Duty · Gratitude · Humility · Protect and Serve

DUTY: A RETROSPECTIVE

It is the eve of Christmas Eve as I sit here. The roads were TFA (Too Freaking Awful) today for me to drive the lebenty some miles in to work, so I had called off.

TDW-Mark II had commented that today would be a good day to NOT be taking road calls, and I agreed.

I remembered a Christmas at home, 2 years ago.

So, TINS©, I was lolling around the house on Christmas Day. TDW-Mark II and I were casually surfing the web. I had my handheld amateur radio on, monitoring our county’s fire dispatch. Because, well, I can.

In our county, emergency personnel are generally volunteers. The EMS is paid/full time (such as THAT pay is!), Sheriff and local PD are paid/full time (but often respond from home, off duty, so to speak), but the firefighters and rescue are volunteers, dispatched by pager. The tones dropped for a cardiac arrest, CPR in progress, in the outskirts of the county. Now my county is rural, primarily (by surface area) farmland. The ambulance was called out, as well as the County Seat Volunteer Fire Department (Hereinafter, CSFD).

I heard EMS acknowledge, and the duty fire chief as well. He (the chief) directed that the firefighters respond without him, as he was a couple of miles from the scene and would respond directly.

Dispatch then filled in the dispatch information, beyond the address. A 70-something male had collapsed. CPR was in progress. He was vomiting, and the family was clearing his mouth as best they could. A couple of minutes later (likely that seemed like days, to the folks on the scene, performing CPR on one of their family!), the fire chief called out on the scene “Chief on scene with one firefighter. Sheriff on scene. Dispatch, roll one engine for manpower.”

So, let’s “dolly back”, and consider this. With the possible exception of the deputy (who might also have responded, off duty, from home in his patrol car), all these folks were snug in their own homes, fat, dumb and happy, savoring the anniversary of The Birth of Our Saviour, as well as immersing themselves in the excitement of the children at All! The! Presents! they had received.

They carry pagers because, well, that’s what they do. More likely than not, they do not see themselves as heroic, or making sacrifices, because, after all, in most of America (hell, I suspect in most of the world), the men and women performing these jobs simply see themselves as doing what needs to be done, because they are able to do so.

And therefore, when the pager alerted them, they grabbed their coats, put on their boots, and left their warm and happy homes, heading to somebody else’s home, someplace where, as Chief Dennis Compton of Mesa, AZ Fire once described it, “We are responding to somebody’s worst day of their life”.

So, as I imagine it, the duty chief was enjoying a Christmas with his family, the tones dropped, and off he went. Before he could get out of the door, one of his sons, or maybe a son in law, (or daughter or daughter in law, here in the 21st century) said something like, “Hey, Dad! Hold up a second! I’m taking that call with you!”

These folks voluntarily immersed themselves in another family’s tragedy. Strove to hold the line, to reverse the evident course. Went to work on Christmas.

When the firefighter came on the radio requesting the sheriff department’s (volunteer!) Victim Support Team, I could call that play. I do not know if I teared up at the family’s terror, at their loss, at the fact that forever more Christmas would not hold happy childhood memories, but, rather, would be “the day grandpa died”, or if I teared up thinking of the folks who, simply “doing their jobs”, had left their warm homes in response to some stranger’s plea for help.

But, I wept.

Please, give a thought to those who respond to those calls, today and every day of the year, all over the world.

And offer a prayer on behalf of those they go to rescue.

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Fun And Games Off Duty · Gratitude · Humility

Everyday Folks, Everyday Gracefulness

Sometimes in my walkabout daily life, I encounter folks, simply being nice. So, TINS©, I Was NOT Fighting Disease And Saving Lives, rather, simply grocery shopping. I happened to get in line behind an elderly woman (Pot, meet kettle. You ought to talk amongst yourselves, since you have so much in common…) who appeared to not have altogether figured out the entire “One of these is a credit card, the other is your membership card.” thing, as she attempted to pay with her membership card.

The cashier was patient, and collected. She explained that, no, THAT is your card with which you get your discounts and points, and THAT is your bank card, with which you pay for your groceries. They are different cards, for different things.

It took a couple of attempts, but the customer got her points, and successfully paid for her groceries, and wheeled her way out of the store.

The cashier apologized to me for the hold up. I responded, “Ma’am, some things are problems, some things are inconveniences. If this wait is as bad as my inconveniences get, I am in pretty good shape. Oh, by the way: way to be patient and graceful with that elderly lady. Good on ya!”

Duty · Gratitude · Protect and Serve

WHY?

TDW-Mark II and I are amateur radio operators. A couple of weeks ago, we heard one of our small town’s EMS units dispatched to a “woman fell and injured her face” call.

We listen to Fire/EMS dispatch, because it provides an insight into the events of our town, and perhaps distant early warning of spicy times.

In any event, the crew called on the scene, and, very (VERY!) shortly later, got back on the radio, requesting police.

Dispatch inquired, “On the double?”, and the medic replied, “Yes, on the double”.

They next called for another ambulance, and the fire department for manpower. Soon, we heard fire crews negotiating an entry, and one of the medic units transporting one to The Local Trauma Center, as a priority.

That assemblage of folks, all volunteers except the police (the medics get paid so little, that they might as well be volunteers!) led me to contemplate Duty, and the mindset of those who run toward the sound of trouble.

May I present a rerun? Here is the original post from 2019, and a link to the website entry that inspired me.

http://counterjockey.blogspot.com/2019/09/weapons-wednesday-service-smiths.html#comment-form

Why do MEN (and, nowadays, more and frequently, WOMEN) willingly go in harm’s way?

Why do folks bunker up, suit up, gun up, whatever, and run toward the sounds of trouble?

Counter Jockey has gunned up, and sought out the source of those sounds. As have thousands and thousands of others.

Yesterday was The Eleventh of September in the Year of Our lord 2019. Eighteen years ago,  343 members of the FDNY died, doing their duty. 60 police officers lost their lives. 8 EMS personnel died, not employees of the City of New York.

They died attempting to save some of the 2977 people who would wind up dying that day.

“Duty” is the simple answer, and we all are, or ought to be, thankful for our neighbors who see their duty, accept their duty, and pursue their duty.

But what makes someone see such a thing as “My duty”?

What makes someone say, “So help me God.” ? Those who have so sworn, know. Someone has to stare down predators, and say, in effect, “You stop, right here, right now.” Someone has to stand, and hold that line. Otherwise, the dependents behind those stalwarts will lie vulnerable to the heartless. And, those who have selected Duty, will not allow that.

343 members of the FDNY died, that beautiful autumn day, doing their duty. What sort of folks run into a burning building, a building which had already been sized up be one of their own with the prediction, “Some of us are gonna die, today”?

Read the “Never Yet Melted” blog, about Rick Rescorla. Brit born, naturalized US citizen, Director of Security at Dean Witter/Morgan Stanley (https://neveryetmelted.com/2019/09/11/colonel-cyril-richard-rick-rescorla-may-27-1939-september-11-2001-3/) He is credited with saving 2794 of the 3000 employees working that day. He, his deputy, and three other of his security staff were among the exceptions.

So, here’s what I leave you all with. Look for your duty. Do your duty. try not to flinch, try not to step back. Because, you, and I, all of us, are standing in the shadows of Great People. Imagine, if you will, that they are cheering us on, looking over our shoulders, and expecting that we will not falter. Because, they have left us a legacy of honor, of Duty, of doing their jobs, that make it possible for all of us to be here, today, to have the opportunities that we enjoy. Let us not let them down.

Regarding that day an entire generation ago, let us tell of the Heroes who raced into a building, knowing it was to collapse. Let us tell our children of the Heroes, civilians all, who sacrificed their own lives, that others would not die at the hands of the heartless. Let us tell each other of the Heroes who dwell among us, unknown to us, perhaps unknown to themselves, who will rise up to the demands they face, and risk all to save another. Let us measure ourselves against them, and be grateful they dwell among us. Let us hope we can measure up, should our time come. God Bless those who stand in harm’s way, on our behalf.

Gratitude · Humility

Loss, helping me appreciate what I have.

Eaton Rapids Joe of the eponymous blog, had a link to, in effect, a video eulogy. The gentleman producing the video blog reported that, last weekend, he and his “Beautiful Wife” had gone to bed, just like a thousand other times, except that only he awakened.

In the course of his remembrances, he tears up, and APOLOGIZES! for doing so.

I commented: “Sir, please do NOT apologize for your tears. Be the genuine, grieving man that you are. And, thank you for the reminder of simply how important my own “Beautiful Wife” is, to me. The simple things are truly the most important.”

My own “Darling Wife-Mark II” (improved version!) did not change my life as dramatically as this gentleman credits his Beautiful Wife with doing, but she did teach me that I could love again, and that even my cynicism required some limits.

Presently she is toiling away, making decorations for my daughter’s wedding. She has devoted uncounted hours to this, creating place settings, hunting down this or that item, in an unstinting effort to make my daughter’s wedding beautiful.

And, to be plain, my daughter is my “step-daughter”. So, the woman she is losing sleep over, whose wedding she is working ever so hard to make just nice, is her step-step-daughter.

That is the sort of quality human being that has graced my life, has been my wife for ten years this autumn.

I will take the time, today, to try to be certain that she understands how she has affirmatively changed my life for the better.

An effort that, if I have a lick of sense, I will repeat daily until the end of time.

Duty · Gratitude · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Jes’ Folks. Plain, Everyday Folks

Glenn Reynolds, proprietor of Instapundit, wrote an article for USA Today, nearly three years ago. Read it, please. And, reflect on who benefits when we are set at each other’s throats.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/07/22/fatal-car-accident-reveals-fundamental-american-decency-column/1790753001/

I have had similar experiences, among them one chronicled here. It was as if we had our own “Insert Name Here County First Responders Association” meeting, there on that highway.

Again, this tale recalls a similar event. In this case, folks trudged their happy asses out of their warm, dry, non-windy homes, to help push a nearly (lessee: nought goes into nought… divide by zero…. carry the eight… three guzintas…) 10,000 pound ambulance out of a snow drift, at night, while it was snowing it’s freaking ass off.

So, tell me again who benefits when we are set against each other? If we are demonizing each other, how likely is it that we can ever (a) agree on a list of priority problems, (b) discuss rational maneuvers to address these problems, and (c) agree on any sort of effort to implement these interventions?

Por ejemplo, howzabout covid? Could we have discussed risk vs benefit of lockdowns, of “two years to flatten the curve” (had our governor been honest), or, even, “two weeks to flatten the curve”? Could we have had a real, ya know, two way, conversation about vaccination, efficacy, adverse drug reactions, liberty, personal autonomy (remember “my body, my choice”? Seems so long ago. Good times, eh?), risk vs benefit? Instead, anybody who speaks about any sort of disincentive to accepting vaccination, like, say, severely truncated testing protocols, or, say, known (even if small in magnitude) incidence of cardiac adverse reactions, or any of a dozen (that I can think of off the top of my head) risks genuinely presented by the extant vaccines, gets shouted down, deplatformed, or, worse, fired and hounded. So, I ask, who benefits when that happens?

In stark contrast to the Chattering Class, above cited are first person narratives of genuine Americans who, in a crisis, come together and identify what needs doing, and then, quietly, FREAKING DO IT. These folks identified one of their neighbors, identified that this neighbor was in need, and set to work. No command, no haggling, no bullshit. Simply, “How can I help?”

Tell you what: I resolve to be inspired by good examples. I will try to NOT buy into name calling, and, rather, own disagreements with others, and seek to see those disagreements as honest differences of opinion, where I am able to do so.

I resolve to try to be inspired by volunteer firefighters who interrupt Christmas with their families, in order to respond to a neighbors catastrophe.

If we open our eyes, there are uncounted examples of folks living up to their ideals, even as there are examples everywhere of those who fail. Sometimes fail horribly.

Mr. Reynolds, thank you for reminding me that most of the time, most folks simply try to get through their day, and, maybe, help their neighbor. To paraphrase his thought, I will try to let myself be reminded that, given the opportunity, most folks will reveal their fundamental decency.

Duty · Fun And Games Off Duty · Fun With Suits! · Gratitude · Life in Da City!

Snippets Part III

I have a flexible spending account at work, so as to be able to pay my copays, deductibles, and suchlike with pre tax dollars. Late last year, I noticed that the card by which such expenditures were paid for, was getting declined. I assumed that I had spent all the money and thought no further of it.

Then, I began to get messages from the administrators of the account. Finally rousing myself to speak to them, I learned that the card had been frozen, because, I was informed, they required hard copy receipts for 3 or 4 of my expenditures. This included purchases from my optometrist for, oh, gosh, GLASSES, as well as at the podiatrist, for TDW-Mark II’s ingrown toenail.

It puzzled me, Visa, nor Mastercard never had such issues. I assumed that, just like the commercial banks, that the electronic billing that led to the vendor of, say, my gasoline, getting paid, had all the information required, kind of like a grocery store receipt.

Perhaps I was wrong. Or, perhaps, somewhere in this favoured land, folks go to their podiatrist, or their optometrist, when they feel the need for hookers and blow. (I wouldn’t know, myself, and Hunter Biden was not available to comment on that possibility) So, I guess, I will have to remain puzzled.

@@

Occasionally, I am humbled. Just the other day, I had such an opportunity. The lady bringing the pre school aged children in for whatever their complaint that day, was approximately my age (and, I am by no means of child rearing age. Hell, my youngest grandchild is already in primary school!) She reported, in the course of the conversation, that “My husband and I both got them when they were very, very young.”

Just, matter of fact. No inflection, dry fact.

As I was charting later, I noted that the parent was identified as the grandparent.

So, let’s contemplate that. Some of us are anticipating retirement, with few responsibilities, plenty of free time, and no pressing concerns.

Others, around us, are raising a SECOND family, at our ages, and not flinching.

Some of us are facing demands of duty, and stepping up to those demands, and in doing so are protecting, and nurturing, the most vulnerable among us.

@@

So This Is No Shit (TINS), There I was Fighting Disease And Saving Lives (FDASL), long, long ago and far, far away.

Well, okay. REEEAAALLLLYYYY!, I was shopping in Farmer Jack, in Da City, on one of my off duty from EMS days. I was pushing my shopping cart down one aisle or another, occasionally consulting my shopping list, and a fellow approached me.

He greeted me. “Hey! I know you!”

I did not just recently develop my aversion to Humanity. I spent years perfecting it. “Uh, no, you don’t, sir.”

He, on the other hand, was undeterred. “No, I know you! You work for the fire department!”

“You have the wrong guy!”

“No, really! I remember you  You saved my brother’s life!”

“Yep! That’s me! That’s how I spend my days! How is your brother?”

Fun And Games Off Duty · Gratitude

Dad’s Blood Infusion

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©…well, while This Is (indeed) No Shit, I was NOT, in this tale, Fighting Disease And Saving Lives. Rather, years ago, I was in The Un-Named Eastern State, visiting the Momette and my father. Dad had had a cardiac arrest something on the order of a year and a half prior, and had, miraculously, recovered entirely intact. Subsequent to that, he was found to have cancer, and THAT had NOT had a miraculous outcome. He had undergone several surgeries, and finally had been referred to hospice.

Let me say this about hospice. These folks, in this corner of that state, were a Gift From Heaven. No shit, honest-to-God, straight up. If I were to be found to have a heart, they certainly warmed it.

Today’s lesson concerns one of Dad’s surgeries. I had taken some time off, and was in The Un-Named Eastern State. Dad had come out of surgery, and we were there to visit him: Mom, My Brother The Accountant, and myself, who, at this point (yeah, my stories sort of jump from one point in time to another, don’t they?) was an actively licensed paramedic, as well as an RN, and nursing supervisor. I had been an ED RN for something on the order of 5 years at the time of this story. In anticipation of there developing a need for me to make a longer term presence in my parents’ home, I had obtained a Nursing license in the Un-Named Eastern State.

So, we were standing at Dad’s bedside, and I noted that he had blood running. As a nurse, we all learn, early on, that from the time that the blood departs the blood bank, until the last drop of hemoglobin rich goodness leaves the bag for your patient’s veins, no more than four hours must elapse. Anything not infused at the four hour mark, will still be in the bag as it is returned to the blood bank.

Idly, I observed that the bag appeared to be half full, and dropping sluggishly. I looked at the blood bank tag, which documented, among other things, the time the infusion had started: approaching three hours previous to my inspection thereof. I inspected the tubing, looking for closed clamps, kinked tubing, or other impediment to flow. On Dad’s hand, just upstream from the IV catheter, I observed a tight bend, something resembling a slight kink in the tubing.

I released the tape, opened the loop a bit, and re taped it, and gave things another looking over.

My mother reproached me. “Reltney, I don’t think you should mess with that. You should call the nurse.”

I was surprised. “Mom, I *AM* a nurse! In fact, I’m even a nurse, in *THIS* state!”

She replied, “Oh, you know what I mean!”

Fun And Games · Gratitude · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Random Thoughts Part VI

Assessment of the elderly, sounding confused.

When I am assessing a patient, and ask, in my interview, ref location/day of month/day of week/name/etcetera, when you are not the patient, and YOU answer, talking over the patient, please realize that IDGAF about YOUR mentation, and when you coach the patient, it really, really interferes with my assessment. Plus, it is entirely likely that I myself KNOW the place/day/date/season/etcetera, because, you can bet your ass that if it were NOT Tuesday March the 41st, I would certainly be somewhere else, doing something else, other than attempting to struggle my way through your interruptions of my evaluation of your parent.

In a similar vein, when I ask Jim-Bob where he hurts, probably, when you coach Jim-Bob, admonishing him to “Tell the doctor where you hurt”, you are not really contributing any value whatsoever to the interview. If Jim-Bob indeed comprehends my question, you are only adding noise and distraction and likely, that is NOT helpful. If, on the other hand, Jim-Bob does not understand my query, your repeating it IN THE VERY SAME FREAKING WORDS, neither adds to the information that I require, so that I may care for Jim-Bob properly, nor facilitates timely implementation of that care. So, unless Jim-Bob does NOT speak Engrish, himself, please STFU, and allow me to interview the patient. Or, perhaps, go boil some water, gather a fresh newspaper and some clean shoelaces, right now, please.

Which will, of course, require you depart the exam room and allow me to complete my interview and examination.

Thank you.

Thoughts about Cost vs Price:

Lowe’s “bargain bin” AA battery powered cell phone charger: $10

Having several in your Bag-O’-Tricks at work, so you can hand one to a patient you’re sending to ED via ambulance, whose phone is dead: Kharma.

Having that guy get my cheap-o, bought-on-a-whim charger back to me, with a thank you: PRICELESS!

EMS LAW OF ALTITUDE: Patient’s weight divided by number of floors above street level equals a constant, “K”. Therefore, a 300 pound inert patient on the first floor is roughly equivalent to a 1200 pound patient on the 4th floor. With no functional elevator. And the first due engine company out on a working fire.

(redacted)’s Law: (I don’t have permission to use his name, but it’s not *MY* formulation) When responding to an EMS call, and you are pretty sure that you are on the correct block, but, for some reason, folks in this neighborhood do NOT have any house numbers, seek out the most tumbledown anonymous house on that block, and knock, Your patient awaits inside.

(redacted’s partner)’s Corollary Number One: The one house on the block with ghetto gates (bars on the doors and windows), is your call.

Corollary Number Two: Occupants of the house with the gates KNOW who is performing all the neighborhood B & Es.

Corollary Number Three: There is nothing inside the grilled house worth stealing. The decor is milk crates, cast offs, soiled mattresses on the floor. Even odds that the smell makes the place a haz mat scene.

Final Thought”

Please, please, please! If your physician has ALREADY prescribed a medication for your affliction, take the freaking med, BEFORE your come to my clinic stating that you require treatment for that selfsame affliction! Because, it could happen that my self control may lapse, and I may, indeed, ask you just how exactly I may help you, when you not only were prescribed, but physically picked up, the very medication that I would have prescribed (and, indeed, wound up prescribing) for your problem.

But, OF COURSE, you weren’t here to get a work note! Totally!

Gratitude · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

“He Didn’t Have To Be”

Well, campers, the sun is shining, it is 40-something outside, and that means that, in The Un-Named Flyover State, it is time to start sunbathing!

Well, almost, but not quite. In any event, it is time to reflect, gratefully, on the looming advent of spring. And, that turns me back to my recent theme, gratitude and thankfulness.

In 2006-2007, The Plaintiff divorced me. It was a dark time. I had taken-for-granted (perhaps, one of our problems, right there?) that she would always be there, and that we would always work through our rough spots. I was, of course, mistaken, and the divorce provided irrefutable evidence of same.

I was immersed in depression, and found myself weeping at traffic lights, for example. (Has anybody else experienced the angst, the melancholy, pouring out of a RED LIGHT?) (uh, no? oh, ok. Maybe it was simply me…..)

It was in the midst of this self pity party, that my step daughter (who I have everywhere else referred to as my daughter, as that is how I view her, notwithstanding the fact that she has none of my chromosomes) made for me, and gave me, a Christmas gift, that I treasure to this very day.

Brad Paisley has a song, on his Who Needs Pictures album, entitled “He Didn’t Have to Be”. The narrative is a step child (in Paisley’s, and his co writer’s case, a son), who gets included early on in his single mother and (to be) step dad’s activities, and how that forms a family. My daughter copied that song, and created a slideshow, set to that song, of photographs of my children, their mother and I, as our own family formed, and grew.

I wept. At the time my daughter created that slideshow, she was, herself, a single mother, working full time, as well as going to school full time. Her child, my oldest grand daughter, had spent more than a little time in pediatric ICU. My daughter had spent who knows how many hours collecting those photos, organizing them, arranging them, including that song, knowing that it would touch my heart, perhaps knowing, even, that I *needed* that memoir.

That was the single nicest, most apt, most engaging Christmas present, that I have ever received. She gave it to me for Christmas 2007, and I played it, again, today.

Over 13 years later, I wept, again. Thank you, honey. You have touched me, again. Still.

For so many reasons, I am grateful for my children.

Gratitude · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

The “Wrecks” Story (or) How I Met My Vet

A long, long time ago, TDW-Mark I, our children, our dog and I lived basically right down the block from where I type this today. This particular tale is about the dog. The children had been allowed to name him, thinking that we would spell the name the way that they would, as “R-E-X”. However, TDW-Mark I was possessed of a considerable sense of humor (at one time…) (after all, had she not been married to me for nigh onto 20 years?). SHE determined the spelling, “W-R-E-C-K-S”. This was due to the fact that he resided in a household with adolescent males, who were, themselves, high spirited. Therefore the dog was, himself, well, energetic is a kind way of phrasing it.

So, TINS, one morning we awakened, let the dog out on his chain, and settled in for breakfast. After several hours, we noticed that the dog had not barked to be let back in, his usual practice once he had had enough of The Great Outdoors. We looked to see what was up, discovering that the chain had broken, and the dog was not in evidence.

We searched the neighborhood, finding no trace of the dog. We produced “lost dog” flyers, and mounted them at intervals about our corner of our small town. That produced no results.

After a day or two, TDW-Mark I sent me to the local police department, The County Seat Police Department, and I learned that one of their officers had encountered a dog resembling our missing Wrecks, who had been struck by an automobile, and had been transported to a local vet.

I traveled to the vet’s office, and asked after our dog.

This vet confirmed that he did, indeed, have my dog, and that the dog was surprisingly uninjured after his encounter with the car the previous evening. This was determined after x-rays and examination. I asked him how much I owed him for his care. “Nothing. You don’t owe me anything.”

I persisted. “You spent no small amount of your time, and your expertise, on a dog that you had no idea if he would ever be claimed. I get that you do so out of the goodness of your heart, and as a service to the community. On the other hand, I can pay for the care you lavished on my dog. Indeed, if you insist on thinking of it this way, you can imagine that I am paying for the other critter, that goes unclaimed, such that you are not required to pay out of your pocket, for performing a public service, simply because you can do so, and it needs doing.”

I took a deep breath. “It offends me to think that you are going to be leeched off of by some schlub. I am not going to be that schlub. If for no other reason, please take my money because you ought no be penalized simply because you are a nice guy.”

He told me, “Thank you, but, really, you do not owe me anything. Thanks for the thought, but, we are good!”

I smiled and replied, “So, in that case, here is a check for $150. The next time somebody’s dog gets injured, and they cannot pay you for their care, let me help defray the expense you incur.”

And, he has been my family’s vet ever since, going onto 25 years.