing to listen.

“I killed people too, you know. They were trying to kill me. I didn’t really have a choice.” She nodded, and I kept going. I didn’t want to. I’d just met the girl. She didn’t even know my last name, and she was sitting there next to me, a slightly drunk, psychologically distraught veteran. Once I started talking about it, I found that I was unable to stop myself. “The thing is, I felt good about it. I didn’t feel bad at all. I’m not a psychopath, please don’t think-“ I stopped when she pulled me into her arms. I started sobbing openly. Once the floodgates had opened they were stuck for good. There was no holding back, no sanctity of manhood, or macho urge to keep from loosing it in front of a female. She just held me there in silence until it passed and we both fell asleep.

I woke up a few hours later as a drop of rain exploded on my face. It was still dark, and the cold blast caught me off guard. It took a moment or two to get my bearings and figure out where I was, and why there was a woman next to me. Then the rain came hard and fast, like a summer thunderstorm. Amy awoke with a start, and laughing, we ran through the deluge and into the crew cab of my truck. For the first time, in the soft illumination of the truck’s overhead lights, I could see the wonderful woman that would become my wife.

She had a clean, plain face. Pale skin, dotted with the occasional freckle. Her nose was small and gently curved. Her lips were thin, pink. They looked soft, not chapped. There were two pale blue stones, set in silver in each earlobe, standing out from brown hair that was probably much lighter when it was dry. Her eyes were dark, and deep. There was a mixture of emotion in them I found hard to read, and I was so lost in them for the moment that I almost missed it. There was a long, jagged scar curving up the right side of her neck and across her cheek. It looked a few years old, and she’d tried to cover it with wisps of hair, but they’d peeled away in the rain. I noticed it just as she reached a trembling, hand behind my neck and pressed her lips to mine.

She kissed me deeply, each tiny movement of her lips sent an electric feeling shooting through my body. I could feel our wet clothes sticking together as she pulled me closer to her on the bench, and shivered, half with cold, and half with excitement as she started to slide my hand up her thigh. Then I pulled away.
“I’m not sure this is right,” I told her. I watched her face twist in mild confusion, and noticed for the first time her inability to frown. Then her eyes flashed with anger, despite the curling of a smile on her lips.
“It’s the scar, isn’t it? This is the same reason I left the fucking bowling alley. I wouldn’t have guessed you’d be so shallow!” Her accusation hit me worse than if she’d slapped me. It was worse than being shot. I tried to play it down.
“I didn’t even notice…” She saw right through that in no time and called my bluff. I guess my eyes had lingered there just a little too long.

“Bullshit.” Something stopped her from leaving right then though, maybe curiosity, or maybe she believed me for a moment. I never asked. “What is it then?” That blunt, indelicate part of her showed up again.
“I’ve been pretty empty for awhile,” I told her. “I’m not really myself at all. Fact is, I’ve been with a couple women since I got back. And you’re the first one who’s ever made me feel like the bottom of the river isn’t a better place for me to be.” For a few moments she froze, and there was no sound but the raindrops smacking the roof and the windows, sending streams of cascading water all around. It was a lonely sound to me, creating a tension that I wasn’t sure I was ready for. She kissed me again, and lingered on my lips at the end. Her hand slid up my thigh , then withdrew quickly. She climbed out of the truck abruptly afterwards.

“Stay in touch, Paul.” I watched her drive away, then slid up to the drivers seat and watched the sun break through as the clouds drifted away and the rain eased off. My hand reached down to where she had placed a crumpled piece of notebook paper into my pocket. In small, neat form, was a phone number, and her full name: Amanda Reese. At the bottom she had written two words. “Stay Strong.”

I had since forgotten when she had gotten a chance to write that down, but I kept that paper with me always. I let her sleep on the kitchen floor and moved to the chair where my uniform shirt lay crumpled against the back of the chair where it had fallen. I reached into the front pocket for that crumpled piece of paper. “Stay Strong”, it said. Maybe I had a little bit of strength left in me now. But I was going to give her a normal life. She deserved that much. It felt like the easy way out to her, she didn’t want to force me to choose. I knew that it took more strength to give up the career I love for the woman I loved even more. She’d understand, given the time. I sat down at my laptop that morning to type up my resignation letter.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's goodbye again

As of very early Wendsday morning, I will be headed west to Ft. Irwin for the National Training Center in the Mojave Desert for desert warfare training. I will be gone through the 27th. I'll have the laptop with me, but not so sure how much inter-web access I will have, and I don't think I have a camera going along. We'll see. I'll do my best to try to get updates published.
Hooah! I get to live the Army life once more!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Phase V Supply

I'm in the airport now on my way back from Fayetteville, and although the romance didn't go quite so well as I'd hoped, I did get a chance to stop at a pretty great gun store down here called Phase V supply. The selection was excellent, especially from the perspective to tactical weaponry. In this age of scarcity, M1A's, FN SCAR's and AR's were everywhere. The staff were extremely helpful-one guy spent a good half an hour explaining to me the advantages of several types of tactical slings for my AR. I walked away with a hogue pistol grip and a Viking Tactics mkII with the quick adjust. I was very tempted to grab some Mag-pul P-mags, but I'm pretty sure they're illegal in NY, so I left that alone.

The best part is that the shop is owned, run, and staffed mostly by vets, who've been there, done that, and got the T-shirt. When I mentioned that in the next few months, I was headed to the sandbox, and that most of my AR accessories would be going with me, we spent another hour going over tactical reflex sights, even though he knew flat-out that I was not going to buy that day. I'm pretty much sold on an EOtech and will be arranging a purchase from them online in the near future. They put the gun shops back home to shame.

If you ever make it down there, they're located at 516 Reilly Rd in Fayetteville NC.
Website is here:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Quote of the day

I went to the indoor range to sight in my new AR-15 today, but it was closed to the public. It was raining or I woulda just gone to the outdoor range a little further up the road. There will be a range report soon, whenever I make it up there.

The range was closed cause a nuclear powerplant security team was training inside. The following exchange was between me, my friend Eddie, and the Gunshop Guy.

Gunshop Guy: Sorry you can't shoot today, but you can come back another time.

Eddie. Well it's good to know they're getting some decent training at least, in case Bagdhad Bob comes around...

BangBangMedic: Nope, *I'm* training to fight Bagdhad Bob, They're training against dumbasses with fertilizer trucks!

I believe the Gunshop Guy might need a new keyboard, courtesy of the coffee he sprayed on it...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Chapter One

This is something I started awhile back. If you like it and want more, link it, tell your friends, and I'll try to write more soon. I'm not sure if it translates clearly, but the italics are small flashbacks, and the regular text are the current situation.

“Please save my daddy!”

A five year old girl’s tear filled voice implored me from a shadowy corner in the tiny, filthy living room.Her face seemed to disappear behind the thin pole of a floor lamp that wasn’t plugged in. The silence in the room was deafening as I donned a pair of nitrile gloves,the snapping sound as they slapped against my wrist almost startled me. I approached a limp form lying in the center of the floor. A puddle of blood had already formed beneath him, spreading and mixing with shadows to create the illusion that the entire room was now steeped in red liquid. I swept the beam of my flashlight across the stained and cracking hardwood floor, double checking that the 12 gauge shotgun that had just moments ago been pointed at me was now out of reach, should his collapse have been a clever ruse to lure me in closer. There would have been no need for that-he could have killed me any how-but crazy people weren’t rational and that was a pretty fast rule.

The old Ithaca had indeed fallen far out of reach and for the moment I ignored it, slowly approaching the body of a man who had very nearly just killed me and my partner; the man who had been-and, at least at the moment-still was, the father of the scared little girl in the corner. My partner keyed his radio, his calm voice belying the urgency of our situation. “We need a squad car down here, and have ALS step it up.” He knelt beside me as I opened up our patient’s airway. Shuddering breaths rattled his entire body once every thirty seconds, but it wasn’t enough to sustain life for much longer. Agonal respirations, they were called. They are body’s futile effort to keep the soul on the planet for just a few seconds longer. I already had the BVM in my hands and sealed the mask against his face, breathing for him, keeping him alive.

“I don’t want to die alone!” his voice came back at me. Those were the first words he had said when we stupidly walked into the house alone. The sound of police sirens approaching brought me back to a moment where I had almost died. Oscillating red lights suddenly lit up the house, like a Fourth of July show, and the terror of what had just come to pass rocked me back.

A cardiac arrest, the dispatch had said. The Paramedic crews were all tied up for three towns over. Police, likewise, were busy. They were on the way when we got there, but a long way out, and we were in the middle of nowhere. The house was dark, and it looked foreboding. In EMS, superstitions tend to reign wild-and I could see the grip of death on that house. Partner and I knew the protocols that said to wait for backup. But there was a man dying in that house. And the Barbie Jeep flipped over in the front lawn meant that the man was probably a father. So we went in to do what they paid us to do.

However nobly intentioned that choice had been, I cursed the stupidity of it now, as I rode the foot of the moving stretcher. We were running several races at once now. We raced to the ambulance, to the hospital,to the Paramedic Intercept. And we raced to save this mans life-for though he saw no other alternative than death, there was always life, and it was our job to keep him around long enough to see that choice. My muscles were already sore, pushing down on his chest. His ribs made a creepy crunching noise. Crepetation from cracked cartilage. It always seemed to creep me out no matter how many times I heard it.

There wasn’t a light on in the house, which my partner commented on as we entered. But fuck if it wasn’t 3 in the morning and who has lights on then? Most phones these days had glow in the dark buttons. So I twisted the cap of my Maglite and swung the beam in a slow, uneasy arc down the hallway. “Hello, EMS! Did somebody call for an ambulance? As the hallway opened up, the sound of a shotgun action caused me to freeze up. I raised my hands slowly.
“That’s alright, we’ll be leaving now,” I was speaking down the bore of the gun. A choked sob rang out from behind the wall of darkness. The gun stayed put though, and it was clear that neither of us would be leaving this house anytime soon. Thoughts about that haze of death sank morbidly deep into my brain. At least to my wife I would die a hero. Nobody would have the heart to tell her that I died because I was an idiot who ignored my training.

His arms tied to the stretcher with cravats, I struggled to keep this man alive. The blast had entered underneath his ribs, the way he had dug the barrel deep against his skin ensured damage to his liver, speen, and lungs. In fact, as far as I could tell, there wasn’t a liver left. The shell has been birdshot, from what the police officer had said. That meant something good, from an EMT perspective. With less power and smaller shot, there was likely to be less penetration and damage. But one of his lungs was collapsed. So the breaths I gave only went to one lung. I handed the police officer on the bench next to me tape and an occlusive dressing, running him through how to set it up on top of the exit wound a clump of pellets created through his left lung. It wsn't very efective, he needed decompression and a chest tube.

Behind me I could see the flashing lights of the paramedics and the lurching stop as we pulled to the shoulder nearly threw me across the stretcher and into the drivers compartment. The back door was thrown open and in hopped my medic, Julie. She looked at the body on the stretcher and then at me. "There's way too much damage. Were you able to shock at all?" I shook my head no as she placed the leads on his chest. "He's asystolic, I'm gonna call Med. Control and get permission to call it." The request was granted in just a few moments. I suppose the injuries could be reasonably considered an obvious source of death, but I'd been right there, and had to try.

Instantly, the urgency ofthe situation evaporated, but that couldn’t stop the adrenaline coursing through my veins. As I pushed my body back against the bench of the ambulance, breathing deep, my hands began to shake, then my arms.Within moments my entire body was shuddering, trying to rid itself of that flood of emotions, chemicals and stress that I had just placed on it. My job was over, as soon as the body bag arrived, and the hearse that would take the shell of a man before me over to the big city morgue. My Nextel phone beeped loudly, rescuing me from cascading thoughts of what had almost been. Dispatch. I pressed the button dutifully. “We’re clear from this job,” I noted, trying to keep as teady voice.
“You’re also done for the night Paul,” the dispatcher’stinny, perpetually annoyed voice rang out. There was a hint of sympathy in there as well, something I wasn’t at all used to hearing from that dreadful phone.“You’re a mess. Go home to your wife.”

I thanked her and moved from the patient compartment to the passengers seat up front. We sat in silence, pine trees blowing past us on the lonely road back to headquarters. Rain began to fall steadily, increasing the closer we got to the station, blurring the glow of the headlights on the road. That poor little girl…

My drive home should have been beautiful. The storm that had started above us ended as quickly as it came, leaving droplets to glow off wounded branches as the sun rose, a fireball igniting the sky through the clouds. I didn’t notice that so much, focused solely on the glass window between me and the lonely twin lines on a beaten road. I had done everything possible, and yet I still felt the sting of failure. My job was to help people, to get them through their crises and this man had not gotten through. Up ahead I could see the house and slowed. There was beauty there I could notice. The house sat at the top of a steep hill, the end of a cul-de-sac, but the only house there. Alternating stone and blue vinyl siding,with ivy growing up towards the chimney gave the impression of a cottage on some lonesome country lane. Some mornings, like this one, the sun would catch just right and bathe the house in a warm, cozy radiance that invited me to walk through the doors to the smell of a home cooked breakfast, and back to a zone of comfort. I didn’t have worries there.

As my muddy Chevrolet turned into the driveway I could see my wife, standing on the porch with a cup of coffee in her hands, and another cup beside her on the railing. She smiled as I put the truck into park and stepped out the door. That smile melted my heart since the day we met, and this morning was no different. It lifted the weight of the night’s troubles right off my shoulders. I stumbled my tired, achy body up the three steps to the porch. It was somewhere in the brisk, fifty degree range but she wasn’t shivering as she wrapped her arms gently around me. We stood there rocking for what felt like an eternity. It had been three days since I’d gotten to see her but it may as well have been three years. By the time our arms broke apart and she handed me a steaming cup of java, I was drowning in love. She led me inside after that, flicking on the dim lamps that had illuminated her morning. Dispatch had called her, and she’d gotten out of bed just to fix me breakfast, to make sure I was alright. There were eggs and bacon there, with salt, pepper, ketchup and rolls.I fixed myself a breakfast sandwich. I hadn’t been hungry a few moments ago, but now I was ravenous.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A message...

To the other crew using my Wendsday ambulance...

Yes, my reeves was buckled to the back of the bench, so I didn't need to unload EVERYTHING from underneath the bench to slide it back in. Its easier to unbuckle a seatbelt when you need it. Yes, the Nextel was in the patient compartment. That's because I was using it to call in a run. Yes, the sheets on the cot were slightly discolored-they were, however clean. That's all the hospital gave us to work with. At least it was made.

Since those small transgressions, which happen only once in awhile, were enough to write me up this morning, I will no longer be so lenient with you, when every week, I find our oxygen empty, and the stretcher not made. I will write it up. If the Nextel is dead, I will write it up. If the fuel is a tiny bit under 3/4, I will write it up. Courtesy begets courtesy. Since you have shown me none, you will no longer get any from me.

That is all.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Fishing is my therapy. I don't care if it's raining. I don't care if it's 100 degrees or 40....or less on the rare occasion I get to ice fish. No matter what has happened on call, or in life, it all disappears for the few hours I have my line in the water. I fish for everything-trout, bass, sunnies and crappies, pike and pickerel, catfish, stripers....depending on the season, and my mood. I almost always fish alone.

The reason for this isn't so much that I'm a brooding, burnt-out loner. That may be slightly true, but I don't think so, not yet. Reason is, I never catch anything with somebody else around. It's actually a matter of legend between myself and my friends. Because of the time spent on the water, I'm the best fisherman among us. I almost never get skunked. Unless, that is, I have a partner. Now, I have pictures, evidence that fish are caught-now and again I even bring one home, so I'm not just telling fish stories. I've been in the middle of a bite, catching crappies almost every cast, and when a buddy sees my Jeep and walks over to fish with me, it all dies. No more, the rest of the evening.

Oddly enough, it works the opposite way if I have a female friend along. The Ex used to fish with me often. I've since figured that she was just humoring me, and it was a frustrating excersize that I've learned a few lessons from.(Like don't take the gf fishing, unless she already knows how) I would spend just as much time untangling her line and giving instructions as I did fishing-but I did catch fish. Lots of fish. Enough fish to make her feel really really insecure and become moody about it the rest of the day. So fishing with The Ex(then girlfriend) became a choice between fishing and getting some. Eventually she made the choice for me and I think I got the better end of the deal. Now I can fish in peace.

Time Flies...

Sorry for the lack of posting-I guess thats not a good sign for a new blog, but life caught up with me last month. I'll try to have at least one new post up tomorrow.(Technically, later today)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Well That Explains Alot...

Let me preface this by saying that I do not frequent strip joints on a regular basis...

...But about two years ago, after a rough night at work I found myself in our local dive. I was feeling tired, numb, and lonely, having been recently single, and wanted company. From behind the dark curtain of oddly flashing strobe lights, a scantily clad beauty came up to my seat and asked those oh-too-common words: "Want a dance?" I let this tiny brunette lead my by the hand to the back room where she commenced the festivities. Being fairly new to the strip club scene, I made the mistake of attempting conversation with the gal now gyrating in my lap. It went a little something like this:

BBM: I just got off-duty
Stripper: Oh, that's so hot, I love a man in uniform! Are you a cop?"
BBM; Nope, I'm an EMT.

I watched in utter fascination as a look of complete confusion swept over her makeup-laden face.

Stripper: An EM-what?
BBM: Ambulance man. I help hurt people.

The song ended, she got up and I left shaking my head. So THAT'S why she's a stripper...


As an Army Medic, I'm a specialist in trauma medicine. My skills allow me to keep a soldier who's been wounded in any number of horrible ways alive, long enough to reach a higher echelon of care. Unfortunately, my training is for just that-soldiers only. Acting as a civilian, or on a civilian, my skills are automaticly lowered to the level of Nationally Registered EMT-B, and New York State EMT-B. None of those extra skills matter, even if it means life or death for my patient. This is one case, where it may have mattered, or may not have. Either way, it was a difficult choice for me not to do more then I was allowed.

My 42 year old victim lies on my cot, circling the drain, but I'm helpless. She and her three middle-school aged children ran off the road and into the woods at a high rate of speed. The little Honda Civic was folded up like an accordian. One of the kids was DOA, the other two were gettin' there. I didn't get to see much of them, being the last truck on scene. One was airlifted, the other leaving by ground moments after I arrived.

Fire department spotlights illuminate the car as if it was in a patch of daylight. I climb into what remains of the car-there's no roof left, and thankfully the hose-jockeys have already gotten the door popped too. I size a collar and my partner positions the board for a rapid extrication. She is breathing rapid and shallow, dimished on the left side, and it doesnt rise quite as far as her right. She is covered in minor-to serious bleeding cuts all over her upper body from glass and twisted metal. Both legs have nasty open tib/fib fractures. One of these is bleeding very heavily and I wrap a pressure dressing on. What seems remarkable to me is that she was seen as the least serious case in the car-aside from her son the DOA. We're only a 10 minute haul from the hospital, maybe less because the State Police have the traffic lights for us, and my partner can drive like a bat outta hell when she wants to. I have no ALS. They are tied up on other jobs. One could be sent from two towns over, but she'll be at the hospital quicker then they would be able to get here. We load and go.

"Jane Doe" is unconcious, with a GCS at 3. I have an NPA in, but according to my pulse ox, she's only satting at 85 with 15LPM of 02. She needs a tube, but I have no medics. Were she a soldier, I could pop a King airway in, but she is not, and I'm a basic EMT in New York. They don't trust us with tubes, other then oxygen tubing. Her respriritory trouble is getting worse, trachea deviating off to the right. There are no left side lung sounds. If she were a soldier, I could fix that pneumo she seems to have, with a 14 gauge needle. But she's not, so I simply apply a bulky dressing and hope that the one lung is enough for another 8 minutes. Her pressure is dropping, from 110/70 on scene to under 80 systolic now. Were she a soldier, I could start an IV and push a 1000ml saline bolus, or better yet, that nifty Hextend stuff to get her pressure back up. But she's not, so I can only sit and watch. We're 7 minutes out when I start bagging, and her oxygen sat goes up for a moment, until her heart stopped. I'm still doing compressions when we arrive at the ER, but they didn't really matter. There was nothing I could do....and everything that I could have done.