My Time At FDIC

April 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

So I started this post yesterday, but packing, traveling, and recovering definitely took priority, so here I sit Sunday night reflecting on this past week’s trip.  It’s funny that every year I attend I find myself having a different experience than any other year, but each year is still a GREAT experience!  This year’s focus was two-fold.  The first was introducing my father-in-law to the experience of Indianapolis and FDIC and the second was taking the opportunities given to me by Fire Engineering to share my thoughts and promote my book.

We arrived Tuesday and after checking in took an opportunity to check my computer and make sure it would be perfect for class.  Afterwards we took the opportunity to wander around and found my book on display at hte Fire Engineering booth!  There it was in all it’s glory!  I know that seems silly, but seeing my book on the shelf at a major trade show, really was a bit overwhelming!  We also found the sign that advertised my book signing opportunities. Honestly I think I was more impressed by the names that I was included with then with the fact that I was going to have a book signing.

Because of my schedule this week I wasn’t able to attend a large number of classes (only attended 1). I was able to help my husband get ready for his class (which was a smash hit). I was able to participate in a radio webcast with Mike McEvoy and Robert Raheb (I’ll share the link later). I was able to meet some amazing people! 

My first book signing was Thursday from 11-12.  Here I am:

It was an opportunity to put a face to a book. I actually had two people come and buy my book and ask for my autograph!  My class was Thursday night and was met with great reviews.  I taught on developing strong rehab operations and policies. I’m always happy to share information, but as happens in every class, I’m also just as happy to learn from my students. After class I went and got ready for the Courage and Valor 5K. I had set absolutely no expectations for the run, which was probably the best. I ended up walking some of it, but still finished in a decent time.  I was just happy to have participated in an event that raises money for a great cause and to bring focus to health initiatives for firefighters.

Friday we spent the day wandering through the exhibits. There is always new information, new products, and some great ideas. There are also lots of giveaways and contest to enter (which I LOVE doing).  Come one, you know we all love free stuff! It was nice to relax and take our time walking through. I had my second book signing and while I didn’t get an opportunity to sign any books, I was given a great opportunity to meet and talk to two fire service legends. Paul Combs (best known for his illustrations of issues in the fire service) and Battalion Chief Frank Montagna of FDNY.  These men have had a great impact and took the time to give me comments, ideas, and support for my book and future projects.  It really was an honor!

Saturday was leave time. We got up and did one last sweep through the exhibits. We packed, we entered one last contest, which my husband won and we went home.  The trip home became quite an experience (but that could be a whole separate post).  I’m happy to be home, but truly thankful for the experiences I had and people I interacted with.

I have a few more posts about the week that I’ll share throughout the next few weeks, but until next time…stay safe and don’t forget to follow on twitter (@stickysidedwn).


Friday Five – FDIC Five

April 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

So, given that FDIC is only three days away, and I leave next Tuesday (only five days from now) to participate, today’s post is dedicated to five things I hope to do/see/participate in during this year’s FDIC.

Top Five “To-Dos” For FDIC

1.  Teach My Class – This may seem like a simple concept, since that’s really why I’m going, but man do i look forward to teaching. I always come away from my classes feeling like I’ve met some great people, taken away some great ideas, and firmed up why I love doing what i do. The opportunity to teach to a national/international audience is a truly humbling experience and I love doing it each and every time.  If you are attending FDIC, my class is Thursday from 1:15-3:30 in Lucas Oil Stadium Room 10-12

2.  Take AMAZING classes – This conference is an amazing opportunity to take classes from nationally recognized names and from those people who are working their way to that status. It’s an opportunity to hear about programs and initiatives across the country that I might not have been exposed to. Fire Engineering has done a great job of finding a great mix of Emergency Management, Fire, and EMS training opportunities.

3.  Promote my Book – I don’t often like promoting myself, but Fire Engineering has given me a great opportunity two have two book signings during the conference. I will be available on Thursday from 11-12 and Friday from 1-2 to sign copies of my books.  If you already have a copy, bring it!  If you miss me at the Fire Engineering booth, stop me in the hallway and I’ll be happy to sign the book!

4.  Participate in some great events – This year I’m actually participating in the Courage and Valor 5k.  It’s a great opportunity to promote health, recognize a great Fire Service Leader, and hang out with great people.  My goal is to finish the event with a time that beats my split time from the 10K I just participated in, but other than that I look forward to running with some great people and being motivated to keep maintaining my health. Along with that event, I plan on attending the F.O.O.L.S. event on Wednesday night and watching the 9-11 memorial stair climb at Lucas Oil Stadium.

5.  Enjoying time with some amazing people.  Not just the ones I’ll be traveling with, though, but I also look forward to interacting with my fellow Fire and EMS service members, with the amazing employees of Fire Engineering who organize a great conference, meeting some new vendors, interacting with the people of Indianapolis, and truly just enjoying my time surrounded by a great city, wonderful people, and amazing opportunities.

This list may look corny, but this conference is truly a great event and I look forward to it each year!  If you haven’t been, you should definitely plan on attending next year.  The opportunities for learning and interaction are truly too many to number!

Are you going to FDIC?  If so, what are you looking forward to?

Until next time…stay safe and don’t forget to follow on twitter (@stickysidedwn)

What Resources are Out There?

April 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

I thought about calling this mental monday, but figured that might not be appreciated by someone who stumbles on this post. Emergency services humor can be kind of sick and twisted to some. Sometimes that’s how we help ourselves and each other.And sometimes the best way to help ourselves is to ask for help from others. That’s when the question comes into play: “What resources are out there?” What do you have access to that can help you deal with the things we see on the job?

One of your first resources should be your company officer. unfortunately not everyone has the opportunity to turn to that person. Whether it’s because of personality conflict or other issues. When this happens, you should have a mentor. Someone who understands the job, someone who understands the situations that can arise. This mentor can be someone who is retired, works in a different department/different station, it doesn’t matter.

The next resource is interdepartmental. I believe that each department (whether individual stations or entire jurisdictions), should have a group of people who members can turn to. i wouldn’t call it a formal debriefing group, but this should serve a method for providers to go to someone they don’t work with on a daily basis. Or in cases where they do not have a mentor or are fairly new to the department, give them people who have training and experience to bounce feelings off of. They may not have formal training and should DEFINITELY be the person that others turn to in the leadership role (whether formal or informal), but they should be there and willing.

Another resource that is out there for help is much more related to the career side.  If your department (whether career or volunteer) has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), this can provide you information and resources to assist with mental stress.  They are also able to provide assistance with substance abuse, financial concerns, legal concerns, and many other topics. Many departments offer EAPs that provide a few sessions for free, which should definitely assist in getting people to seek help.

Another resources you need to look into is the International Association of Critical Incident Stress Management. Not only do they provide trainings across the country, they also have access to the CISM points of contact for EVERY state.  This can help you find CISM teams after a major incident that might have you looking to conduct a debriefing.

I hope that you NEVER have to access the resources that I’ve mentioned, or other resources that you have in your department. However, you should always have quick access to the resources, should the time come that you do need.

I’d be interested in knowing what other resources you have at your fingertips.  Leave me a comment!

Until next time…stay safe and don’t forget to follow on twitter (@stickysidedwn)!

Friday Five – Five Leadership Characteristics

March 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking recently about leadership.  Good leadership vs. bad leadership, developing leadership, finding leadership, various different aspects of it. I serve in a leadership role at my volunteer agency and a supervisory role in my career, but also serve as a subordinate and a “follower” (for lack of a better term) in other aspects of my life. In recent months, I’ve begun considering what are the qualities of leadership that are both appreciated and not so appreciated, whether I’m the supervisor or the supervised. So, in honor of that, today’s friday five are five leadership characteritsics that I’ve encountered recently, and whether I appreciate the characteristic or not

Five Leadership Characteristics

1.  Willing to Get Your Hands Dirty – A leader who is willing to get their hands dirty is one I’m ahppy to serve under. This is the individual who not only delegates tasks, but recognizes taht they may need to step up and assist in teh completion of tasks. Instead of giving orders and then disappearing behind closed doors, this is someone who participates in the trainings, cleanings, and overall tasks at the station. Now, this characteristic can definitely become a negative thing when the leader is so busy doing the dirty work they forget to actually “lead the troops”.

2.  Ability to delegate responsibility – As a leader, I know that I do not have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to complete every task. I also recognize that the individuals who serve under me are qualified and capable of completing tasks assigned to them. With that knowledge, I’m happy to delegate the tasks to those people who truly should be doing the task. As an employee, I’m also much more appreciative when the person who should be doing the job is the one assigned the task. I’ve never been more frustrated than I am when my supervisor assigns a task to others, when it isn’t their task to complete.

3.  trustworthy – I need to be able to trust the person that is leading me. Maybe not in the personal realm, but definitely in the professional realm. On the street, I need to trust that the individual who is leading me isn’t going to lead me astray or in the wrong direction. I need to trust that the decisions my supervisor makes are going to be the safest, smartest, and best decisions to accomplish the goals. As a leader, I want me people to trust me and I want to trust them. Trust allows me to hand them a task and know that it will be complete. Their trust of me allows them to know that I’m not going to go around them to complete the task and that I’m not going to “sell them out” when something goes wrong.

4.  Able to share the spotlight – As a leader/supervisor, I am happy to share the spotlight. In fact, I’m happy to step into the shadows to ensure that the person who deserves spotlight gets it. It can pluck a nerve when I hear someone say “We did a great job” when they were not even a part of the group doing the job. As an employee, I do not do my job for the spotlight, but we can all admit that receiving recognition for our work is important. I’ve had bosses who have happily accepted the praise and accolades handed out for work that they had no participation in, beyond delegating the task to me. I believe that a good leader is happy to turn the spotlight on the people who truly deserve the recognition.

5.  Ready to Fight For His/Her People– I work for government and I volunteer in a government structure, so I know that you have to choose your battles. I’ve often said that the battles I fight for my volunteer agency aren’t necessarily the ones I would choose myself, but they are the choice of the membership. As someone who serves under leaders I want to know that my leader is not just in it for himself, but is willing to put aside his desires when the majority believes in something different. Nothing is worse than a leader who is only willing to fight “their” fights. It definitely breaks the trust, keeps the spotlight on them, and breaks down the group dynamic that we have in many situations.

 So, those are just five characteristics that I have come across that when applied appropriately can truly create a great leader. I can’t say that I succeed in demonstrating these characteristics, but I definitely strive to keep them in mind as I lead.  As with any of my lists, there are certainly many other characteristics that could be added to this list.  What do you look for in a leader or strive to be as a leader yourself?

Until next time…stay safe and don’t forget to follow on twitter (@stickysidedwn)

How Do You Mentally Prepare?

March 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is not a normal job.  Anyone who thinks that they can come into this line of work without preparing for what they will face and what they will deal with, is probably setting themselves up for failure. With the increased recognition of the mental impact of this job on firefighters, EMS providers, dispatchers, and police officers, we have really increased our attempts to prevent suicide and burnout. However, many of our attempts are reactionary. How many times have you been given a pamphlet or a number and been told to “call this if you have any problems”? We are ready to treat people AFTER they have issues, AFTER the incident, AFTER the ideal time to intervene.

One of the things I think that training academies, EMT classes, and departments need to begin integrating into their programs is resiliency training.

Resiliency, as it relates to psychology, refers to an individual’s ability to cope with stress and adversity ( In other words, it’s starting off mentally strong, so that when you are handed the call that is overwhelming you are already prepared for the impact it will have.  Resiliency teaches coping mechanisms so that as you experience the call, have the exposure, you are able to deal with it as it happens, instead of dealing with it ALL at one time.

Over the next few weeks I’m going provide information on mental health training for BEFORE the incident, DURING the incident, and AFTER the incident.

Until next time…stay safe and don’t forget to follow on twitter (@stickysidedwn).

EMS Nutrition #10 – Healthy Dessert Recipes

March 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

You know, it really is hard to admit when you fall of the wagon, but I think I’ve been run over by a wagon wheel. The past two weeks I feel like I’ve fallen off the fitness wagon. I’ve not stopped working out, but instead of five days a week it’s probably 3 and I’ve definitely gotten less strict in my eating/drinking habits. I think we all have those moments, unfortunately mine has lasted longer than I would have liked. So, in my attempt to jump back on the wagon/train/whatever, I’m back with the healthy recipes.

Healthy Dessert Recipes

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars –

I found this recipe the other day.  It’s amazing. You can add any filling, or even bake without a filling. You can also add dried fruit to increase the healthiness. Not only are they cheaper than buying the standard cereal bar at the store, they provide

Grilled Fruit –

As previously stated, fruit is a great natural sweet food that can be used as a substitute to your normal desserts. Grilling fruit adds a different texture/taste and can be a healthy variation of your standard foods!

Strawberry Shortcake

This is a healthier version of a strawberry shortcake. The link actually also provides nutritional information.

Apple Pie

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a healthy recipe, but it does have fruit, so that counts right?  I think though we have to have that one fall to recipe that allows us to splurge. So, this is my “splurge” (well, at least one of them).  This is one of those recipes I make and then take to the fire station for my husband to share with his shift.

So, those are a few recipes. There are many others. Don’t forget to look at post #9 for the alternatives to baking ingredients (including applesauce).

With all areas of eating covered, next week I’ll begin looking at taking care of ourselves mentally.

Until then…stay safe and don’t forget to follow on twitter (@stickysidedwn)!

Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC)

March 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today marks the one month countdown for the 2012 FDIC festivities. I (along with four other family members) will leave my hometown and travel to Indianapolis, Indiana for the annual Fire Department Instructors Conference.  I am honored not only to be able to attend as an instructor for the third year, but also to attend as a new author for Fire Engineering/PennWell Publishers. I have been to numerous conferences, but none like this. The training classes that are offered, the instructors that are brought in, and the vendors that line the exhibit floors are AMAZING, OVERWHELMING, and AWESOME!  Each year I arrive excited for the opportunities and leave overwhelmed with the information I gathered.

As I said, I will be teaching a class.  If you are attending, I would love to have you sit in and join me:

Course Title: Beyond the Water Cooler: EMS Role in Rehab
Course Date:
Thursday April 19
Course Time: 1:30-3:15

Two other great courses to attend (forget that they are taught by my husband and my father) are:

Course Title: Engine Company Operations
Instructor: Robby Owens
Course Date:
Wednesday April 18
Course Time: 10:30-12:15

Course Title: Emergency Responders vs. Electrical Hazards
Instructor: Frank Cheatham
Course Date: Friday April 20
Course Time: 8:30-10:15

Along with the great training/education opportunities, there are some awesome social networking opportunities, and just some amazing chances to meet other emergency services providers from around the country/world.  This year I will also be participating in the Courage and Valor Fun Run, a 3.1 mile (5K) run through White River State Park. There will also be a 9/11 memorial stair climb. I plan on watching that this year as well!

Even thought it is just 30 days away, there is still time to register and also to find a great hotel room.  Check out this link for some additional information.

Hope to see you there!

Until next time…stay safe and don’t forget to follow on twitter (@stickysidedwn)