Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

Thanks you are not forgotten 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses, row on row, 
That mark our place, and in the sky, 
 The larks, still bravely singing, fly, 
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 
 We are the dead; short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields. 
 Take up our quarrel with the foe! 
 To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high! 
 If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Challenge, Mastery and Purpose

Quite a bit has been written about the trifecta of motivation that involves allowing autonomy, encouraging mastery and giving purpose. I subscribe to a slightly different perspective. I believe that motivation is just a part of a life worth living. And to have a life worth living, that is a life that will be remembered, you must have a purpose,experience challenges, and master them.

Purpose: As I told my son the other day. "No one cares about people that let the ship of their life wander aimlessly from port to port. People only care about those that take charge of the rudder and steer. Like a pirate. YOU NEED TO BE A FUCKING PIRATE!!!!" He grinned at me because he thinks I am crazy but the point was your life needs to mean something. It needs a purpose. That purpose changes throughout your life. As a toddler your purpose may be to simply grow. As you get older it may be to achieve higher education, or it may be to help others. Those without purpose stagnate and become stale. Their life is not worth remembering.

Challenge: Any purpose worth achieving will have challenges. These challenges or obstacles are what makes the purpose worth your time and your life. By continually meeting challenges head on we become stronger and better as people. Ready to meet another challenge.

Mastery: After repeated attempts we master the challenges. We achieve the purpose. If we are to continue to grow as humans and our life is to be remembered we then need to re-purpose. Find another purpose and conquer those new challenges.

My thoughts on this subject are similar to part of the Buddhist path "to develop wisdom and understanding." Challenge, Mastery and Purpose make a remembered life.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

EMS pay and dangers.

I have been a member of emergency medical services since 2006. I have worked or do work in a volunteer based service ,private for profit based and County government affiliated EMS system. Prior to that I spent 22 years in one of the most dangerous and demanding jobs in the United States Military. Where real life and death decisions were made in training and combat on a regular basis. Where people died on training jumps and by the hand of the enemy. So I am going to lay out some truth here.

Truth #1
EMS providers are not "heroes". Individual providers may do heroic deeds but 99% of the time the job is pretty mundane. Are we any more heroic than a nurse or doctor if all we do is establish an IV and administer some pain medication? The answer is no. In those situations EMS providers are doing the job they are paid for. Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch I also wholeheartedly think the term "hero" and the phrase "thank you for your service" are terribly overused in the context of our military as well. It is all very disingenuous. Heroes do heroic things. This is heroic: Benevidez MOH Citation as is this Medic refuses to leave man with grenade lodged in leg. Putting a pressure dressing on a laceration is not.

EMS providers pay is for shit. As a Paramedic I get paid between $10-$13 per hour. At the security firm I manage an individual can walk in off the street and with a high school diploma or GED and make the same amount to guard a pallet of bananas. I had to go through thousands of hours of training, spend thousands of dollars on tuition and have to attend continuing education to maintain my proficiency. Depending on the call I may literally have someones life in my hands or have to dispense narcotics or other drugs. I was once told that you get paid for responsibility and not how hard you work. This holds true in most professions but not EMS. Most EMS providers I know work at least 2 jobs to stay afloat. I personally work a full time job in the security industry and two parttime EMS assignments. The pay levels are abysmal.


Truth #2 is more than likely because of a actual or perceived lack of professionalism within our own ranks. EMS in the United States needs to raise the bar of professionalism. Volunteers and paid services should be held to the same standards. At a minimum it should be required that a Paramedic acquire an associates degree. Pay should be based on experience and training much like nurses. To advance you should be encouraged to get a B.S. As long as EMS providers wear shirts like this:

We will never be taken seriously. EMS needs to UFY

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Beverly Fat Tire Frenzy

I had a long blogpost written and then I lost it. So I will summarize. This was my first mountain bike race in 3 years. I came in DFL. The mud was terrible, it was slick, there was lightning and pouring rain. I didn't fall down. It was a good day.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Safer Faster Knife Defense

Recently in an attempt to broaden my horizons I attended a course conducted by Alessandro Padavoni and assisted by Ken Crawford. This class was something new to me. It was titled Safer Faster Knife Defense. I have attended a few knife defense courses before but this class was based on the counter ambush methodology taught by the I.C.E. Training Company . I have become a big fan of the I.C.E. methodology and instruction. It makes sense to me. Safer Faster Knife Defense was an 8 hour block of instruction. We started seated in chairs. Alessandro gave a lecture on proper mindset and overcoming the fear and reticence of stabbing someone. He talked about carry positions and told us to carry on the weak side (opposite firearm) but train on the strong side. He talked about the fit,ergonomics and locking systems of the preferred carry knife. Safety,comfort and competence were discussed.

The lecture was short however, as this was a hands on class. Soon we were paired up and utilizing training knives to work on different grips such as the hammer grip,fencing grip and reverse grip. We were encouraged to actually make contact with the knives ( I have the bruises to prove it.) We continually rotated partners and moved on to different slashes and stabs such as horizontal,vertical and 45 degrees.  We worked on different draws like the combat draw and the stealth draw. We incorporated the counter ambush methodology as we "recognized the threat", established a grip, brought the knife up and out of the pocket and incorporated movement.

Once we were familiar with these concepts we moved on to unarmed defense. Using techniques which encouraged us to keep our arm angle greater than 90 degrees and splaying our fingers to recruit the extensor muscles. Many drills were used to demonstrate that these techniques gave a stronger and more stable platform for defense. We discussed groups of targets for an effective knife defense such as vascular (head,neck, femoral artery),muscular (muscles,tendons,nerves), Organs (kidneys,lungs,cerebellum, and liver).

Working with our partners again we practiced striking and attacking. Donning face masks we practiced gaining control of an attackers knife arm and employing our own knives. Even done at 1/2 speed this was an intensely physical practice and had me breathing heavily. Eventually it came time for the final force on force exercise. We all donned heavily padded training suits and head gear. One at a time we would be put in a scenario where we would have to react and employ what we had learned. When it came my turn I walked around the corner and was immediately confronted by a role player asking me what time it was. I told him and tried to keep walking but he continued to crowd me and eventually lunged at me with a knife he had pulled from the brochure he was carrying.

The fight was on! I tried to gain control of his arm but he was able to stab me a few times before I could do so. I did gain control eventually  but got fixated on taking him to the ground. We wrestled for control of the knife and I tried to gain control of his legs. I heard the instructor yell "Take out your knife!". I literally had forgotten I had one. I pulled the knife and starting attacking vital areas. Once that happened the instructor stopped the scenario. I was exhausted. I must have fought for less than 2 minutes. Alessandro gave me a quick critique mentioning the thing I had already identified as my weakness. Then I sat down and watched the rest of my class mates.

This class opened my eyes. I need to work more on unarmed or non firearms defensive situations. I need to reconfigure my personal fitness regime to incorporate more high intensity training. Yes I can run 100 miles but can I can fight off an attacker for 5 minutes? I would like to attend this training again in the future.