Living in the Present

Life is moving too fast, but if you were living in the present you might just be inspired

Here-and-Now
Its time to live during the now

It seems like life is moving too fast lately. With the increase in technology, everyone is on their phones, tablets, computers, and any other personal device which has made us lose site of the important things in life.  Social media has forced people to stop being social in my mind. Sure we write something down on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and all 1,300 of our followers instantly know that we just took a selfie at a rock concert. But is that actually being social, or is that just putting our every move out there for the world to see. It appears that people have forgotten to just stop and live in the present and enjoy the people around them.

Except for Tyson Pitts

Tyson Pitts on his bicycle living in the present
Tyson as he sets out on a 2 year adventure.

Recently while out on a project, Tyson Pitts came strolling into our camp looking to rest his legs and catch a meal. I happen to be looking out the window of my trailer when I see this gentleman ride in on a bicycle. Now, for most people they are thinking…So what, he was riding his bike. Well let me explain, our camp is set in one of the most remote locations about 40 miles South of Deadhorse, Alaska. If you happened to watch Ice Road Truckers on the History Channel then you have a good idea where we are situated and how extreme and desolate of a location it actually is. So yeah, a guy riding his bicycle is slightly out of the norm.

Anyways, as a paramedic I decided that I should walk over there to talk with him and make sure that he was doing okay and not in need of medical attention.  He says he is doing wonderful and was just hoping to get a meal as one of his packs off his bike had fallen off and he was out of food until he could get to the next town. So we sat down in the diner trailer and had a great conversation.

It turns out that Tyson is taking the next two years of his life to ride his bicycle from the tip of Alaska down to the tip of South America with the motto that he was born with a compass in his hand and a restless soul. He told me that he is in no hurry and that he plans to take his time and enjoy what is in front of him each day. He said he will camp, stay in hostels, work odd and end jobs to make a little money for food, and live in the present moment.  Talking to Tyson, he had so much charisma, he’s humble, and was so inspirational. There have been numerous times in my life where I wanted to just do something crazy, but I always found a reason why it would not work. Yet, here is a guy that set out on an idea and is just doing it. He doesn’t know where he will end up each day, what life will throw at him, and who he will meet along the way, but that is all a part of the journey and he is taking it by the handlebars!

SALA Remote Medics and That Salty Nomad Living in the present
Jason McLaughlin and Tyson Pitts South of Deadhorse, Alaska

I can only imagine the satisfaction that Tyson will have all along the way, and especially when he gets to his final destination. With that being said, not everyone can take off two years to ride a bicycle, however, we can take the time to sit back and just look around and observe the beauty around us. We don’t need to have constant stimulation from social media and checking the latest status of Kim Kardashian on TMZ. It is time for us to live in the present and follow Tyson’s lead. To learn more and follow Tyson Pitts along his journey check out his blog at www.thatsaltynomad.com.

Tyson, from everyone here at SALA Remote Medics we wish you the best of luck on your journey and be safe along the way.

 

By Jason McLaughlin, B.S., NRP, MICP

4 Reasons Being a Remote Paramedic is the Next Best Career Decision for You

What is the draw for so many people wanting to join public safety? Is it the television series or the movies where everyone is a hero? Is it the adrenaline junkies looking to fulfill a need? Maybe it was some sort of calling and they have the natural ability to care for people and have a general idea of doing something good for their community? Or maybe it’s as simple as they just kind of fell into it during college or some weekend retreat? Whatever the reason is, it is a good reason, and we look to our paramedics, firefighters, and police officers to provide a invaluable service to each and every one of our communities throughout the world.

Ambulance in action at nightHowever, if you are like me you only had a small understanding of what the job consisted of and there was a lot more that you didn’t know. I remember being about 15 years old when I discovered that I wanted to be a paramedic. I remember seeing that ambulance screaming down the road with their lights and sirens blaring and thinking… “Now that is the job for me!” I was one of those people that thought that I just had that natural ability to help people. 17 years later I am still an active paramedic, but I quickly realized that I was not going to be able to street corner post in an ambulance forever. All those things that I didn’t know about the job had been discovered; the long hours, the low pay, the slow opportunity for promotions, and the general toll it has on your physical and mental well-being.

Once you are a paramedic there are a couple of solid avenues that you can take. You work for a private ambulance company, join a fire department, become a flight paramedic, or increase your education and become a nurse, physician assistant, or even a doctor. But what if none of those interest you, are you stuck or is it time for a completely different career? Well I am here to tell you there is one more great opportunity and that is to be a remote paramedic.

I will tell you that I have spent my entire career on a private ambulance, and I will also tell you that I am grateful for it as I have learned so much, I have met amazing people, and changed the lives of countless individuals. But, as the years went by, I realized I was kind of lost and didn’t know what was next. I educated aspiring emergency medical technicians and paramedics and I did the whole management thing but at the end of the day I was looking for a change and a new challenge. As many of you know, becoming a firefighter is very competitive and not everyone makes it.  I have no desire to be a nurse and I was definitely not smart enough to be a doctor. Then I became a remote paramedic and it has turned out to be one of the greatest decisions of my career.

So here are my 4 reasons why being a remote paramedic may be the next best career decision for you.

 

The ability to travel all throughout the world.

As a paramedic on the ambulance your day is never the same, however, you are typically in the same city each day, sitting on the same street corner, drinking the same Starbucks coffee.  But that all changed with remote paramedicine.  I could be on land in the middle of nowhere and have helicopters buzzing all around as they build a new oil rig, and then find myself the following month in the Arctic Ocean on a large vessel researching sea life with scientists, to living on a train that has skis instead of rails moving across the tundra in the winter on an exploration. Now that is something different, and I am not stuck staring at the same light post day in and day out.

The View

Because the project is never the same, neither is the view. I have been to some of the most spectacular places that the average person will never go. I have seen animals like walrus, seals, whales, polar bears, and artic fox. Most people will never get an opportunity like this, but if they happen to they end up paying thousands of dollars for these excursions.

The People

I have enjoyed all of the people that I have met in my career as a paramedic, however, we were all likeminded and I saw the same people each day of the week.  When I got into the remote side I met amazing people from all over the world with different career paths, beliefs, cultures, ideas, and passions. I will tell you this is the best way to learn about the world and things that you had no idea about and broaden your horizons.

The Camaraderie

There is camaraderie in public safety, but there is also comradery in remote work as well, it is just different. Again, in public safety it is the comradery of likeminded people. Remote is a different comradery. Many of us spend weeks to months together at a single time and we all have the comradery for the project. When I was on the ambulance there would be the brotherhood for 24-48 hours and then we would go home. Out here, we learn to live with each other and although it has its similarities to public safety…it is different.  No one person is better than the next. Everyone looks out for each other from managers, to the cooks, all the way down to the custodial staff, because this is a tough and unforgiving environment.

The Pay

If you have spent any time in emergency services you know that pay is always a topic for discussion. The average emergency medical technician is paid at minimum wage to start out at and it doesn’t grow substantially as a paramedic. What if I told you that remote paramedics make up to 3 times what a private ambulance paramedic earns and you do that while seeing the world and meeting fantastic people all along the way?

Being a remote paramedic has its challenges, but I will also tell you that those challenges are outweighed by those top 4 reason. However, the pay cannot be your driving force, but if you are a person that is looking for adventure, experiences, culture, and an overall different career path, then remote medicine may be that solution. I have now been doing this for about 2 years and I have to say I don’t regret one minute of it and every time I arrive at a new project and look around I think to myself, “Now this is a job for me!”

 

 

About the Author:

Jason McLaughlin is the General Manager of SALA Remote Medics. He has been in the Emergency Medical Services Field for 17 years and has a Degree in Organizational Leadership and Emergency Management from Colorado State University.

How do you maintain your certification?

When one works for an ambulance service or fire department, it is generally easy to maintain your certification as agencies frequently offer enough training in-house that one does not have to seek out their own learning opportunities. It becomes more difficult to offer enough in-house training when everyone is in a different area. At any given time, several folks may be at home. They are the easy ones to reach. But, there are generally folks out in the remote areas, with limited access to continuing education.

All of the Paramedics with SALA are Nationally Registered. This means that they all meet the requirements of a very strict certification process. In some cases, the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) is more stringent than many states. NREMT requires 72 hours of specific training every two years. To make it a bit more difficult, only 22 of the required 72 hours can be completed through non-instructor contact (also known as distributive education). That means that some education can be completed using an online presentation or video with a quiz or magazine article with a quiz. The rest has to be through instructor contact. In the past, this meant that the student had to be present in the classroom for the entire educational session.

How is the classroom requirement overcome when people are working in disparate locations? One way is through web-based, instructor led, live presentations with immediate access to the instructor to have questions addressed quickly. This has been very beneficial for everyone… as long as the internet is fast enough to allow for video and audio to run without interruption. More often than not, we have little trouble making sure the Paramedics out in the field can access these educational opportunities. During those rare times when internet bandwidth is very difficult to come by, the presentation will be sent to the clinic and the Paramedic will be on the phone call while flipping the presentation to the next slide… think back to elementary school filmstrips. It seems archaic, but it works.

Many of us look for free educational opportunities that occur when we are at home and meet our schedule. There are lots of these that come up. Where I live, one can generally find 2-4 hours of free education per month within a very short drive. These are often in the form of lectures on an issue that has been seen in the local area, but they are also great venues for reviewing case studies of patients recently treated.

Another option is educational opportunities that must be paid for. These include classes that typically run from 2 days up to 4-5 weeks (2-3 days per week). Conferences are one of the most popular of these as they generally offer a wide variety of topics and afford the attendees the opportunity to spend time with colleagues and network. Courses in the two day range tend to be topic specific and focus on that one area for 12-16 hours.  For example, Prehospital Trauma Life Support is a 2-day course that focuses solely on trauma. This is a great way to meet the NREMT trauma requirements and to refresh on assessments and patient presentations that may not be frequently seen.

While maintaining certification through NREMT is important, we also must address training that is specific to the environment in which we work. This means that we are reviewing updates to Health, Safety, and Environment training along with required credentials such as the Transportation Workers Identification Credential and cold-water survival.

What does all of this mean? It means that when we are working, we are still able to work toward certification maintenance. But, when we are not out at a remote worksite, we still work toward maintaining certification. In the end, this benefits not only our clients and patients, but our lively hood as well.

By Scott NelsonB.S., NRP, MICP

No Place is Safer than Us