Tuesday, March 3, 2015


She died of a snowstorm
each breath
blowing drifts across the road
her broken heart
even slower 
than the ambulance could travel
too late
to shock her back

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Wishful Thinking

I've learned a lot from being involved in Emergency Services.

One of the things I've learned is that most people OUTSIDE emergency services have absolutely no idea what we do, how, or why.
Many of them don't WANT to know. Too scary.

They just want to be able to call 911, and have someone come solve their problem for them.

That sounds good to me.
Or it would, if it really worked that way.

There are two separate problems, which often overlap.
One is a lack of understanding, and one is a lack of resources.

When people have no understanding of their medical problems, and/or no understanding of what is or is not really an emergency, and/or no understanding of what an EMT, Paramedic, or the ER can do for them, it's not such a great fit.
In the other case, even if they do understand, if they can't afford medical care, and/or live by themselves without anyone to help them, that's not such a great fit, either.

Here is my wish list:

1. Everyone would know enough about their own bodies, how they work, what can go wrong, and how to deal with it, that they could take care of most issues themselves, and be able to evaluate when that is NOT the case, and call for help in a timely manner.

2. Everyone would be able to afford medical care, both routine and emergencies. No one would ever delay getting help, or checking up on something, because of not being able to pay for it.

3. There would be more options for providing care. At night, there would be somewhere else to go besides the ER. Families would have access to more levels of care besides "do it yourself" and "put them in a home."

I can't make these things happen.

I CAN try to have some beneficial influence where possible.

I teach a class I call "functional first aid."
It provides no certification.
It has no set curriculum.
Instead, we look at the specific needs of the people there, and help them understand those needs and learn more effective ways to manage them.
There may be people with chronic medical conditions.
There may be someone who works with a population that has a higher risk of certain kinds of illnesses or injuries.

I've helped people put together a First Aid Kit for a month long summer fieldwork trip, where they would not be within easy reach of medical care.
We put a priority on early recognition of true emergencies, and on self-reliance for as much as possible.

I also teach people HOW to call 911, not just when to do so.
Most people don't know how that all works, and can be hesitant to call when they don't know what to expect.

I talk to people about what paramedics do, and why, in some cases, calling an ambulance is MUCH better than trying to drive themselves, or a family member, to the hospital. It's not so they can effectively "cut the line" and not have to wait in the waiting room; it's because for some conditions, treatment can be started in the ambulance. Many people, especially older people, don't know this, and do, in fact, see an ambulance as only transportation.

I'd like to be able to do more to help connect families with elderly family members, who need more care than they are getting, but aren't quite in need of full time care. We have a number of families in town, where either the elderly or ill person is refusing a higher level of care, or the other family members don't quite realize that they aren't able to provide what is needed any longer. Or maybe both.

I don't think I'll ever run short of things for my "wish list."