Poem: The Lost


There are those

who (in their white suits and masks)

pick bodies from the sea

as they flee

from their country

and

the terrors

as they become debris

floating

bloated

But some

they save

among the waves

to set them free

to walk the land

and hopefully smile

eventually

Yet in some places

we’re not so kind

instead of boats

they trudge for miles

in heat and sun

and dirt and grime

to find a place

of unwelcome greetings

with guns and gas

and fearsome meetings

Some say all these folks

don’t belong

here or there

but only where

from whence they came

Yet why I ask

would they risk their lives

and leave home as well

unless where they left

was a living hell

 

Note: this poem was inspired by a Documentary on Netflix called “Fire At Sea”. Amazing, but difficult to watch, especially given what’s going on in my country (the US) presently with the refugee crisis. It’s not for the faint of heart to watch, but I feel necessary for anyone who has a heart and cares about their fellow human…

 

 

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Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come For You???


Some of you may be surprised to know that I am taking a 9 week course in my town that is a Citizen Police Academy. No, this doesn’t mean I will walk around with a gun or even a taser when I’m done. But it is giving me a close up perspective on what the women and men do on my city police force.

The idea behind this Academy is to build community between the citizens and the police department. Of course, the folks who show up for the course aren’t necessarily the ones they need to preach to–we are their choir already. But we’re also tax payers and some of us are future police officers, and it’s a good show they put on.

They give us all the bells and whistles; or at least dogs and flash bombs. Every section of their department gives a presentation from the marine unit to the SWAT team to dog officers. We’re up close and personal with equipment, loud noises…and maybe not too close to the German Shepards.  Not only do they present the history of this department, but of how certain units came to be initially; like SWAT units started during the race riots in the 60’s.

Having been a paramedic I’m used to working near the police, so some of the stuff is familiar. But I admit, this is a medium city and this department has some pretty big advantages. This also means different types (and more) crime. In some ways being in the class gives me the willies knowing what goes on around me, like the gang violence for instance. Who knew they are high school kids? But in other ways in is comforting to know these people are quite dedicated to serve and protect in some extremely dangerous situations.

An interesting thing I have noted is how many women work in this department; the Chief is currently a woman and one Assistance Chief too. Even one of the SWAT members is and the program is incredibly rigorous. It’s also a very culturally ethnic department.

This department does other community events like Coffee with A Cop where they meet the public at none other than Dunkin’ Donuts just to have open dialogue. Not a bad idea in these troubling times.

We get to sign up for two ride-alongs with an officer on duty. I’m looking forward to that one. Hopefully I’ll get some action that night. Maybe we’ll catch some bad guys? It might bring me back to my ambulance days…sigh. One (silly) man asked if he could bring his gun that night if he had a concealed weapon license; the answer was a resounding NO. Really?!

Anyway, a lot of effort goes into this course, and I know it’s really a bunch of PR for them, but they do have a hard job. My cop friends would tell me over and over that all they saw was bad stuff and bad people. It got old for them and some were pretty bitter. Maybe this is a way for these guys to do something good for a change? And to get a good rap for once? It’s not an easy job by any means; trying uphold the law when there’s so much negative stuff in our world these days. I don’t envy them.

And some of these Officers do this stuff on a voluntary basis simply because they love what they do and are committed to it. There are certain teams (like SWAT) that are voluntary to be on call until you’re called.  That’s pretty amazing when you think about it. And yet they train constantly! These Officers were not folks I would want to meet up with at any time! Yikes.

So, I’m learning some interesting and new things. And trying to look with an open perspective. Even though there are some police that don’t exercise good judgement , I wonder what it would like without any of them?

Good Or Evil?


There are some things in this world that can either a very good thing or a very bad thing. Recently, I’ve wondered if the Internet is a perfect example of one of these things.

Certainly it is quite obvious the wonderful qualities the Internet provides to us all–especially you bloggers out there! For me personally, I never would have had the opportunity to test my writing or photography skills on such a public scale. Much to my surprise, both have been greeted with great positive delight and careful considerations. It is truly a highlight in my life (if that says anything about my life!!).

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Delighted

Another amazing–and so current–part of the web is how it connects people! Again, it has been my great fortune to meet some wonderful bloggers who have become my friends. But beyond that: people meet future partners, have job interviews, start businesses, visit Grandchildren, read the news from around the world and get any random bit of information from this amazing thing called: The Internet. You never, ever would have thought of this 30 years ago!

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 Fellow bloggers fall from the same tree!

But this very same thing that helps, can harm. Most of us are innocent in our browsing and searches: looking for how to spell some word or how to cook some new dish. All these things are at our finger tips. We can do or find anything…and so can someone with evil intent.

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The dark side of the Internet

The Internet gathers information like Antarctica gathers snow. Each snowflake holds a bit of data waiting to be read. Purists have been trying to keep the web free from monitoring–let the data be free and unencumbered. People have a right to search, gather and download whatever they want from this treasure trove of information no matter what they may do with it after some say…. Or do they?

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The treasure trove tree

Police, FBI say it’s OK to get on a perp’s phone or computer if they were terrorists. Maybe they could get information that could lead to stopping further attacks. Others say if we set a precedent  of hacking into people’s privacy, then we’re as good as lost. Back to the McCarthy era of profiling potential bad guys. Some feel if you have nothing to worry about, then you shouldn’t worry about the Internet being monitored–your data being monitored for subversive searches: if you’re innocent, no problem.

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Find the Red!!

There is always a way to get information from one group to another, Internet or no. If the bad guys want to recruit, they will. Even within Nazi concentration camps, the prisoners had underground rebel groups that stock piled weapons. They had no web to pass this information back and forth, rest assured of that one! But the Internet makes it so easy and so International! Click a button and wham…join a terrorist group. Scary.

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A mysterious symbol? No just a tile on my patio! 🙂

Certainly, we all want to be safe from these horrible extremist groups, but our right to privacy in this country is also paramount. Unfortunately, every time we push the power button on the computer and hit either Google or that big E….we’re putting ourselves out there for anyone to find us….eventually. Hopefully it’s only for things like clothing ads and other nuisance items that attach to your searches.

I guess the moral of the story is: be careful what you search for, because Big Brother may eventually may be watching.

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If you find me big Bro, I just want peace!

Wise Words


“Language informs behavior.”

This was a quote I heard recently on a local public radio station as stated by Dottie Morris, the Chief Officer of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs At KSC.  This was in reference to two local ‘officials’ (one a police chief and one a politician) making racial remarks in public. One was overheard in a private conversation in a public place, which sparked much public debate about his first amendment right to freedom of speech.

Living in a small New England state that prides itself in freedom of all sorts it didn’t surprise me that, while people might not like what this man said, they felt he had the right to say it. So they called in to this local talk show and said so. Emphatically.

But when Ms. Morris said these three simple words: language informs behavior, I stood dead still in my kitchen. There were no more words needed to say, although the show had about 45 minutes still to air. I didn’t have to listen to much else after those words because she was so right.

Someone who says degrading, derogatory and prejudicial remarks would not ever be someone whose behavior you would expect to be anything but superior, mean and discriminatory. Certainly no-one should act these ways, but to have our public figures represented by these attributes is disgraceful!

She went on to explain that these behaviors will lead them to create or vote for certain legislation or profile people and even treat their constituents/community members differently. And this is unacceptable. We don’t even need to discuss the police issue as its rampant in the news. Sadly, an incident like this only supports the public’s outcry.

So there is no excuse. If words are coming out of someone’s mouth, in a public place or private, and they are clearly negative towards another race, sex, orientation or whatever, then obviously that person’s heart and soul feel a certain way. There is no convincing me otherwise! Oh ‘it’s just a joke’ is bologna!

Remember the wise words…when it comes to anything really: LANGUAGE INFORMS BEHAVIOR

And watch (and think) about what you say.

Being On My Game


A weird thing happened to me on Friday on the ambulance. I’ve been an emergency worker for almost 20 years and can say that only one other time have I been hurt by a patient.

We were called to meet the police for a patient. Anything that involves the police is usually never good and this certainly was the case for this call. The patient was face down in a driveway surrounded by way too many police officers.

On closer inspection and after hearing the story, we came to find out he had been assaulted with a baseball bat and was extremely drunk. Over the years I’ve dealt with many intoxicated patients and they are usually happy or angry. This guy was the latter. Pissed off and very aggressive.

This should have been my first clue we should have brought PD with us. My partner was quick enough to realize that I shouldn’t be in the back alone with this guy, but luckily extra people were showing up because it was change of shift. Unfortunately, the wrong person ended up in the back with me.

It’s our job, no matter what, to try to keep a situation under control and to try to remain professional and under control ourselves. Sometimes this can be extremely difficult given the harsh conditions we are expected to perform under and the unpredictable patients. This was one of the cases.

The partner I ended up with in the back that night has also been under his own stress and personally does not have a high tolerance for abusive patients. So this was a volatile situation waiting to happen. I suppose I should have realized it.

From the get go the patient was mouthy and rude, swearing and pushing all the buttons he could with both of us. It becomes very hard to feel the compassion and sensitivity to help a person when they are calling you every name in the book! But try we must and realize that it’s maybe the alcohol, personal pain or some other reason that makes the person act the way they do. It’s never our job to judge. But still….it’s not easy!

So the situation became more ramped up and the patient kept demanding us to move him, and the more we explained what we were trying to do, the more angry he got. My partner ended up moving him (because he got angry and upset himself) a bit rougher than he would have normally.

The patient immediately knew what was going on, and that’s when he just flipped out. His swearing escalated and his anger soared. He ripped off the collar we had put around his neck to protect his spine and flung it. It hit me square in the face! I was stunned and it hurt.

But now all bets were off. I knew this guy meant business and while my partner wasn’t right, we were potentially in danger in this little box. So I rapidly drew up some medications to calm the guy down and some pain medications too (which I planned anyway). It was explained they were to help him and he willingly received them.  And everything finally became in control.

Police were waiting when we arrived. The patient apologized to me (although he was still angry at my partner), but I explained to him what he had done to me was uncalled for because I had done nothing but try to help him. And I told the police he assaulted me.

After the call, I did talk to my partner and explain that I felt what he had done was unprofessional. He hadn’t realized what he had done or how upset he had become. We are all only human after all. He felt this guy kept screaming that he was choking and wasn’t listening, so he ‘rapidly’ moved him.

It was a good lesson to us both to be more diligent. We should have brought the police from the beginning. My instincts had kicked in long before he hit me that I should give him something to calm him down. Sometimes verbal reasoning is futile as in this case. Substances blur all reason.

I have no idea what this guy is like normally. Honestly, I have no desire TO know. But we were lucky this time. I could have been hurt much worse. But it scared me. And I know who to be in the back with now in the case of a dangerous patient. We have to trust our partners with our lives in my business. And we always have to be on our game. Because we never know: we can save a life, or lose ours.

Yet Again: Schools Under Attack


Today I pondered what my post might be when I looked at my computer and saw the news. Yet again an attack at a school, and by a student. As I clicked through the photos, I was struck by how familiar they are becoming these days! It’s like they could be taken and used for the same event. The ones of parent and child huddled close after the event leaving the tragic scene. A lone onlooker/student standing holding a phone ready to call someone or just rung off a call. Ambulances lined up in front of a school that holds in its belly the bloody bodies. School buses lined up too early for the kids to take them to an appointed safe area. Firefighters, police and EMT’s swarming a place they just don’t belong. And aerial shots of a local high school or elementary school in some small town USA.

I grew up in New York City. I took the subway to my public school. I was a white kid in a primarily non-white school. We had stuff in our school: cherry bombs, fist fights, kids making out in the hallways, smoking. Girls used to stick pins in my butt walking up the stairwell on the way to class. I even got into a fist fight with a kid in a class once. But I don’t ever recall this kind of violence. Not so pervasive, so recurrent, so callous and so vicious. It’s hard for me to understand.

There are many theories: the computer and access to the internet; the lack of family control; the growing mental instability; the lessening of social ties. I’m no psychologist, so I don’t venture to guess why this is happening. I only know it pains me to see. To know that parents cannot find a safe haven sending their children to school is almost incomprehensible to me.

Recently I read home schooling was on the rise. I used to feel completely against this form of teaching, that it gave the kids an unfair social disadvantage. But now…I’m not so sure. Just from a safety point of view, I think I might understand! If we can’t figure out how to keep our children safe in schools, why would anyone want to send them there? But we don’t want them prisons either.

And this is where it becomes just so sad. Part of learning now has to be how to protect yourself from a potential attacker, knowing it could be a fellow student. Does this breed mistrust, or does it build self-confidence and awareness? This is the world in which we now live, and this is a pathetic reality. We can’t just pretend it isn’t. But we don’t have to like it.

Bring me back to the days when kids played in the streets or woods and not on their computers all day. Where a healthy dose of sunshine beat out iPads and texting. If you were outside all day, then maybe the TV you saw was minimal and didn’t involve seeing endless violence over and over. The time when children had decent role models. Not ones that shoot each other and seem to be made into icons by their media, slowly tempting their underdeveloped brains into mimicking that destructive behavior. The days where families spent real time together, when everyone wasn’t running in 20 different directions busy with their own thing.   Ah those days are mostly gone!

But one thing we can do is: give money to our schools so they aren’t crowded and teachers aren’t pressured. Then teachers can help us teach our children properly. Because remember this: Our children will be inheriting this earth when we are gone!

 

How Do We Deal?


With the latest shooting, I don’t know where to begin to deal with my emotions. I was at work sitting at my computer where I usually am when I’m not on the ambulance or working around the station when I saw the news. Like everyone, I was horrified, hit by depths of sadness and overwhelmed by a sense of disbelief. Why? That is what we are all asking–on a seemingly daily basis. Why, does this keep happening?

And people of my generation keep saying and feeling that it didn’t seem to happen as much when I was younger. But I’m not here to talk about the why’s. We could argue that until we are blue in the face: too many guns, not enough gun control, too much internet or lack of control on the internet, poor health care system for mentally ill people. Whatever it may be, all I know is that it is happening and innocents are being slaughtered at an alarming rate.

I looked at the photos that were shot on the scene. And just like when I heard the news all I could do was cry. The faces of the people show the pain and senselessness of it all. Then I think five seconds beyond the initial horror to the job I would have to do if I was responding to that scene and I just am not sure I want to be part of the human race any longer. I see that, too, in the faces of the fire fighters and EMT’s/paramedics and police. My fear are the pictures that are conjured in the minds of the family members, the co-workers, the play-mates, the community members and anyone involved. Sadly these images will last a life time. And the holidays forever a reminder.

Do these shooters have any clue when they do these things and the long-range reverberations that are caused?  They are so often killed themselves in the event, so we can’t get in their minds. Do they only think in the moment that they act? Our questions will echo in our heads and hearts just like the bullets that sounded in that school today. But unlike the bullets which only cause death and endings, questions help us to heal and create changes.

So how do we deal? How do we find solace in something so inexplicable? How do we go on and find joy when others suffer so greatly? Some have their religion. Some their families. Some never do. Yet some take a monstrous event like this and create a way to help others out of it. I can only hope these families find some way to find their joy and peace again someday. And that maybe somehow we come to learn the ‘whys’ of these events so we can eliminate them. Until then, I try desperately to hold on to that strand of hope I have in humankind–that somewhere in us kindness remains. Please let me be right!