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In Fashion Again


Gun control, that is. After the Parkland high school student, we are informed that gun control is all the rage again. Since it’s an election year, this is a hot button issue and the legislature in Florida passed, and the Governor signed, a new “gun control bill”.

Which won’t do anything to solve the problem. Which isn’t guns, but is violence.

The Florida law, which doesn’t go into effect until October 1, raises the minimum age for purchasing a long gun to 21. Apparently, somehow by magic people who at 20 years and 364 days are too immature and dangerous to buy rifles or shotguns are suddenly imbued with wisdom and good judgement when the turn 22.

Personally, I think it would make more sense to raise the driving age to 21 considering how many people under 21 are killed in car crashes each year. Not to mention raising the voting age to 21 (30 would be better).

Which means that no one under 21 should be allowed to enlist in the military, either.

Feel free to tell me how going into the military instills discipline (it does) and training into young people under 21. The problem with people under 21committing crimes with rifles or shotguns, not that they lack discipline or training. The problem is that they are criminals and intend to commit crimes. Which is why people in the age range of 18-21 are sent to adult prisons, not juvenile facilities.

The law also bans bump stocks. Bump stocks are ridiculous devices and are not widely used by anyone, especially criminals. One crime has been committed using a bump stock and arguably if the shooter had used a regular AR-15 he could have killed more people. That’s due to the inherent unreliability of the device.

Also, of course bans on inanimate objects don’t stop people who want to commit crimes from committing crimes. Just about anyone can make their own bump stock if they want one.

The law imposes a three day (or longer) waiting period before anyone can buy a firearm. Of course this only applies to sales through licensed dealers and doesn’t apply to people who have concealed carry permits. It doesn’t apply at all to personal sales, at least not yet.

The law also lowers the bar for police to confiscate firearms from people who a confined for a psychiatric evaluation under Florida’s Baker Act. Or people who are otherwise deemed “dangerous”. I haven’t read the entire text, so I don’t know how or if a person can prove that they aren’t dangerous and should be allowed to exercise a Right enumerated in the Constitution.

I wonder if they will be barred from exercising free speech?

All of this of course, is a knee jerk reaction to the “Parkland students” who have demanded that their adults and betters “do something” about guns. Not something about crime, but something about guns.

So, we are supposed to take direction from people that we have deemed are too young and immature to own firearms. But, somehow these Tide Pod eating children have become mature leaders who we are supposed to follow when it comes to crime, guns, and what adults can do.

Sure. Pull the other one mate, it has bells on it.

The National Rifle Association had a lawsuit drawn up and ready to go the second Governor Scott signed the bill into law. The lawsuit challenges the age restriction portion of the bill, which is a good start. While the rest of the law is pretty silly, there is likely a strong Constitutional basis for challenging the under 21 part.

The rest is just election year silliness. Since Governor Scott wants to become Senator Scott, he apparently thinks this will help him in a swing state with a lot of Democrat voters. This will likely play well in Broward (rhymes with coward) county and other liberal parts of Florida. It’s likely to be less well received in the rural counties, particularly in the panhandle.

As always, gun control is not about guns or reducing crime. It’s all about control.

Social Media Use In EMS


As my readers might have noticed, I’m not a big fan of EMS providers using Social Media. To be clear, they should be able to do as they want, but it’s all too easy to hurt or even end your career by posting something someone doesn’t like.

Facebook and Twitter have become the favorite tools of lynch mobs in the 21st Century. As the saying goes, Facebook is good for posting cute pictures of your kids or grandkids, and should be limited to not all that much more. Twitter is even more dangerous, as Ambulance Driver says it’s 140 characters and not one brain cell. Even worse, it’s now 280 characters.

All of which is prolog to a story where Facebook helped save someone’s life, even if totally by chance.

Firefighters help save choking boy from 800 miles away

WAYLAND, Mass. — A team of firefighters from Wayland, Massachusetts, is being praised for coming to the aid of a woman about 800 miles away in Wayland, Michigan, who contacted them via Facebook in a panic to say her son was choking.

Normally, I’d wonder why someone would use Facebook in lieu of a telephone, but there is an answer for that,

The Massachusetts department’s Facebook page isn’t monitored 24/7, but firefighter Patrick Walkinshaw happened to be looking at it about 10:30 p.m. Saturday when the woman, who didn’t have access to a phone, sent her desperate plea to the wrong Wayland Fire Department.

She didn’t have access to a phone, so she used her computer. That’s not a bad idea, but as every public safety agency will tell you, do not use Facebook or their website in an emergency, call 9-1-1.

In this case she (and her son) were lucky. One firefighter stayed on line with her and gave first aid instructions, another looked up her address and traced it to Wayland, MI, while a third called the Wayland, MI Fire Department to give them the information so they could respond.

Luck and team work. And people who were paying attention in the first place.

The young man survived, which is the best part of all.

It’s not an ideal way to call for help, but in this case it worked out quite well for everyone.

This article,

Wrong Wayland Fire Dept. helps choking W MI teen

has more details. As it turns out, it was even luckier that she got the “wrong” Wayland FD as the “right” one was busy at a house fire and no one would have seen the message for some time.

For those who are keeping count, there are at least four towns named Wayland in the United States. She just happened to find the one that had a firefighter checking the Facebook page at the time she needed help.

“Of all the towns in all the word…”

I wonder what the odds are on that?

Living In The 18th Century


Or at least living like we were in it.

We had a storm last Friday. The weather guessers were hyping the crap out of it as they hype the crap out of every storm. “Storm of Historic Proportions”, sounds scary, but this was at least the third one we’ve had this winter. At least the third one that we were told would be of “Historic Proportions”. The other two were snow storms of no particular importance. I think the worst one dropped about eight inches of snow on us. Which mostly melted away the next day. During January. I spent about two hours doing all of the snow clearing, but that was mostly because it was a tad windy and I was working at night.

To be clear, working at night on the snow clearing, as I’m retired from working nights, weekends, holidays, and generally when I don’t feel like. Which is more and more of the time, but that’s a post for another time. Well, maybe.

The other storm of “Historic Proportions” dropped about three inches of snow. I went out with my snow blower and cleared the berm at the end of the driveway and left the rest for Mother Gaia to clear away.

Oh, there’s a special place in Hell for whoever decided to hype this crap by giving snow storms names. It’s TV inspired BS, pure and simple. Weather forecasting has become nothing buy hyping the latest cloudy day.

But, I digress.

So, instead of the expected two plus feet of snow we were supposed to get, we got wind and rain. And rain and wind. I spent most of the day inside because the weather sucked outside. Some of the coastal areas of the region got some pretty decent flooding, but that’s what happens when there is a high wind storm that coincides with high tide and a full moon. Maybe we should rethink paying to rebuild houses and other structures that get flooded every five or ten years or so.

All went well until about 7:30PM, when the lights started to flicker a bit. Then they flickered a bit more. Then they went out. My first thought was that a transformer had tripped and it would be reset in an hour or so.

Mrs. EMS Artifact and I broke out our flashlights, put on our sweatshirts, and figured we’d just wait it out. I used the handy dandy app on my Smart Phone to report the outage. After making sure that it wasn’t just us. No such luck, the whole world was dark. At least what I could see of it.

The app has a nice feature where you can look at all of the outages and see what the power company is doing to fix them. Since it was still raining and windy, they weren’t doing a whole lot. It was actually windy, rainy, and dark.

Since it wasn’t all that cold and the house is reasonably well insulated, we just stayed at home and went to sleep. Very annoying not having the conveniences of modern living. We couldn’t cook anything and we didn’t open the refrigerator either.

I woke up the next morning and texted a friend. He still had power and invited me over for breakfast. Mrs. EMS Artifact is a late sleeper, so I went over and had breakfast with my friend. Then I went home and obsessively checked the status of the outages. Which was not good. Turns out that I and about 200,000 of my closest friends were without power. Not all were serviced by my company, but they were all using all of their crews and crews from as far south as Tennessee and as far north as Quebec.

Mrs. EMS Artifact was now up and hungry. So, I took her out for breakfast. Which meant I had two breakfast. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it’s not going to help my diet efforts.

Then my friend’s wife called. She wanted us to come over for dinner and stay overnight in their guest room. Which seemed like a good idea. We gather stuff, including food, made sure the cats were fed and left. We figured that the cats were going to be okay since they had fur coats.

After dinner and before bed I drove back to the house for a few minutes, checked to see that all was secure, and fed the cats. A few buildings down on  the main street had lights, but that didn’t extend up to our area. The app told me that power would be restored by Midnight Tuesday, but that no crew had been assigned to the area.


Sunday morning was more of the same, only with an invitation from another friend and her husband to come spend the day with them. Since I’ve known my friend since she was born and her Dad is my oldest friend, this was an easy decision. One small detour to help her Dad put a section of fence back up (temporarily) and we had a lovely day with actual hot food.

Which brought us to late afternoon and it was back to our other friends’ place for dinner. After dinner my other friend called to say that he had power back. Since he lives in the same outage “zone” as do we, we figured we’d have power or at least have it shortly.

So, we packed up our stuff and went home. To a dark home. Apparently half the zone was restored, but we were in the “other” half. The app now told us that we’d have power by midnight Sunday, but I was a bit dubious since it was almost 9:00PM and there was nothing going on.

So, we again sat in the dark and read. Well, we had nice LED lights, so it wasn’t completely dark. The cats were happy to see us, although they seemed a bit perplexed by the strange quiet. Being cats, the darkness didn’t seem to bother them.

Another check of the app and now the expected restoration time was pushed back to late Monday afternoon. Hmmm.

After a couple of hours of this, I finished the book and decided to go for a ride. I wanted to see if I could find a crew that was working on the problem. Or at least someone to ask about the progress.

Lest you think I was going to harangue anyone, keep in mind that I spent a number of years being harangued by  people who didn’t like how I was doing my job. Most of them were drunk, but nonetheless I work at being nice to people that are probably workign to fix my problem.

About five minutes away from the house I found a power company supervisor parked at the side of the road. He had a nice power company van with lovely amber blinky lights. He was parked in front of a tree and some wires. The tree was IN the wires, which is not where the tree should have been. The tree should have been safely rooted in the ground.

This was not a small so it’s location in a tree was a problem. Specifically, it was the problem that caused my area not to have any power.

I confirmed that with the supervisor.  Who also told me that he called this in because apparently the survey crew for this area had missed the tree in the wires. Which seeemed odd since this was on a main road and there is a rehab hospital on the road. The supervisor shared my skepticism about the Midnight return of power since it was now 10:00PM and he didn’t know when the tree crew or the power crew would show up.

His best guess was early morning, but other than that he couldn’t really say. I looked at the tree and the wireds and said to myself that it would be maybe 4:00AM if all went well.

I don’t really recall when all went well in situations like this. A life in EMS turned me into a pessimist and a believer that Murphy was terminally optimistic.

Back home I went and gave the Mrs. the news. The app now said that we’d have power back by Noon. Nothing left to do by put on about five layers of clothes and four layers of blankets. Or maybe the other way around.

About 3:30AM something woke me up. “Something” being the creaking of the baseboard radiators. Which meant they were expanding because there was hot water flowing through the pipes. Which meant that the boiler was working. That meant that we had power back.

The dark ages were over!

We went back to sleep and this morning all was more or less back to normal.

The lovely Mrs. EMS Artifact informed me that I am buying generator as we are getting to old for this living like a pioneer stuff.

So, my mission over the next few weeks is to figure out a plan and get a generator. I’m not horribly upset by this because she’s right. People who lived during the 18th Century didn’t know about electricity, electric lights, central heat, or all of the other accoutrements of modern life. You generally don’t miss what you never had, but once i you have it, you sure do miss it when it goes away.


March 2, 1836


Today is Texas Independence Day. Herewith the people of the Texas territory of Mexico declared their independence.

Hostilities had begun some time before, but the formal Declaration came on March 2. The document, much like the American Declaration of Independence, lays out the reasons for the separation from the parent nation.

The list of grievances is long and detailed.

Texas and Texans are fiercely independent folks. I hope they always remain that way.

Happy Texas Independence Day to all my friends in Texas.

The text of the Texas Declaration of Independence.

When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.

When the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed, without their consent, from a restricted federative republic, composed of sovereign states, to a consolidated central military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the everready minions of power, and the usual instruments of tyrants.

When, long after the spirit of the constitution has departed, moderation is at length so far lost by those in power, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms themselves of the constitution discontinued, and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons, and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet.

When, in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abdication on the part of the government, anarchy prevails, and civil society is dissolved into its original elements. In such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation, the inherent and inalienable rights of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases, enjoins it as a right towards themselves, and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness.

Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind. A statement of a part of our grievances is therefore submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step now taken, of severing our political connection with the Mexican people, and assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth.

The Mexican government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American population of Texas to colonize its wilderness under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America.

In this expectation they have been cruelly disappointed, inasmuch as the Mexican nation has acquiesced in the late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers us the cruel alternative, either to abandon our homes, acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood.

It has sacrificed our welfare to the state of Coahuila, by which our interests have been continually depressed through a jealous and partial course of legislation, carried on at a far distant seat of government, by a hostile majority, in an unknown tongue, and this too, notwithstanding we have petitioned in the humblest terms for the establishment of a separate state government, and have, in accordance with the provisions of the national constitution, presented to the general Congress a republican constitution, which was, without just cause, contemptuously rejected.

It incarcerated in a dungeon, for a long time, one of our citizens, for no other cause but a zealous endeavor to procure the acceptance of our constitution, and the establishment of a state government.

It has failed and refused to secure, on a firm basis, the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.

It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.

It has suffered the military commandants, stationed among us, to exercise arbitrary acts of oppression and tyrrany, thus trampling upon the most sacred rights of the citizens, and rendering the military superior to the civil power.

It has dissolved, by force of arms, the state Congress of Coahuila and Texas, and obliged our representatives to fly for their lives from the seat of government, thus depriving us of the fundamental political right of representation.

It has demanded the surrender of a number of our citizens, and ordered military detachments to seize and carry them into the Interior for trial, in contempt of the civil authorities, and in defiance of the laws and the constitution.

It has made piratical attacks upon our commerce, by commissioning foreign desperadoes, and authorizing them to seize our vessels, and convey the property of our citizens to far distant ports for confiscation.

It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a national religion, calculated to promote the temporal interest of its human functionaries, rather than the glory of the true and living God.

It has demanded us to deliver up our arms, which are essential to our defence, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable only to tyrannical governments.

It has invaded our country both by sea and by land, with intent to lay waste our territory, and drive us from our homes; and has now a large mercenary army advancing, to carry on against us a war of extermination.

It has, through its emissaries, incited the merciless savage, with the tomahawk and scalping knife, to massacre the inhabitants of our defenseless frontiers.

It hath been, during the whole time of our connection with it, the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions, and hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrranical government.

These, and other grievances, were patiently borne by the people of Texas, untill they reached that point at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. We then took up arms in defence of the national constitution. We appealed to our Mexican brethren for assistance. Our appeal has been made in vain. Though months have elapsed, no sympathetic response has yet been heard from the Interior. We are, therefore, forced to the melancholy conclusion, that the Mexican people have acquiesced in the destruction of their liberty, and the substitution therfor of a military government; that they are unfit to be free, and incapable of self government.

The necessity of self-preservation, therefore, now decrees our eternal political separation.

We, therefore, the delegates with plenary powers of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and declare, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, Sovereign, and independent republic, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent nations; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the Supreme arbiter of the destinies of nations.

EMS In Mass Shootings


What is the proper role of EMS in mass shootings?

Early on in EMT training, then again, in paramedic school, students are exposed to a lot of training scenarios. They cover a wide variety of situations, medical, trauma, and psychiatric emergencies. No matter what the scenario, be it chest pain, a seizure, vehicle collision, fall, or anything else, we teach new students two things.

Is the scene safe? By this mean are there any hazards that might harm the providers? At a vehicle crash, that could be fire, fluids, airbags that might deploy. At fire scenes that means staying out of the collapse area of the building, and not getting hit by debris falling or thrown from the building. It can also mean are there agitated people that might attack the providers. The list goes on and on, so I won’t try to cover all of the possibilities.

Use appropriate Body Substance Isolation (BSI). Which is an amorphous term that means gloves, and masks or gowns if necessary. We used to call that Personal Protective Equipment, and before that Universal Precautions. No matter what term we use, the idea is to protect ourselves from dangers at the scene.

The term “BSI, is the scene safe?”, has become a mantra of sorts and is used at the start of every scenario. The problem is that it’s often little more than a phrase with little actual teaching behind it.

In my days as an instructor, I would sometimes say “No, the scene is not safe.” and then go on to describe a threat. The type of threat didn’t matter, the idea was to get the students to stop and think about what was going on as they were about to enter a scene.

Sadly, I’d often get a blank look and then the student would march on through and start to address the patient. At which point, I’d stop the scenario, fail the student, and tell them they were dead.

In EMS, and likely other professions, we often get into routines and forget the fundamental rules of protecting ourselves. That afflicts experienced and new providers, and some people find it difficult, if not impossible, to understand that there are real world dangers that won’t stop just because someone has called 9-1-1 for a “medical emergency”.

Some 35 or more years ago, back when I was working at the BLS level, my partner and I were dispatched for an “injured person.” We had no details because dispatch didn’t have any, so it might as well have been dispatched as an “Unknown Emergency”.

As we entered the apartment building we stopped at the bottom of the stair case and listened. We listened for about 30 seconds. What we heard was two people arguing at the top of the stairs. One male, one female. We couldn’t make out what they were arguing about, but they were arguing. The scene was not safe, so we made our exit and called for the police to respond.

There are two calls that police hate above all others. One is a “Domestic Dispute”, the other is “Unknown Trouble.” Both have almost unlimited potential to go bad without warning.

This turned out to the the former and once the police quieted the scene, we entered and treated the patient.

I’m sure other crews would have gone in and interrupted the argument. That might have worked out okay, or it might have resulted in an attack on the crew. Going to help someone and ending up on a fight is not how EMS is supposed to work. It happens, because people are often unpredictable, but minimizing the risk is part of what we are supposed to do.

Which brings us to the today’s topic. There has been a lot of controversy over the shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, FL since it happened almost two weeks ago. It appears, but has not been totally confirmed, that the response by the Broward Count Sheriff’s Department was poor. I’ll leave that to Law Enforcement experts to decide, maybe after the heat dies down.

If it does.

It turns out that the confusion at the scene extended, as it often does, to the EMS response.

Florida emergency medical teams frustrated over ‘delay’ in Parkland school shooting response

Three high-ranking Florida officials close to the law enforcement response at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tell Fox News there was a delay in Emergency Medical Service getting into the school in the critical moments after Nikolas Cruz allegedly opened fire, killing 17 people and wounding at least 14 others.

Two separate sources told Fox News some of the EMS teams who requested to enter the school were told they could not. One source said it was the Broward County Sheriff’s Office – which was the commanding office – that ordered some of the EMS crews not to go into the school when they requested to enter.

At any large incident, someone has to be in charge. At Parkland, because it was a crime, it was the Sheriff’s Department. Other responding agencie, LE, Fire, EMS, all are subordinate to the Incident Commander. In this case, it’s possible maybe even likely, that the IC made the wrong decision.

“When you have a police agency saying we don’t want you going in, that’s a problem,” another Florida official said. “The training since Columbine has been [that] first responders, police go in immediately with paramedics.”

This is in fact the doctrine and standard operating procedure for many departments. The problem is that sometimes it just doesn’t happen that way. In 2013 there was a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The specified procedure was that the first responder officers should go in and engage the shooter. Once the initial threat is eliminated, police are supposed to escort and protect EMS personnel to do a search and rescue operation.

Sorta Big City Police and EMS started training for this a couple of years before I retired. The final plan was not released before I retired, but to the best of my knowledge, it is the official plan.

That didn’t happen at LAX in 2013. The police agencies established a perimeter and sent officers in to find the shooter or shooters. Even after the area where the shooting occurred was secured, EMS was not allowed to go in and treat the person who was shot. As a result, he bled to death.

The reason given at the time was that the scene was not secure and thus it was unsafe for EMS to enter. At the time, several different agencies and individuals proposed training all of their EMS employees as “tactical medics” and issuing each one body armor, helmets, and other equipment.

That sounded good until someone got out a catalog and a calculator. It turns out that it would have been very, very expensive to outfit all of the EMS providers of any agency, regardless of size of the agency.

So, what are we to do?

Multiple high-ranking sources told Fox News police officers and deputies were bringing victims out to EMS workers to be treated instead of allowing EMS inside. One fire official said that “sometimes” that’s just how it would happen, but at least one emergency responder wondered if the response was detrimental to the victims.

If this is so, it’s not a bad way to handle the situation. After all, EMS would not be likely to go into a burning building (although they have on occasion) to rescue people. That might happen if the fire department wasn’t yet on scene. The difference being that fire, while not discriminate in who it hurts, does not deliberately hunt down it’s victims. Even so, it’s a far less than ideal situation when EMS goes into known dangerous areas.

The problem in this case is that becoming rescuers takes police officers away from their primary function. Which is to stop the bad guy from killing more people.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the keys to saving people with survivable wounds is controlling the bleeding and maintaining an open airway. That should be followed by rapid extraction from the scene and transport to a hospital with surgeons.

The airway and bleeding control parts can be taught to just about anyone, as can the extraction. Combine that with prepositioned equipment and a plan and a lot of lives would be saved.

It appears that there was no plan in place for any of this. Or, it there was, it wasn’t implemented. Plans only work if people train on them enough to be proficient. That, and actually using the plan when the time comes.

Again, that didn’t happen. Or at least it doesn’t appear to have happened. This is all the worse because the fire and EMS systems for much of the county come under the purview of the Broward County Sheriff.

There a going to be a lot of lessons learned from the tragedy. One of which is that there has to be a plan in place before the event happens. The other is that when the even does happen, the plan has to be implemented and followed.

Read the complete Fox News article at the link bet a better idea of what did and didn’t happen at the school on the day of the shooting.

Yesterday in World War II History


I was tied up with work and family matters and so didn’t to the post I promised yesterday.

Continuing on with the Battle of Iwo Jima, yesterday marked the 72nd anniversary of one of the most iconic moments in World War II. It might be one of the most iconic moment in Marine Corps history as well.

On February 23, a platoon of Marines captured the summit of Mount Suribachi. Depriving the Japanese of the summit eliminated the observation posts that the Japanese had used to attack the Marines.

The Lieutenant commanding the platoon had brought the battalions American flag with him and ordered it raised by platoon members. A photo was taken by a USMC photographer, but what photograph was not released until sometime in 1947.

The story goes that Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal wanted the flag and said so orders were given to retrieve the original flag and replace it with a larger one.

An alternative suggestion is that the original flag was too small to be clearly scene by Marines down on the lower parts of the island.

Either way, a second flag was dispatched and Marines were directed to raise it. Using a piece of pipe that was part of the battle debris five Marines and a Navy Corpsman raised the flag. Photographer Joe Rosenthal was on the island photographing the battle for the Associated Press and caught the raising on camera.

The photograph was flashed around the world by wire services and published in much of the world on Sunday, February 25.

Almost instantly, it became one of the most famous photographs in United States history. The picture became the model for the United States Marine Corps War Memorial, which was erected in 1954. Rosenthal went on to a long career as a news photographer and editor, dying in 2006.

Three of the six men identified in the picture died during the subsequent fighting on the island. The three remaining men were returned to the United States and engaged in a series of war bond sales rallies.

In subsequent years, it was determined that John Bradley, a Navy Corpsman, was not one of the six raisers of the flag. That determination was made after Bradley and Rosenthal had died and it’s unclear if anyone ever asked them while they were alive who the actual six were.

That aside, the photograph remains as an enduring image of the war in the Pacific and of the determination of the Marines in battle.


Hard To Recruit


One of the biggest changes in EMS over the past several years has been the increased involvement of the fire service. Despite a somewhat famous, but date, TV series that some people adulate, most fire departments were not interested in EMS until the late 1908s or early 1990s.

The reason for that sudden change was the dramatic decrease in large building fires from the mid 1940s on. Better construction, fire alarm systems, sprinklers, and other advances meant that there were fewer fires, they spread more slowly, and were extinguished more quickly.

At the same time, the demand for EMS services was increasing for a number of reasons.

Somewhere along the line, the leaders of the fire service decided that taking over ambulance services was a good way to keep fire service jobs. Notice that I didn’t say that it was a good way to improve services, but it was a way to keep jobs.

As a result a number of large fire departments jumped into EMS. In most of the large cities where this happened, nothing improved. Arguably EMS suffered, but that’s actually a story for another time.

At the same time, and for what appear to be much different reasons, a number of smaller fire agencies got into EMS. The reason they did it was because there were no alternatives. In smaller cities and towns, budgets are tighter and departments have to do more.

When I worked in Sorta Big City, the fire department staffed each piece of apparatus with fire firefighters. Which mean that we often had four firefighters on our calls with us. Sometimes we needed them, mostly we didn’t, but it was still nice to have them (usually).

The smaller departments that I work with now or have worked with in the past don’t have that luxury. Luxury being a relative term because at a fire you really want as many people as possible.

In these towns, some quite affluent, the norm is for a fire engine to roll out the door with two firefighters on it. Then two more will respond in an ambulance. Then one will respond with a ladder truck. The shift commander will respond in his car.

If it turns out to be a fire, then staff is called in from home and other towns respond for mutual aid.

Note that the two EMS providers are also EMTs or paramedics, depending on the agency. Or maybe one of each.

A former big city fire chief used to say that modern fire departments are EMS agencies  that occasionally put out fires. While that might not be true in big cities, it’s definitely true in smaller towns.

Stay with me folks, I’ll get to my point (I do have one) shortly.

What the smaller towns do almost unanimously is hire EMS providers who they then turn into firefighters. Fully qualified firefighters, to be clear. Fire departments have found that it’s easier (and less expensive) to hire a EMT or paramedic then send him through the fire academy. Around here the fire academy can be from 9-12 weeks. That’s full time and I have no idea why they keep changing the length of the program, in case you’re wonders.

Which brings me to my point. There are some number of people who become EMS providers at either level with the express goal of becoming firefighters. Which is smart because agencies are always looking for new fire fighters. People retire, get promoted, sometimes sadly die, or decide to go on to other careers. There is always some personnel churn in fire departments big and small.

If I were younger, I’d certainly look at this career path even though when I actually was younger I turned down a fire department job. I’ll spare you the story.

There some number of people who go into EMS because they want to provide medical care to people. That field has an even higher rate of attrition, again for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is the generally low pay, lousy benefits, and poor work conditions. They love being paramedics, but hate working for low paying services doing mostly routine transfers.

The fire service generally offers better pay, good to great benefits, a pension, a union, and depending on the type of schedule they use, a lot of time off. Oh, and lots of education and training. In the departments with which i work, there isn’t a lot of sitting around. There is some, but they do a lot of training.

There is a lot to be said for working at a small town fire department. Or a bigger town fire department that provides EMS for that matter.

All which makes the following more and more baffling.

No department that I am familiar with can recruit enough paramedics. One agency had a recent opening and sent out a 100 cards to people who had passed the civil service exam. They specified that candidate must be paramedics, so that meant 100 people who had paramedic certification received cards.

They got one reply.

Which means that ninety-nine people didn’t want to go through the hiring process for a job that had better pay, better benefits, better working conditions, a pension, and stability.

What? The? F*ck?

That’s an example from one department. The others have the same issue. One just hired a guy that is still in paramedic school. Which means that he’ll come to the department with zero paramedic experience. Then, he’ll go to the fire academy and be a firefighter with zero experience. Not ideal, but he’s the guy that applied and was hired.

One paramedic/firefighter I talked with told me that a lot of people just don’t want to become firefighters. The truth is that for the most part, there is not a lot of fire fighting going on in many departments. There IS a lot of EMS going on, though.

Weird, just weird.

So, my advice here is for young people who want to become firefighters, become paramedics first. Just make sure that you become good paramedics first, because that is going to be 80% of your job.

Pointless And Illegal


I’ll keep this one short. The man pictured in this video is either an idiot or a liar. Maybe an idiot and a liar. I’m not really sure.
What he purports to do is saw an AR15 in half to symbolize his sorrow at the recent mass shooting in Florida. All well and good except for two things.
First, he didn’t saw the AR15 in half. He sawed the barrel in half, which isn’t destroying the gun. It’s destroying the barrel, hand guards, and gas tube. All of which are commonly available and easy to replace. If he were to place a charged magazine into the gun, he’d be able to (ineffectively) fire the gun.

To actually destroy the gun, he’d need to cut the receiver in half. Technically, to destroy the receiver per the ATF, he’d need to “flame cut” it into three parts using a cutting torch of some type. Since the receiver is “the gun” according to federal law, he’d “have cut the gun in half”.

Second. What he did was create a “Short Barrel Firearm”. Those are regulated by federal and in many states, state laws. Building one without the requisite forms filled out and fees paid is a crime. It’s a very serious federal crime.

If the ATF were of a mind, they might be inclined to pay him a visit. A visit that he wouldn’t like at all. Violations of the National Firearms Act are crimes which the federal government considers very serious.

Here are video star not only commits a crime, he provides incontrovertible evidence for the entire world. Another victory for Social Media, as it were.

I think he, and the world, would be better off if he didn’t have any guns.

Upper Lip Stiffener Needed


The British have long had a history of stoicism. After all, they ruled half the planet at one time, ruled the seas with the greatest navy until after World War I, and of course withstood the London Blitz and near annihilation of their army at Dunkirk.

The term “Keep a stiff upper lip” is attributed to the British because of this, even though the term might have originated in the former colony that beat their lips quite a bit back in the late 18th century.

It appears that there is a need for a bit of upper lip stiffening required in Great Britain these days.

I found a story about a nasty note found on an ambulance in England. It seems that someone was a bit put out that the EMS crew had the temerity to park in someone’s “spot” while on a response. Said spot being on a public street in the West Midlands.

I originally saw the story on an EMS site, but as is often the case, the Daily Mail newspaper had the best story on the incident.

Stunned paramedic gets angry note from neighbour saying they ‘couldn’t give a s**t if the whole street collapses’ as they demand ambulance is moved

Not the most concise headline I’ve ever seen, but it conveys the sense of the story.

Paramedics were left stunned after finding an angry note demanding they moved their ambulance during a 999 call, with the message: ‘I don’t give a sh*t if the whole street collapses’.

The message was written by a woman who was annoyed that an ambulance was in a resident’s parking bay on Sunday morning.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said the resident also verbally abused staff members during the emergency call-out in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs.

Okay, that’s bad, but it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever heard of on an ambulance call. It’s not like they were shot at, stabbed, or even beaten. All things that happened to me or my coworkers over the years. No, just a nasty note and some harsh words. Ignore it and move on.

Nope. One of the paramedics took a picture of the note and texted it about. Eventually, it hit the smart phone of Paramedic Katie Tudor. Who reposted it with the comment “So upset to be sent this by one of our crews this morning!” The exclamation point is intended to tell us how upset she was.

Eventually (again) it reached the screen of an Assistant Chief Constable. Who at first didn’t seem to think that there was an actual crime involved.

We find out from Fox News that the woman was later arrested on “suspicion of public order offenses.”

As I mentioned to a friend of mine, we had a couple of cases over the years where patient’s families or bystanders thought that it would be a good idea to get into the ambulance and move it on their own.

It wasn’t, not at all.

That, however is different from a note or “verbal abuse” from an idiot. The best response to which would appear to be “piss off”. Or something similar.

Apparently there is a plague of rampant nasty note writing going on in England.

Why, last November someone left a note on an ambulance windshield. Oh, the horror.

I’m not suggesting that it’s okay for people to be nitwits. I am suggesting that people in EMS don’t need to respond in kind, let alone get a serious case of trembly upper lip over it.

Paramedic was so upset that she  had to take a “selfie” and send it in to the Daily Mail.

As I said, some upper lip stiffening needs to be performed.

Considering some of the crimes that the British Police DON’T prosecute, this one seems rather silly.

On This Day In World War II History


1945. The USMC landed on the Japanese held island of Iwo Jima. The ensuing battle went on for about a month before the Japanese were defeated. Two Japanese soldiers hid out and didn’t surrender until 1951.

This was a no holds barred fight to the death for the Japanese. Although the commanders knew that they were destined for defeat, they committed their 21,060 troops to holding off the Marines for as long as possible. In the end, 18,000 Japanese soldiers died. The Marines suffered 6,800 dead and 19,200 wounded of the 60,000 dedicated to the fight. One Third of all Marines killed in World War II died on Iwo Jima. In addition to the Marines, 245 sailors of the 133 Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees) were killed or wounded on Iwo Jima.

The island was strategically important for two reasons. First, it’s airstrips served as bases for fighter planes attacking American B29s bombing the Japanese homeland. Second, once captured, it could be used as an emergency landing strip for damaged B29s and other aircraft carrying out those attacks.

Necessary, but incredibly vicious.

The story of the battle is far to complex for this blog and far too well detailed elsewhere for me to even attempt a complete history. I’ll have a post or two more about significant events during the battle, but you should go and read about the battle yourself.

All About Me

After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it?

I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs.

I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non-EMS subject matter.

Thanks for visiting.

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