EMS Stories: a New Series

While This is True is a “weird news” publication, — its bigger mission is “Thought-Provoking Entertainment” — social commentary, or an exploration of The Human Condition. While True is my full-time job, I also volunteer as an on-call first-responder medic in my community. These are some of my stories from real medical emergencies.

EMS Story headerI Write About Some of my experiences to help educate the public about this vital “third service” (after police and fire departments). Modern EMS only goes back a couple of generations in the United States (and often much shorter time periods in other parts of the world): I talk specifically about that here and here.

EMS Story Entries

What to do when you need to call 911 (click to see larger).

This list (oldest first, starting with this page) is also available in the sidebar: choose “EMS Story” in the “Blog Categories” pulldown on every page (in newest-first order).

  • EMS Stories: a New Series - While This is True is a “weird news” publication, — its bigger mission is “Thought-Provoking Entertainment” — social commentary, or an exploration of The Human Condition. While True is my full-time job, I also volunteer as an on-call first-responder medic in my community. These are some of my stories from real medical emergencies. I Write About Some ... Continue Reading
  • Ability Meets Need - I watched the news reports last Wednesday from Platte Canyon High School in the small mountain town of Bailey, Colorado, with a bit of dread. (It was nothing like Columbine: some drifter took hostages, and killed one of them — a 16-year-old girl he didn’t know. He then shot himself.)
  • War on Drugs - I fully expect to be called “anti-police” for the lead story this week. One doesn’t have to be “anti” anything to decry stupidity, or even to call to task organizations you fully support when they do something wrong. Here’s the story, from True’s 17 December 2006 issue:
  • Ouray Ice Festival Photos - It’s winter in Colorado. No, I mean winter! The temperature here this morning was –12.2F (–25.5C). The high today was 10.7F (–11.8C). This weekend, then, was perfect for the Ouray Ice Festival, held each year at what is likely the premier ice park in the world — at the very least the best public park ... Continue Reading
  • Big Changes at TRUE Central - We’ve been totally swamped lately. It wasn’t just the GOOHF water bottles, which were extremely popular and the huge quantity we were able to get sold out in about a month (but sorry: we really can’t get any more, since the manufacturer discontinued them — figures!).
  • School Bus Plunge (On Purpose) - I spent most of the day Sunday working at the scene of a school bus that plunged (buses always “plunge”!) over the side of a steep embankment on Ouray County’s famous “Million Dollar Highway” below Red Mountain Pass.
  • Missing In Action - There was no free edition on Friday, August 22. There were definitely reasons for that, and at first I decided I wasn’t going to say all the reasons why. But after thinking about it, and recovering from the problem I’m about to tell you about, I decided I owed you an explanation.
  • Honest to Goodness Good Stuff - Something fairly profound happened to my wife and me Sunday. I have a group of friends that I communicate with regularly via an email list, and Sunday afternoon I shared what happened with them. One asked, “Great story. Will you be sharing it with your readers?”
  • Tough Weekend - This week I’ve been dragging after a tough weekend. “Just” two ambulance calls, but they were doozies. I was just starting to make a late breakfast Saturday morning when we got a call for a rollover just 3 miles down the road.
  • The Life You Save May Be… - A special “extra” story this week. I’ve pulled it out separately because it doesn’t “really” fit in with True‘s theme. While it is a bit weird, it’s certainly not about someone doing something stupid.
  • Psychic Pay - I write True to make a living, yes, and it’s gratifying that enough people support the publication to make that happen. But there’s another reason, too: I want to change the world just a little bit, on both a micro and a macro scale.
  • Bonfire of the Gravities - I don’t tell many stories about the ambulance calls I run on as a volunteer medic here in rural Ouray County, Colorado, but this one is worth telling. At 12:51 a.m. this past Saturday morning, my pager went off for an injured 16-year-old female, just a few miles from my house. It was in an ... Continue Reading
  • The Risks of Emergency Responses - I sometimes write about my fantastic experiences as a volunteer medic. Yet sometimes the experience isn’t so fantastic. All emergency responders put themselves at great risk whenever they go on a call. This is a story of not beating the odds (but it could have been a lot worse).
  • Hours of Boredom Punctuated by Moments of Sheer Terror - It was one of those cases of serendipitous timing, and why I find EMS so interesting as an avocation. This morning, I jumped out of bed to help a helicopter land on the highway.
  • “They’re Landing On My Car!” - Well, that’s the way it felt, anyway! For a brief moment. Last fall I talked about helping a helicopter to land — in the middle of the highway in the middle of the night. Just got back from doing it again, except this time it was the middle of the day …and I had my ... Continue Reading
  • The Very, VERY Beginning - 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 ... Continue Reading
  • One Heck of an Evening - 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.
  • Randolph Mantooth: Still Active in EMS - 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.”
  • The First Paramedics - 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. ... Continue Reading
  • Revenue-Virginius Mine Disaster - 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.
  • OK Buddy, Where’s the Fire? - 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 ... Continue Reading
  • Rescue Me - My Latest EMS Story started in a most unusual way: with my wife, Kit, loudly asking, “Randy?! Are you OK?! I’m calling 9-1-1.”
  • Sometimes You Lose One - 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.
  • Mark Miller: We’ve Got It From Here - 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 ... Continue Reading
  • Overlooked Heroes - 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 ... Continue Reading
  • Everyday Heroism - 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 ... Continue Reading
  • A Short Personal Note - I’m a marked man.
  • “What Happened”? - 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.
  • Medical Mystery - 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 ... Continue Reading
  • 002: Reverberating for Decades - 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. Show Page: https://thisistrue.com/podcast2
  • Preparing for a Mass Shooting: Behind the Scenes - Five Years Ago Now (yikes!), I wrote in this blog about a serious “multi-casualty incident” (or MCI) in my county. That happened on a Sunday — coincidentally the day after we finished a two-day MCI training.
  • Luke Perry and Strokes - 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 ... Continue Reading
  • 034: I Have a Scenario For You - 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. Show Page: https://thisistrue.com/podcast34

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