Monday, May 28, 2007

This site is retired.

This blog will no longer be updated. Keeping up two sites is just too much of a hassle. I'll leave it up for anyone who wants to read, cause there's some good stuff in here and I may reference it from time to time but all further postings will occur at my main site, Wight Wing Wadical. If you've wound up here for the first time or for the first time in a long time, please come visit, I'm sure you won't be disappointed. It's been fun but I must consolidate.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Train 10, keep 1! Dispatcher we go again!

Just cruising my blogroll and ended up over at 911 Dispatcher. The most recent post, entitled "Training again", though short, really sums it all up doesn't it? Seems to be an endless cycle, at least in my agency. Every year, it's the same old bag...Train 'em up and watch 'em leave...over and over again!

Train 'em... "Where ya' goin? Oh, Police Academy, huh?"

Train 'em... "What, EMT school??"

Train 'em..."Dude, you knew there was no money in this when you started."

Train 'em..."No, wait...this one's an idiot, he can't be trained."

Train 'em..."Now you want to be a firefighter??"


Train 'em... "Man, you can't spell, you can't can't even stay awake! How'd you get this job, dude? Did you even graduate from high school??

Train 'em... "Dude...wake up...hey dude...wake up...DUDE!

Train 'em ..."Man, you gotta talk and type at the same time, bro. It's called multi-tasking!"

I wonder if there is an emergency dispatch center anywhere on this planet which remains fully staffed with fully trained dispatchers for one full year. Hell I wonder if there's such a thing as a "Retired Dispatcher"...not one of those "I used to work the road but then I hurt my back, so now I dispatch."...I'm talking about an honest to goodness, no joke, 30 year dispatcher. Ain't none of 'em here, I'll tell you that much! Got some that are pretty close, but...not yet.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Sometimes I can’t believe I get paid to do this. Other times I can’t believe I accept any amount of money whatsoever to put up with the bullshit that accompanies this job. Nevertheless, this line of work is certainly never dull. While it is true, that a significant portion of the population is so incredibly stupid as to warrant their euthanization (at least if I were King), the trick is not allowing yourself to be convinced that that portion is a majority…thus one would become an asshole, believing nearly everyone they encounter is the same “John Q. Public” that dials 9-1-1 every single day because they lack the same level of common sense that God bestows to the humble turkey. Even so, I inevitably find myself expecting less reason and achievement and more chaos and failure from Mr. John Q. every time I venture out of my world and into his.

Though I have grown to develop a certain level of detest for stupidity, the irony of it all, in fact, is that stupid people keep me in business. Without them, there would be much less demand for public servants, sworn to help those who are incapable of helping themselves. And so you learn to love ‘em a little, as scary as that sounds. The entertainment value alone makes it almost bearable. How can you help but laugh at the person who calls because “The rain stinks.” You certainly can’t reason with them. They’ll never consider the fact that “something” stinks and it just happens to be raining. No…it must be the rain. There’s poison in the rain and something must be done. So you tell them that you’ll “check it out” and then just hang up and laugh.

Ever see the old Warner Bros. cartoon with "Sam the Sheepdog" and "Ralph the Coyote" from the Bugs Bunny / Roadrunner Show?

These two guys would hit a time clock in the morning, fight and scheme against each other all day long then punch the clock at the end of the day and leave as pals till the next morning. Pitted against one another, they accepted the fact that the existence of one justifies the need for the other…and vice versa. If it weren’t for coyotes trying to kill the sheep, there’d be no need for the sheepdog, thus Sam would be out of a job. So a mutual level of respect developed…. Ralph had his job to do, and Sam had his own. That’s life in the 9-1-1 call center. Sometimes you love ‘em. Sometimes you hate ‘em. But never forget, that at the end of the day…they need you…and you need them.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Wake up, Deputy....time to go do some work now.

Cops have about as much understanding of what we do as the man in the moon. They come off as a rather self centered bunch who are quite used to getting their way. I guess it comes with the police powers, the badge, the gun....they assume that they are always the ones "in charge". We, at EMS, are quite often at the short end of the stick when it comes to Law Enforcement. Not that they care, but I wish they'd at least be "indoctrinated" on the workload we juggle and how much bullshit they could keep off our plate.

We are not a damned "rolling free clinic". We don't issue clean bills of health. We don't have an Xray machine, CT, or laboratory on board. We aren't Psychiatrists. We aren't ass wipers. We're not gonna transport that drunk for you just because he shit himself and you don't want to put him in your car. Every day....and I mean EVERY DAY we get multiple requests from the Sheriff's Department, Police Department, and Highway Patrol requesting that we respond to a patient with no legitimate medical complaint but they just want us to "CHECK THEM OUT"....or "My officer says she's a little 'shaken up'". Shaken up?? Check them out?? What the hell do they want us to do, give them a 72 point maintenance inspection? These guys are medics not mechanics! All this crap could be solved with one simple question..."Do you want an ambulance to take you to the hospital?....You don't know right now?....OK, lemme know when you do."

We have to prioritize calls based on the medical need and severity of the patient's condition. We have to do this so that we can legally account for the need to divert an ambulance to a higher priority call. It sounds simple but you gotta have a system in place that legitimizes the need to divert from the stumped toe to the chest pain. Law Enforcement very rarely gives us enough information to even code the call much less give it the proper determinant for prioritization. I don't know if it's laziness on the officer's part or if it's laziness on the dispatcher's part but they don't seem to give a rat's ass that we have a job to do too. The following exchange is extremely common:

Me: "Rescue...go ahead."

Sheriff's Department: "Yeah, We need you guys to go to Pace and Palafox."

Me: "What's going on there?"

Sheriff's Department: "I got an officer out with a black male subject there who needs an ambulance."

Me: "What's wrong with him?"

Sheriff's Department: "I don't know, he just said to send EMS."

Me: "Can you ask him 'why'"?

Sheriff's Department: "(sigh)...hang on!...Car 223.....EMS wants to know why they're needed.......Copy....He says the patient's bleeding."

Me: "Bleeding from where, what happened?"

Sheriff's Department: "(bigger sigh)....Car 223....Do you have any further information for EMS?.....10-4....He doesn't have any further information."

Me: "That's not what I asked....I need to know if he's conscious?...if he's breathing?....if he's alert? was he injured?...we're running several calls right now and I may need to divert an ambulance.

Sheriff's Department: "(even bigger sigh...mumbles under breath) Lemme call you back."

Me: "*$&% #^&#!~"

This is an Unknown Problem...Bravo response (priority 3) because of some lazy freakin' police work! As often as we work with these other agencies, you'd think we'd have a decent working relationship with them by now. That ain't the case. Last week I had an ambulance crew who's patient decided that he wanted to fight. They had their hands full and called on the radio for the Sheriff's Office, 10-18 (local vernacular for emergency response). I made that request for them. A few minutes later, one of my call takers says "I got the Sheriff's Department on the line wanting to know why we need them to respond." I picked up the phone and said (for the second time) "My crew has a patient who's fighting them, they need some help." The dispatcher tells me that her Sergeant's asking for more information. WTF!? "I don't have any more information for crew's in a fight with a patient and they need help....what the hell else do you need to know??" This is all very typical of the relationship we have with our friendly local constabulary.

It's easy, and perhaps unfair, for me to form the opinion that alot of cops are just damned lazy. The extra work load that Law Enforcement puts on us out of ignorance or laziness can be a tremendous burden...not only because it costs the county taxpayers alot of damned money to send an ambulance somewhere and on BS calls those costs are never recovered, and not only because of the work it creates for the medics who have to fill out Patient care forms and refusals and administrative personnel who have to process that paperwork, not only because of the extra work it creates in EMS dispatch (which is already an extremely busy place because it happens to be the primary answering point for 9-1-1 in our county)....but because we don't have as many ambulances as they do officers. We have to maintain a coverage for the county and very often, these cops are robbing ambulances from people who legitimately need them. I hate dealing with them. They are rarely accommodating and often rude. That's bad enough, but when it impacts the level of care we're able to provide to other patients, somebody ought to have the ability and authority to put a stop to it.

Are we the only EMS agency who has such a shitty working relationship with local law enforcement?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Directly straight from the Department of Redundancy this time!

“10-4, I copy, “ Be advised”, and “At this time”. Bovine feces...they open their mouths and out falls bovine feces. I don’t know why, and I don’t know when the use of this kind of crap talk began, but it needs to end. If you talk like that, you sound like an idiot.

10-4” means “I copy", say one or the other. Either will do just fine but not both. You don’t have to say it and then define it!

Be advised”…How many times a day do you hear that? You’re freaking advising me! If you advise me, then I will BE advised. You don’t have to tell me to “be advised” and then advise me. Just freaking do your "advising", and quit wasting my time!

At this time”…boy, this is my favorite. “At this time, we’ll be enroute.” WELL, NO SHIT, AT THIS TIME!! When the hell else would you be enroute? At another time?? If it were at another time, why the hell would you be telling me now? Say what you mean, mean what you say, but dammit man, be brief!

I got all spooled up about this today when, after discovering they were not needed at the emergency call they were on, I dispatched an ambulance to another emergency call. I gave them the location and nature of the call…….their response……”Uhhh 10-4, copy….uhhh, be advised we’re gonna be enroute at this time.” Gonna be enroute?? If you're currently responding, why tell me you're "gonna be"? “ENROUTE would have been sufficient.” One's quick, concise, and simple. It’s easy to feel like a genius when you spend your time dispatching imbeciles.

Monday, July 17, 2006

I have your address. If you lie to me again, I'm going to come to your house and kill you.

It never fails. You're busy! The 9-1-1 fairy is giftwrapping your ass, one emergency call after another! Emergency lines are lit up like a freaking Christmas tree. When here comes Mr. Smith from 123 Elm St. You pick up and say..."9-1-1, how the hell can I exceed your expectations?" (Just kidding) To which you are greeted with..."click" They should pay me a nickel every time I have to hear this. If they did, I'd be stinking rich. So, in the midst of your whirlwind of ligitimate emergency calls, you have to stop what the hell your doing and call the idiot, Mr. Smith, back. (I don't know why. It's policy.)

ring....ring....ring....ring...(damn, pick up the phone already!) ring...ring...."Uhhh...hello?"

Good afternoon, sir. This is the 9-1-1 center. Someone dialed 9-1-1 from that residence and hung up. Is there an emergency?

"Uhhhh...I didn't dial 9-1-1!"

Sir, someone dialed 9-1-1 from there. (Yeah right, uh huh, I just make random check calls to unwary citizens 'cause I got nothing else to do.)

"Uhhh...NO....not from here!" (Don't you love how Mr. Smith precedes everything with "uhhh"? You know right away you're dealing with NASA's finest rocket scientist!)

Is there someone else there who could have done it? (I know you did it!)

", I'm the only one here."

Were you just using the phone, sir? (Don't lie to me again, asshole.)

"Yeah, but I dailed 9-4-4, not 9-1-1." (OK, Einstein, look at your phone pad. The 4 is right next to the 1 isn't it? Yeah, it is! Couldn't be your fat fingers now could it?)

And did you happen to reach the 9-4-4 number that you dialed?" (Come on...lie again.)

"" (Holy shit! He tells the truth!)

This happens about a hundred times a day, sir. People accidently hit the 1 instead of the 4. It's a common mistake. We just ask that you stay on the line with us and let us know everything's OK, otherwise we have to call back to make sure. (We could've concluded this conversation by now, but NOOOOO you gotta draaaaaag it out by lying to me!)

"Yeah, OK. I'm sorry about that."

No problem, sir. You have a good day. (Now I'm lying. It IS a problem! And I hope you have a TERRIBLE day! You lie when you think you're in trouble and you come clean when you find out you're not in're like a child!)

I hate IT (the situation) when people hang up on me. I hate PEOPLE (the ones who do the hanging up) when they LIE TO ME.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Spare the rod, spoil the child.

Got a call today. A little female voice on the other end of the phone said she had arrived home to find her husband murdered. She said he had been shot, and then proceeded to tell me, in a crazed tone, how she had to clean up all the blood. She sounded quite young...indeed very young, so I asked her how old she was. Again with the crazy talk about birthdays every year and some muttled incoherrent stuff. I asked her again what her age was to which she finally replied "Thirteen." "And you have a HUSBAND?" I said. She affirmed it and kept on with the crazy muttled talk. I knew something was definitely wrong, but had no idea what. So I tranferred her to the Sheriff's Department and after a brief description to the dispatcher of the situation, allowed him to take over. His first question: "How old are you?" Her response: "Thirteen." He said exactly what I did...."And you have a HUSBAND?" Again, she said yes.

I disconnected from the call and began to build this very bizzare ambulance call. Sure to include the note to "Hold Back for Law Enforcement", I tried to explain in brief language what she had said. Before I could finish, the Sheriff's Department called back and said "We're there, the scene is not yet secure, but the deputy says there's blood everywhere!" Holy Shit! This chick was telling the truth! What was she, some wacked out Multiple Personality case?? Like Cybil!! (You know that wierd character played by Sally Field? Yeah, that's what she sounded like.) The suspense was endless. Finally the Sheriff's Department called us back and advised us to cancel. What?? Why??

Turns out the deputy arrived and upon stepping out of his cruiser, noticed puddles of red fluid in the yard leading up to the doorstep...blood. Or so he thought. Not waiting for backup, he drew his weapon, kicked open the door and found an apartment covered in the same red fluid. An adult female lying on the couch, motionless, covered fluid. At this time I'm sure the deputy is wondering why he didn't wait for backup. After urgently telling dispatch of the grissly murder scene he'd encountered, the woman "woke up". Also wondering what the hell was going on and what the hell is with all the blood. They began to look for the mysterious caller. Huddled upstairs was a nine year old girl who had not only covered the apartment in RED PAINT, but also the yard and her sleeping mother, then made a bogus call to 9-1-1 to report the "Murder". I don't know the ultimate outcome but I hope she got her little ass torn up, not only for the prank, but for freaking me the hell out! This definitely goes down as one of the wierdest calls I've ever gotten. Now I'm gonna have nightmares about that creepy little kid voice rattling on about murder and blood.....great.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Crack Babies

"Pregnancy Delta response, imminent delivery...24 years of age, full gestation, contractions less than 2, GRAVIDA 5, PARA 4! This little crack ho has been pregnant for her entire adult life! She "birfed dat baby" like a pro....before EMS even arrived. In 3 months she'll be knocked up again, hookin' on the corner, livin' on welfare, populatin' the 'hood and scoring gubmint cheeze by the case! Wonder if this is what FDR intended? Welfare, HELL YEAH!....gotta love it!

I'm sure some bleeding heart liberal has the idea that, indeed, more social services are needed to remedy this young lady's plight. Maybe some free occupational training, or some free planned parenthood classes....I say bullshit! What's needed is mandatory sterilization. She's not gonna quit hookin', so we gotta keep payin' for her "misfortunes"? Cuttin' and cauterizin'...that's the answer. Clip 'em and ship 'em, I say.

Their mink-like abundant proliferation is proof that Darwin was an idiot! Survival of the fittest, my fat ass! We ought to let them kill themselves off. We ought to encourage it! Screw handin' out clean needles and a wall around 'em and hand out guns and bats!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Un momento por favor para un traductor español

And I do good just to say that! But the illegals who need that translator can't say anything except..."español". What's wrong with this picture? No effort whatsoever from these folks to learn one single syllable of English. How in the hell do they do it...go day in and day out in a country where no one speaks their language and still thrive? I think I'd at least try if I were in their shoes to learn basic phrases to get me by. Instead, anytime they need a translator, they call 9-1-1. Not necessarily for emergencies, but for anything. 9-1-1 is free, they got that part down pat. The Language Line, however, is least not for citizens who pay their taxes to support our ability to provide that contracted service. As a matter of fact, it turns out to be a damned expensive answer to questions like "I have to be at a jobsite on Perdido Key. How do I get there?"

PJ mentioned the added cost of jailing and providing law enforcement services to the recent massive influx of illegal aliens to this region of the country. An illegal alien gets in an accident because he was driving drunk....cost of ambulance ride to the emergency room - $750.00. Cost of ER services - $1250.00. Jail stay, court costs, least $3000.00. Grand total...over $5000.00. None of which, this "undocumented worker" will ever pay. And that's just one Mexican on one night in one community. Who ultimately pays for it all? YOU DO! Tolerance...yeah, sure, uh huh, that's what we need.

Monday, May 29, 2006

It's too expensive to fix. Ignore it, maybe it'll go away!

"Unit calling rescue?"...."Say again your traffic."...."You're totally unreadable."...."Unit calling, repeat your traffic."...."I'm unable to copy you."...."Your portable is too weak to copy, find a mobile or give me a px."...."Last unit calling rescue, skip traffic covered you up, say again."

No, we don't have a radio problem in this county. Everything works just fine.

Monday, May 22, 2006

They issue everything you can imagine...except a can 'o whoop ass.

We had a Paramedic who was assaulted the other day. He's very lucky that his EMT is a big 'ol boy and was there to help. He suffered some pretty serious bruising and was visibly upset afterwards. He is very soft spoken and a heck of a nice guy and it made me absolutely furious to hear about it. It's not the first time. It most certainly won't be the last. So what do we do to prevent or at least reduce this risk in the future....well, the same thing we've always done, of course....absolutely nothing!

There are certain inherent risks associated with the jobs of Paramedics and EMT's. It is accepted and assumed that sooner or later, one will either have to defend themselves or their partner from an assault. They're issued thousands of dollars worth of equipment and receive one training course after another on how to protect themselves from every conceivable threat that they could face, from WMD's and hazardous materials to bloodborne pathogens or simple environmental hazards...every conceivable threat, that is except for physical assault. It is here that they are left on their own. It cannot be assumed that law enforcement will be on scene or even within close enough proximity to effect a difference in the outcome of an overwhelming physical assault from a patient who is doped up, psychotic, or suicidal. It is, however, just about the only threat that medics can almost guarantee themselves that they will encounter. For most, it will be more than once. For some it may even be frequent, and still for others, depending on the communities they work in, it could be weekly or even daily.

So why do service providers everywhere fail to equip them with the proper skills to protect themselves in an unarmed or even armed confrontation? Law Enforcement officers spend their whole career training and retraining on how to restrain or take down an assailant with less than lethal force. If they can be trusted to be professional enough to handle such training and employ it at the proper times, why can't those in the Emergency Medical field? Who better to knock you down or choke you out than a medic who is duty bound to render aid to you afterwards? Think you'll get that from a cop? I'm suprised there hasn't been an outcry from medics for defensive tactics training. A person who is trained to engage in unarmed combat is less likely to cause permanent or life threatening injury to their opponent than one who is not trained. That is an indisputable fact.

Gotta go now. I gotta get my head back in the sand so I fit in with the rest of my industry.

Friday, May 19, 2006

"9-1-1. Where is your damned emergency?"

"Uh, yeah.....uhhhh....I'm, uhhhhh (OK right here I'm already pissed) behind a uhhhhhhhh big truck. You know, like a uhhhhhh 18 wheeler?"

"mmm hmmm."

"It's uhhhh, a FedEx truck."

"mmm hmmm. "

"And uhhhhhh it's headed East on I-10 uhhhhh you know, right before the bridge? And it's got an expired tag."

"mmm hmmm......sir, what's wrong with this truck?"

"I just told you, it's got a expired tag."

"An expired tag."


"Is it driving erratically or otherwise being unsafe?"

"Nope...but I uhhhhh did notice that his rear door is uhhhhhh being held down by a bungee cord."

"mmm hmmm. Sir, you dialed 9-1-1 to report an expired tag on a vehicle that's otherwise obeying the law?"

"Yeah. It's been out of date since December 2005, you know? I mean, uhhhhhh, it's FedEx, man. They can afford a tag, you know?"

"mmm hmmm.....stay on the line for the Florida Highway Patrol."

God, I love my job. If there were no stupid people, there would be no smart people, we'd all be exactly the same. It's all relative. Believe it or not, we need these dumbasses.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Miracles do happen.

Here is the story of a miracle that you probably won’t hear anywhere else. It is all very true and I’ve included some pictures that I took to help you understand just how amazing this story actually is. They're thumbnails so click for a larger view.

On the evening that Hurricane Katrina hit, most of the residents of Pass Christian Mississippi had evacuated. For the ones who remained, there was no time left. The only thing to do was to hunker down and get ready for a very severe beating. For the Public Safety folks, evacuation was never an option. Someone must stay behind. And that “someone” is usually Police and Fire personnel, for they will be the first to emerge after the storm to begin the exhaustive effort of saving lives.

The Pass Christian Police Department.

The Pass Christian Police Department is a metal building that was quickly compromised by the wind and began to collapse as the storm reached hurricane intensity. So, for the few officers who had taken refuge in the building along with the Chief and the Mayor, leaving was a matter of life or death. They fought the hurricane force winds and sought shelter in an older, sturdier government building nearby, City Hall, an effort which would eventually prove futile.

Seemingly safe from the winds, the men prepared to ride the storm out in safety. But Katrina soon threw her biggest suprise of all because the Gulf of Mexico which was normally a good quarter mile away began to rush in and quick. No one expected this, after all, the building was at least 30 feet above sea level. As the storm surge chased them out of City Hall, the only other option was the Library which was directly behind and unfortunately, down hill. They could only pray that the water had risen to its maximum as they broke into the building, knowing it was their final refuge.

Here's a view of City Hall from the back of the library. The view of the interior clearly shows why they had to evacuate.

Luck had not been on their side and that was not about to change as the water rushed down hill into the library and began to fill the building with the men inside. They had entered the windward side of the building and as fast as the water was rushing in, exiting the same way was impossible. The only other option was the front door. Made of metal and thick laminated glass, it might as well have been a brick wall. As the water continued to rise inside the building, the men tried everything to break out, including shooting their .40 caliber service pistols repeatedly into the glass. Nothing would work.

The .40 cal hollow points didn't even come close to penetrating this glass. In the second photo you can see through the library to City Hall.

The only thing left to do then was pray…hard. And pray they did. One of them must have been on good terms with the Almighty because just as they had resigned themselves to the tortuous death that awaited them, a car, which was in the parking lot between City Hall and the library, crashed through the back door, knocking down the entire wall, and miraculously, floated right out the front door, taking the officers and the mayor out with it as the water literally washed them out into the front parking lot. The only way that car could have fit through the double doors was bumper first and even then…just barely. They spent the rest of the night clinging to trees as Hurricane Katrina destroyed their town and killed friends and neighbors. The next day, the Mayor abandoned his office and left town. He has not been seen in Pass Christian since.

Here's the path that the car cut as it tore through the library. The water line is clearly visible as the books on the top shelf are all that survived.

Woe be unto the one who is arrogant enough to say that all of this was just coincidence. For there is no doubt among the men who almost drown in the town library that night, that there is most certainly a very powerful and merciful God who spared their lives.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Bitchin' time!

The Florida Highway Patrol decided a while back to "consolodate" their communications operations into a regional response area. Bad idea. They've had nothing but problems since. We used to have a direct private "ring down" line to FHP dispatch and could, with the push of one button, speak with a Highway Patrol Dispatcher to make notifications or exchange information. Now, since the move, 9-1-1 Dispatchers have to wait in line just like everyone else who is dialing the 800 number or *FHP from their trusty little cell phones. The problem with that is may ring for two or three minutes straight and then just get dropped off into some telephonic waste basket with nothing but dead air on the other end. If you are connecting a caller, department policy requires that you stay on the line with them until they are connected and actually speaking with a human. That may be 3, 4, even 5 minutes in some cases. In the mean time 9-1-1 may be ringing off the hook. Someone needs help but can't get an answer at 9-1-1 because I'm stuck waiting with some bullshit fender bender to hit the FHP lottery and actually get someone to pick up the blasted phone.

Have we ever lost a caller because no one could answer? I would imagine we have. Could some woman, for example, who has just a few seconds to dial 9-1-1 before her abusive husband finds her locked in the closet and decides to beat her to sleep, miss her opportunity to get help because the Highway Patrol hasn't seen fit to fix their damned phone problem in two years? Feasibly, yes. Would a jury give a flying wombat shit about some arbitrary department policy requiring calltakers to stay on the line with a non-emergency caller while lost in some endless automated loop with another agency? Hell no! Would they blame the FHP? Doubtful. Would they blame our policy? Most likely. So why is it so damned hard to get someone up at the top of the food chain to issue one of the "thou shalt's" or the "thou shalt not's" in favor of prioritizing a presumed emergency on a ringing 9-1-1 line over a known non-emergency on some impossible transfer? Why can't someone with a higher pay grade and a little more job security have the scrote to "leak" to the media the problem with FHP and their reluctance to address it? Perhaps that would force them into replacing the whole damned system if need be. Why can't someone insist that we get a permanent direct line like we used to have? Why can't FHP, like just about every other public safety dispatch center in our entire state, get a damned Nextel as a back-up so we can make contact? We have a confidential private number for the damned water company for pete's sake! They don't put us in line with everyone else. Why the hell does FHP? We're 9-1-1...not Joe Schmuckatelli! Gimme just one day as king...just one day and I'll fix the world, or at least a whole damned lot of it!

Monday, May 01, 2006


You may notice some changes on this blog. (--CENSORED--) will appear anywhere there is a specific word that could, might, possibly, or conceivably identify the specific agency where I work. I've been informed from supervision that Management may have a problem with my first amendment right being exercised may cast them in an unfavorable light. So I've had to delete some pictures and others will be doctored.


Friday, April 28, 2006

Hurricane season cometh.

Me in downtown Pass Christian, MS -2005. That's town square right there, folks. (click for larger view) You can see the vault for the bank just left of the tree, one of the few things left standing. That's not wind damage. Where I'm standing was under about 9 ft of water!

And here we go again. Summer's just around the corner. We activate our EOC probably 4 or 5 times a year because of these cursed tropical storms. We're good at it though. My region of the United States has got their stuff together, let me tell you. Katrina was less than a year ago. Now we're gearing up for it all again. We were fortunate last year. We didn't take a direct hit from Katrina. We did take a direct hit from (-CENSORED-), but the world hardly noticed. We still haven't recovered from Hurricane Ivan and probably won't for years to come. Katrina gave us a pretty swift kick in the ass, but nothing like Missisippi. Those poor folks in Pass Christian lost their whole town. Screw New Orleans. The world never even noticed Mississippi.

If we don't get hit, this year, almost certainly someone nearby will. And very likely, those of us who are field deployable will be on some task force for response. So far, I've deployed out of town for Hurricane's Charley, Katrina and Ivan. How does a dispatcher deploy you say? I drive and operate this:

"--CENSORED--" Command Center

It has deployed more frequently than I ever would have guessed. It looks roomy, but a week on that son of a gun with no showers, eating MRE's is no cake walk. I do make very good money while deployed and for that I feel very fortunate. While the rest of the impacted community must stay at home, unable to work, those in public service are able to continue to make an income. Though we get no time off during times of disaster and must sacrifice the ability to be at home to make needed repairs and see to our own belongings and families, we are able to continue to provide financial support.

That's the bright side...all of it. Man I hate summer, but here it comes anyway.

And the contract goes to....the lowest bidder.

Damn that concept! Cheap is cheap. We've been in our new communications facility with all of our fancy consoles and computers for 16 months now. Everything is high tech, buddy. We're talking state of the art! Everything, except of course, the most important thing. The 9-1-1 phone system is the cheapest, most unreliable piece of shit ever created for public service. (--CENSORED--) sucks!!

They have built for us a phone system that does not meet even half of our specifications. About one third of the calls we take doesn't make it to the recall list. So you can give up on calling back that 9-1-1 hang-up you just got. Instant transfer keys will just quit working for no freaking apparent reason. Server connection is lost multiple times, daily and when that happens, nothing works. Currently, we have no working method for manually transfering a 9-1-1 call to a 7 or 10 digit number. That's a problem because if we don't have a working instant transfer key, the call does not get transferred to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Mark my words, this phone system will kill somebody! And until it does, nothing will happen. Apparently 16 months is not enough time for the clowns at (--CENSORED--) to work out the bugs on this system. It is essentially a beta program, a clear violation of the specifications that (--CENSORED--) bid upon. Only one other call center has this version and it's up in Alaska. I have no idea how well it works for them but it is cursed daily here in (--CENSORED--).

Boy, you look at EMS and Fire and how EVERYTHING they have is the absolute best money can buy. No expense is spared, and that is as it should be. But what the hell were they thinking by letting us go live on an unproven, untested, cheesy piece of shit system like this?? Our old call center was 1980's technology. Buttons, buttons...everywhere buttons. Little blinking lights and more freaking buttons. But by gawd those buttons worked, every single time. It was reliable. Now, Four or five computer screens is all you see and we have more stinking problems than anyone can count. The public knows nothing of it all. If they did they'd be pressuring their commisioners to fork out some jack for replacing this ridiculous piece of crap. "Don't worry" they say to us, "the County Attorney's on the job now. Things are about to happen." Bullshit! that was 6 months ago. Nothing's changed. Way to go folks! Just sweep it under the rug, no one will notice! Maybe it will kill someone but we'll cross that bridge then, right?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"What we haaave heeeeeah.... is a faaailyure.... to communicate!"

ME: "9-1-1"

CALLER: "I need a 'bambulance' over here to carry my wife to the hospital."

ME: "Sir where are you?"

CALLER: (gives location)

ME: "What's a phone number where I can reach you if I need to call you back?"

CALLER: (gives phone number)

ME: "We're getting an ambulance headed that way now, I need to ask you a few questions, OK?

CALLER: "Yeah, OK."

ME: "Is your wife conscious?"

CALLER: "Huh?"

ME: "Is she she awake?"

CALLER: "Yeah, she awake."

ME: "Is she breathing?"

CALLER: "Yeah, she breavin'."

ME: "Is she alert?"

CALLER: "Is she a what??"

ME: "Is your wife ALERT?

CALLER: "Man, I ain't never heard of no..."LERT"...she a African American."

ME: -- sigh--

The worst society has to offer.

Imagine the lowest form of human life you can. I'm talking gutter trashed, pond scum...people who are lower than whale shit. I had the misfortune of speaking with one of these oxygen thieves today. This woman...I mean substandard lifeform of the female persuasion...decided that after breeding 4 children into this infant, 2 y/o, 9 y/o, and a 12 y/o...she would like the Great State of (--CENSORED--) to take over the responsibility of raising them because, and I quote, "These damned kids won't shut up." I couldn't believe my ears. Her excuse was that she was a "single mom" whose husband left her. She said she was afraid she'd hurt them if they were left in her care and that they all needed to go to foster homes.

Can you imagine the paralyzing fear that would envelop a child who just learned that mommy doesn't want them anymore and they're going to be taken away to live with strangers? What a bitch! They ought to rip her reproductive machine out so she can't pollute the world any further. If I were king, she'd be forced to live in a halfway house and work to pay for the foster care expenses of those children until they are self supporting adults. She'd also have her picture posted on billboards with a caption reading "Please don't breed with this woman, she's already given birth to four orphans!"

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

It's thankless but somehow I still love it.

Most people have a general idea of what 9-1-1 dispatchers do. Somewhere there is an emergency, someone dials 9-1-1, and the dispatcher answers and sends help….Simple right? I wish. No, nothing is ever simple when it comes to dealing with people, especially when they need help.

They expect you to push a button and solve their particular problem. You may not know where they are. They may not know where they are. They may be sick, injured, angry, crying, belligerent, insane, mentally challenged, hysterical, high, drunk or dying. They may speak like they have a mouth full of marbles…”mush mouths” we call them. As an English speaking dispatcher, you must be fully capable of understanding different dialects of English like Redneck or Ebonics. (For those of you who think those aren’t separate dialects complete with their own vocabulary, pronunciations and grammar, you’re sadly mistaken.) They may be able to do nothing but wet their pants and scream at the top of their lungs into the phone and expect you to decipher from their blood curdling shrills their location and nature of the emergency. It’s amazing to me how many people in this world can absolutely lose all of their faculties when confronted with an emergency. They instantly become useless, blubbering idiots, totally incapable of controlling or helping themselves, much less anyone else. Equally amazing to me is the high percentage of people who walk around every day having absolutely no clue where in the hell they are. They may know how to get where they are going but to tell you where they currently are…not a chance. Most people can’t even tell north from south. As if fate had a sense of humor, these are always the people that call 9-1-1. For this reason, a dispatcher must be intimately familiar with their entire jurisdiction…geographical geniuses, if you will.

Multitasking is probably the most essential ability required of a dispatcher. One must be able to give patient information to responders on the radio for one incident, while typing notes from another incident. They must be able to simultaneously take one call while finishing the narrative of another, and looking up the location to yet another in a map. Try talking about one thing while typing a complete thought about another. It’s tougher than you think. Their short term memory must be excellent. They must be able to remember to make that notification to the Highway Patrol or Power Company after the rush slows down, which may be 10 phone calls later. You may be working three channels at one time. Someone can call you on one channel, and while you are answering them someone calls you on another. Now you have two conversations going simultaneously. While you are communicating with one unit, the other unit is delivering important information that must be absorbed and properly disseminated. Trust me…it’s an art, not a science.

Twelve hour shifts take their toll on the mind and body. We have no regularly scheduled breaks. That’s right, public safety is exempt from what the department of labor requires of other industries. You eat while you work. Because of this, management is quite flexible on unscheduled breaks. Smokers get the most breaks. Needing a cigarette is like needing to go to the bathroom. Apparently it’s a good reason to have to leave the room. I don’t smoke so the only breaks I get in twelve hours of work are those involving the restroom…usually 3 minutes or less. Down times, or periods of inactivity require nothing more than you manning your post. So it’s hard to complain because those times may be spent reading, watching a muted television or having a personal conversation with a coworker. These times of inactivity usually don’t last long but inevitably they are the times when visitors enter the room. Firefighters and Medics come in and see you doing absolutely nothing and form the unfair opinion that that is all you do. They of course have no room to judge. Anyone who has ever walked in a firehouse and seen 5 firefighters kicked back in lazyboys, sleeping or watching their big screen TV could vouch for that. Medics at an outlying post spend much of their day in a similar fashion. They often fail to piece together the simple puzzle that if they are busy so are you.

But dispatching involves no immediate threat or hazard to life or limb so they are often viewed or treated as the redheaded stepchildren of public safety…no doubt an integral and essential part but less the glamour and recognition. Some Medics and Firefighters can come across as snobbish, high maintenance primadonnas whose egos constantly require stroking. Certainly not all of them are like that. Most of the those types are rather new to the job. Occasionally they will literally strut in and strike a pose in all of their tactical gear and expect some kind of hero worship almost like they assume that we all somehow aspire to get out of the radio room and into an ambulance or fire truck. Most of us have years of field experience and, having been there done that, are not easily impressed. Their higher pay and fatter retirement benefits add fuel to the belief that they are somehow higher ranking than we are. As far as EMS is concerned, the smart medics know that we actually manage their work load and could make their day absolutely miserable if we chose to. We could easily control the difference between, say.... 6 transports and 12 transports. I've always got plenty of non-emergency BLS transfers to spare that I can put on a particular pain in the ass crew. Or I can purposely leave a central post wide open for them...knowing they won't sit there long. It usually doesn't take long for the rookies to learn.

So why do this thankless job? Well it certainly isn’t the paycheck. It’s most definitely not the glory or recognition. (If a dispatcher makes the headlines you can bet it’s because he or she screwed up.) I do it for several reasons but the most significant is the satisfaction of knowing that I do an important job that not many people can do and that at least once a day (usually more) I make a difference in some person’s life. Whether they recognize it or not, I do. At the end of the day, somehow that’s enough. It’s a constant reality check as well. I take less for granted. I look both ways two, maybe three times before pulling into traffic. I spot and scrutinize suspicious people more thoroughly. I monitor more closely the whereabouts of my children. I take every opportunity to tell them I love them because I know first hand that tomorrow may not come. It keeps my feet firmly planted on the ground. My personality has a natural tendency to forget such things, and I need the constant reminder.

9-1-1, it's what I do.

I decided to start this new blog to include a more specific subject matter than can be found at Wight Wing Wadical, specifically my job. Not everyone cares about what I do for a living or wants to hear me bitch about it. Many people may not even understand. Hell, most people probably won’t understand. Some of it I don’t understand. Complaining about work at work is most unadvisable. Therefore, most people must seek out a place to do so because bottling it in is even more unadvisable. This medium seems ideal, so I’ve chosen this place to put my thoughts in writing.

I happen to find it healthy to be able to sit and reflect on the tragedy I’m exposed to everyday. Reflection is impossible to do while immersed in the daily stressors of public safety work but it is necessary to either make sense of it all or at least file it away in some orderly fashion. Lack of reflection will lead to a callusing of the senses…not the same as the desensitization that is essential to being effective at intervening in an emergency, but rather a hardening of the heart and emotions that make us human, the very things that separate us from the lowlifes that we have daily contact with and come to despise.

Those in this business have a tendency to judge people by looking at them through the same lenses as they do the vile, drunk, seedy, perverted, belligerent, violent, crazy, hysterical, sometimes downright evil element of society that we are exposed to everyday. Unfortunately for us, it is these types of people that either need our services or cause others to need our services most often. However, we must treat everyone the same. Sinners and saints are supposed to receive the same level of service. We are forced to automatically equalize everyone in order to provide the level of service that the public expects. Turning that particular area of yourself off when you leave work often proves more difficult than one might imagine. Burnout is common. Change in personality is inevitable. Divorce rate is high, clinical depression is rampant, and alienating one’s self from everyone including loved ones is an unintended but often unavoidable side effect of a life spent serving others.

The inability to talk about the things that we see, hear and feel with those we love is due, in part, to the often correct presumption that they will not understand. There is also an underlying desire to protect them from those extremely low levels of society that we so often encounter. It is common to entrust these reflections only to those who do the same thing we do day in and day out. Cops tend to gravitate to other cops, Firefighters to Firefighters, and the same with EMT’s, Paramedics and 911 dispatchers. That natural gravitation often causes an “us against them” distrust of other specialized public safety professionals. That “inter-service rivalry”, as it is sometimes referred to, is not spoken of very often outside of the small circles we’ve come to trust. But it is there, and any public safety professional who denies it is just a rookie and will be properly indoctrinated soon enough.

So it is here, that I will attempt to dissuade myself from taking on the unhealthy characteristics of the burnouts and assholes that so often make up the veterans of Public Safety. Not all posts will be negative. I will bitch when bitching is necessary. That may be pretty often but I will attempt to include those things that make this job worth doing as well. Perhaps by doing so, I can maintain some sense of individuality, keep hold of my own personality and sanity and continue to be the person that my family and friends love. Perhaps by putting these things in writing, I will be able to keep from alienating myself from those who are most important to me. There is an advantage to composing one’s thoughts in writing. You can’t backspace and edit in a conversation. You can’t take back what you’ve said, but a composition always comes out just right.

My name is Jason, and this is what I do.