Friday, March 27, 2009

I Hate Crocs

Monday, March 23, 2009

I Am Alive !

I survived my Yellow Belt promotion test for Krav Maga.

Yellow Belt is the second belt one can achieve. A newcomer is, by default, a White Belt. The next, rather small and insignificant level up, is Yellow.

So why, you may ask, am I declaring that I survived this test against all odds ? What possibly could be so ominous about a meager first-level test -- one that in my previous discipline of Seido Karate was a simple matter of a short written test and a one-hour skills demonstration ?

The Yellow Belt test for Krav was Six. Hours. Long.

You read that right. Six hours of intense physical activity, for the first of many levels to be achieved in this great art. A far cry from my rather simple promotion test in my previous discipline.

How did I survive this marathon event without collapsing, vomiting, or all of the above ? I have absolutely no clue. All I know is that I was grateful for the rest that was achieved while holding the pad for my partner to do her striking and kicking. Having one's brains rattled by a strong impact to a pad held against one's body is slightly less exhausting than inflicting that on another person's pad.

Jacqueline and I counted 17 bruises on my body on Saturday after this marathon session. There are actually fewer today, because some of the smaller ones have melded together into larger hematomas.

As morbid as it may seem, I am actually somewhat proud of them. They are hard-earned, and a reflection of my dedication to my training. I just wish my calves and back didn't hurt so damned much right now. Time to pop some more Advil.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The EMS Motto

Friday, March 13, 2009

AEDs Save Lives

For a number of years, stretching back to before I was a member of the team, the ERT at my company was embroiled in a bitter battle with company management. At the center of the issue was a request from the ERT members for the company to provide Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) in each building, to be available to employees should the need arise.

Management initially resisted the request. It was too expensive. It would require training. It might open up liability issues. They wanted a wellness program instead. These excuses stalled the process for a good five years, frustrating the team members to no end.

Contrary to somewhat-popular belief, AEDs do not require training, although training is available in most CPR classes. The devices are designed for the lay responder, with simple diagrams and spoken instructions. In our state, the Good Samaritan laws cover possible liability against someone who is attempting to assist in good faith. And a wellness program doesn't do a damned thing for someone who has possible genetic predispositions, and/or who does not wish to participate. For these reasons, we argued, AEDs are needed.

Finally, in 2005, after some of the stonewalling upper management personnel moved onto other endeavors, the program was approved. AEDs began appearing in our buildings and on the shoulders of ERT Team Leads and Security personnel alike, to the delight of all of us who had fought so hard to have them approved.

There is no question that these devices have the potential to save lives. They cannot help everyone who experiences cardiac arrest, but if applied quickly to a patient who is experiencing certain types of heart rhythms, the AED can help reset the heart to a normal pattern.

This was proven, earlier this week, on another campus that our company resides in.

One of our fellow employees experienced a sudden cardiac arrest at his cube, hitting his head sharply on the corner of the desk as he went down. Our ERT on that campus sprung into action, began CPR, and applied the AED. Four shocks and four rounds of chest compressions later, and his heart rhythm and pulse were restored. He even regained consciousness before being loaded into the ambulance. Had the AED not been available, he would have undoubtedly experienced massive brain damage, or even death.

This day, was not his day to die. And it was made possible because the AED was nearby and ready.

Even more heartwarming, I just received an email that stated that the patient would be going home from the hospital in approximately one week's time. We all much prefer that, to his family attending his funeral.

AEDs are all around now. Look for them in public places. Take a CPR class. Learn to use them. One day, it may be your family member or your friend that may need it.

AEDs save lives. We have just proven this, on one of our own.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

California Livin'

It is the beginning of March, which signifies in this area a wave of blooming flowers and gradually increasing temperatures. It is a beautiful time of year, truly, when everything is green and vibrant -- unlike the summer, when the hills are brown and devoid of life.

Chris from the UK asked for me to send a picture of some blooming flowers, so here is a rather pretty one outside of my building at work:

Considering my home town in Canada is about 23F right now, I consider myself quite fortunate.

Chris also mentioned that Network Operations is a good industry to be in, as there is no work unless something breaks, or you need to do upgrades. In my Ops job with my previous company, this was partially true, at least for the first couple of years I was there. Now, however, it is an entirely different story.

The network that I support in my current job is so massive, and with so many pieces of equipment and varying technologies, that our team is fully engaged -- all day, every day -- in issues, problems, and proactive network management. Our hours per week vary, but they are almost never 40. And the days we are on-call, well, we can forget about a peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. It just doesn't happen. I actually broke the holster on my pager the other night, stumbling down the steps at 1:00am to find the source of an issue. Collateral damage, you could call it.

I love the challenge, the adrenaline, the moments of crazy until you finally isolate the source of the problem. I don't love the long hours or the midnight pages, but it comes with the territory.

One of my teammates once asked me, "How do you stay so calm during incidents, when the world is falling down, and everyone else is flipping out ?" The answer is simple: I'm trained for it. My EMT studies, and years of service as a volunteer dealing with medical and other emergencies, have taught me to remain calm in the face of chaos. I live for the moments of panic, and for the opportunity to offer comfort. And while a broken router module or switch chassis cannot be calmed in the same way as a human patient, I am all for finding the action that gives a satisfactory resolution.

It's a tough industry, and a tough job -- both of them. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

The blooming flowers at the beginning of March aren't all bad, either.

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