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The Older Shooter


At the NRA Annual Meetings (NRAAM), addition to the speeches and huge exhibit hall, there are educational seminars for all sorts of firearms related activities.

In addition to the typical “how to shoot better” classes, classes about equipment, political topics, there are medical classes and even classes for non traditional shooters.

While the fastest growing demographics in shooting are women and minorities, another rapidly growing demographic is older people. Many of the traditional shooters are now reaching the age where they are “senior citizens.” They are still interested in shooting, but as age creeps in, there physical abilities are changing in and some ways diminishing.

Just because people get older doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be able to defend themselves. In fact, the older and maybe more frail one gets, the more they may have to rely on firearms and other tools for defense.

Which is where the NRA Adaptive Shooter program comes in. While originally intended for outreach to “disabled” shooters it has rapidly expanded to older shooters with various challenges to being able to shoot.

One of the classes, and I’m approaching the age, if not afflicted with the disabilities (yet), was “The Older Defender”, which talked not just about self defense but other issues older shooters face.

Presented by Joe Logar, whis is the director of the Adaptive Shooter program there was a review medical issues that can affect older shooters.

The review covered vision, muscle, and joint issues that older shooters can face. Then there was a review of both techniques and equipment to help shooters to be able to continue shooting as they age

There one also reviews of some equiopment to help with various issues shooters face.

One issue that is commonly encountered is cycling (racking) the slide on semi automatic pistols. In addition to hand strengthening exercises, there is some hardware that will help.

First is the Handi Racker. This device slides onto the slide and makes cycling the slide much easier. I probably won’t buy a set of these immediately, but they are very likely to be in my future. If for nothing else, occasions where I am teaching older or weaker people how to shoot.

There are other devices, which likely work the same, but this is just the one I saw on the exhibit hall floor.

There was also advice on discussing focal distance for eyeglasses with your eye doctor. That makes a lot of sense, although it’s likely not something that people think of. Focal distance has a large effect on how you see the your sights and your target.

On of the more interesting points was that in addition to exercises to increase grip strength, exercises to increase the ability to release your grip are also helpful.

As a result, I ordered a set of finger stretcher resistance bands like these,

I’ll be adding a set of exercises with these to my work out routine.

Speaking of hands, lightweight shooting or weight lifting guns are a good addition to the your range bag. While you probably won’t want to wear them all the time just in case you get into a self defense situation, they are good for reducing wear and tear during practice.

If you are going to be shooting 100 rounds or more, that’s a lot of wear on your hands. Shooting gloves will reduce fatigue and in my case at least, blisters on the web of my hand.

Weight lifting gloves provide additional support to your wrists. Again, you probably won’t need that sort of support during an actual self defense situation, but at the range they’ll be helpful.

Gun manufacturers are starting to get on board as well. Semi automatic pistols with slides that are easier too cycle and have softer recoil are becoming very popular items.

Smith & Wesson recently introduced the M&P 380 Shield EZ which features an easier to cycle slide and a grip safety.

While some “traditional” shooters don’t like the concept of a large .380ACP pistol with a grip safety, those folks aren’t the target market. The target market is shooters with smaller hands and weaker hand and forearm strength.

While I was on the exhibit hall at the S&W booth I saw several people looking at and holding the sample guns. The remarks I heard were pretty favorable.

Here’s a picture of the M&P Shield 380 EZ,

As the “traditional” shooter demographic ages, existing manufacturers are going to adapt and new ones are going to appear to cater this new market.

I think we might also see growth in the Pistol Caliber Carbine market as older people start to use them for home defense. That’s just a guess, but the longer site radius, light recoil, two handed operation might appeal to older defenders.

I’ll add some more thoughts in a later post, after I’ve tried out some of equipment I’ve bought.

The Exhibit Hall


It’s big. I don’t know if it’s the “15 Acres” of guns and gear that the NRA advertised, but it’s big. One can easily spend every moment it was open both days wandering the aisles and tire kicking the products and still not see everything available.

That “tire kicking” is both figurative and literal. In addition to Kubota, Yamaha was exhibiting. Both had what I still call All Terrain Vehicles, but which the manufacturers no doubt have come up with more modern names.

I’ll be completely honest here and say that I have no actual use for this vehicle. My lot is no where near large enough to justify this, plus I have someone who mows my lawn and clears the leaves for me. Even if it had a plow attachment, my driveway is not nearly long enough to need it.

I don’t hunt that much, and if I did, I’d still need to figure out how to get this to wherever I was going.

I believe it’s street legal, so could register it and drive it. Just no on the Interstate or any limited access road.

I suppose if I took up golf, it would make a great golf cart. If they’d let me use it.

Despite all of that, I’d still buy one if I could afford it. Or one of the other competing brands depending on price and features.

Wandering on, I found this. I’ll probably pack this on trips, but not on carry on. As I joked when I bought it, “You never know when a meal might break out and you want to be prepared.

Yes, it’s a K-Bar Tactical Spork. That snaps together to give you the Spork poart, and then can be snapped apart if you need to cut your food. I just couldn’t resist.

Mrs. EMS Artifact always appreciates gifts when I travel. She likes jewerly, so I try to find something she’ll like and wear. I was surprised the first time I bought her a revolver pendant that she liked it an actually wore it. Just not at school when she was teaching, because they frowned on that.

So far, she has the revolver, a 1911 with a turquoise grips, and a 5.56 round pendant. All a miniature and non functioning, but she wears them.

So, when I happened to find this bracelet I bought it. Made from spent cases with the heads removed and soldered to a base, it’s the type of thing she’ll wear and laugh when her liberal friends ask how it was made.

As long as I keep bringng her nice stuff, she’ll never complain about my taking trips without her.

On to actual firearms related items.

If you carry a revolver or do any sort of frequent shooting, you know that charging the cylinder can be a chore. Or a pain, if you prefer.

There are speed loaders and speed strips to make the job easier, but both have their drawbacks.

QuickLoad has come along to try to make the process faster.

They currently have a five round speed loader that will work with Smith & Wesson J frame revolvers along with guns from Charter Arms and other companies.

My picture didn’t come out that well, so here is a screen shot from their website. This is the five round speed loader with cover and is called the “Roundloader” . Simply place the rounds into the cylinder and push. Each round seats in it’s cylinder and pops from from the holder.

I bought one of these and will give it a try on a future range trip.

They also make a sort of hybrid of a speed loader and speed strip. Called the “Striploader” it comes in five and six round versions.

This too comes with an (optional) “Quickcase” that is also available separately.

I plan to buy a set of this and will also buy the six round speed loader when it becomes available. These seem like handy little items for anyone who carries a revolver for self defense.

The last item for today’s post is an AR 15 front sight post I picked up. This is a night sight front post from Night Fision. This is a white dot sight with, in my case, a yellow ring around the dot. This will go on my only AR15 to attempt to improve my open sight shooting skills.

The sight comes with instructions (of course) and a sight adjusting tool. Again, a range trip will be in order after installation.

Tough work, but someone has to do it, I guess.

Tomorrow’s post will include more stuff I bought, some I didn’t, and random thoughts.

Kelly over at Ambulance Driver Files, points out that suppressors seem to be the flavor the year on the exhibit hall. In addition to that Pistol Caliber Carbines are hot right now. I like the concept and will talk about that tomorrow.

A Blog Found


Yesterday I was sent a cartoon which I found hilarious. I’ll include it below and if you’ve been in EMS for any length of time, you’ll understand it. Actually, if you’ve been in any sort of occupation where you have to write lots and lots of reports, you’ll get it.

I visited the website, which is more than a blog, but includes a blog as part of it. The cartoons are funny, but funny because they are true.

I don’t know who the aurhor or authors are, but I can tell you that they are NOT new to EMS. Or drawing either for that matter. The cartoons are very well done. Would that I had any talent in that direction.

Since much of what I do these days is help newer EMS providers write coherent reports, this struck me as hilarious

I could do an entire post on the mistakes I see in documentation as well as the more serious mistakes I see in actual treatment. That aside, this cartoon sums up what I often have to do.

Frequently, I’ll caution against the use of the term “frequent flier” and suggest that those patients be thought of as “Value Repeat Customers”, but which in the report should be referred to as having “frequent contact with EMS.” It just sounds so much better.

If you’re in EMS, you should visit EMScapades.com and take a look. If you aren’t in EMS, you should visit as well, but keep in mind that dark humor is like food in Venezuela, not everyone gets it.

Day Zero at the NRAAM


Today is what I’ll call Day Zero at the NRA Annual Meetings. There is little going on here, mostly exhibit hall set up and registration for various attendees.

There is general registration, media registration, and exhibitor registration.

We got to the Indianapolis Convention Center, which is referred to as the “ICC” a bit after 9:00AM. Registration is pretty straight forward, although once in a while there is a glitch. For once, there was no glitch in my future.

After slurping down a few cups of free NRA coffee in the media room. Ambulance Driver and I decided to see what we could see.

The exhibit hall was closed to everyone but exhibitors and ICC staff. Which is understandable if you’ve ever been involved in exhibit hall set up. I have, and can attest that there is no fun to it. There is work and aggravation, but fun is not to be found.

The last thing anyone working in there want is people wandering through asking dumb questions. What about smart questions, you ask? There is no such thing when you’re trying to set up your exhibit and realize that half your equipment is either lost somewhere in transit or lost inside the warehouse attached to the exhibit hall.

We then wandered over to the lobby outside the exhibit hall. This is where, at just about any conference of any type I’ve ever attended, some “lesser” vendors or organizations set up. At one time an organization I was affiliated with was gifted a nice space outside the main exhibit hall. I don’t know what the retail cost was, but it’s likely less than inside the hall itself.

In our case, it worked out well because every attendee had to walk by our display/begathon. We got some really nice donations for our cause.

But I digress. We chatted with some nice folks and will go back tomorrow when they are open for business.

We looked at the “Wall of Guns” raffle. Even though my winning percentage in raffles is generally well under 1%, I’ll buy a ticket. Who knows, maybe Lady Luck will smile on me.

That was it for today, except for a drive by the NRA in crisis outfit. This is a subsidiary by the deceptively named “Everytown for Gun Safety” which is more accurately the “Lets take all the guns” organization.

They have a wonderfully decorated truck telling the world that the NRA is in crisis because the leadership has been looting it for some years. Do they have proof? No, but they have a lot of BS.

I’ll get a picture of the truck and any other protesters I see tomorrow. There are always protesters at the NRA Annual Meeting. They are always telling the world how dangerous and violent gun owners are. Which if true, would mean that the protesters are valiantly risking their lives to stamp out evil.

Fortunately for them, it’s not true and they are literally living proof.

We did get to walk around the Indiana Soldier and Sailors Memorial
which is pretty impressive. The link has some much better than my smart phone pictures, so go there to see what it looks like.

I’d have done more walking around, but the weather has taken a turn for the worse, getting pretty raining.

More interesting stuff tomorrow.

Indiana Wants Me


In addition to being the title of a song from the 1970s, I’m heading out early this morning for Indianapolis. There, I’ll be joining other like minded folks for the National Rifle Association Annual Meetings and Exposition.

While I’ll be covering the various speeches, I’ll be mostly on the exhibit hall floor checking out the latest in firearms, accessories, and other fun stuff.

I’ll be hanging with Ambulance Driver and other fine folks I’ve met over the years.

I’ll put up some posts with pictures for your reading enjoyment. I’ll also try to post my story about my great mail box adventure. The oddest part of which is that I discovered a road under the road in front of my house.

Yes, that’s as weird as it sounds. With any luck I’ll get that post going before the festivities start in Indianapolis.

Oh, both the President and Vice President are going to speak again this year. That will be a big event which I plan to watch from the media room. Last year the line to get in was long and slooooowwwww. Of course it was the one part of the whole show in which no one could bring a firearm. Which makes sense, of course.

Speaking of firearms, I haven’t seen any breathless media stories about how the NRA is banning guns from the meetings and exhibit hall this year. Or requiring everyone to carry unloaded.

Neither of which were true last year.

Stay tuned.

The Day The Revolution Started


Late in the evening of April 19, 1775 a large contingent (about 700) of British Army Regulars started marching from Boston, MA to the town of Concord, MA.

Their orders were to seize cannon, powder, and shot from the colonial armory located there.

The march started with a short, but disorganized ferry operation across the Charles River to the City of Cambridge, MA.

From there, the soldiers started marching northwesterly towards Concord. An advance column led by Royal Marine Lieutenant Jesse Adair turned right and headed to the town common in Lexington, MA. His intent was to protect the flank of the larger British column marching towards Concord.

A contingent of colonial militiamen were assembling on the common after being warned by Paul Revere earlier in the morning.

A British officer, no one is sure which one rode forth on his horse and ordered the assembled militiamen to “lay down your arms, you damned rebels!”

The militia Captain Charles Parker, order his men to disperse, which some started to do. Most didn’t lay down their arms, since they belonged to the individuals, not the government.

A shot rang out from the British regiment, again no one knows who fired. No militia were injured, but they stopped dispersing and stood to the British. The first colonial volley was powder only, no shot. No so the second volley which injured a couple of British soldiers.

The British soldiers then charged forward with fixed bayonets, injuring eight and wounding ten colonials.

At this point a British Colonel arrived and ordered the troops to assemble and cease firing.

The British then moved on to Concord, took the town, and started searching for the cannon and other items. Three large cannon were found and destroyed, along with shot, flour, and other items.

The main battle took place at the North Bridge in Concord. By this time several companies of militia had arrived from surrounding towns and were ready to do battle.

The British retreated across the bridge and took up defensive positions. One shot rang out from the British side, followed by two more, followed by a larger volley. More firing and after six militiamen had been killed, the militia commanders ordered return fire.

The battle was short, but bloody. It ended with the British retreating back through Lexington to Boston. Along the way, they were harassed by colonial militiamen. The battle went on all day long, with casualties on both sides.

The battle was more or less an accident, but it mattered not. The colonials were branded as traitors, which by British law, they were. America would not be officially born until July of the following year, but in reality the Revolution started on April 19, 1775.

In June of 1775, the British would suffer another defeat at Bunker (actually Breeds) Hill in Charlestown, MA.

There was no turning back now. The colonials would either succeed in freeing themselves from the British or be conquered and the leaders hanged.

Only a couple of states recognize this holiday, which is a shame. This was the day that the journey towards what would become the United States of America started. It should be remembered and celebrated as much as is July 4.

Were it not for the militia at Concord and Lexington, it might well have been several more years, if ever, before the Colonies gained independenc.

Not For You Or Me


Mark Zuckerberg is the CEO of Facebook. Facebook has been very anti firearm and by extension anti Second Amendment for some time. Zuckerberg has made several anti firearms statements on his own and his company has instituted policies and procedures to limit “gun posts” on his website.

I have a small (intentionally) Facebook account under my real name. In addition EMS Blogs has its blogs set up to post to Facebook under the umbrella of the account. At first I was not a big fan, but it does drive some readership to the site, which is good for me.

That is all in the form of disclosure, I guess. The point of this post is to point out a bit of hypocrisy on the part of Mr. Zuckerberg.

It cost Facebook $22 million to keep Mark Zuckerberg safe last year

San Francisco (CNN Business)Keeping Mark Zuckerberg safe is expensive. Facebook paid its CEO an additional $13 million for his personal security and travel costs in 2018, according to a proxy filing on Friday. That included a new $10 million pre-tax allowance for additional security costs such as security guards, equipment, services and residential improvements.”He is synonymous with Facebook and, as a result, negative sentiment regarding our company is directly associated with, and often transferred to, Mr. Zuckerberg,” said the filing.Like many wealthy CEOs, Zuckerberg receives an official salary of $1 a year. He also did not receive bonuses or stock awards in 2018. However, Zuckerberg’s total compensation jumped from $9.1 million in 2017 to $22.6 million in 2018 in order to cover the increase in security costs for the high-profile CEO.

That’s a lot of security and a lot of money. It includes a private plane so that Zuckerberg doesn’t have to sit among the unwashed. To be fair, if I had enough money, I’d fly private as well. Still, the plane is part of his security package, so it’s fair game for comment.

A couple of other articles from 2016 say that he has Sixteen body guards at his residence. Probably not all at the same time, but split up to provide 24/7 security to him and his wife.

When the media says “security guards” I don’t think they mean Paul Blart type mall cops. I’d expect that they are ex military or maybe former police officers. Real security and unless I miss my guess, ARMED.

Again to go with the private plane, if I were worth the billions that Zuckerberg is, I’d have a secure house and body guards traveling with me as well. That’s not the problem.

Here is the problem, as I see it. Zuckerberg, with his anti Second Amendment stance is saying that he’s worth protecting, but you, I, and our families are not.

Think about that. You and I are not valuable enough to be able to protect ourselves. That’s because the only way to protect ourselves is to be able to be armed. “Armed” doesn’t necessarily mean a firearm. The Second Amendment in it’s plain text and by Common Law protects the right to bear “arms.” In addition to firearms, knives, chemical sprays, electrical weapons, clubs, even a bow and arrow if one chooses, are all considered arms. They are all “in common use” for self defense. Well, except for a bow and arrow, which once was very commonly in use for self defense.

Since most of us can’t afford to hire Sixteen body guards we generally only have one we can depend on. Ourselves.

I have a lot of respect for law enforcement officers, who have a very tough job. One of the tough parts is that there just aren’t enough of them. I live in a suburban town that once was pretty safe. As demographics and society have changed in recent years that’s changed. Two weeks ago, there was a shooting on the other side of town. Weekly, the police are arresting people for selling drugs, committing assaults, or breaking into houses.

There is no guarantee that when I need the police they will be there in time to help. As they saying goes, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” Minutes might be too long.

In areas more rural than mine, the wait can be longer, sometimes an hour or so waiting for the police or sheriff to come and help.

Zuckerberg doesn’t have to worry about that as his “police” are with him all the time. You and I, dear reader, are not that lucky.

Which is why Mr. Zuckerberg is a hypocrite of the first ranking.

Pack Carefully


I saw this story on the Fox News website the other day,

Portland International Airport baggage handler pleads guilty to stealing guns from passengers’ luggage

A former Portland International Airport baggage handler has pleaded guilty to charges that he stole guns from passengers’ bags last year.

Deshawn Antonio Kelly of Portland, Ore., worked at PDX as a contract baggage handler hired through a third-party when the thefts occurred from August 19, 2018 to September 17, 2018. During that time, Kelly was accused of stealing six guns from bags that had been checked by passengers traveling to and from the Oregon airport.

Fortunately, Kelly was caught pretty quickly or he might have gone on stealing and selling guns. At the least, law abiding gun owners traveling lawfully would be blamed for crimes in which they had no part and no control over stopping.

At worst, airlines would stop accepting firearms in checked baggage.

For those of you who aren’t aware, it is legal to transport firearms as checked luggage provided the owner follows both the TSA and airline rules. Which fortunately, are pretty much similar.

Briefly, the rules are,

  • The unloaded firearm must be in a secure container.
  • By secure, we mean locked.
  • Ammunition must be locked as well. Most airlines allow you to lock that in the same box, but a few don’t.
  • You must declare the firearm at the airline ticket counter and fill out a card provided to you by the airline staff.
  • The card either goes in the locked container or is taped on the outside. Which it is depends on factor I won’t bore you with right now.
  • After that, you follow the directions from the airline staff, which will vary somewhat based on the configuration of the airport.
  • When you arrive at your destination, you can either pick the bag in which the firearms case is locked up at the carousel OR you will have to find the baggage office and pick it up there.

That’s not too difficult, but there are a few “top tips” to make this easier.

First and foremost is, smile and be polite. The airline staff member you’re dealing with might not be familiar with their own company’s rules. Or the TSA rules either. I always bring, but have yet to have an excuse to use, a copy of the TSA regulations and the airlines specific rules. If there is any question, you can show it to the person in black and white.

Second, buy a good case for your firearms. If packing it inside a regular suitcase, use a cable to secure it to the frame. All suitcases that I’ve used over the past ten years have a metal frame for the pop up handle. That frame is inside the suitcase and pretty sturdy. That makes it just that much tougher to steal the gun case.

Third, take a picture of the suitcase. Actually, that’s a good idea even if you aren’t traveling with a firearm. That way, if the suitcase gets lost, you can show the person to whom you report the loss to exactly what the suitcase looks like. You can even email it to them.

Except for in a few areas where law enforcement doesn’t actually comply with the law or the Constitution (cough, New York, New Jersey), flying with firearms are not particularly difficult. The key is to pack them carefully, follow the TSA and airline rules, and as I said before, be polite to the airline staff.

That polite thing goes beyond just this topic. When there are glitches in your flight plans, being polite, sympathetic, and complimentary to the person upon whom you are depending for redress and assistance usually helps.

I prefer to be right behind a person who was a PITA and got nothing from the airline as a result. I smile, make a supportive comment about how hard this is for the airline staff, and ask for help in a polite way. It’s amazing how much discretion those folks have and how much more willing they are to help if you treat them decently.

That’s a topic for another column on another day.


Everyone Can Teach Us Something


As I type this, I’m watching the video below. It’s a “how not to” provide EMS. The patient in the video died after the paramedic and EMT allegedly refused to treat him. The deputy drove the man, Paul Tarashuck, to a closed gas station some distance away.

Tarashuck then proceeded to walk out into traffic where he was struck and killed by a motor vehicle.

We have video below of the entire encounter from the time the ambulance arrived until the late Mr. Tarashuck was escorted to the police cruiser.

To be clear, the deputy isn’t completely blameless in this incident either. I’m sure his department is going to review its policies on this sort of thing.

The EMS crew (and maybe the deputy) made a basic mistake that no EMS provider of any level of training or experience should make.

They assumed that the patient was drunk or on drugs. They never got beyond trying to get his name. No examination, not even vital signs.

At best what they did is known as “Anchoring Bias.” Which means that they had a preconceived notion of what was wrong with the patient and just never moved on from that.

That’s not the worst thing they did. Even being snarky and nasty to the patient isn’t a fireable offense. It’s wrong, but on the scale of things that they (allegedly) did wrong, it’s probably at the bottom of the list.

It’s hard to know who is in charge on this call, because the uniforms give us no clue. We also can’t see much of what is going on because the deputy is standing behind a broom and so his body camera isn’t showing us much.

The thing that they shoved up his nose is likely an ammonia inhalant or “smelling salts” if you prefer. Many systems stopped using them years ago because there are a lot of potential adverse effects. Not only did they use them, which might be allowable in their system. They used them inappropriately by shoving the capsule up his nose. That’s the white object sticking out of his nose.

I’ve lost track of the number of times that they asked his name. For whatever reason, they didn’t seem to be able to get past that. They did take a set of vital signs.

As the contact progressed the providers became less patient. There came a point where one of them should have gotten into the front of the ambulance and driven to the hospital.

That’s not what they did. Instead, they let the patient go into the custody of the deputy.

Here is what the providers allegedly did,

1. Health care treatment was unreasonably discontinued.

2. The termination of health care was contrary to the patient’s will or without the patient’s knowledge.

3. The health care provider failed to arrange for care by another appropriate skilled health care provider.

4. The health care provider should have reasonably foreseen that harm to the patient would arise from the termination of the care (proximate cause).

5. The patient actually suffered harm or loss as a result of the discontinuance of care.

This is the classic definition of Patient Abandonment. It is about the worst thing that you can do if you are an EMS provider.

At it’s best, this is an undocumented patient refusal, but that’s stretching that term almost to the breaking point.

Or maybe beyond.

In order for a patient refusal to be valid, the first thing that providers need to establish is that the patient is competent to refuse. There is a process for that, and the providers in this video did absolutely no steps in that process.

There was no way for the EMS crew to know that Mr. Tarashuk had a history of mental illness and was having a schizophrenic episode. What they did know, or should have, was that he was not oriented and obviously could not make an informed decision regarding being transported.

What they should have done is transported him to the hospital for examination and possible treatment.

What they should have done at the least is check his blood glucose level to see if he was hypoglycemic. That’s EMS 101 for patients that don’t answer questions appropriately (or at all).

This happened back in September and the latest report, from last month, says that the paramedic is still working “at a lesser capacity.” Whatever that might mean.

A couple of notes about the process of recording the encounter.

The deputy was wearing a body cam. Which is fine from a law enforcement standpoint, but not so much from an EMS standpoint. Which probably puts the EMS providers at more risk than the police officer. It would have been appropriate to ask the deputy to turn off his camera while he was in the ambulance. Or step outside.

That aside, the larger issue is that EMS providers should always act as if they are being recorded. It’s really that simple. Patient privacy laws apply to EMS providers, probably not to police officers, and definitely NOT to bystanders and patients.

This video seems to be pretty clear cut, but it’s not at all uncommon for random people to record snippets of what is going on and then release the video to the Internet. Or the news media for that matter.

Since the vast majority of the public has no knowledge of EMS or medicine in general, it’s easy for a video to portray something in a negative light and have the general public immediately condemn what ever actions the person making the recording didn’t like.

That happens to the police on a daily basis and is the reason that a lot of officers are wearing body cameras. Interestingly, the number of civilian complaints has dropped since body cameras have become common with police officers.

The debate now is whether that’s because police are behaving more appropriately or because people are less likely to make a BS complaint if they know that the police will have video of the events.

I’ll let you guess which way I think.

No, the answer is NOT body cameras for EMS. I can think of no easier way to end an EMS career than to have a video of a patient encounter.

We deal with a lot of very ill people and often they act out inappropriately when they are feeling horrible. Or family and friends act out inappropriately.

Which is why we have to be careful when dealing with uncooperative patients and belligerent family. Recording them is likely to make the situation worse, even if they record us.

Be careful if someone whips their cell phone out and starts pointing it at you. The only thing that you can be sure of is that they are NOT doing that for your benefit.

It’s most important to be more professional than you normally are when the patient or family is acting out at a scene.

I’ll close by reposting my five keys to a long and successful EMS career.

  1. Answer the radio, pager, or phone when dispatch calls.
  2. Go to the call.
  3. Be nice to the people at the call.
  4. Take the patient to the hospital.
  5. Give the patient a nice, warm blanket.

If you do those five simple things, you’ll likely spend little to no time writing incident reports.

I learned that the hard way, so you don’t have to.

The Shortage of Paramedics


For many years, whenever someone talked about a “shortage” of paramedics, I would have a snarky reply.

“There is no shortage of paramedic. What there is a shortage of is paramedics that are willing to work for horrible wages, crappy benefits, and sit on street corners for hours between calls while having to ask for permission to drive half a block to use a convenience store rest room.”

For years, that was a true statement for EMTs and paramedics who worked for most private and some government operated EMS systems.

Lately though, there is indeed a shortage of paramedics and to a lesser extent EMTs.

Some of my clients are so short of paramedics that they will hire EMTs and pay for them to go to paramedic school. Others are hiring paramedics with no field experience, none, to work in busy 9-1-1 systems.

All of my client agencies are fire based. That means good pay, great benefits, a pension when you retire, and actual stations that the crews go back to between calls. Oh, did I mention that they are all union? Which means that providers have protection if they are accused of wrong doing.

Even if an applicant is already a paramedic, they still have to go to the fire academy. Which means that they get paid to go to school.

Despite that, agencies just can’t find enough qualified applicants to fill openings.

We can debate, and many have, whether or not fire departments should be providing ambulance transport and ALS services. That’s not today’s topic and the reality is that fire departments do provide those things.

I should mention that inexperienced paramedics are actually good for me and the work I do. The problem is, that I don’t know that it’s good for patient care.

Anyone who has spent any time in EMS knows that much of what we learn as providers comes after we’ve taken the course and passed the certification exams. You really only get good at EMS  by doing calls. Lots of calls.

The problem also exists as the BLS level. One local service has applied to the state regulatory agency for authorization to staff some ambulances with one EMT and one First Responder. The First Responder would have first aid training and be restricted to driving. So, in reality, it would be an EMT and an Ambulance Driver.

I know that some states, particularly those that work in rural areas staff that way. This service is not one of them. They also pledge that they will only do this for transfers of non acute patients.

Being the cynical guy I am, I can only think that this is a foot in the door towards lowering staffing standards.

An a guess, and it’s just that, part of the problem is the economy. It’s roaring along right now and there are more jobs than people to fill them. Everywhere I go, I see “Help Wanted” signs. Some are for good jobs, some are for entry level jobs. No matter, those jobs compete with jobs in EMS for people to fill them.

Think about that for a minute. If you were job hunting and there were two jobs open One job involved working with sick or injured people, being away from home for long hours, including holidays and weekends, with not so great pay and benefits, and often having to work late. The other has the same pay, fixed hours, minimal or no weekend or holiday hours, and having a comfortable place to work. Which would you choose.

Back when EMS was new and exciting, many people went into the field out of a desire to help. Back then, we thought that EMS would get better, become a profession, and be respected by the public.

That doesn’t seem to be the case these days. More and more, EMS is a stepping stone to a “real” career. Some of those are in medicine, but many aren’t.

I don’t have any answers to this, but someone has to figure it out. If not, we’re going to end up back in the pre EMS days of minimally trained and experienced providers whose main job is to drive people to the hospital.

Without a solid base of trained and experienced providers, all the fancy and expensive equipment in the world is useless.

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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