I woke up this morning with a couple of thoughts in my head. One, I severely miss my girlfriend, she’s currently working for Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth, TX over the summer. This is the second year in a row that we’ve done this. Last year was easier, because I was in paramedic school finishing the hardest part of my internship in the City. This year, however, I’m in a new apartment, in the City, but my schedule is slower with less actual work days. We’re making it work.

The other thought I awoke with was an early morning dream I had. It was fuzzy, very hard for me to make out what exactly was going on. There was a man; portly and tall, looking down his nose through a pair of half moon reading glasses holding a folder. I was reaching out my hand to him, I noticed my gray suit sleeve with the crisp white shirt cuff peeking out. I heard my voice, “I’d like to thank you, sir, for taking the time to sit down with me. I’m here to talk to you today about the D-Block spectrum”. That was it, I woke up, got showered and dressed and went to work. The thought though plagued me, why had a dreamed about EMS on the Hill 2011? I’m not the kind of person to put any thought into the significance of dreams, but my interest in advocacy has only increased after EMS on the Hill, maybe this was a subconscious desire to be back doing it again?
I sat down at work and opened my computer, coffee in hand I realized this was one of the first shifts that I’d come to work feeling actually refreshed and ready for the day. I’d had several cups of coffee milling around my apartment before work and I was feeling great. I thought maybe I’d write about how it is that we first responders get ourselves adequately caffeinated before the day begins. Just as I’m drafting an award winning post I pop on over to MedicSBK’s blog to see what he’s up to. Of course, he’s just sitting up in Massachusetts taking all of my ideas before I’d thought of them.

That’s it. Day’s screwed. Thanks. UGHH.

But wait! I’m down at the local Dunkin Donuts (preparing to be disappointed by my coffee selection) when I get a text from my mom (Nadine Ritter) who says, “have you been listening to NPR?”

“No, why?”, I reply

“There’s something about the D-Block and first responders on there.”

Coffee flies from my mouth like it’s a sprinkler, I hop in the medic unit and drive straight back to base, get online and I find this.

Big Important News Article

As it turns out, the advocacy campaign seems to be working. NPR was covering a story down in DC regarding just the thing which I had been so passionate about at EMS on the Hill. The allocation of the D-Block spectrum for first responders and emergency personnel. Dr. Michael Millins along with Lt. Laura Cathcart, Timothy Campbell, and Melissa Trumbull fought hard for several pieces of legislation down in DC. It warms my heart to see national media coverage of what we’d been fighting for.

For those who are unfamiliar, the D-Block is a broad spectrum of airwaves which currently is not being used. The plan currently is to auction the spectrum off to the highest bidder, that being most likely a wireless carrier or carriers who would then use it to expand their own 3G/4g/87G technology (whatever G we’re on now or moving to next). Undoubtedly the speeds at which you could download videos of cats falling off furniture would be mind-boggling. However, what we’re asking is that the spectrum be designated specifically for the use of first responding personnel.

Currently those of us in the emergency profession use various different communications technologies to interact between our dispatch centers and the resources we’re cooperating with. When I began volunteering at my local firehouse we had several radios in the ambulances, including an 800 mhz radio (just being introduced) the old radio system (being phased out) and a radio which was compatible with our neighboring counties. This was a MacGyver system for sure. Plenty of times we had to work around faulty technology or failing signals. Fortunately the push in the COG system for 800 mhz radios has allowed us to communicate effectively without having to have multiple radio systems in place.

THIS IS NOT THE CASE NATIONWIDE

In many locales the first responders are required to operate with outdated, mismatched, and poorly functioning equipment. During EMS on the Hill we tried to stay away from the 9/11 buzzwords, not to be irreverent, but it’s become overused. We’re looking for seamless day-to-day operability when it comes to simple communication between the various resources being used. Be it fire/rescue communication to police or to hospitals or vice versa, these are simple lines of communication which should remain open but don’t because of a lack of compatibility between systems. For me I have a simple Motorola radio (pictured) which unfortunately has the communications capability of a toy walkie-talkie. I’ve only been working here for a short time, but already I’ve had more failed consults with my receiving facility than I’ve had successes. With a standardized approach to communications, working within the needs of the individual systems, there could be effective and appropriate interoperability between jurisdictions and departments.

The crux of this post then is that up until now there hadn’t been much major media attention to the difficulties that go into just simply doing business as an emergency services provider. One of the points to be driven home is “what if it was your emergency?” The very fact that NPR has come out and is exposing the communications problems for what they are is important. Now, however, it’s imperative for those of you who want to see seamless communications within your jurisdiction to write your congressperson and fight for the allocation of the D-Block spectrum.

Read the article, visit NAEMT for more information. We are nothing if we don’t stand together on these issues. There are many more which plague our service, we know it, let’s take this one fight at a time and eventually we’ll start to see more national attention on the requirements of the first responders.

My apologies for both the long post and the hiatus, I’ve been slowly settling into my new position as well as the move to my new apartment. Things are going well, although, I’ve needed a boost of inspiration as of late. Burnout sets in quick for me, especially if I can’t see a light at the end of a very dark, very bleak tunnel. With the help of some very close friends though I’m always able to pull through, remember why I love this job, and why I love writing to you. Also, MedicSBK keeps stealing my ideas.

EMS Expo is coming up, we’re 47 days away as of this posting, I can’t wait. There is a thunder building and it’s going to come full force in Las Vegas. Even if nothing got done business wise I can guarantee EMS Expo 2011 would be a success because I’d get to hang out and network with one of the greatest groups of professionals I’ve ever known, the EMS 2.0 community.

Until next time,

Units respond routine, you’re scene is not yet secure