Hell Hath No Fury…

I just wanted to address something I posted on my Facebook Page.


I received an E-Mail on Sept. 11 that read, in part, You can see the level of discrimination in the FDNY due to the fact that no females died during Sept. 11 in the Line of Duty.


I was floored. So, here was my response in its entirety:


First of all, what I usually say in response to e-mails like yours after I read through your website is that, while I thank you kindly for thinking of me and asking me to support your group, I only support groups that are for helping women pass the already established guidelines for the professional department they are applying for. I’m sorry.  I’ve been a 5’3″ female for my entire career. At no point in time did I ever ask for the standard to change because I am a woman. I have adapted, improvised, and overcome all obstacles set before me so that I could be the best Fire Fighter, EMT, and Paramedic that I could be. At no point in time did I ever ask for things to be “easier” so that I could pass. Sure, there are just some things that will never come easy to me; this girl will never sling around a Bangor Ladder like I watched my Brothers and even another Sister do and I certainly look silly carrying a HighRise Pack with half the hose dragging behind me…but I work through them to accomplish the task at hand. 


Now, in regards to you e-mailing me on a day where I take time to reflect upon what happened on 9/11 and pray for those who lost loved ones, Civilian and Public Safety alike in an effort to further your political agenda….


How. Dare. You.


First of all, there were multiple Female First Responders on scene…Brenda Berkman, an FDNY Fire Fighter, Carol Paukner, an NYPD Officer, and Regina Wilson, another FDNY Fire Fighter just to name a few that a 1.4 second Google Search revealed. There’s even a book called Women at Ground Zero which tells the stories of over 30 different Female First Responders who were at Ground Zero. There was even a documentary that was produced and shown in 2011 called “Beyond Bravery: The Women of 9/11” that profiled many different women who were there, fighting the good fight along side their Brothers. As for those who suffered a Line of Duty Death on that day:

Capt. Kathy Mazza with Port Authority

Moira Ann Smith with NYPD

Yamel Merino, an EMT With Metrocare/Montefiore Medical Center


Also, take into account the women who were Responders who died Post 9/11 due to injuries/illnesses caused by that day. Their deaths are considered Line of Duty as well:


Officer Louise M. Johnston, NYPD

Sgt. Claire T. Hanrahan, NYPD

Det. Carmen M. Figueroa, NYPD

Officer Madeline Carlo, NYPD

Karen Barnes, NYPD

Detective Sandra Y. Adrian, NYPD


Sadly, every year that particular list is going to grow, Men and Women alike. There are tens of thousands of people who have been diagnosed with Illnesses stemming from that day and unfortunately more come forward every day, even 14 year later. All of their deaths, from what I have read, will be considered Line of Duty.


So, before you run your mouth, spouting off some serious Bullshit, check your facts first.




Before it’s asked, no, I will not be telling anyone which organization it was. Emails back and forth this weekend make it seem as if this were the work of one individual, not on behalf of the organization. I will always be the first person to stand up and stand beside someone who feels as if they were wronged as a support system. I’ve been there, it sucks. What I won’t support are people who want the standard to be dumbed down so that one group or another can have an easier time. I’ve put my heart and soul out there to do this job…I’ve bled for this job…I’ve cried for this job. I didn’t ask for it to be easier. I have worked my ass off for YEARS to be able to proudly stand next to my Brothers and Sisters, knowing I can do the same job, with the same responsibilities and standards they have. I wear my patches and scars proudly.








Have fun and be safe,



Hurricane Irene

“I’m not ready yet!” I yelled to my crew mates. I huddled in the corner on my cell phone, the heavy winds and rain from Hurricane Irene buffeting the garage doors. A loud crack resonated through the garage as another tree snapped, succumbing to the almost 90mph winds caused by Hurricane Irene.


“Yeah, Mom…I can’t…you’re breaking up.” I heard a fuzzing noise, then the phone went dead. “Shit…” I shoved it back into my pocket and moved back into the crew room. “What’s the report?”


Matt handed me the station phone. I put it up to my ear, pulling out a pen and my notebook. “It’s Mike.  Hey…the other crew went out on a Cardiac arrest…can you make sure 134 is clear? The top of 134 to the hospital is open, but we don’t know if it is up to the boat launch. Can you guys go out and take a look?” A strong gust of wind rattled the windows, startling me. I felt my heart drop into my stomach, but I stiffened up. It was a quick, ten minute ride. What could possibly go wrong?


“We’re on it.”


I hung up. “Let’s go. We have to see if 134 is open up to the boat launch.” I pulled on my sweatshirt, then draped my raincoat over my arm. I walked to the Ambo Bay and realized I was walking alone. I went back to the door. “Come on…we have to go…” Nervous eyes looked at me from the crew room. I felt a bead of sweat roll down my neck and along my spine; I had no idea how to deal with a Hurricane, but everyone looked to me for direction.  “Whoever wants to come with me can, if not, you can stay here.” Slowly, Matt, Ashley, and Angie stood up and followed me to the garage. Everyone piled into the truck.  “Alright. Let’s just make a big loop. Go down Camp Hollow, turn onto 134, drive up past the boat launch, turn down Lighthouse, get onto Marion, and then get back on to 325 and then right back to the station. We shouldn’t be gone for longer than 20 minutes. Easy, peasy.” I smiled at everyone, trying to encourage them…but it was also to encourage myself.  I was feeling unsettled, but I figured it had to be because I had never experienced a Hurricane before. As we pulled out onto Camp Hollow, I felt the truck get buffeted by the wind. The truck swayed a bit to the same rhythm that the trees moved and the leaves flitted from their perch to the soggy road.  I looked through the rain spattered windshield, watching little rivulets of water move across the road.


We splashed through the puddles in relative silence. The roads were empty; a State of Emergency had been declared and while we weren’t under mandatory evacuations, we were encouraged to. I lived at the furthest end of the state, right up against the bay. My house and town were at sea level. My mind went to my sump pumps…if they didn’t kick on, I’d be extremely screwed when I got home. My mind was elsewhere and it wasn’t until Angie tapped my arm that I came back to reality.


“Do you think we can drive through that?” I looked to where she was pointing and I saw the boat launch had flooded across the road. There was a huge standing puddle…or more like a small river crossing 134. I hopped out of the truck and walked up to it. Slowly, I worked my way across…the water hit the tops of my boots and spilled inside them. Even still, it was less than a foot. I waved the truck through and I hopped back up inside, picking up the radio. “This is Medic 84 to Base and Medic 74, there’s a little less than a foot of water crossing 134. If you come through in the nest 10 minutes, you should be fine. Drive safe.” The radio crackled in response; I was using the talk around radio used to talk between the two stations and our ambulances. It wasn’t good that the talk around was going; we used the same towers that County Dispatch used. I picked up the Dispatch radio, trying to keep my voice steady. My nerves were starting to get to me again. “Medic 84 to dispatch. How do you read?”


“You’re breaking up, but we received your message.”


“10-4.” I looked at Angie, “Let’s just turn around and come back the way we came…how does that sound?” She nodded and began to turn the truck around. As we approached the launch, waving at the driver of Medic 74, we all leaned forward, looking at the water. I opened up the door to step out, but as my foot hit the running board, I heard a familiar groaning sound. I looked down the road and watched as a tree that had been buffeted by the wind for too long finally gave way with a heaving groan, then a bone chilling snap. We all watched as the tree fell in seemingly slow motion, making almost no noise except for when it crashed through the roof of the substation. Sparks flew everywhere, then with a deafening pop, all the lights on the road went out. I stood on the running board, my jaw slack. We couldn’t come back the way we came and conditions were deteriorating rapidly.


I slowly retreated into the truck, drops of water splashing from my hair onto my pants. I pulled my wet tresses back into a ponytail and I realized everyone was staring at me. I sat for a moment, then I pointed, “Let’s go down Lighthouse. I want to get back as soon as possible.” Angie nodded and we turned down Lighthouse and I leaned back in the seat as the valves of the diesel engine tapped away.


“Matt!” I turned around with a smile on my face, “You never told me…how did the Registry go?”


Matt perked up, leaning his head through the birth canal, “It went great! Hopefully I’ll have my EMT in the next week or two.” I gave him a high five; we had gone over the EMT practical for weeks after he failed the first go round and I knew he was solid. I pulled out my phone and an Aux cable from my go bag and I quickly put my ‘Code’ playlist on. Metallica came through the speakers and we jammed out on our way down the road, lightening the mood dramatically. We were giggling and laughing…life was okay…everything was going to be fine. I looked through the windows; it was now completely dark. The high beams glinted off the rain slicked road. I looked out my window and saw fallen trees along the side of the road. My Medic Sense started tingling and I looked back.


“Hey…buckle up back there. You know my rule.” I watched Matt and Ashley tuck into their seats and get secured again. I turned around and watched the road in front of me. As we went around a turn, the road ahead looked clear. Two left curves, three right curves, then a right turn. Three or four miles and we’re home safe. We were almost off the back country road and onto the main road that went through town. I sighed gently, taking off my wet sweatshirt.


“Almost home!” I leaned back, watching the road go by. Without warning, Angie slammed on the brakes.


“HOLD ON!” She screamed. I saw the tree across the road and I put my hands out against the dashboard. We skid to a stop, a few feet from the tree, all of us straining against our seat belts. I heard the metal clip board go clanging down from its holder and along the floor, the Jump Bag making a heavy thump as it slid from the bench seat onto the floor.


“Is everyone okay?” Everyone quietly acknowledged and I pulled out the map book to figure out what to do next. Lighthouse let out at the ends and the offshoot roads were dead ends.


“What if we go back down Lighthouse and then continue up 134? It might be clear to the hospital. We can take Marion to the top of 325 and go down that way. Worst case scenario, we can go to the hospital and wait it out there.” I looked at Angie and nodded, “Do it.” I looked at my watch; almost 90 minutes had passed since we left the station. I grabbed the Talk around radio,


“Medic 84 to Base. We’re stuck on Lighthouse just past Library. Downed tree. We should be back shortly.”


No response.


“Medic 84 to Base, can you read me?”


No response.


I picked up the county radio, “Medic 84 to County, can you read me?”


No response.


My heart began to throb in my chest and my mouth went dry. I looked at the mic in my hand, then I keyed it up.


“Medic 84 to County. Can you read me?”


No response.


I hung up the mic. “Turn around, lets go your way.” The truck lurched into reverse and I looked back to Matt and Ashley. They had crawled up to the birth canal and were looking at me with wide eyes. I put on my best smile for them while inside I was screaming.


“It’s going to be fine, honest.” I looked back to the windshield. So far, so good. I picked up my cell phone and I dialed Mike.


No service.


I typed out a quick text.


Can’t be sent. No signal.


I put my phone down and turned the music back on. The air in the truck was thick with tension and my mouth felt like it was full of cotton balls. I dug through my Go Bag and I pulled out a few bottles of water and Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip cookies. I held up the bag.


“Anyone hungry? I even have water if anyone wants it.” I passed the bag around and handed out the water. Silently, we ate. Ashley was the first to speak.


“What are we going to do if we can’t get back to the station?”


“Well…” I sighed, “We’ll just have to find a place to sit and wait.”


Rain splattered against the windshield once more. The wipers were humming along, moving as fast as they could to clear off the water. We rolled slowly over a small bridge that we could barely see; the creek it went across was now swollen into a tiny river, the water just tall enough to lap over the bridge. As we cleared it, I figured we were home safe. We could go up 134 all the way to the hospital or take Marion back down. The hospital seemed safer. We rolled on, once again in silence. As we neared the end of Lighthouse, our hopes were dashed. A tree. A stupid, fallen tree blocked our egress.


“Dammit!” I yelled, slamming my fists against the dash. “Son of a Bitch!” I put my head in my hands. Angie was staring at the tree, her eyes wide, her knuckles white from gripping the steering wheel. Ashley started to cry softly in back, her shoulders heaving with every quiet sob. Matt looked down at his feet like a beaten puppy.


Not good. Not good. This is not good.


“Go back.” I spoke quietly. “We are getting off this road come Hell or high water.”


“We already have the high water. Can you call this Hell?”


I smiled slightly at the joke. “Yup.”


Angie turned around once more. “What’s the plan?”


“I think the field back there was open. Take the truck through the grass around the tree.” I swallowed a swig of water, trying to clear up my throat.


This is bad. This is very bad. I don’t know what to do.


As we reached the far end of Lighthouse, we saw the field. It was full of Soybean plants. The edge of the road dipped slightly into the field. I grabbed the spotlight from behind the seat and looked for a clear path. I didn’t see any fences or anything that would impede our progress.


“Go for it.”


Slowly, Angie inched the truck off the road into the field. Immediately, the truck began to sink into the rain soaked field. I rubbed my nose, praying we didn’t get stuck. The wheels lost traction and began to slip, but we were still moving forward. Foot by foot, we made it around the tree and back onto the road. Up ahead, we could see cars driving down Marion. From here, it was only a few miles back to the station. The tension in the truck eased considerably as we turned onto Marion. Matt gave a sigh of relief.


“I need a drink.” I laughed at Matt. “I know the feeling. Tomorrow, when this is all over, y’all have to come back to the house and have a drink.” Everyone nodded in agreement. Up ahead, I could see the flashing amber lights of a utility vehicle. As we pulled closer, we could see why he stopped.


Another. Fucking. Tree.


I let out a scream of frustration. I was wet, I was tired, I was cold. I wanted my bed, I wanted a shower, I wanted a drink. I wanted to go back in time to stop myself for signing up for Hurricane duty. I wanted to be home in the warm and safe. Without me saying anything, Angie turned the truck around and started to head back up Marion. I thought about what was along the way. I knew the Electric company had a station there, as well as the State Troopers and another ambulance company. We could pull into any one of those. It had stopped raining and the eerie silence made my stomach turn. It went from deluge to nothing almost within an instant. I could hear my heart racing in my ears. Zipping along, we went several miles without seeing a downed tree. Relief was in sight.


I rubbed my neck, all of my muscles tense from the capitalistic day I was having. We passed Lighthouse and saw down trees, stacked up like kindling blocking the road. Turning a corner, I pointed at another set of amber lights, but they didn’t look right. They were lopsided. We pulled closer and saw a tree laying on top of a Utility vehicle, the cab crushed. Angie stopped and we all ran out and over to the truck. Inside was a man with a large gash across his forehead. I knocked on the glass and he looked at me with a look of genuine relief.


“Oh my God!” He screamed. “Are you here to rescue me?”


“No…well…yes…I mean…we were driving through and we saw your truck.”


“I can’t open the window or the door to get out!”


Matt stepped up, holding his shiny new window punch. I nodded quickly and within a few minutes, we had the gentleman out of his truck and into the back of ours. I dressed his forehead while Matt and Ashley took vitals. Angie stood just to the far side of the truck, smoking a cigarette.


“What’s your name, sir?”




“Pleasure to meet you, Andrew. I’m Shao, that’s Matt and Ashley. Your chauffeur for tonight is Angie.”


He smiled weakly. “Thank you. You guys are life savers.” I smiled and clasped his shoulder. Angie got back into the truck and we continued on our way. We drove for a few more minutes, making small talk amongst ourselves. I felt the truck slow to a stop. I walked up and looked at Angie.


“What’s going on?”


“There are lines down in the road. I don’t know if they are cable or electric.”


I shrugged. “Your guess is as good as mine.” Without warning, Angie threw the truck into reverse and backed up a few feet and a large tree fell across the road. If she hadn’t reversed, the cab would’ve been crushed. My throat dried up again and I began to dry heave. Angie began to cry.


“I can’t do this anymore!” She pounded on the steering wheel, the horn blasting out with each hit. “I just want to go home!” She sobbed.


I groaned, sitting on the floor of the truck. We were stuck. We couldn’t go anywhere. We couldn’t talk to anyone. Suddenly, the County radio crackled to life.


“County to Medic 84.”


I grabbed the mic.


“This is Medic 84.”


“County to Medic 84.”


I keyed up. “This is Medic 84. Can you hear me?”


“County to Medic 8….4.”


“This is Medic 84, County. Can you read me?”


“County Dispatch with…*static* message. Medic…missing. Repeat…*static* 84 missing.”


My hands trembled as I dropped the mic and picked up the Talk-around.


“Medic 84 to Base!”


No response.


I put my head down and as I did, I noticed my phone buzzing to life. Text messages were popping up. I started reading through them. They were all from various people, asking if we were okay. I replied back with our location…my own mini LUNAR report. The message stalled out. It wouldn’t send. I jumped out of the truck, holding my phone into the air, trying to get just the smallest bar of signal possible.


“Send…send!” I watched as the small, quarter bar waved back and forth, then it winked out, being replaced by a red X. I held the phone down at waist level, looking at the screen…looking at the X, the red X. As I stood there, the wind started whipping up, bringing hail and thunder with it. I stood in the wind, small pebbles of ice pelting me from above, then I turned slowly, my feet dragging as I walked back to the truck. I climbed into the cab and I put my forehead against the dash. I was done. I was spent. I was emotionally worn out and spent. Matt popped his head through the birth canal, his face illuminated by his phone.


“I think I know what County was trying to say.” He handed me his phone. A CAD page had come through during the minute of signal. I read it over and my jaw slackened. I handed it to Angie, she read it, then looked at me, her eyes wide. I looked at the message again, my breath catching in my throat.


Medic 84 is missing. Last known location: Lighthouse Rd.


I handed the phone back to Matt and I sat back, crossing my arms over my chest.


“Okay. They’re looking for us. That’s a good thing.” I glanced at my watch. “We’ve been gone for over five hours. Let’s just hang out here. We just got the message, but it looks like it was sent about an hour ago from the time stamp.” The hail continued to pelt the truck, but soon gave way to rain. I sat, contemplating about if it was wise to just sit here, but we had no choice. I looked in back; Matt and Ashley were huddled together on the bench seat. Andrew was sitting on the stretcher, reading a book he fished out of his backpack. Angie had her eyes closed, her head back against the seat. I fiddled with the AC…my clothes were in various stages of wet and the air blowing on me was causing me to shiver.


“Uhm…” I heard a small voice behind me. “Hey…I…have to go to the bathroom.”


We all looked at Ashley. She was biting her bottom lip, looking much younger than her 17 years. I wondered if I ever looked that young and diminutive when the shit hit the fan as a baby EMT…if I ever had the look of abject terror and fear that was written all over her face. Her mascara left charcoal marks along her cheeks from crying.




“I…I have to pee.” She practically whispered at this point. I heard a snort come from the seat next to me. Angie had her face hidden in her hands, her shoulders heaving with laughter she was trying to stifle. I couldn’t help it. A smile broke across my face and I bit my lip, trying hard not to laugh. Matt started it. He couldn’t hold back any longer. He broke out into laughter, his head back, tears streaming down his face. Ashley looked around, then even she started to giggle. I put my head down, giggling hard. The entire truck was filled with laughter.


“After all of this…” I swept my hand around, “Everything we’ve been through over the last five hours and you have to pee.”


The giggling turned to hysterical laughter. We held ourselves, tears streaming down our faces. We probably laughed so hard due to the tension and stress…we were all shot emotionally, so it made sense it had to come out somehow…and the laughter was our release. After a few minutes, we all calmed down to small giggle fits that would take over when we looked at each other.


“Guys. I still have to pee.”


I pointed outside to the rain. “Have at it.”


“I can’t pee outside!” I looked up at the ceiling, then back at Ashley.


“Well..Oh!” I turned around and pointed. “There’s a bed pan under the bench seat. Put it on the Bio Bucket like a seat and…go for it.”


Matt and Ashley stood up and lifted up the seat. They moved the padded board splints and KED out of the way, followed by the Hare Traction splint and Triage Kit. She pulled out the pink bed pan and she held it up. I pushed the Bio Bucket towards her. She grabbed the bucket, the pan , and a blanket, then she stepped outside. After a few minutes, she came back in with a look of relief on her face.




She nodded. “Better.”


We settled back down, trying to get comfortable. I turned the music back on, this time some soft jazz. I wanted to keep the tension low, keep the stress down. I closed my eyes when Angie turned the truck off, leaving the battery on so the music kept playing. It was just after midnight. It wouldn’t be light until at least 0700 and depending on how bad it was, they may not make it to us until well after nine or ten PM. I couldn’t do another nine hours stuck out in the middle of nowhere. I gazed out the window, watching the rain streak down. Leaves fell from their branches, spinning like a Whirling Dervish in the wind. They flitted across the sky, being lifted or lowered depending on the whims of the gusts. I watched one leaf as it came off its branch being battered by the wind and rain. Somehow, it stayed aloft, whipping back and forth. I watched it, mesmerized. The noise in the truck faded away as I became focused on the leaf.


My mind drifted away to a different time, a different place. I thought about how I made dinner for the first EMS crew I ever worked with…Spaghetti and Meatballs. Laughing with Byron over something silly, probably one of his silly jokes that could always make me laugh no matter how bad my day was. How I stood amongst the falling leaves, walking with someone near and dear to me, kicking the leaves up, giggling and laughing. I saw my old station, the laughter ringing through the trailer, snow falling all around us as my partner came in through the back door, throwing snowballs at all of us. We ran out into the snow, rolling around, throwing it at each other…using Reeves and Backboards as sleds. I watched Hawkeye lob a snowball at me. I watched it sail lazily through the air in its arc…as it hit the peak, it came down towards me…slowly, languidly…


The snowball landed on my face with a deafening screech. People were screaming as I was snapped out of my daydream. I felt the truck lurch forward and rock violently. Ashley fell off the bench seat, onto the floor. I lurched forward, bracing myself against the dash. Angie rocked forward hard…she must have been asleep, barely keeping herself from slamming head first into the steering wheel. It felt like the noise and motion wasn’t going to stop. I heard a pop, then what sounded like pennies being thrown onto the floor. The truck lurched one more time and stopped.




I gasped, putting my hand against my chest. Angie was panting, looking at me with wide eyes. I looked in the back; Ashley was picking herself up off the floor and Matt was brushing himself off. Andrew was sitting quietly on the stretcher, his shoulders heaving with each breath. We must have all dozed off.


“What the hell was that?” Angie screeched.


“I don’t know…” I shook my head to clear the cobwebs out. “You guys okay back there?”


All three of them nodded. I saw the back windows had broken, shattering glass all through the inside of the truck. I saw pieces of leaves mixed in with the glass in the back of the truck. Angie had climbed out of the truck and she was standing in the road, her hand on her mouth. I climbed out and looked where she was looking. A tree had fallen on the back of the truck. Somehow, the back step was still attached, but copious amounts of paint had been ripped off. Branches and leaves obscured the back of the truck. Red plastic laid on the ground from the tail light. I stood next to Angie, both of us staring ahead, unable to speak. Ashley and Matt climbed out of the truck to join us.




I held up my hand.




I shook my head, keeping my hand up.


Matt moved in front of me, screaming at me. “What are we going to do now?! We can’t go anywhere! What’s your plan now?” He walked off, running his hand through his hair. Ashley started to cry…again…and Angie looked at me.


“John…is going to kill me…”


I shook my head. “Alright! Hold on…” I paced around, trying to think.


What now, genius? How are you going to screw this up even more, dumb ass?


“Look. We are just going to sit here. It’s not like we can do anything else. There’s nothing we can do.”


I turned around and walked back to the truck. I got in and slammed the door, putting my head back in my hands. I watched as everyone else climbed back in, the mood somber. No one was talking. All we could hear was the rain. Angie looked at me, her voice soft.


“You’re religious, right?”


I nodded, “Yeah…”


“I’m not.” She looked back to the steering wheel. I looked at her in the silence. After a moment, she looked back up at me.


“Do…do you think you could pray?”


I looked at her for a long second, then nodded. “Yeah…yeah I can…if you want.”


She nodded, then bowed her head, reaching out for my hand. I took her hand gently in both of mine and bowed my head. I thought for a moment…a long moment. Her hand was cold and trembling in mine as she gripped my fingers.


“Ahh…” I haven’t done this out loud in years…




What do I say?


I let out a sigh, licked my lips and started again. “Uh…Dear Heavenly Father…” I trailed off. “Thank you for keeping us safe. Please, keep us protected and get us through this safe and sound…and please protect anyone that may be out looking for us…” The words came easily now, “and our families. Please comfort them in this time, may they find strength through you. Thank you…Amen.”


“Amen.” I heard softly to my left and from behind. I looked up to see three sets of eyes looking at me through the birth canal. I didn’t say anything. I just sat there holding Angie’s hand. Suddenly, I heard a noise. It was familiar, yet not. I looked out the windshield and I saw lights flashing in the leaves of the fallen tree. We all looked closer. The branches of the tree began to fall away, then the top portion of the tree moved backwards. I leaned forward, trying to figure out what was going on when there was a knock on my window. I looked to my right and there was a man, wearing a green poncho and camo pants. I rolled down the window.


“Hey!” His voice was way too chipper. “Are you guys the missing ambulance?”


All I could do was nod.


“Great! I’m Jack with the National Guard. We’ve been looking for you all night! Is everyone okay?”


I nodded again. I finally found my voice. “Yeah…we have one minor injury, but we’re okay.”


He picked up his radio, “I found them!” From around the tree came a flood of people wearing camo or bunker gear. I started laughing, pointing at the crowd.


“They found us!”


High fives all around. We laughed with relief, looking at each other. The fire department came to the truck, swarming around it. We got out, giving everyone hugs and high fives. Angie grabbed me, wrapping me up in a hug, a smile on her face.


“I am SO going to church with you on Sunday!”


I laughed, “You and me both!”


Jack came up to me. “You aren’t far from the State Trooper base. We’ll escort you there.”


We all piled back into the truck and followed the man with the flashlight. He guided us around the tree and the road ahead looked clear. We drove along slowly, following the path of the Humvee in front of us while the Humvee followed the transport truck. Every once in a while, we’d stop as the National Guard poured out and made short work of a tree for us to get around. We moved slowly and we stopped at another tree. We watched as they poured out, but we began our own conversations between ourselves, not paying attention. After a few minutes, there was a knock on the window. Angie rolled the window down.


“Hey!” Jack waved and grinned at us. “There are wires tangled in the tree. We don’t want to cut it because we don’t know what they are and if their dead, but we should be able to drive through the grass and get around. Past that, we’re home free.


Angie nodded. “Show me.”


The transport truck slowly backed up, then moved around the tree, leaving huge, muddy divots in the grass, but it made it around. The Humvee did the same. The tire ruts got deeper. Angie edged up, then she looked at me. “I don’t think we’re going to make it.”


I shook my head, “Same here…we’re going to get stuck…”


Jack waved us forward and Angie waved her hands. He jogged over and Angie rolled down the window.


“We’re going to get stuck. We aren’t as heavy as you guys…” Jack shook his head, “You’ll be fine! Come on!”


Angie looked at me, worry flashing across her face. I shook my head. “This isn’t a good idea…we shouldn’t do this…” Angie nodded and kept the truck stopped. Jack continued to wave us through. Angie sat for another moment, then she slowly crept forward. “I’ll go around the tracks they made…”


I nodded and put my hand on the ‘Oh Shit’ bar. We moved forward, then I felt the truck go off the road and almost immediately sink into the soggy ground. We kept moving forward, but the ass end started to slip out…but we kept going. As Angie maneuvered around the ruts, we realized that the grass sloped down dramatically into the tree line. She tried to correct, but the back end was done. We felt the back of the truck sink, then slide. Angie hit the accelerator, but we dug in even further.


We were stuck.




We jumped out into the rain, looking at the truck. The back end of the truck had slid down the small embankment and was stopped by a tree. We looked at each other, the rain pouring down. We were soaked to the bone. Slowly, we unloaded the truck of the important things and we put them in the back of the Humvee. We then trudged over to the transport truck and they helped us in. Hanging from wires strung across the back were glow sticks that shone brightly in the dark, giving everyone in the truck a greenish glow. As we piled in, we were given glow sticks and told to open them and string them up if we wanted to. As I stood up, I looked at my crew who looked sullen and defeated, then I looked at the glow stick in my hand. I looked back up; the entire crew looked like abused puppies.


Grabbing a hanging glow stick, I pulled it down and I started waving my arms around, dancing around in the small space.


“Hurricane Rave Party!” I started beat boxing as I danced around, waving the glow sticks. Everyone looked at me for a hard moment, then they broke out into laughter, waving their sticks around. I sat back down, moving my arms, making shapes in the air, laughing and giggling. The Guardsmen joined in and the back of the truck turned into a mini party. I glanced about, smiling at the mirth that filled the small space.


After a few minutes, the truck slowed to a stop and the back opened up. “Home sweet home you guys!” We jumped out of the truck and walked into the Base. Inside, we were met with coffee, donuts, and blankets. I felt like a Rock star; we were getting hugs and high fives, cheers and jubilation. I sat down in one of the chairs, using a towel to try and sponge some of the water from my head. I leaned my head back, closing my eyes. We were warm and safe.


I dozed off quickly, but rest didn’t last long. I felt someone shaking my shoulder and I jumped to my feet. The room was dark and all I heard was the bustle of people walking through the hall. Angie was standing next to me.


“We’re leaving.” I looked at her, not fully awake yet.


“Why?” I yawned and stretched. It was just enough down time to start stiffening up. My hip was killing me and I shook my leg out, trying to loosen up.


“They lost power. We’re going to the old dispatch office just down the road.” I nodded and slowly followed her out of the building. We piled into a squad car and joined the procession down the road, lights on. Huge trees laid scattered about; it looked like Hell in the dark, so I could only imagine how much worse it was going to look in the light.


We pulled into the old building and we piled out. Walking into the old office, you could see just how long it had been since anyone had been in there. A fine coating of dust covered all the surfaces, a magazine dated Aug. 1998 laying on a desk. One of the Sergeants walked up to us, pointing to the stairs.


“You guys can sleep down there. It’s quiet and we won’t bother you. You guys look like you need it.” I nodded and waved my thanks. We walked down the steps…well…I hobbled down the steps. The lights flickered, but they stayed on. None of us were talking…we looked like Zombies as we moved. Once we got down, we looked through the rooms and found a room that looked like an old break room. We collapsed into the couches and chairs, letting out huge sighs.


“My kingdom for a bed…” groaned Matt as he got comfortable on the couch. I moved around a bit, trying to put the blanket under me. My clothes were soaked and I didn’t want to ruin the couch, but exhaustion won out and I made myself comfortable. Angie closed the door and turned off the light. Within minutes, the light snores around the room started and even my own eyes closed and I drifted off to dream land. The storm raged on outside as we slept.


An hour or so later, I woke up, feeling something on my hand. I was laying face down on the couch, my arm over the side. I picked my hand up, using my phone as a flashlight; it was wet. I looked around and saw a few inches of standing water on the floor. I sat up and put my boots back on. They squished in the water as I went to the door and opened it. The entire floor held the standing water. Tears started streaming down my face. I just wanted to sleep and not be wet. I flicked the light back on.


“Wake up…” Everyone groaned and pulled their blankets over their heads.


“No, seriously…come on. It’s flooding down here.” Eyes popped open and looked at me, then looked to the floor. Slowly, everyone got back into their boots and we made the trip back up the stairs. Angie told the Sargent what was going on as we found a room to sleep in. We found a small office and we set up for the night on the floor. Within minutes, we were back asleep.

A knock at the door woke me up and I lifted my head up. The door opened and Mike was standing there, looking at us with sad eyes.

“Are you guys okay?”

I nodded and stood up. I gently woke everyone else up. “Yeah. The truck is stuck back on…”

“I’m aware. We’re towing it out now. I’m here to bring you home.” I smiled weakly at him and followed him out the door. On the way back to the station, the devastation was apparent. The amount of downed trees was amazing. Huge trees, ripped up with the root ball intact laid like firewood along the road. The rain had finally stopped. We drove in silence as Mike’s SUV pulled into the station. We slowly got out of the car and we were met by our coworkers. They ran up to us, giving us hugs. Families were reunited and I stood off to the side, smiling at the scene. Hawkeye showed up and he put an arm around my shoulders, hugging me to him.

“I thought something bad happened to you, kid.”

I chuckled, putting my arm around him. “You can’t kill me that easily. Can we go home now?”

Hawkeye smiled, then he grabbed my face, kissing my forehead, then he gave me a light smack on the ass. “Come on, let’s get you home.”



Twelve Years.

Sometimes life sets you up for something amazing, something incredible, something life changing that just takes your breath away. A chance post, thanking the EMTs and Paramedics who shaped me into who I am now led to a quick conversation with a Medic I haven’t seen or had a lengthy conversation with in over a decade…12 years to be exact.


I wrote about Byron as being the first Medic I ever ran an Arrest with. That was a life altering day for me. I remember the red, high wing back chair, her pink shirt, blue jeans…the weird brown shag carpet…I also remember the fear, the anxiety, the terror, and then finally elation after it was over.


I only worked with him for a year…a year to the day exactly…I know, odd memory. He went off to do bigger and better things, both inside and out of EMS. I stayed on my path and that was that.


Well, I got a rare Friday off and in a chance message to Byron, he said his band would be playing at a nearby bar. I kinda had a ‘why not’ moment; it seemed like a good idea, he was game for a reunion after 12 years…I got to go to a Guinness Bar and drink beer and listen to good music after a shitty week.


What I wasn’t expecting…it was a watershed moment. I wish I could write well enough to adequately describe what happened, but I can’t. I do wish someone would have caught the initial moment on film…I’m sure it was quite the sight. We talked, we laughed, we reminisced, we drank Guinness  (Told you) , I danced to amazing music with people I didn’t know, but I didn’t care. The moment was right and the moment was amazing.


I had three main Paramedics in my life that I could honestly say made an impact on the Paramedic I am now. They know who they are and how much I love, care for, and appreciate them for all I’m worth…which isn’t much. Byron taught me a whole crap ton of things I still do because, well, he did them and it worked, not unlike the things Lt. Dan and Buddha taught me. The other Medic is constantly there, kicking me into gear, reminding me that I am Shao. Fucking. Trommashere. I need that when I get lost in myself, get down on myself, whatever.


What I didn’t expect or really realize was how Byron had shaped my development as a Medic. It was weird…and scary…and fascinating when it sunk in.


So, a very random moment in my life turned into something amazing. I reconnected with an old friend who’s impact on my career I hadn’t truly noticed until tonight. I’m not really sure why I’m writing this other than to try to quantify what happened. In 48 hours, I’ve had my mentors, the Paramedics I aspire to be, kicking my ass over my doubts, reminding me of who I am and what I’m worth.  It’s been an emotional 48 hour Rollercoaster, but, strangely, it all came together tonight under a hazy dark sky while listening to a band play a song by Dropkick Murphys and drinking one of the most beautifully poured Guinness I’ve ever had.


Going tonight was my way of not missing my shot. I’ve swung and missed many times over 29 years, but one big thing Byron taught me was that, I’d miss every shot I didn’t take. Needless to say, I think it worked. I got to reconnect and laugh with someone I haven’t seen in 12 years.


Life is amazing.

Have fun and be safe,



Lessons Learned.

This is probably one of the hardest posts I’ll ever write, but my hope is that I can impart some wisdom on my fellow EMS providers in how to deal with family in regards to their family dying or already being dead.


On September 11, 2014, I get a phone call that changed my life forever. MamaTrommashere called me to tell me that PapaTrommashere had collapsed on a business trip and was in cardiac arrest. Here is my own personal story on how I ceased to be a provider and became The Family.


1) Family will never react normally to shitty news.

When my mother called me, the first words out of her mouth were, “Your dad collapsed and he’s dead…I think.” MamaTrommashere is absolutely not medical, but she went to school to be a therapist. I was asleep in bed and I really didn’t register what she said, so my response was, “O…okay. Call me later *click*.” She called me right back and she used her “Therapist voice” on me.

“Shao. Your dad’s heart stopped beating. They won’t tell me what’s going on since I’m not there.”

“Your point?”

“Shao…listen closely…your father is dying. ”

*deadpan* “Mom…I have to go to work.”

*therapy voice* “Honey…you need to call off of work and drive to Maryland, but don’t worry about getting on the road right away. I have to pick up Grandma. I’ll call you when we’re leaving.”

*Angrily* “Mom. I am NOT waiting around. He is my fucking father and I WILL NOT just wait. I’m packed and I’ll beat you there. What hospital?”

*sigh* Meritus in Hagerstown, MD.

“Fine.” *click*


The next thing I do is scream and cry for exactly 2 minutes, then I start acting like it was a normal day. I grabbed a bag and packed for an overnight. Why an overnight bag? I couldn’t deal with my Dad, so I slipped into denial mode and began to get my things together to go to the hospital, then I was coming home for the comedy show the next day. Seriously, my main focus was not getting to my critically ill Father, but how I had waited for months to go to this show and I wasn’t going to miss it. I called my friends I was going with and told them to expect me the next day, but I had to run out of town on an Emergency. Some asked what was wrong and I very calmly told them my Father was dying, but…and I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t been told this by several people…that I said, “It’s no big deal. I’ll see you tomorrow.”


I have never really had a normal response to death. One of my parents favorite stories involves me finding out my Grandfather and Great Grandmother died on the same day. Nana had been gorked with Dementia for years and Grandad died over a botched medical procedure. He lingered on life support for a week before they took him off. During the two weeks of funerals and spending time at the hospital, my only concern was a report I was doing on the medical advances during WWII. I never showed any frustration or anger towards the death of two of my close family members…I was just more pissed that I didn’t have access to the school library to do my report. So, needless to say, I’ve never had a normal response to death and dying, this just happened to be one of the times it was more pronounced.

On my way to Hagerstown, I decided to stop for Pierogies and a Beer. Once again…my Dad is dying at a hospital and I decide to stop for an hour and eat Pierogies and bullshit with a bartender. Looking back, I can only imagine what the Bartender was thinking when I told him, “I just wanted to grab some food…my Dad is dying.” in a calm, non emotional voice.


2) Information overload is a very real thing.

The voice of clarity broke through about 10 minutes into the whole incident and voice told me to call the hospital and find out what’s going on. I was transferred to a nurse and I very officially stated, “My name is Shao Trommashere, you have my Father Papa Trommashere in your emergency department. The nurse passed me off to the charge nurse and I calmly repeated the same phrase. She then transfers me to the Doctor in charge.

The Physician who spoke to me was extremely kind.  He ran down the list: He collapsed at a Sheetz, a Pepsi delivery guy who just happened to be an off-duty Montgomery Co. Fire Fighter started CPR, one of the employees at Sheetz brought out the AED, and Community Rescue Service was less than 10 minutes away. He was defibrillated seven times before he got pulses back en route to the hospital. All his chemistries came back normal, except for his Trop which was .85. His lactate and ABG came back within normal limits. Pupils were reactive….

I got all of this information and more within 20 minutes of finding out my Father tried to die. I remember the whole conversation, but I didn’t digest it. It was way too much information to process at one time. I understand that the Doctor was offering me a bit of professional courtesy by giving me the run down…but it was something I didn’t need at that time. If I could go back, I would’ve asked for the specifics and nothing more. I found myself focusing on one thing; his Troponin level. I became so hyperfocused on that one thing that I kind of zoned out on everything else. My next conversation with my mother consisted of me explaining the lab work and nothing else. She kept asking about how he was doing and I kept circling right back around to how his Troponin was high, but that was to be expected after prolonged CPR.


3) Tunnel Vision.

The drive to Hagerstown, after my stop for food, was uneventful. I’d call the CICU for updates and brief my mother, but past that, I just turned on the music and drove. I don’t really remember the drive, honestly. I just know I beat my mother to the hospital…even though she had a full 90 minute head start. I’m sure someone could’ve told me my hair was on fire and I probably wouldn’t have cared. I wasn’t feeling emotional, I didn’t cry, I wasn’t begging God for him to live…I just had a flat affect and all I could focus on was getting to Meritus.  My mother, on the other hand, knew my personal fallout was probably coming and it was going to be bad. She warned the CICU nurses that I’d most likely come in raising all sorts of Hell. To everyone’s surprise, I actually remained pretty calm and relaxed. Mary, one of the nurses, even made a comment about how she expected me to come in like Hellfire, yet I was so calm and professional that she was expecting another daughter to come in any minute.


I was in full Tunnel Vision mode. I knew I had to get to the CICU and see my Dad. Past that? Fuck it. I didn’t care how it was going to happen, I didn’t care what was going on around me, all I cared about was getting in that room.


4) The Aftermath.


My Dad made it just fine. He was sedated and they had him on the Hypothermic Protocol. It was 72 hours of just sitting in his room, fielding phone calls and e-mails, visitors, and whatever else. When he woke up, he asked who won the Steelers game…and Baltimore won. He rolled his eyes and went back to sleep. It was a full day before all the sedation wore off and he was complaining about the food, the coffee, and whatever else he could bitch about, but he was fine.


Here’s where it got really interesting for me. I dealt so much with my family and how they were doing that I forgot to worry about myself. I don’t like talking about myself or opening up to people, so I wasn’t ever going to ask someone to talk about how I was feeling, but I wanted so badly for someone to ask how I was doing. I wasn’t doing well at all.  Everyone was concerned for my parents and Grandmother, but I found it odd that no one asked me how I was doing. It seems selfish, but I really just wanted someone to talk to, someone to cry on. I’ve never told anyone how I was feeling until now, where I’m writing it for the world to see.


I felt so alone, so scared, so tired, and so depressed. I became wreckless, I made very poor decisions and even more questionable ones. I felt alone since I was dealing with my family, yet no one ever seemed to want to know how I was doing, what was going through my mind. I never really…and still haven’t dealt with it.  Seeing my Dad is a mix of happiness and sadness…a humbling experience that usually leaves me crying in my car as I pull away from my childhood home. I know one of the prevailing feelings is that I feel like my father could’ve died without seeing his oldest daughter amount to something. My sister is married with three kids to an awesome guy who’s in the Army…my brother just finished Army Basic Training and is being deployed in August, but me…well…it’s not hard to feel like you’ve amounted to nothing when everyone in your family is doing something awesome.


All I know now is that I need to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I’ve learned a lot over the past several months…some of them are very good lessons, others…not so much. I know I’ve become a bit more reserved, a bit more closed off…but in time I’ll be back to myself.


Have fun, be safe, and tell everyone you know that you love them,




“My Life Saver.”

So. I had one of the wildest experiences of my life today.

I went to Starbucks today to get a cup of coffee. I’ve gone to the same place several times a week for the last four years. One of my favorite Baristas was there; we always share a bit of conversation and she makes a fantastic Macchiato. There’s another reason why she’s one of my favorites…

I was hanging out at the Fire Department, helping to teach a bunch of Rookies when we got dispatched for a car accident. I secured my place on the Rescue Engine and we were off. The dispatch was for a two vehicle MVC, one patient entrapped.

On scene, I began normal rescue duties as the ambulance was already there. I chalked the vehicle, cut the battery, and was setting up the extrication tools when one of the supervisors came over to me. He asked me to help with the medical side of the extrication as the EMTs that were in the vehicle were brand new and had no clue what to do.

No biggie.

I walked over and the EMT nearly kissed my boots. Looking in the vehicle, there was a young woman screaming her head off; the steering wheel had collapsed down on her lap, pinning her in the vehicle. Her left foot was contorted at a funny angle and she was complaining of chest pain. I knelt down next to her and I put a hand on her shoulder.

“Ma’am. My name is Shao, I’m here to help.”

She looked over at me and started crying. She kept saying her chest and leg hurt. I directed the EMTs to put a collar on her and hold C Spine while I did a quick trauma assessment. Slipping a NRB over her face, I calmly told her that the Oxygen would help and that her ankle was broken.

I looked down and blood was pouring onto the floorboard. Her BP was low; 92/60 and her heart rate was sky high: 134. I looked at her, a gentle smile on my face.

“We’re going to get an IV started on you and I’m going to try to stop the bleeding from your ankle…”

I unzipped her boot and her entire boot was filled with blood. A decent sized section of her Tibia was sticking out of the wound and even applying direct pressure wasn’t stopping the bleeding. I tried wrapping her leg, but due to the buckles and snaps on the boot, I couldn’t get it wrapped properly. I pulled out my trusty pink shears and I looked up at her.

“Ma’am…I’m going to have to cut off your boot.”

“No!!!” She began grabbing my arm, “Please! I just bought them! Just take the boot off!!”

I shook my head as I held onto her hand. I went ahead and ducked under the blanket as they were about ready to pull the steering wheel up.

“Your ankle is so badly fractured, it’ll hurt more for me to pull off the boot than it will for me to cut it off. I have to stop the bleeding…”

She started crying, but she stopped hitting me. I made short work of the boot and had the bleeding stopped within moments. While I was working, all she kept saying was, “My boot…my boot!”

With a proper wrap, we quickly extricated her from the car. She held my hand all the way to the ambulance and I got the Holy Hazmaticus from my Line Officer to accompany her to the Landing Zone. In the ambulance, she quickly lapsed into unconsciousness. Her last words to me?

“Why did you cut my boot?”

About six months later, I saw her while I was out shopping. It’s not hard to recognize me; I’m a black chick with pink hair. She gave me a huge hug and thanked me for helping her. I then realized she worked at the local Starbucks and we’d always have a nice chat every time I’d go in. As I said up top, it also helped that she made a freaking good cup of coffee. We never really talked about the accident outside of when I asked her if she bought a new pair of boots. She said she e-mailed the company asking where she could find a similar pair as they were just out of style and they sent her a new pair when she explained what happened to the first pair.

Today, when I went to get my coffee, she was there. We had our normal conversation while she made my coffee. The place was busy, but not obscenely so. She handed me my cup and this is what I saw:









She then says:

“You saved my life exactly three years ago, today. Thank you.”

I could barely get out a “You’re welcome.” I was stunned. I can honestly count the times I’ve gotten a Thank You from a patient or patients’ family and every time it happens, it leaves me speechless. I was just doing my job…the job I love and can’t get enough of, and she was so grateful for the less than thirty minutes I spent with her. I know she had taken time and had sent a very lovely fruit basket and card to both the Fire Department and EMS Department, but being singled out for a thank you was so unexpected it was overwhelming.

Have fun and Be safe.


Insulin Pumps and You.

Insulin Pumps. We are starting to see them more and more, but do we know how to effectively treat a Diabetic who has one? Hawkeye has graciously allowed me to write a blog post about him, his battle with Diabetes, and his

Insulin Pump. To give you a background, Hawkeye’s Pancreas shut down when he was 21. He has no family history of Diabetes, but he rapidly began to lose weight (Went from 280lbs to 160 in less than six months), had Cataracts form in both eyes resulting in needing eye surgery to replace the lenses in his eyes…which need to be cleared of film and deposits every couple of years, and basically became very, very ill.  In August of 2002, he collapsed in his kitchen and was unresponsive. Once at the hospital, it was determined his blood sugar was over 800 mg/dL. His A1C was 16.2. His mother was told that he would not make it through the night and she needed to plan a funeral for her first born by the end of the week. Hawkeye remained intubated for several weeks, came down with double Lung Pneumonia, and had a severe UTI…think beef broth urine. He pulled through, obviously, and lives to tell the tale.  His Pancreas does not secrete any insulin and does not control his blood sugar at all. If he is without his Pump for longer than an hour, his blood sugar will begin to skyrocket out of control. He’s had an Insulin Pump since 2006 and he loves it. So, a bit about pumps. There are multiple pumps out there, but I will be discussing the Medtronic MiniMed pump and its assorted supplies. The insulin is contained in an internal reservoir that contains 300 units or 3mL of Insulin. The insulin is given over a period of time in what’s called a Basal Rate; a metered amount of constantly infused insulin. Right now, Hawkeye gets about eight units an hour, but it runs in like a drip through what’s called an Infusion Set. The infusion set looks like this:


Infusion set

Infusion set

There is a plastic catheter not unlike the catheter on an IV needle that rests in the Subcutaneous tissue and facilitates the delivery of insulin. The set can be placed in the Bicep, Abdomen, Thigh, or any place that you can deliver an Insulin injection. Every Diabetic has different settings for their pumps and each pump can maintain multiple Basal rates for a 24 hour period.  Most pumps enable you to set up six different basal rates for a 24 hour period.  The patient can take their blood sugar every two hours like a good Diabetic and enter the value into their pumps. If the number is normal, it doesn’t do anything. If the value is high, the pump will calculate out an amount of insulin to deliver to bring the BG down.

When an Insulin Pump user eats, they add up the amount of carbs in the food and they enter it into the pump. Depending on the user set parameters, the pump will administer an amount of insulin based upon the Carb to Insulin ratio. For Hawkeye, for every 3 grams of carbs, he will receive 1 unit of insulin. They are also asked to input a BG reading. This is where you get a lot of your Hypoglycemic episodes; a person over calculates their carbs along with having a borderline low blood sugar. In a few minutes, you’ll have someone unconscious in their Spaghetti. Humalog, which is what many Insulin Pump users use, is a very rapid acting Insulin. You can see a change in the Blood Glucose values in approximately 5-7 minutes, more or less depending on just how much Insulin they are getting in one shot. Someone doing regular injections, who are getting their whole 20 units at once will have a quicker change than someone who is using a Pump, but a pump user can still experience a dramatic low while eating, especially after eating if they do not stop the bolus if they stop eating before they’ve eaten the proper amount of carbs.

Now, the fun comes in when we as EMS Providers need to treat a Diabetic emergency when someone is wearing a pump. The newest version of the Insulin Pumps have Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) which takes a Glucose reading every fifteen minutes. The pump itself stores the information and can tell the person if the sugar is high, low, or even show if the BG is going to go high or low by predicting a trend. You can access the log by pressing the Esc button on the pump:





Older style pumps will not stop delivering Insulin no matter the BG that’s input. The newest version with the CGM will do something called a Threshold Suspend. This is when the user has set a lower limit for the blood glucose and the pump will shut off and stop delivering insulin for a finite period of time, but will restart once the time period has passed and the BG is above the lower limit. The Threshold Suspend goes off the BG reading from the CGM. If there is a weak signal or the pump has lost communications with the sensor, the pump will not shut off.  There’s an alarm that sounds and a message pops up that says, I have Diabetes, Call for Emergency Assistance., but only if the pump and sensor are communicating.









One of the biggest things a Paramedic needs to do is to Suspend the pump before trying to raise the blood sugar. Since Insulin is running into the body on a continual basis, you will be fighting an uphill battle against the machine. To suspend the pump, you can hit the Act button, press the down button to highlight Suspend, then hit Act again. You can do this on the newer pump if you are unsure if the pump has suspended or not. You can then treat Hypoglycemia accordingly.

Insulin Pump Menu.

Insulin Pump Menu.










Just press Act.

Just press Act.










If the pump is not suspended, then you can spend a very long time trying to raise the blood glucose depending on how low the value is. Hawkeye recently had a BG of 27. He was shockingly not unresponsive, but he was extremely altered. The pump had not suspended itself as the signal from the CGM to the Pump was weak, so it was still delivering his basal rate on schedule. After two amps of D50 and twenty minutes, his BG was only 32. Once the pump was shut off, it went from 32 up to 88 in about fifteen minutes. Now, mileage may vary on this as I’ve seen Diabetics who haven’t suspended their pumps have a normal increase in blood sugar in response to D50. I think a lot of it has to do with what caused the low; if it’s a Bolus mistake

In the end, your mileage may vary with this advice. Your Local Protocols may say that EMS are not allowed to mess with an Insulin pump, but you can always ask a friend or family member with the patient to operate the pump if it’s seeming like you are getting nowhere with raising the blood sugar. Many patients who have pumps are very good at keeping track of their blood sugar, but can experience very dramatic lows due to just how the insulin is delivered.

Have fun and Be safe!



Who’s Nelson Mandela?

I promise, I don’t plan on making this a waitress blog. I would hate to incur the wrath of Springs1…just…no.

Anywho, I will relate the more bizarre tales as I need some place to let them out. Tonight, it came over ESPN than Nelson Mendela had passed away. Very sad. I went to a table of adults…all were over the age of 40 to include military personnel. I looked at the table and made a remark about how sad it was that he passed. The person sitting next to me, a Captain in the US Navy, looked at me and said, “Who’s Nelson Mandela?”

I nearly dropped the beer I was holding. Who could not know who Nelson Mandela was?! I go over to the computer to enter in an order and one of the servers asked me what was wrong, as I was grumbling to myself. I looked at her and said, “This guy didn’t know who Nelson Mandela was!” She looked at me with a vapid expression and said, “Who are you talking about? I have no idea who that is.”

I have lost all faith in humanity today. I will now continue to assault my liver and kidneys with a few more glasses of Jameson… two fingers, neat.

Have fun and be safe.

What’s Ahead…

Hey everyone!

I just wanted to give everyone an update about my life and what’s going on with me.

In a few weeks, I’ll finally be done with all this back injury bullshit. I have to thank my lucky stars that it’s done. I’ve never been so frustrated in my life with this process, but it’s done.

What have I been doing? I’m currently working as a waitress at a sports bar. Do I like it? Meh. It’s kind of like being a Paramedic, actually. You have to be on your toes and things are constantly changing and I need to adapt at a moments’ notice. I don’t like what I’m doing because…well…I feel like a dancing monkey; I need to be this happy go lucky person basically making the person I’m serving feel like they are the best thing on the planet so they give me an extra dollar when tipping me when they are done. It’s not hard when the people are nice and they interact with you. I get the ones who snap their fingers and yell for me from across the bar. I also get the super needy ones who modify everything on the menu: “I’ll take the Grilled Steak Wrap, but sub the steak for chicken, no cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, or onions, but add the Pico de Gallo and Ranch dressing. Oh, and cut it into eight pieces, not four and box up four of the pieces.”

Speaking of ranch dressing. I now officially hate that stuff. I think customers drink it, honestly. We serve GALLONS of this stuff and no one can ever get enough of it. I served someone 18oz of Ranch; six 3oz cups for less than 10 wings. By the end of the night, this is what I was thinking of:


So…what’s ahead for me and the blog:

I plan on going to EMS Instructor school so I can teach the new crop of students. I’m still teaching ACLS and PALS classes, which I’m having so much fun doing. I usually teach nurses and doctors, but when I get a few Medics in the group, I have way too much fun. The last class I taught, I met a Paramedic who moved from New York to BigCity. We spent several hours talking and we ended up going out to a bar for Happy Hour to grab a bite and a drink. Happy Hour turned into standing on the bar singing “Piano Man” and “Don’t Stop Believin'” with the entire bar. I also found myself drinking shots with great names such as a Flaming Orgasm, Statue of Liberty, and my favorite, the Blow Job. He will be joining me this year at EMS Today. Should be fun! Speaking of EMS Today, I will be there with Hawkeye and we will be trying to regain our status as Best EMS Chefs for the EMS Today cook-off. Our recipe is top secret, but it stands to be our best recipe yet. I have to give thanks to Papa Trommashere who kept me from making a major cooking faux paus when I had him glance over the recipe to make sure it looked edible.

I also plan on making a return to EMS in some capacity. I don’t know what that’ll be yet, but I plan on getting back into “Truck Work” at some point.

As for the blog…I’m going to try something a bit different. I spent the last few months helping a Paramedic student get through her class and National Registry. She did all the hard work and graduated, but I had a lot of the lessons written down. She was the one who gave me the inspiration to bring them here and share them with the world. So, mixed in with war stories from the truck and from the eatery, I’ll throw in a few lessons here and there to see what happens.

Other than that, it’s been an eventful year. The Stupid Puppy passed away last year, but I added a Foster Failure to the group. I now have The White Pup and The Crack Puppy. The Crack Puppy is just under a year old and she is a Pomeranian. I love her to pieces and she is making herself out to be a great addition.

Anywho, I’m going to finish off my beer (I <3 Flying Dog!) and I’m going to hit the sack.

Have fun and be safe!

The Biggest Mistake of my Career

I have never talked about this call…ever. It shows my humanity, how even I, Ms. Super Medic, could make huge mistakes. I owned up to it through Medical Command and a Medical Review and I didn’t even get a slap on the wrist due to the circumstances. What remains is that, I could have very easily killed someone and I was damn lucky I didn’t.

The call started out on a bad day in January. I got into work on a blustery, rainy morning and I had come in early because we were supposed to get slammed by a bad snowstorm. I didn’t have a four wheel drive vehicle, so I wanted to avoid the slick roads. By 0900, what was supposed to be a snow storm ended up being an ice storm. The roads were coated in a thick sheen of ice. I could hear accidents going out all through the area, but for some reason, our 5 miles of highway and side roads remained free of accidents. Around 1000, we got dispatched for a female complaining she was dizzy.

The distance from our station to the scene was no more than a quarter of a mile if that. I could see the freaking apartment building from the station. I called the dispatch center and told them to relay to the patient that it would be a minute; we couldn’t even get out of the parking lot because we were just slipping and spinning on the ice. Once we got on scene, I remember getting out of the truck and immediately face planting in the parking lot. I smacked my face off one of those parking berms and I gave myself a black eye and nose bleed. My partner slipped on the ice and fell on his back; he ended up having a bruise the size of a Cadillac on his ass. It extended from the top of his butt and halfway down his thigh. Trying to walk the fifty feet to the front door had us falling twice more apiece; I added a bruise on my side after I slipped up the concrete steps where I thought I broke a rib and a fall on my butt, but because of the junk in my trunk, I was fine. My partner fell on the same spot both times which contributed to the bruise. Once we got to the apartment, we both looked like hell. I had already shoved a 4×4 up my nose to staunch the bleeding and my partner was limping. When the woman answered the door, she smiled smugly at us and said, “Took you long enough. You went en route fifteen minutes ago.” I apologized, saying we had to drive very slowly through the hilly, cobblestone streets and we had slipped and fallen outside. She rolled her eyes and told us to come in. We walked in and she sat back down on her couch. I set down the ECG (A LP-10. This is very important), my House Bag, and the O2 tank. I sat next to her and went into my normal conversation; I introduced myself and my partner, asked her what was going on, all the while I had gently taken her wrist and began to feel her pulse. It was fast under my fingers, but I caught it at between 100-110bpm. The patient told me that she had woken up when she heard her scanner going off and she sat with a cup of coffee listening to everyone run around. She admitted that she had stood up too quickly when she heard that a cop car had wrecked at the bottom of the hill and she felt a bit woozy, but she felt fine immediately. I took her blood pressure, which was normal and I put her on the monitor. The rhythm was Sinus Tach, but the rate number was flashing and kept going back and forth between 110 and 240bpm. I printed out a strip and counted out the QRS complexes manually and I got 118. As I was working, I asked her if the dizzy spell was why she called 911. She then admits that, she wanted to see how quickly we could get there in bad weather, so yes, that was why she called. I remember wanting to throttle her at that exact moment. She was feeling fine, no ill effects, and she called 911 to see how fast we could get there. I held my composure and asked if she wanted to go to the ER and she rolled her eyes and said, “Well, duh. I’m not paying taxes and your salary just for you to check my blood pressure. I paid for your truck, lady.” I was itching to tell her that none of her taxes went to paying for our ambulance as it was purchased in the early 90’s at an auction in Texas. The funds were raised from various bake sales and private donations, but I bit my tongue and asked which hospital she wanted to go to. I cut her off immediately by saying that we couldn’t go to one of the hospitals in the city due to the road conditions; we were more likely to crash than to make it, but she had the choice of two community hospitals, one of which was a cardiac center. She chose the cardiac center. I asked if she wanted to walk to the ambulance; she had been walking around the apartment putting food down for her cat and dog, getting changed into clothes, and tidying up in the kitchen all the while ignoring our objections. She gave us the line that she paid for our salaries, so we needed to do our job correctly. She then began demanding oxygen because “my taxes paid for it”…even though she sat’ed above 98% the whole time. We put her in the stair chair and wheeled her to the lobby where we left the stretcher (stretcher didn’t fit into the elevator, even broken down). We lowered the stretcher and placed it right next to her chair. I asked nicely for her to stand and pivot, then sit on the stretcher. She crossed her arms over her chest and stared at me with this evil, soul stealing gaze, so we picked her up and put her on the stretcher.

I had the LP-10 slung over my shoulder and I kept looking at the rate; it never popped over 110. We wheeled the stretcher outside, managing to not kill ourselves, and we loaded it into the ambulance. I did a quick IV and hung a bag of saline KVO while I fitted her with a nasal cannula at 4lpm. It took us over 20 minutes to get to a hospital that usually takes us less than 10 without lights and sirens. We slipped and slid all over the road…at one point we spun out and I remember looking out the back windows and I realized we were sliding backwards down this little hill. The woman kept criticizing us; we were horrible ambulance drivers and she couldn’t believe we were having that much trouble driving. What she didn’t realize and what she couldn’t see is that my partner managed to keep us from wrecking I don’t know how many times. I remember looking up front and the MPH gauge was below 5 and my partner was sitting funny. He told me later on that he was standing on the brake, yet we continued to slide on the ice due to forward momentum. The entire time, I kept her on the LP and it kept up a steady rhythm at 110. The pulse ox, which had its own pulse monitor had her at 99% and 112bpm. Feeling her pulse, I got her at 110. Her BP never wavered from the 130’s systolic. We got into the ER and out of pure habit, I hooked her up to the hospital monitor while waiting to give report. The hospital machine started alarming and I looked up; she was in a full SVT at 198. A nurse ran in and started yelling at me; this wasn’t a dizzy spell, this was SVT. I grabbed the Adenosine from my house bag that was on the stretcher and the nurse grabbed it out of my hand and pushed it for me. I remember standing up against the wall, not sure what to do.

Boy, did I get chewed out by the nurse, the patient, and the ER doctor. I swore they were going to cut up my Medic card right there. The rhythm broke with the first dose of Adenosine, but I handed them the strips I printed out; all the strips were time stamped as well as marked with the BPM: 110. I told them I never felt it go above 110 and I don’t know why I didn’t see it.

Several weeks and several meetings went by. Come to find out, the patient went back into SVT while in the ER. The nurse was manually feeling a pulse and she herself didn’t feel a rate over 100. The patient never became symptomatic and it was documented in her chart that she had a history of Asymptomatic SVT. It was also found that the monitor was malfunctioning, but I was never told exactly how.

I honestly feel that this was the biggest mistake of my career. For weeks, I felt so ashamed, as I had done something horribly wrong. At the time, I was a pretty new Paramedic, but I was making one heck of a name for myself by being spot on with every differential diagnosis I made. I felt that my reputation would be tarnished by what had happened. What I didn’t realize was, these things happened. Several of my well seasoned partners came out and told me their “newbie” mistakes; forgetting to take Nitro Patches off while administering Nitro, using Latex gloves on a patient with latex allergies, and even worse things that I refuse to even write about.

Once I was vindicated, I remember being almost neurotic in my actions afterwards for several months. I was double and triple checking all of my actions, my vitals, everything. I became a scared Medic, which is never a good thing. I would hesitate before doing something without an okay. It took one of my command physicians who was a dear friend and mentor to sit down with me and go over every one of my cases with me. He showed me that, outside of that one thing, I had made no mistakes. He even pulled up a case that had been used in Grand Rounds, showing how I identified that the patient was having an Antro-Inferior MI; the monitor printout showed Anterior, but the patients’ BP and heart rate had me wondering if the patient was also having an infarct of the Inferior wall. There was ST elevation in V2-4 as well as II,III, and avF. It was a weird presentation and I remember pondering why I wasn’t seeing the reciprocal changes in II,III, and avF, but I saw the reciprocal in I, avL, V5, and V6. Med Command told me to follow the print out, but I told them that due to low BP, I couldn’t follow protocol by giving Nitro. Once in the ER, I got my butt chewed, but I showed them both the strips and my vital signs. My command doc gave me huge kudos for knowing the different STEMI’s and used my case in presentation to show how the print out and subsequent transmission of 12-leads could lead to mis-interpretation.

I realized then that mistakes were a part of the business. I’m not talking about giving the wrong drug or doing a procedure wrong, but shit happens on scenes and all we can do is fess up immediately and try to move on. I’m sure all of us can talk about an instance where our equipment failed us and we went about, doing our thing, only to find out later that the ECG failed us or the BP cuff had been damaged and the needle didn’t go past 130 or even the Glucometer wasn’t working properly and was giving false highs and lows even after a proper calibration. As careful as we are with equipment checks, sometimes Murphy’s Laws of EMS come into play…there’s nothing like losing all power to the ambulance during a Cardiac Arrest while you are on some road in the middle of nowhere…and it just came back from the shop.

If you learn anything from this, I hope you learn that a mistake isn’t the end of the world as long as you are willing to step up and own up to it immediately.

Have fun and be safe.

I was going to come on and complain about my neighbors deciding to re-do their deck and how work started promptly at 0700 this morning and start a series on how not to make the same mistakes I have recenty, both with my back, and how to make moving to a new state and restarting your EMS/Fire career a bit smoother…

But what happened in Colorado makes getting little sleep and the crap I’ve gone through seem like a walk in the park.

My heart, prayers, and deepest sympathies go out to the victims and families who were injured and who lost their lives last night. I also want to extend my prayers, thoughts, and long distance hugs to all of the first responders who decended on that scene last night and the providers in the Emergency Rooms, Operating Rooms, and Hospitals. Thank you for doing what you did under the most crazy of circumstances. You did the best that anyone could ever ask for you to do. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

All my love,