I was the “Landing Officer” (aka Ground Contact) for a medical helicopter from Colorado’s Careflight of the Rockies yesterday — I’m a volunteer medic for Ouray County EMS.
In This Episode A reader tells how she was inspired to change her life. And that leads to a powerful thinking tool: running scenarios can save your life. I’ll show you how, and tell the story of how they probably saved my life.
Actor Luke Perry Died today after suffering a “massive stroke” on February 27. I was alerted by Megan, my 39-year-old niece. She enjoys reading her local Crime Blotter (and posting funny entries she sees), and she, her dad, and I have a text group where we try to scoop each other on reporting about someone interesting who died. Now and then, I even get a good Honorary Unsubscribe out of it.
In This Episode: Three amazing stories of medical professionals going outside protocol to do the right thing: to be fully human in the face of death — all in just 9 minutes.
One of My Most Memorable Medical Mysteries as a medic was a call from a man for his 50ish-year-old wife. On arrival I asked, What’s going on? “She’s just not herself,” he said. Has she been ill? “She had been talking to her doctor who thought she either had a kidney stone, or a bladder infection. She has an office appointment tomorrow.”
In the Emergency Medical Services Biz, we don’t always find out the answer to the obvious question afterward: “What happened?” — how did it turn out? We just have to be content with doing our best in the situation at hand, turning the patient over to the hospital, and (usually silently) wishing them luck.
I’m a marked man.
The Feel-Good Story of the Week comes out of Colorado. It starts, however, in tragedy: a family — a man, woman, and four kids — rolled their car over in Brighton, which is northeast of Denver, along Interstate 76. The father of the family was killed. I know, this doesn’t sound too feel-good, but stay with me.
I Was Hoping to Write a different Honorary Unsubscribe this week, but couldn’t because I couldn’t get information. Debbie Crawford, a 25-year veteran paramedic in Denver, died this weekend. The scuttlebutt is that her PTSD got so severe, she committed suicide — she could no longer handle the stress of the job. If that is indeed what happened, and I don’t know for sure because none of the media outlets in Denver has covered her death at all, that’s truly a tragedy.
Our EMS agency has three full-time “Advanced Life Support” medics to run on calls with the ambulance crews, which are usually staffed by “regular” EMTs. That gives us a primary, a secondary (calls often come after long waits of nothing, and then we get two …or three), and room for the third to have a day off now and then. On Friday, Kit and I ran a call that ended up taking three hours — and we weren’t even involved in the transport part! I can’t say what took so long, but sometimes it happens that way.
I was taking Kit to a medical appointment in town (in the next county), and there was an ambulance call. Not for us, so we continued on. Then there was a second call. Also not for us, but that meant both ambulances are now out.
As I was wrapping up writing last night at about 10:00 p.m., my pager went off. It was for the local fire department, for a report of a structure fire …a little over a mile from my house. Kit was already in bed (she had a very early appointment for this morning), but I popped upstairs to look out the window. Once I got the shade open, she heard me utter “Holy %#:7!” — I could see flames licking 40 feet into the sky.
I write This is True (and edit the submissions of the contributing writers) each Sunday. On Mondays I write the surrounding material, like the Honorary Unsubscribe. It’s a fair amount of material, and it’s almost always possible to get it done in two days.
But not this week.
The first most people in the world heard of paramedics was “Johnny and Roy” (Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe) — the lead medics in the Emergency! TV series (NBC, 1972-1977) based on the real life exploits of the Los Angeles County Fire Dept., which was one of the early pioneers in modern Emergency Medical Services.
But they weren’t the first.
The NBC television show Emergency!, which ran 123 episodes on NBC from 1972 to 1977, plus six made-for-TV movies that aired in 1978 and 1979, did a lot to make the public aware of professional Medics, playing a significant role in elevating the profession from mere “ambulance drivers.”
As you’ve probably heard in the news, Colorado has been suffering a lot of catastrophic fires this year. A few of them have hit too close to home.
My buddy “Jawn” from my NASA days is one of those natural social networkers. I don’t mean on Facebook, I mean in real life, and throughout his whole life. Several of his friends are on a mailing list together; I know them all in Real Life myself, and they’re all great guys. One, Hy, sent out a joke to the group today about men and power tools.