The only thing I take seriously is my Freedom. And Bacon.

Monday, December 29, 2014

EMS: Heroes or Adrenaline Junkies?

Chillin After Dinner at SARS Substation 
I am was no hero.

I want to make that totally, unabashedly, clear.

As a matter of fact, I'm possibly very selfish.

Being a paramedic gave me back more than I put into it.

It's not an untruth to say I was attracted to it because I wanted to help people.

But the real truth is, the rush I got from the adrenalin of pushing a needle into a vein, or delivering a shock to a fluttering heart, or snaking my way into the crushed metal of a car, was the main attraction to the job.

Every medic, every EMT, every firefighter (if being honest) would tell you they love to hear a report of a major pile up on the turnpike or a four alarm fire with entrapment. When the words "put the helicopter on standby" or "fly the bird" are broadcast over the radio, our veins constrict; our hearts pound, our pupils dilate.
Yeah, baby, this is good shit.
It's not that we want suffering in the world, it's that, if there's got to be some tragedy going down, we want to be there so we can witness it first hand, so we can patch up the holes, so we can save a life.

So we have stories to tell.

When the summer nights are long and the calls are slow and we sit in a semi circle on white plastic chairs smoking cigarettes under a full moon, we have this to say:
"Remember that Easter we got hit out for the accident on 309? When we pulled up to the scene there were three bodies lying on the road? And Darin almost ran right over one of the bodies?"
"Remember that water rescue? We spent two days searching for those teenagers and then it turns out it was just a prank? Lori broke up with me because I missed our anniversary dinner."
"Remember that car rescue in front of the bank? The one where that Hilltown firefighter smelled like booze so the cops kicked him off scene?"
"Remember how Martin and Shoppy got into a fist fight during that rescue in front of the motorcycle shop because Shoppy forgot to crib the car?"
We are not heroes.
We are junkies.
Adrenaline junkies.
Story junkies.

 Excerpt from Girl Medic: Confession of Chaos and Calamity Behind the Sirens.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Life By Accident - Excerpt From Girl Medic

 Life By Accident

"This cannot be accident: it must be design. I was kept for this job."
Winston Churchill

My life has not gone according to plan.
I'd had great plans for life after high school. There was going to be college and law school. There was going to be a minor in theater, and maybe, who knows, I might bypass law all together to become the next Julia Roberts. I wanted a life full of energy, I wanted to help people, whether that was in a courtroom or by becoming an entertainer, I wanted to leave some sort of mark on the world.
I'd always been a voracious reader and started writing stories as early as the second grade. My English teachers, my friends who I wrote stories for, told me I should become a writer. I scoffed at the thought. Writing is solitary. Lonely. There is no immediate feedback on your work. No instant knowledge of "yes, this is good stuff" or "this sucks, try again". So though I continued to write, I had no desire to make it my life's work.
After high school, I found myself pregnant by my boyfriend of two years. We had a horrible relationship but did what so many do, married and started a family. College was no longer an option because he felt my place was at home, raising our daughter. I'd lost my independence, coming to rely on him for money and shelter, and we had moved 1,200 miles away from friends and family. He was all I had. My dreams fell off the radar screen as I struggled to make an unhappy marriage work, figure out how to be a mother at such a young age, and try to salvage pieces of who I was and combine them with who I was becoming.
Two years into the marriage, I had another child. My husband still believed my place was in the house, but I was becoming desperate to do something with my life. I was in need of friends, I was depressed that my life had not worked out according to plan.
And then one night, a car accident in front of our house changed everything. I would spend the next 8 years of my life taking on challenges I never imagined. I became a volunteer for the local ambulance, then a career EMT, then a paramedic. I became an EMT and CPR instructor. I became a certified fire fighter and certified in rescue vehicle operations. I would make life long friends and enemies. I would get divorced and fall in and out of love many times, remarry leave EMS for what I thought was good when I was three months pregnant with my last child, only to return a second time, because once again, I needed to be rescued.
I've been unable to hold a steady job since leaving EMS. I'm still struggling to find something as challenging and rewarding. I've toyed with the idea of going back, and who knows, by the time you read this, I might be crawling into the back of a mangled car, trying to breathe life into an unconscious patient.
I've always believed everything in life happens for a reason.
My life did not go as I had planned, because perhaps, life had a plan of its own for me. I've seen the worst in people; I've seen the best. I've struggled to make sense of death and in doing so, have come to the realization that in order to understand death, first, I must understand life.
10-42 is the code we use to let the radio room know that our shift has ended; we're no longer in service. Though my shift ended a long time ago, I want to share the lessons I've learned from my front row seat in the arena of life and death.
My life didn't go according to plan, and for that, I'm grateful. And I know though I can assure you, if you feel  lost now, there is something for you around the corner.
The one thing I would like for you to remember is this quote:
"There's no such thing as chance:
And what to us seems merest accident
Springs from the deepest source of destiny." - Friedrich von Schiller

Excerpt from Girl Medic: Confession of Chaos and Calamity Behind the Sirens.

Monday, December 15, 2014

When EMS Crews Make Fun Of Their Patients

"Silence is the universal refuge,…our inviolable asylum, where no indignity can assail."
Henry David Thoreau

There is a good chance (75/25) that if an ambulance crew arrives to pick you up; they will make fun of you once you’ve been deposited safely at the ER.
It is not because we are cold hearted or cruel, it’s because we need an outlet to diffuse the stress and emotion that could easily kill us if we took every thing so seriously.
What might we say?
 “Was that mold growing on the dishes in the sink? What trailer park trash.”
 “Could he have been any fatter? Maybe if he lost 200 pounds he might be able to breathe.”
“Was it just me or did it seem as if the whole family was a bunch of hysterical hyenas slightly on the retarded side?”
 “Christ, what a WHINER. If I ever whine like that, throw me off the rig and run over me a million times.”
 There are those calls, however, that still our voices, that leave us speechless.
 We arrived in front of a sprawling house with an immaculate lawn. A State Police car was already parked at the curb.
She was pretty, a pink afghan wrapped around her shoulders even though it was the middle of summer. She was tall and blonde and walking up and down the driveway. “Oh My God, Oh My God, Oh My God.”
Ed, the senior medic, stopped to ask her if she was okay. Her teeth were chattering in between the OH MY GOD’s. Obviously, she was not okay.
The trooper met us at the door and led us upstairs to a bedroom.
As I always do, I pay close attention to the details of the house. This one was perfect, everything sparkling, clean, in its proper place. It was like walking into a show home.
 He was lying on the floor in the bedroom: The gun not far from his right hand. His face looked like it was made of wax and someone had grabbed the left side of his head and stretched it out as far as it could go. He looked like a disfigured comic book character. A villain in search of Batman and Robin. There was brain and bone spattered on the ceiling. I was fearful it would fall on me so for the most part, I stood in the doorway.
There was a bullet hole in the window.
 “Oh yeah,” said the veteran trooper, “a-lot of times they take a practice shot to make sure the gun is working.”
There were pictures of him and the hysterical woman all over the room. On their wedding day, on a boat, on a beach, under a Christmas tree. He was 29. He was Esquirish good looking.
He left a note that wasn’t very telling. He apologized to his family. To his wife. Sorry. I just couldn’t take it anymore. No matter what I do, I’ll never be good enough. I hope you forgive me for the embarrassment this will cause you.
We waited until the woman’s mother arrived to drive her away from this perfect house, with the nice cars, and the once handsome husband, and the crystal blue swimming pool in the perfectly green back yard.
 Ed had kept trying to calm her down but she just kept pacing, kept whispering “Oh My God”…but at one point she crossed the lawn to where I was standing and grabbed my arm with her cold, tiny, hand.
“Why? Why would he do this?”
Her eyes were wild, like a trapped animal, and when she had touched my arm, it was as if she had instantly transferred her pain into my heart and for a moment, I felt the shock of it all. The violence, the loss, the end of life as she knew it. I opened my mouth to say something but there was not a word to be found.
We drove back to the station in total silence. No jokes, no music, no questions.
So, if you ever have the unfortunate occasion to find yourself in the care of EMS, remember this: if you catch an eye roll or smirk out of the corner of your eye, be thankful: It’s the silence that you should worry about.

Excerpt from Girl Medic: Confession of Chaos and Calamity Behind the Sirens.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dear Santa; Bring Bacon!

Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday To Me!!
Some girls love shoes - I love bacon!

And luckily, I'm blessed to live near some bacon enthusiasts who truly make awesome bacon. Regular flavor is so good, but they also have flavors like Bloody Mary, Cherry Bomb, and Volcano (to name a few!).

When Bespoke Bacon first came on the scene - I wrote about them in: "Covert Bacon Operations: The Pig Is In"

So I was really excited to see they are selling a gift pack of bacon which includes beer bacon jam and free shipping and promptly bought it as a gift to myself; but will be shared with family and friends (if they happen to be around when I fry it up!).

Seriously, this is a great deal that would make a great present for the bacon lovers in your life!

Get three pounds of our most popular flavors of bacon, plus a special jar of Bespoke Bacon Beer Bacon Jam, featuring Insana Stout beer from our friends over at Prism Brewing in North Wales, PA.
With shipping included, $50!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Donuts and Destiny - Excerpt from Girl Medic

Coincidence: The occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection.

“You often meet your fate on the road you take to avoid it.”
French Proverb.

I had barely made it across the station threshold when the tones dropped and County radio informed us we had an overturned vehicle on the turnpike. I turned around before the door had time to close, cursed myself for not stopping to pick up a coffee because it was cold and rainy; it was six in the morning and accidents on the turnpike could last forever.
            Snuffy was our driver, a grouch on good days and a (rhymes with sucker) on bad days. Still, there was always something about Snuffy’s black cloud that attracted me to him and there was this one time…well, that’s a different story. Ray was our medic. Gray hair, but handsome in a George Clooney meets Pierce Brosnan sort of way. He was always smiling. Even when he was chewing you out for spiking the wrong IV bag, you always felt good around Ray.
            On the way out to the turnpike, Ray chatted about the weather, Snuffy growled every now and then (only because he admired Ray…this was his way of being nice) and I tried to climb into my bunker gear in the back of the moving rig without falling over. Because I was the smallest person, I was usually designated as the “climb in the mangled car to hold stabilization” person.
            Because the Turnpike is State Police territory and almost everything in State Police territory is far, far, away from their barracks, we arrived seconds after the black and white (and red and yellow).
            We could barely make out an overturned truck a few yards off the side of the road. The Trooper was walking towards us from the accident scene, holding a flash light, shaking his head.
            “Funniest thing…someone called to report the accident as it happened…which was, what, about fifteen minutes ago? Said the truck lost control, swerved off the road and flipped a few times. Caller said he had to keep going because he was going too fast to stop and was afraid he’d cause another accident. Anyway, there’s nobody in the truck.”
            “Is there anyone UNDER the truck?” Snuffy asked, his bottom lip bulging around the tobacco he had hidden in his mouth (thus the nickname).
            “Nope. Not as far as I can tell.’
            We grabbed flash lights and headed to the truck. He was right. No driver, no passenger. There was, however, a baby seat, which gave us pause. The truck had landed in such a way that the guys were able to push it so we could peer underneath and make sure there wasn’t a tiny body stuck under the metal.
            There was a farmhouse tucked away, off the road. A good mile hike. We’d either have to walk to it or drive off the turnpike and get back on in order to get to it.
            “What do you think?” Ray turned to us.
            “I’m not walking there.” I said. No way, no how. Not in this frigid weather, and not on an empty stomach.
            Ray didn’t even bother asking Snuffy.
            The Trooper shrugged. “Ah, if someone walked to the house and had injuries, I think they’d have called by now.”
            It was too early, too wet, too cold, in the morning to have to really think about it, so we climbed back in our rig and headed into town. Ray chatted about possible scenarios of what could have happened to the driver of the truck. Snuffy growled when appropriate, and I climbed out of my wet bunker gear.
            A few blocks away from the station there was a Yum Yum Doughnut coffee shop. I’d rather have an egg and bacon for breakfast, but since I was dying for a cup of coffee, I begged Snuffy to stop.
            “I’ll even buy you something, as long as you keep it under a buck fifty.” I told him.
            As usual, whenever an ambulance pulls into ANY place, people stare at us like we have purple skin and three heads when we walk through the door. We got the looks, of course, but then someone said excitedly, “Are you hear for the people in the accident?”
            The patron pointed to the far end of the counter where a man, a pregnant woman, and a toddler were sitting, the only people in the place NOT looking at us.
            As soon as we approached them, the woman started crying hysterically. “Please don’t take my husband away, please don’t take him away.”
            They were, indeed, the accident victims from the turnpike. Someone had stopped to help and they asked for a ride back into town. Turns out, the husband had an arrest warrant issued for him and they knew if they went to the hospital, his freedom would be cut short.
            I don’t know how he did it, but Ray charmed them into going to the hospital. Promised he wouldn’t tell the cops, but he knew the doctor’s would have to report it.
            It was such a short ride to the hospital that I didn’t have much time to talk to them, which was fine because I was feeling a bit woozy:
1)      I STILL hadn’t had any coffee.
2)      I could not believe the way fate had intervened and we had found our missing accident victims.
As soon as we dropped them off at the ER, we got hit for another call. By the time we got back to the hospital, a police car had arrived for the ‘wanted’ man.
I learned two things from this call:
1)      When you’re thinking should I stop for coffee now or later? Now is always the answer.
2)      When you’re trying to outrun the law, never hide in the doughnut shop.

Excerpt from Girl Medic - Confession of Chaos and Calamity Behind The Lights and Sirens. 
Available at and

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Seventy Year Old Lady Who Loves Her Some LSD

"Humor is the shock absorber of life: it helps us take the blows."- Peggy Noonan

Our patient was in her seventies. She lived in a one-room apartment filled with nothing but dust and old newspapers and crushed cigarette boxes. A few cans of half eaten tuna fish sat on the chipped orange counters. The walls were vintage hunting cabin (you know-fake, dark, drab, paneling). I about gagged from the aroma of fish, urine, and stale smoke. The patient’s daughter had called, concerned because her mother was ‘too thin’ and didn’t seem to be ‘in the right frame of mind' lately.
We took her vitals. Her blood pressure was low. Her heart beat rapid. She wheezed when she spoke. She did not want to leave her swanky home to go to the hospital. She did not want to be poked and prodded and besides, you couldn’t smoke in the hospital.
But she liked Jamie, who was the medic in charge.
He was tall, lean, blonde hair, blue eyes.
“Will you sit with me in the ambulance?” she batted sparse eyelashes.
“I’d like to park my slippers under your bed,” she smacked her cracked lips together.        

Jamie’s face turned red as the rest of us laughed.

 In the back of the ambulance she turned to me.
“Have you ever had LSD?”
I dropped the IV bag I was spiking and glanced over at Jamie- his eyes bugged out like a cartoon character hit over the head with a fry pan.
“L…S…D?” I practically screamed the letters to make sure she heard correctly, and that I had heard correctly.

“Honey, I’m not deaf. Yes, LSD.”

 “No. I have never had LSD,” I recovered the IV solution.
 She clacked her tongue and shook her head, “Every girl should have LSD.”
Jamie leaned toward her and took her long splintered fingers and held them.
“Have you had LSD?” he asked.
 “Oh, my, not for at least 20 years.”
Jamie looked at me and I shrugged. Nothing surprised me anymore.
“You do know what LSD is, don’t you?” his words were kind, not sarcastic.
“Of course!” she rolled her eyes. “L…S…D," she waited a beat then continued, "Long Slim Dick.”
I found I could still be surprised after all.
Jamie and I laughed so hard, tears spilled down our cheeks.
There was nothing wrong with her frame of mind!

Excerpt from Girl Medic - Confession of Chaos and Calamity Behind The Lights and Sirens. 
Available at and

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Girl Medic - Confessions of Chaos and Calamity Behind the Lights and Sirens

Finally! The book I've been promising to publish is here!
I wrote most of theses essays many years ago (hence the odd formatting) and hesitated to publish it for many being that I am not a fan of rehashing the past.
My past hasn't always been easy and it's been filled with lessons - some, unfortunately, took me years to learn.

I wasn't sure if I should be totally honest and name names, but then I was given this great advice: "You own everything that has happened to you. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have treated you better."

So, some people are named and spoken of warmly, and some are named and spoken of in the same manner they treated me. And some are not named, because either I didn't want to embarrass them or I didn't want to embarrass myself (once was enough!).

The fact of the matter is...EMS and the people I met and worked with, the patients, the challenges, pulled me out of despair not just once, but twice. I am so very grateful for the years I spent around some of the most giving, loyal, courageous, funny, people on earth.

Now sit down, shut up, hold on, and buy the book already!!!

Girl Medic: Description: 
Laura B Freed never imagined she’d be crawling into crushed cars to start IV’s on unconscious patients or crawl on her hands and knees through a burning house to locate possible victims.
Laura was a girly girl, loved all things pink and sparkly…and hated the sight of blood and bones.
Her life did not go as she had planned, because perhaps, life had a plan of its own.
She has seen the worst in people; she had seen the best.
Laura has struggled to make sense of death and in doing so, has come to the realization that in order to understand death, first, we must understand life.
Girl Medic takes the reader on a secretive journey behind the lights and sirens. It’s a true story about accidents and destiny, and illuminates how we can find meaning in tragedy, comedy in calamity, and of course, exposes the importance of wearing clean underwear.

 Available on Barnes & Noble Nook for 2.99

Girl Medic was pulled from Amazon because they have confusing terms that constantly change and have treated authors horribly. It was a tough choice because I want it to be available on all formats, however, Amazon has become more and more un-trust worthy.