Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Another missive from the Ministry of the Totally Bleeding Obvious

Today I received this email from my ever helpful insurance company.


Did you know that, each year, deer collisions account for over 1.5 million accidents, resulting in thousands of injuries and over 150 fatalities? We are alerting you because your area has a large deer population and an increased risk of deer collisions from early October through late December when the deer mating season is in full swing. Your safety is important to us, so take a moment to review the following safety tips. Please be careful and drive safely.Deer-related accidents are covered under comprehensive insurance coverage.

Let me just stop here and give you a chance to roll your eyes and say "REALLY?" in the most exaggerated and dramatic way possible.

Drive Insurance offers these tips for staying safe:
Do not swerve to avoid hitting the deer, which could result in loss of control or hitting another vehicle. Swerving is the reason for most deer-related deaths and injuries.

Yeah, that, and, you know, squarely-hit deer catapulting through your windshield and burrowing their snuggly heads into your sternum.
In the event of a deer collision, brake firmly and keep the steering wheel straight. Stay in your lane to avoid hitting other vehicles.

Utter your choice of expletives at this time..
Do not rely on deer whistles and other deer-deterrent devices. They have not been proven effective.

They just piss off the deer. Who, travelling in groups, will come and get ungulate on your butt.
When driving at night, use your high beams when there is no oncoming traffic. The lights cause deer's eyes to glow, making them more visible. High beams also help you see farther, giving you additional time to react if a deer is on or near the road.

Gee. And all this time I was only using my high beams to alert oncoming traffic to speed traps.

Deer often travel in groups. If you see a deer, be prepared for additional deer to follow.

Just like Lay's potato chips! You can't hit just one!
Deer can be found on highways and busy city streets, not just rural roads.

Many of them are employed as DOT workers. (They just kind of stand on the side of the road. In groups. You think they might do something, but you aren't sure. )
Deer can suddenly dart across a road when distracted by lights or the sound of a horn.

They can also tie cherry stems in knots with their tongues. But they only do that at parties.
Drive cautiously through posted deer-crossing areas.

Hauling a-- and screaming like a banshee isn't as effective as you'd think.
Contact your local law enforcement to remove a deer that is lying in the road for the safety of other approaching vehicles. Never approach a deer yourself.

Unless you have field-dressing knives with you and your trunk is empty.
Wear your safety belt at all times.

Anyone who lives in Tioga County and doesn't have some grasp of the deer threat needs to immediately move to Arizona. But it was nice of em for thinking of me.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Special Places in Hell

I don't use that phrase often; I hear people say it, "There's a special place in hell for people like that"...

Its very tempting in this case.

But what disturbs me more is that this didn't happen in a vacuum. This house was not situated on 10 acres in the middle of the mountains. It was in a neighborhood. Mail got delivered. Meters got read. People saw, smelled, and suspected, but nothing happened until things were irrevocably bad. This lady died on 25 October and the assault on her dignity doesn't rest solely with her grandson.

If you see things, suspect things, say something.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Huh. You mean I can't make it happen myself?

Some very great things are (thank God) not under our control. The amount of grace we receive isn’t something subordinate to our will. God reminds us thereby that we are creatures, and that it’s a privilege to cooperate with Him and achieve what we could never do on our own. Man constantly needs to be reminded that “without Me, you can do nothing.” Holiness is perfect collaboration with God. St. Thérèse of Lisieux relates that from the age of four until a few days before her 13th birthday, she was a cry-baby, and calls herself “unbearable.” Every remark—however harmless—addressed to her could trigger a torrent of inappropriate tears. Hard as she tried, her will was incapable of controlling her touchiness. For nine years she begged God to liberate her from this infirmity. When the grace was granted to her, she knew it was a grace; she could not command it, but she could will to beg for it. All that God had requested was her good will to be healed. -Alice Von Hildebrand

This is extremely encouraging to me. I struggle with a lot of faults, a lot of disordered passions. I'm starting to understand what being 'powerless' really means, and that in the end, our own powerlessness is irrelevant, since it is not our power that accomplishes what needs to be accomplished. Neat!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Good Song for a Rainy Day

I pulled this disc out the other night and listened to this song again; I hadn't heard it in almost two years. WXPN exposed me to a lot of music I wouldn't have otherwise heard; check them out at Enjoy!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Praising Him in the Storms

I bought a new album Friday. I probably shouldn't have spent the money, but I was so excited to find a Christian bookstore that I knew I wouldn't leave without something. I got a Casting Crowns album because I'd heard so many of their songs on the radio and they speak to me. I was standing in the middle of the living room listening to this today:

When my pager went off. Three tones. "Department 1 and 11, Shippen Township, reported structure fire". In three minutes I was in the back of a rescue truck screaming toward a fire. Over the chatter of the radio, the wail of sirens, and the buzz of my own adrenaline I was still hearing the words to this song. It made me think about what real faith is; what it means to say "Even so will I trust". Not when we feel sad, not when we feel slighted or overlooked, but when our very life is burning down around us.

Today the pastor at Cedar Run talked about Acts 26. Paul is brought in chains before Agrippa to answer for his behavior. He tells the king and others assembled about his conversion, about what he believes and why. He says "The king knows about these matters and to him I speak boldly, for I cannot believe that the things I speak of have escaped his notice; this was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe in the prophets? I know you believe." The King said, "You will soon persuade me to play the Christian". Paul said, "I would pray to God that not only you but all who listen to me today might become as I am, except for these chains."
Paul is in chains. Again. He's about to get shipwrecked again. Paul's life wasn't exactly wonderful after Jesus appeared to him. He referred to it as being poured out as a drink offering. Dumped on the ground was just fine for him. Paul was all about 'even so will I trust'.

Are you ready to stand up in the storm and say the same? We never know who the sirens are coming for next.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Whatsoever Ye Do

I was paged out on a call a couple of weeks ago on a 'difficulty breathing' call for a lady in 'the Manor'....a senior-living apartment building in our town. We go there a lot.
I arrived to find a tidy little apartment with the requisite crocheted blankets and pictures of Jesus. A large grey cat stood watch on a bed that seemed enormous in comparison to the tiny woman on it. She was carefully folded and padded with small pillows to protect her nearly translucent arms and legs. A lifetime of battling muscular dystrophy left her fragile and in constant pain. Another medic and I climbed onto the bed with her so we could scoop her up and place her on the stretcher as gently as possible, keeping her pillows intact and joints cushioned. She didn’t weigh much more than the bedclothes. All the way to the hospital her blue eyes were locked on mine. As we carried her out she squeezed my hand and said 'thank you'.
A week ago, Helen shed the broken body that caused her so many years of grief. I can just imagine those kind blue eyes laughing at finally being free.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I drive a lot for work and was thinking. Not much else to do on Rt 17 but think.
Why are there so many dead raccoons?
When I was a kid I watched a raccoon lockpick the metal clasp on a Coleman ice chest. I saw them pull the 'Pull here' strip off a box of danish and lift out the tray. My mother testifies to having seen one remove the carry handle and lid to a Tupperware cake carrier and climb a tree with an entire pineapple upside-down cake tucked in his armpit.
Why then do so many of them get hit by cars? I don't get it. Maybe the raccoons are dumber these days. Bet Al Gore didn't look into that.
Just sayin'.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Four Songs that Make Me Despise Country Music with the While Hot Intensity of 10,000 Suns

I live in a small town. I think that's been established. We have one of each kind of station, for the most part; one local country station, one Clear Channel classic rock monolith, one collegy-local station whose playlist reflects quirkiness or laziness with equal frequency, NPR if you are facing a certain direction at the top of the hill on a clear day, and one top 40 station that reaches us from somewhere in New York.

The country station is the only one that comes in with clarity on a regular basis to my office. So I get anywhere from 20-35 hours of involuntary listening a week depending on my schedule.

I should say that I have a particular problem when it comes to music. I can't shut it out. I can't ignore it. I hear it. I analyze it compulsively. I'm sensitive to repetition, trite lyrics, and illogic. (To wit: "Its only half past twelve, but its five o'clock somewhere." Well, no, sweetie, its 5:30 somewhere. Its never 12:30 in one time zone and 5pm in another simultaneously. Also "Carved my name in to his leather seeeeeeats..." Well, why? So he knows who to implicate in the police report? Stalking and vandalism in excess of $ he worth the charge? Carve something else in his leather seats, idiot.)

This station doesn't exactly have an endless budget or bottomless playlist, so you can count on the top 40 of the Billboard country (really, the top 20 or so) to be in heavy, heavy, heavy rotation. These are the ones that inspire the most intense urge to self-medicate.

1. Steve Holy, "Brand New Girlfriend"

Song starts out kind of promising, then slides into catastrophic silliness. How desperate was he for a recording career that he'd be happy to sing these lyrics? They should be used in CIA PsyOps in some hot and sandy place. I can see Osama throwing himself on the sand and yelling "for the love of Allah, make it stop".

Playin' kissy-kissy, smoochy-smoochy,Talkin' mooshy-mooshy 'bout nothin'

2. Miranda Lambert, "Famous in a Small Town"

Jessica Lange portrayed Patsy Cline in a great film called 'Sweet Dreams'. There is a scene where she is ironing and listening to another country singer and she says to herself , "You don't sing, b---h, ya whine". 'Nuff said. The song was cute the first five times. Now I want to duct tape Miss Miranda to a pole.

3. Jason Allden "Amarillo Sky"

Some days this runs through my head for hours like a mantra: "He just takes the tractor another round, another round, another round, another round...." A farming accident is called for here. Make. the. tractor.stop.

4. Tim McGraw "Last Dollar (Fly Away)"

I don't think words can express how much I hate this dippy, trite song. Its especially enhanced by the final refrain being repeated about 10 times more than necessary by a bunch of increasingly tuneless children. And I have to call him out for an extra dose of hate for use of the term "footloose and fancy free".

1-2-3 Like a bird I sing

Cause yo've given me the most beautiful set of wings

I'm so glad you're here today

Cause tomorrow I might have to go and fly away

Fly away, fly away

[Verse 2:]There's nothing that's worth keeping me

From places I should goFrom happyville to lovingland

I'm gonna tour from coast to coast

I'm leaving everything behind

There's not much that I need

Cause If I ain't got nothing

I'm footloose and fancy free

(There's more, but you get the idea)

I'm here four more hours, which is pretty much a guarantee I'll hear every one of these songs. Again.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Confession Time: Kim's Crushes

In an effort to make a point about the former crushability of Patrick Swayze (which referenced the video above as exhibit A) I obliterated my original post in which I detailed my four main tweener/teenage crushes. I am far too lazy to repost the whole thing, but I will re-add a photo of my number one love from age 6 because he was the first and the best.

Randolph Mantooth, I still love you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Baby in the Air

00:30, we're called to assist at the helipad. Its a hot load, which means we go to the hospital first, collect the patient, and take them directly to the helicopter, which does not turn off its engine, and away they go. On the way to the hospital we find out its an OB patient. Haven't had one of those yet.
We get there and the mother-to-be is quiet and smiling. She also looks 1) not all that pregnant, and as we get her situated on the stretcher and I get a close look at her perfect skin, 2) very young. The nurse explains that she is in 'preterm labor', like she was with her first three. Her first THREE. All three times, a helicopter took her to a larger hospital with a NICU, all three times all was well, so her apparent serenity is well founded, at least from a medical perspective.
Once she is transported and in the air, I take a look at the paperwork provided by the ER. Our mother of soon-to-be four is nineteen years old.
This blows my mind. At 37 I can barely tolerate the company of anyone under the age of 12 for one weekend. When I was 19, I was even less inclined. I don't envy her position, but I do admire her willingness to wade into the chaos of motherhood and What May Come. Here's to Number Four....Happy Birthday!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Well, after a brief period of distraction, we've done it again; cast off the moorings and freed ourselves from the monolith of banal that commands a corner of our living room.

I guess you could say we didn't KILL it, we simply disconnected its feeding tube. Direct TV has been disconnected, as well as the phone line it required to update the DVR. A savings of, on average, $105 per month. We still have very modestly-priced Netflix, and we can watch what we want when we want without feeling like we're being held under by a torrent of 'entertainment' that isn't worth much.

When we did this before, I read more, I listened to more music, I wrote more. We talked. We ate at the dinner table. I'm looking forward to all those things again, especially considering the fine company I am in for those activities.

If it seems like a scary or impossible task; try this. Shut it off for one night. If you have an entertainment center with doors on it, close them. Pull a game out of the closet. A pack of cards. An album you haven't listened to in a long time. Take a deep breath and LOOK at each other.


Uncle Bryan & Aunt Kimmy's kidproof adventure

My nephew was up for the weekend. Big doings; mom and Debbie flew in and I picked them up in Williamsport. None of them have been here since I moved here, so it was great to be able to show them around.

Most of my preparations for their arrival centered around cleaning. Bryan dusted and vacuumed, I did dishes and laundry and made sure there were towels. We put things away. We planned activities. We coordinated schedules. Never in our flurry of activity did we ask ourselves, what should one have on hand when a six year old is among us? I was mostly concerned about his not annoying the cat.

We had a great weekend full of activity; hikes, seeing the sights, music, food, in general it was a successful visit. I learned a few things.

1. When kids are in the house, have snacks and something besides 'old people' cereal.

2. Six year old boys generate a range of sound effects capable of throwing migrating birds off course pretty much from the moment their feet hit the floor until they collapse in unconsciousness 13-14 hours later. This is about as headache-inducing as you'd imagine.

3. I love kids. Other people's kids. The kind of kids you can drive to an airport on Sunday afternoon for a one way trip back from whence they came.

4. The cat will be annoyed. But he'll get over it.

5. Uncle Bryan and Aunt Kimmy's house is a haven for those nieces and nephews partial to Harry Potter, creative writing, and quiet serenity. When those nieces and nephews come along I hope someone will let us know. In the meantime the rest can expect lots of hikes. Ah, the sweet, deep sleep of a child all hiked out.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Enough Rope

I'd been on a call in the middle of the night, I don't even remember what it was, but we were still at the house doing paperwork.

Earlier in the night another department had been called to 'stand by at your the center for details'. That usually means either 1) There is a situation where someone is possibly dead or 2) There is a situation that is unsafe and the EMTs can't go until the police clear it.

In this case, it was an attempted suicide. A woman had tried to hang herself from a tree. The rope broke, and someone found her. Not dead, but unresponsive. She came to the hospital. They worked on her awhile and decided to fly her to another hospital, so they could have a go.

The helipad is a mile or so from the firehouse. When a helicopter lands we have an engine standing by, in case something happens. When the call came with their ETA we suited up in turnouts and went.

As the truck sped up the hill I looked the dark, still surface of the lake gliding by below. I wondered what it was like to decide to die. And I wondered how this woman will feel when and if she wakes up,to discover that things didn't turn out like she hoped. Will she be angry? Relieved?

It seems strange to me to bear witness to struggles like these. Hours of training and they don't tell you, hey, you'll sit up in the middle of the night staring at the stars waiting and watching for the calvary to come, for an attempt at saving, for someone who didn't want to be saved.

First Arrest

Sunday I had my first full arrest. The call went out as a patient unresponsive. Halfway down the winding dirt road that led us to the house they said 'full arrest'.
When I first started running I would spend my time in the back of the bus just trying to breathe and dissipate the burning in my lungs that came just after the tone-inspired adrenaline dump. My heart would pound in my ears over the simplest call; just being in there banging and swaying was enough. Lately I find myself in nearly a trance. I breathe. I think "what will I need?". I pull bags out of storage bins. Look through them. Get gloves on. Review the order of what will need to be done. Somewhere down inside my old panicked self channels the family's anxiousness.
We arrive and several relatives are standing on the porch. I am sorry to say I don't even remember what they looked like. I was focused on backboard, AED, oxygen, getting stretcher into house. Patient. CPR had been in progress for some time and it was obvious that it was too late. His tiny beeswax-yellow legs peeked out of a plaid blanket. Some well meaning friend was doing chest compressions on the bed, which meant nothing was really happening. (You need to be on a HARD surface or don't bother.) Just the same, we worked on him, worked on him all the way to the hospital. I came off the back step bagging him the whole way just like on TV. And as soon as we got to the curtain area the doctor looked at him and said 'Stop'. Such an odd feeling; even though I knew what the outcome would be I were surprised to realize that I harbored some tiny expectation that our efforts might be doing something. I felt like a dog running across the yard on a run that suddenly comes to the end of the line and stops short.
They got all the wires and tubes out and covered him up to the neck in a soft white blanket. I was still bringing in equipment when the nurse herded the kids and grandkids together and told them it was over. I crept away; I remember the EMTs in my own life; once the crisis was over I didn't want to see them again.
So that was the first one. There will be more.

First Post

Every time I go on a run I think about starting a blog about the things you encounter on a call.
Thanks to all sorts of laws that force us to hand every patient many pages of tiny print concerning their rights--no details on where I am or what-have-you. Its a small town. Word gets around.
Most people around here joined emergency services at 16 after growing up sitting on the bumper of a firetruck with their feet not touching the ground. I started at 36. I don't know why.
Its not my dayjob; that is something I should be doing right this minute instead of blogging. I do it for free. But you can't talk about a call with anyone other than the people on the call. First rule of Fight Club; that sort of thing. So where to talk about it? Here, of course.
Anyone else who would like to jump in and share their own experiences is welcome to do so.