Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Remembering Andrew Heiss: Life from the Perspective of an Intern

Andrew Heiss was a summer Intern during 2015. He graduated from Towson University in December of 2015. Andrew’s father Joe is a CPA, a great personal friend and has been our accountant for neigh on 10 years. 

On the 11th of April, while attending a training program for a new research position for CoStar Realty in Richmond, VA, Andrew, at the age of 23 died in his sleep. 

During his summer employment, I asked Andrew to write an overview of his assignments and accomplishments for the next bunch of Interns. His poignant and illustrative remarks follow below:

Dear New Intern,

First off, I would like to congratulate you on obtaining an internship with The Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge!  This is my first of a few letters to you, as I write this one from the perspective of just one month, part-time, on the job.  You will learn about many aspects of working in an office, and many aspects of event management.  Not only will you be in the office, but you will be traveling to places that you haven’t imagined traveling to before.  I just returned from a Challenge in Tyler, Texas, and later this summer I will be heading to a Challenge in Lexington, Kentucky with the Firefighter Combat team.  Hopefully I will attend even more challenges.  In this letter, I will be discussing the various tasks that will be required from you, and my suggestions to help you do the best possible job while helping the company, and learning and having fun.

In the office you will be working very closely with Naseem, our accountant and office manager.  Most of your work with Naseem will consist of scanning invoices and receipts, filing, copying, and working on the computer using QuickBooks, Word and Excel.  It’s helpful if you have prior experience with Excel, but Naseem is good at teaching what needs to be done.  Invoice and receipt scanning can cause some problems, because it can be quite tedious.  You will be using QuickBooks to search for items that match prices and dates from the invoices and receipts, and then scanning each to attach to the proper item.  It’s tedious because sometimes it’s hard to match each one up, but this task is important because it’s necessary to have every purchase the company has made supported with the proper documentation in the company accounting system.  Some other office tasks I have performed include answering phone calls, mailing and shipping packages, and some light cleaning.

Also in the office you will help organize media clips that are tracked online.  Currently I am working with a service called Magnolia Clipping and Broadcast Monitoring Service.  Magnolia tracks media clips (print and TV coverage) of companies throughout the country.  We have some sort of subscription with Magnolia, and I have been working with their online service to filter out the relevant and irrelevant information regarding our company.  There are thousands of media clips that have key words such as firefighter, combat, challenge, or Scott Firefighter Challenge.  “Scott” is our title sponsor . . . more about them in my next letter to you.  We need to filter this information to determine the impact of our online presence so we can have accurate reports to give to Scott and other current and potential sponsors. 

Now I will talk about the exciting part of the internship . . . traveling.  You will be traveling to various parts of the country to work at the actual competition where firefighters compete against each other in an obstacle course geared to firefighting.  But slow your roll young intern, this event isn’t as glamourous as it sounds.  Its hard work and long days.  I’m told each Challenge has different logistics and itineraries, so I will discuss my first and only experience that I’ve had so far last weekend in Tyler, Texas. 

I woke up at 4 am after watching the first game of the NBA Finals the night before.  Big mistake, the game went into overtime so I was up until midnight.  I my team lost.  I met Dr. Davis at the office in Burtonsville at 5 am and he drove us to BWI airport.  I was excited and nervous at the same time because this was my first time flying (Yes, can you believe it, I just turned 22 and this is my first time flying).  Anyway, we took off from BWI at 7 am and flew to Dallas.  Then after a couple hour layover, we took a commuter flight into Tyler and landed around 1 pm Texas time, 2 pm Maryland time.  Even though I didn’t get much sleep the night before, I didn’t sleep on either of the flights. 

When we arrived at the Challenge, I was very surprised to see the Challenge course already set up and pretty much ready to go.  Our road crew is very impressive.  Really, I was very surprised, pleasantly surprised.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  I thought we were going to help set everything up, but instead the guys from Maryland just helped with the final touches of the setup of the course.  Then I had various tasks throughout the event, including issuing boots to the competitors in exchange for their driver’s license as collateral, then exchanging them back after their race was completed, and numbering the Air Packs used in the competition.  During the competition, I took pictures with Dr. Davis’ Sony camera, picking up trash, helping out wherever else I could throughout the event.  Mostly I asked questions and observed because this was my first Challenge.  After the event, I was starving, so I was thrilled that we ate dinner at Outback Steakhouse.  We returned to the hotel about 10 pm Texas time.  Long day, great day . . .  I went to sleep immediately.

The next day we woke up around 7 am and we were at the event at 8:30 to set up for day 2 of the event.  Pretty much the same thing, exchanging boots with the competitors, number Air Packs, taking pictures.  After the event was over, following the road crews lead, the cleanup took about two hours and required heavy lifting and organizing.  I organized and put away the merchandise in one of our trucks.  I also helped the crew put away the giant tower that the competitors used in the course.  Once all of that was done, we drove to the airport, took the commuter flight back to Dallas, and then the main flight back home.  We landed at BWI around 12:30 am.  Home, sweet home!

For the office work I don’t have a lot of advice, it’s pretty self-explanatory you just go in and learn the job, it’s general office work you will get the hang of it.  For someone who has never worked in an office before, this experience is a great learning opportunity.  A few basics when traveling: 1) make sure you are well rested before you head out.  Long days are ahead of you. 2) Bring and use sunscreen.  Tyler, Texas is basically a desert and it’s close to 100 degrees. 3) Learn how to use a high tech camera before you go on the trip and look at some of the previously taken pictures beforehand to get a feel for what is expected.

Working here is a very valuable, because you are getting a white collar and a blue collar experience.  I’m told most entry level jobs will have both white and blue collar work, so I’m diligently working hard and trying to absorb and learn as much as possible.  Yesterday I participated in a staff meeting for the first time.  I took pretty good notes and I look forward to working on the items discussed.  Pretty cool stuff.  I look forward to telling you about my second month here.  Until next time!


Thursday, March 30, 2017

In Case This Comes Up Again

The criterion tasks that comprise the Firefighter Combat Challenge are based on exhaustive research of frequently performed, arduous or critical fire ground tasks.

Believe it or not, back when I was serving on the NFPA 1583 Task Force in the early 1990’s, there was push-back against tasks that were “too hard.” The dummy drag was cited as unrealistic; when would a firefighter have to drag a victim, a full sized adult any significant distance?

Well, for one, in the middle of a snow storm, while functioning as an EMT that night, we were called to the scene of a single family unit (SFU). Two victims were pulled from the residence. There was at least a foot of snow on the ground and the ambulance was parked as close as we could get to the scene. The guy that we got had to be 250. He was in his skivvies, with second-degree burns on his torso.

The litter could not be deployed because of the snow. So, I took the torso and my buddy the feet and we carried him backwards (for me) at least 100 feet to the gurney. That was the longest 100’ ever.

Sorry; no video back then. No cell phones. But, here’s something that comes pretty close.

Check out this video:

This Twitter feed captures exactly the biomechanics of the dummy drag. I haven’t heard much by way of doubt these days. I’m pretty sure that anyone who’s been in the emergency service business any length of time has had to move a body by grasping them under the arms and around the chest.

It’s nice to know that you have this capability before being called upon to do it for real.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Earn This

Webmaster note: There are several stories that are quite moving making the rounds on the Internet. As moving as they may be, unfortunately, some turn out to be bogus. The following essay is NOT one of those. It is genuine.

After reading this essay by Dr. Ellison I did a search and also found the following testimonial as to the veracity of the story. 
It is by Robin Juhl, Captain, USAF (retired)
    Since I work at a San Antonio military installation, I was able to quickly verify that the lost generation is indeed written by the doctor to whom it's attributed. So said the secretary of the Brooke Army Medical Center Emergency Department, at (210) 916-5512. According to this nice lady, the good doctor is now working nights at Wilford Hall Medical Center. She has already fielded more than one call on this.

August 2001
"Stephen R. Ellison" Earn This
(2008) Another source - this article:

Earn This
By Captain. Stephen R. Ellison, M.D. USA

I am an Army doctor specializing in emergency medicine in the emergency departments of the military's only level one trauma centers. Both are in San Antonio, and we care for civilians as well as military personnel. San Antonio has a large military retiree population partly because of these two military medical centers.

As a doctor training for my specialty, I work long hours and the pay is less than glamorous. It's easy to become jaded by long hours, the lack of sleep, food and family contact, and the endless parade of human suffering passing before me. The arrival of another ambulance does not mean more pay, only more work. Many times it's a victim from a motor vehicle crash. Sometimes it's a person of dubious character who has been shot or stabbed.

However, with a large military retiree population, ambulances often arrive with a nursing home patient. In the past, I've caught myself groaning when the ambulance brought in yet another sick, elderly person from one of the local retirement centers that cater to military retirees. I had not stopped to think of what these citizens represent.

Then I saw the movie Saving Private Ryan, starring Tom Hanks. I was touched deeply. Not so much by the carnage in the first 30 minutes, but by the sacrifice of so many soldiers. What touched me most was the final scene. The elderly survivor at the graveside asks his wife if he has been a good man. I realized I had seen these same men and women coming through my emergency department not realizing the magnificent sacrifices they've made. The things they did for me and everyone else who has lived on this planet since World War II are priceless.

When the situation permits, I now try to ask my patients about their experiences—they never bring up the subject without an inquiry. I have been privileged to an amazing array of recounted experiences in the few minutes allowed in the emergency room. These brief encounters have introduced me to some incredible individuals I am honored to have served in a medical capacity, many on their last admission to the hospital.

There was the frail, elderly woman who reassured my young enlisted medic trying to start an intravenous line in her arm. She remained calm and poised despite her illness and the multiple needle-sticks into her fragile veins. (She was what we call a "hard stick.")

As the medic made another attempt I noticed a number tattooed across her forearm. I touched it with one finger and looked into her eyes. She said simply, "Auschwitz." Many later generations would have loudly and openly berated the young medic for his many attempts. How different was the response from this person who'd seen unspeakable suffering.

Then there was the long-retired colonel who, as a young U.S. Navy officer, had parachuted from his burning plane over a Pacific island held by the Japanese. Now an octogenarian, he cut his head in a fall at home where he lived alone. His CT scan and suturing had been delayed until after midnight by the usual parade of high-priority emergency patients.

Still spry for his age, he asked to phone a taxi to take him home, only to remember that the ambulance had brought him without his wallet. So he asked if he could make a long-distance call to his daughter who lived 70 miles away.

With great admiration we told him he could not, as he'd done enough for his country; the least we could do was get him a taxi, even if we had to pay for it ourselves. My only regret was my shift wouldn't end for several hours and I couldn't drive him myself.

I was working the night Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez came through Emergency for the last time. He was very sick. I was not his doctor, but I walked to his bedside and took his hand. I said nothing. He was so sick he didn't know I was there, but I'd read his Medal of Honor citation and wanted to shake his hand. He died a few days later.

The gentleman who served with Merrill Marauders, the soldier who lived through the Bataan Death March, the Omaha Beach survivor, the 101-year-old World War I veteran, the former POW held in frozen North Korea, the former Special Forces medic now with non-operable liver cancer, the former Vietnam Corps Commander - I remember them all. Though I may still groan when yet another ambulance comes in, I am much more aware of what an honor it is to serve these particular men and women.

I am angered at the cutbacks implemented and proposed that will continue to decay their meager retirement benefits. I'm amazed at those who can turn their back on these individuals who have sacrificed so much to protect our liberty. And there are later generations that seem to be totally engrossed in abusing these same liberties won with such sacrifice. It has become my personal endeavor to make the nurses and young enlisted medics aware of these amazing people when I encounter them in our emergency department. Their response to these heroic men and women makes me think that perhaps not all hope is lost when it comes to the next generation.

My experiences have solidified my belief that we are losing an incredible generation and this nation knows not what it is losing. Our uncaring government and ungrateful civilian populace should all take note. 

We should all remember that we must "earn this."

Captain Stephen R. Ellison, M.D. is a resident physician specializing in Emergency Medicine in the joint Brooke Army Medical Center - Wilford Hall Medical Center Emergency Medicine Residency in San Antonio, TX. He served as the initial company commander and program director for the new Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center, Ft. Bragg, NC prior to the start of his residency. He currently resides in San Antonio, Texas with his wife Marta and his two children.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Coyote Principle

*  The Governor of California is jogging with his dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out and attacks the Governor's dog, then bites the Governor.

*  The Governor starts to intervene, but reflects upon the movie "Bambi" and then realizes he should stop because the coyote is only doing what is natural.

*  He calls animal control. Animal Control captures the coyote and bills the state $200 testing it for diseases and $500 for relocating it.

*  He calls a veterinarian. The vet collects the dead dog and bills the State $200 testing it for diseases.

*  The Governor goes to hospital and spends $3,500 getting checked for diseases from the coyote and on getting his bite wound bandaged.

*  The running trail gets shut down for 6 months while Fish & Game conducts a $100,000 survey to make sure the area is now free of dangerous animals.

*  The Governor spends $50,000 in state funds implementing a "coyote awareness program" for residents of the area.

*  The State Legislature spends $2 million to study how to better treat rabies and how to permanently eradicate the disease throughout the world.

*  The Governor's security agent is fired for not stopping the attack. The state spends $150,000 to hire and train a new agent with additional special training re the nature of coyotes.

*  PETA protests the coyote's relocation and files a $5 million suit against the state.


        *  The Governor of Texas is jogging with his dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out and attacks his dog.

        *  The Governor shoots the coyote with his state-issued pistol and keeps jogging. The Governor has spent $.50 on a .45 ACP hollow point cartridge.

        *  The buzzards eat the dead coyote.

And that, my friends, is why California is broke and Texas is not

Friday, March 3, 2017

Blooper Reel

This compendium of out-takes, screw-ups and otherwise funny snippets from a wide assortment of venues was recorded and edited by Montgomery Fire Rescue.

Before feeling smug about your own run, keep in mind that anyone who’s been around for more than a season can sympathize!

Thanks to Robbie Bates

Thursday, February 23, 2017

WCXXVI Louisville Advance Feb 2017

Louisville Airport (SDF) Main Terminal Signage 

This is a nice way to be greeted upon arriving in Louisville, KY on the 22nd of February. I was headed for the escalator taking me from the B Concourse to the main terminal when the LED caught my eye. I thought, “Hey, that looks familiar!”

I was in town to work on logistics for our 26th World Challenge Championships, this coming October. On the agenda was an inspection of the parking lot of the Marriott, the Host Hotel for this year.

Of most importance is the parking lot, directly on the South side of the Marriott. Here’s static shot from the 10th floor:

If you want to get the view from ground level, click here:

The Marriott Parking Lot: facing South from the 10th (top) floor

You’ll also be impressed with the Fitness Facility. It’s not an afterthought as is so often the case in hotels. Here’s a 360° view of the equipment. Click here:

We’ll be providing timely updates on all the 411 for Louisville. Check back here, or watch for our Newsletters, Hot News and Facebook for more details as they become available. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Input on Eye Protection from Billy Godfedder (Close Calls)

Well...if someone once told you that you have beautiful, dreamy eyes, we don't care-this isn't what this is about. However, your help is needed for a quick survey so the NFPA folks hear from FIREFIGHTERS and eye protection related to helmets.
Below is a survey link on eye and face protection developed by the NFPA 1971/1851 Task Group on Eye and Face Protection.  For decades, the NFPA Technical Committee has struggled in developing a practical minimum standard for fire and emergency services eye and face protection.  Currently, there are partial face-shields, flip-downs (bourkes), and goggles.  Many fire fighters remove all forms of face and eye protection from their helmet.  Often, helmet-mounted eye and faceshield protection are damaged or dirty to an extent it is almost opaque.  Contamination issues are now a concern.  Opinions vary.  
-Some think that eye and face protection should not be attached to the helmet.  
-Some think if it is removed from the helmet, there will be no face/eye-protection at all.  
-Some think eye and face protection should be integral with the helmet so it is protected when in the stowed position.

So...a Task Group was formed to study this in further detail.  The first step in this process is to obtain info and opinion from you, FIREFIGHTERS... on what is currently being used and gather input from YOU,  the fire service. The data and input collected will be used to determine if there should, or should not be changes to the NFPA 1971 and 1851 standards.

It is known that the SCBA face piece provides excellent face and eye protection.  The purpose of this survey is to determine emergency responder needs for face and eye protection when the SCBA facepiece is not required. 

So here ya go ol' blue eyes, take 5 minutes to provide the information so that the opinion of dreamy eyed Firefighters count:
Take Care. Be Careful. Pass it On,
The Secret List 2-6-2017-1300 Hours

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Cooperstown Must Decide if it’s a Museum or a Shrine

© George Will, Washington Post Jan 22, 2017

Many Americans are more thoughtful when choosing appliances than when choosing presidents, but the baseball writers whose ballots decide who is “enshrined” -- more about that verb anon -- in Cooperstown’s Hall of Fame are mostly conscientious voters struggling to unravel a knotty puzzle: How to treat retired players who are known or suspected to have used performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) while compiling gaudy numbers?

Such chemicals increase muscle mass, thereby increasing hitters’ bat speeds, pitchers’ velocities, and recovery from the strain of training and competing. On Wednesday, two highly probable users, Roger Clemens (third-most career strikeouts, seven Cy Young awards) and Barry Bonds (career and season home run records, seven MVP awards) reached 54.1 percent and 53.8 percent, respectively, up from 45.2 percent and 44.3 percent last year and approaching the 75 percent threshold for admission. Only three players have reached 50 percent without eventually being admitted (Jack Morris, Gil Hodges, Lee Smith).

Cooperstown’s administrators -- it is not run by Major League Baseball -- and the writers-cum-gatekeepers must decide what the institution is. Its title -- the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum -- implies that the hall containing the players’ plaques is somehow apart from and other than the museum. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “museum” as where “objects of historical, scientific, artistic or cultural interest are stored and exhibited.” A “shrine” contains “memorabilia of a particular revered person or thing.” Cooperstown stipulates that “voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

Some players’ records reflect abilities enhanced by acts of bad character -- surreptitious resorts to disreputable chemistry that traduces sportsmanship. But as younger writers who did not cover baseball during the PED era become Hall of Fame voters, the electorate is becoming less interested in disqualifying PED users. These writers should, however, consider why PEDs matter.

They subvert the central idea of sport -- athletes competing on equal terms. Distinguishing legitimate from illegitimate athletic enhancement can be complex: The body produces testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) that are components of some potent PEDs. Enhancements improve performance without devaluing it only if they involve methods and materials (e.g., better training and nutrition) that help the body perform unusually rather than unnaturally well.

PEDs mock the idea that winning is a just reward for praiseworthy behavior -- submission to an exacting training regimen and the mental mastery of pressure, pain and exhaustion. Drugs that make sport exotic make it less exemplary; they drain sport of admirable excellence, which elevates spectators as well as competitors.

Beyond this civic interest in honest athletics, there is a matter of justice. Many former ballplayers missed having major league careers, or longer major league careers with larger contracts, because they competed honestly against cheating opponents, or lost playing time to cheating teammates. These handicapped-because-honorable players could have leveled the playing field only by using dangerous PEDs, thereby jeopardizing their physical and mental health and forfeiting their integrity.

And consider Fred McGriff, who in 19 sterling seasons during the steroid era hit 493 home runs, seven short of the 500 mark that has generally opened Cooperstown’s doors to eligible players (retired five years) not suspected of PED use. There is no suspicion that McGriff used PEDs, and if he had he certainly would have hit many more than seven additional home runs. The closest he has come to Cooperstown’s 75 percent is 23.9 percent in 2012. (He received 21.7 percent Wednesday.) And there are players in Cooperstown whose careers were enhanced by amphetamines, which once were ubiquitous in baseball but now are banned.

Until baseball’s steroid parenthesis, only one demarcation had disrupted the game’s continuity, that between the dead ball era and, beginning around 1920, the live ball era. The parenthesis has been closed, although the financial incentives to cheat are such that there always will be sinister chemists competing to concoct PEDs that defeat the efforts of other chemists to detect them. The incentives can, however, be decisively reordered by sufficiently severe penalties, which almost all players would favor.

If Cooperstown is content, as perhaps it should be, to be merely a museum -- not a negligible thing -- then Bonds and Clemens belong there as important elements of the game’s story, and their story should be candidly told on their plaques. If, however, Cooperstown wants admission to mean enshrinement, it must embrace and articulate the Hall’s ethic. America has never more urgently needed the insistence that real success must be honorably achieved.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Starting the New Year with some humor

Author Unknown

1. My goal for 2016 was to lose just 10 pounds. Only 15 to go.

2. Ate salad for dinner. Mostly croutons & tomatoes. Really just one big round crouton covered with tomato sauce. And cheese. FINE, it was a pizza. I ate a pizza.

3. How to prepare Tofu:
a. Throw it in the trash
b. Grill some meat

4. I just did a week's worth of cardio after walking into a spider web.

5. I don't mean to brag, but I finished my 14-day diet food in 3 hours and 20 minutes.

6. A recent study has found women who carry a little extra weight live longer than men who mention it.

7. Kids today don't know how easy they have it. When I was young, I had to walk 9 feet through shag carpet to change the TV channel.

8. Senility has been a smooth transition for me.

9. Remember back when we were kids and every time it was below zero out they closed school? Me neither.

10. I may not be that funny or athletic or good looking or smart or talented. I forgot where I was going with this.

11. I love being over 65. I learn something new every day and forget 5 others.

12. A thief broke into my house last night. He started searching for money so I woke up and searched with him.

13. I think I'll just put an "Out of Order" sticker on my forehead and call it a day.

14. November 6, 2016 was the end of Daylight Savings Time. Hope you didn't forget to set your bathroom scale back 10 pounds on Saturday night.

15. Just remember, once you're over the hill you begin to pick up speed.