Time to Pass the Torch

When you read this, North Carolina will be trying to begin its recovery from Hurricane Florence. This storm caused horrendous flooding in the eastern part of the state. I would like to give kudos to North Carolina Emergency Management for a tremendous job of coordinating this response. Every Swiftwater USAR team in North Carolina was activated and deployed, as well as over 20 out of state teams to help with the rescue and evacuation efforts. It will take years for folks down east to recover, so please keep them in your prayers. image

I have been writing this column for 20 years now and have enjoyed it a lot. I have seen the technology in vehicle rescue evolve from a pry bar and can opener, port-a-power, and plain old raw strength to perform vehicle rescues, to battery operated power tools. I have seen the vehicle technology go from lap belts, to pre-tensioning seat belts, and airbags. The strength of the high alloy steels used now is much stronger than those used in the past. Greater challenges than ever before. I have enjoyed seeing these changes as much as writing about them and teaching them.


My motto has always been to “train to your best and be good at what you do.” The lives you save may be someone you know, or even your own family. I have always pushed training and to practice challenging scenarios to make you think out of the box. It is better to know it and not need it, than to need it and be clueless. There is a lot of knowledge online now, that was not available in the past. You can take a little time to read up on new technology and even some new techniques that you may not be familiar with. But do remember, no classroom or computer will ever replace “good ole hands on training.” You need to get your hands dirty.


Another thing to remember is your safety and the safety of your crew. If any one of these players get injured, the game now changes. Things will not proceed like they should. There is no reason with good training and practice, that things can not be done in a safe and efficient manner. Everyone is a Safety Officer on a vehicle rescue scene. The more eyes the better. In this case, many heads can be better than one or two.

One Fight

Now for a biggie. There is no room in public safety for politics. We are hear for one reason and one reason only; to serve the people and save lives. In order to make this happen, there is no Republican or Democrat, no male or female, no gender or ethnic issues, we are all one in this fight. We are here to collectively make things better and save lives, as well as have each other’s back. We are here to work together and put our differences aside long enough to get the job done. We are doing this for them, not us.

I came into the rescue and EMS world in 1975. There was no money or benefits, there was late hours, time away from family, and dealing with things that I will never forget. The ghosts will always be there, you just have to learn how to deal with them. You will never be wealthy as far as money is concerned, but you will have a wealth that only a few get to experience, “a feeling of making a difference.” Do this for the right reasons and you will reap the benefits later.

Ask for Help

Since I brought up the ghost, I do want to touch on this for a moment. It took a while, but the medical community and general community has come to realize that public safety folks do suffer from PTSD. How you choose to deal with your ghost can make you or break you. Most of us are type A people who are too “badass” (excuse my language) to seek the help they need. For this reason, too many folks are depressed and committing suicide than should be. I have had two past Garner EMS and Rescue members commit suicide and one of my Reds Team members do the same. Help was not there then, but it is now. Folks, if you stay in this business long enough, you will see some things that will hit you to the core, and do not think that things will not come back to haunt you, because they can. Find a good way to handle your day to day stress and get help if you need it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Well, if you haven’t figured this one out yet, this will be my last “Extrication Education” column. I am ready to pass the torch. Now, I will continue to write articles and will continue teaching classes as I have always done. I will be available if you have questions, chat or just want to have a cup of coffee. David is not going anywhere, at least not yet I hope. If you are struggling with a ghost, give me a shout, I will gladly walk beside you through that valley of shadows. Train hard, stay open minded, never stop learning, and stay in touch. May God bless each and every one of you and your families for the jobs you do.

If you have any questions or comments, please shoot me an email at reds100@aol.com. Until next time, train hard, be safe, and know your equipment.

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