And Now a Word From The Sponsor

Welcome to my site and thank you for reading. After many times thinking, if only I had a blog, well-- here we are. This blog will feature writings on a variety of topics from roadside food, to leadership in the fire service; politics; culture- gay, straight, and indifferent, my experiences in Ohio, New York and beyond; and much much more. It's my hope that you will find it interesting and that it stirs at least some thought and discussion. I am certain you wont always agree, but that is what its all about right? Oh and one more thing: The views expressed on this site are entirely my own. They do not reflect in anyway the views or positions of my employer.



Monday, December 12, 2016

Dispatching IS a Profession...So What?

Those that find themselves under a headset forty hours a week (or more) know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Dispatching is a profession.  It is not like any other job title that anyone could ever hold.  Not even our sister and brother public safety professionals who serve as Police Officers, Firefighters, or Paramedics know truly the nature, complexities and demands of our role.  I have heard it from more than a few that anyone who in those job titles  can just sit down and follow what the computer says and be a dispatcher. One such believer was a smart and shrewd soul, but he couldn't look me in the eye when he said them.  I am certain he knew better-- for all badges may be equal, but they are not the same.  

And that leads me to my question.  For those of you who know better because you have been in the seat.  For those who have handled the crazy normal days and the crazy crazy days: what are YOU doing to share the nature of our profession with others?  How do you advocate for what we do and who we are?  Don't you dare say its not your job.  Don't you dare say it's not your responsibility.  

If we want to be recognized and understood as a profession it is not going to happen because we tweet, although that may help.  It will not happen because we share Facebook memes. It will not happen because of joint meeting of Police and Fire Chiefs and Town Council people decide to bestow upon us our rightful status. 

It will happen because we demand to participate in table top exercises.  It will happen because we make a compelling argument for why we need more people. It will happen because we educate those we serve about why its not just "picking up a phone".  It will happen because we make a concerted effort to be the best dispatch professional we can possibly be.  There are literally thousands of ways to get involved: Pick one.  And do it.  

Respect is earned, even from ourselves.  As the time comes for New Year's Resolutions and current year reviews, let us resolve to make this year the one where people outside our comm centers and PSAPs begin to understand what we have always known: That we are Professionals. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Columbus Fire: Moving to the Future

Kudos to the Columbus Division of Fire for taking steps to address their EMS service challenges. Given the many factors at play, this is probably the best approach they could have selected. However, by no means should this be the last step.  As I detailed in a recent post, CFD remains woefully behind schedule in the construction of new Fire Stations.  So much so, that their over reliance on automatic aid partners will only grow unless dramatic steps are taken in the immediately future.  This has the potential to move the problem of overworked paramedics from the City (who collects the tax dollars)  to the Townships and Surrounding Cities (but who do not collect taxes to provide these services). 

To remedy this situation several steps should be explored in the near future: 

1) Building temporary, medic only, fire stations in outlying areas, or quartering CFD medic units in the closest township/suburban fire stations to service areas that CFD is unable to effectively handle at this time. 

2) Deployment models should be adjusted to not simply assign a mutual aid medic to City runs in every case.  A more dynamic and resilient deployment model, which accommodates nearest transport units for high priority medical cases but utilizes CFD medics for BLS runs, should be deployed.  

3) Peak Time Medic Units should be placed in areas not just based on the volume of calls in the area, but based on overall response times and number of incidents handled by mutual aid, with the reality being that the best areas to cover with extra resources may shift over a 24 hour period.  For example, Polaris may need an additional medic unit during the day time hours, but not at night, when that unit could be better utilized in the West Side or Fairwood Avenue Area.  

4) The program of utilizing ladders for Extrication Runs should be continued and expanded.  

5) The Heavy Rescue Units should, for now, be maintained, and should be the first piece selected to assist Medic Units when they are nearby, instead of Engine Companies.  This preserves the Engines for Fires and additional EMS runs.  

6) CFD should work with the City Administration to develop a comprehensive CFD 2025 plan-- focusing on the goals of response time, reduced reliance on mutual aid, and other performance benchmarks that will guide a major bond issue intended to "catch up" CFD to where it needs to be. 

The first steps have been taken.  The current CFD administration is demonstrating its understanding that the Status Quo must change.  That should be applauded, but the work must continue. 

Walking in the Redwoods

I recently completed one of my essential mind clearing trips.  A journey of about six thousand miles which took me from Columbus to California, Las Vegas, and Wyoming.  The goal is always to find something or someone that inspires or illuminates or, in a worst case scenario, reminds me of what I like about where I live and the people I am fortunate to know.  

A central element of this annual quest is to go somewhere I have never been, in the hope that such a place will help me to understand better myself or those around me.  In this season of crazy-- when so many people I have been touched by have passed away, when so many institutions I have cared about are teetering, when so many of my friends (and me) are truly scared of the future-- I give you the Redwood Forests of California.  

These trees tower over the observer, over the surrounding hillsides, over everything around them.  Their scale can not be explained or described.  It can only be witnessed. They are much like Niagara Falls, Love, or an amazing diner that stands as a monument to who were we were and, in more ways than we know, still are.  

I can not post a photo of the Redwoods here and have it mean anything to you, so I am not even going to try.  But what I will share is this.  The Redwoods grow so tall and are so inspiring not because they root themselves deep into the ground.  They do not tie into bedrock like a skyscraper to support their foundation.  No.  Their roots are actually quite shallow.  What they do to survive is to entangle themselves in a web of support with all the trees around them.  Their literal support system ensures that they can ward off invasive pests, pass along nutrients, and care for sick relatives.  This underground structure is the key to their very survival.  

Even in the event of a fire or flood, the roots stay connected and it is then that an even greater insight occurs.  It is only from the fires and floods and the tragedies that new Redwoods can grow.  Otherwise, the undergrowth is too deep and thick to permit the seed to reach the forest floor.  Life must come-- does come-- from death.  And in the sad event that a Redwood does manage to fall, from its trunk will spring the start of new life. On every fallen Redwood trunk can be found the sprouts of a new Redwood that will, in time, honor its parent by climbing higher and taking its place in the canopy.   

The system is beautiful and complete.  It is is Life, Death, and Life again, all in perfect harmony, exactly as it should be.  

In our season of rushing.  In our time of trying to be perfect, finding the right card, the right gift, or the right word, let us take just a moment and marvel at the wonderful world we are a part of. The reality that life can spring- does spring- from the darkest times and that life and our future depends not on us weathering alone this crazy world, but on us all seeing the value connecting with each other. Let us take from these beautiful ancient beings the understanding that we will only reach the possible of just how high we can rise when we live as one family-- caring and supporting each other. No matter what may come.  Fire or Flood.  Sunshine or Rain.  They go on, so must we.