Category Archives: EMS Poem

Confession of a new Chaplain

A friend of mine posted a story on Facebook, and I just had to track down some information on the story. It is one of the most touching stories I have read in a long time.

My friend is a widow. Her husband was an officer who was killed in the line of duty. I must admit, I’ve seen the grief of family who have lost a spouse, but it has been “expected” to some degree. But a sudden loss, where someone has taken from you the opportunity to say goodbye, I can not even begin to imagine how that feels.

As a new Chaplain, some of my duties are easy to understand and fun to do. I use “duties” lightly, because I enjoy it, so it just seems natural to me. I’ll be honest, I do get a thrill in a police car. It’s a great feeling to know that someone trusts you enough to tell you the good, bad and ugly of being a cop. But as tragic as a line of duty death is, for the most part, it happens other places, but not here…not close to me. As Chaplain, I cover Huber Heights, and can provide “mutual aid” to anyone who may need it. But as Doctor Mike, I cover over 400 departments in 3 states. In some of those cases, maybe even most, I would not be able to be there them in person. Then I have to think how I help them grieve from 200 miles away. Honestly, this is the duty I dread. In an ideal world, all the good guys go home. But we don’t live in an ideal world. And when life goes wrong, we are there for the family. I like “being there” for people, and helping people through hard times, and telling people things will be all right. But in this scenario, I can’t say they will be all right. I hope to only help them through the pain that they now face.

There’s training on the “death notification”, and articles by “experts”, so I can know the facts and the techniques. The what not to say, what to say, be direct, but not too direct. Don’t use vague concepts “passed on”, and NEVER give them false hope, but if there is hope, give them some. It’s not easy, but my part in that story is the brief , painful beginning, and theirs is for the remainder of their life. I’ll never forget my pain when Deputy Hopper was killed, but it was small in comparison to her family and the CCSO.

So the story is below. I dedicate this to the large (and growing) number of Law Enforcement and Firefighter spouses who have struggled and still struggle with picking up the pieces and moving on. It’s is spread around the internet (with people changing the name), based on the book “Saying Olin to Say Goodbye” by Donald Hackett.


The time of concern is over. No longer am I asked how I am doing. Never is the name of my partner mentioned to me. A curtain descends. The moment has passed. A life slips from frequent recall. There are exceptions … close and comforting friends, sensitive and loving family. For most, the drama is over. The spotlight is off. Applause is silent. But for me, the play will never end. The effects are timeless. Say Olin to me.

On the stage of my life, he has been both lead and supporting actor. Do not tiptoe around the greatest event of my life. Love does not die. His name is written on my life. The sound of his voice replays within my mind. You feel he is dead. I feel he is of the dead and still lives. You say he was my partner. I say he is. Say Olin to me and say Olin again.

It hurts to bury his memory in silence. What he was in the flesh has now turned to ash. What he is in spirit, stirs within me always. He is of my past, but he is part of my present. He is my hope for the future. You say not to remind me. How little you understand that I cannot forget. I would not if I could. I forgive you, because you cannot know. I strive not to judge you, for yesterday I was like you. I do not ask you to walk this road. The ascent is steep and the burden heavy. I walk it not by choice. I would rather walk it with him in the flesh. I am what I have to be. What I have lost you cannot feel. What I have gained you cannot see. Say Olin , for he is alive in me.

He and I will meet again, though in many ways we have never parted. He and his life play light songs on my mind, sunrises and sunsets on my dreams. He is real and he is shadow. He was and he is.

He is my partner and I love him as I always did. Say Olin to me and say Olin again.


Stories for my EMS Friends

I’ve seen these posted over time and thought I’d pass them along.


When God Made EMS Providers…

When the Lord made EMT’s and Paramedics, he was into his sixth day of overtime when an angel appeared and said, “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And the Lord said, “Have you read the specs on this order? An EMS provider has to be able to carry an injured person up a wet, grassy hill in the dark, dodge stray bullets to reach a dying child unarmed, enter homes the health inspector wouldn’t touch, and not wrinkle their uniform.”

“They have to be able to lift 3 times their own weight, crawl into wrecked cars with barely enough room to move, and console a grieving mother as they are doing CPR on a baby they know will never breathe again.”

“They have to be in top mental condition at all times, running on no sleep, black coffee and half-eaten meals. And they have to have six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said, “Six pairs of hands…no way.”

“It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” said the Lord, “It’s the three pairs of eyes a medic has to have.”

“That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.

The Lord nodded. “One pair that sees open sores as they’re drawing blood and asks the patient if they may be HIV positive,” (when they already know and wish they’d taken that accounting job.) Another pair here in the side of the head for their partners’ safety. And another pair of eyes here in front that can look supportively at a frightened person and gently explain that their spouse of many years has departed this life.”

“Lord,” said the angel, touching his sleeve, “rest and work on this tomorrow.”

“I can’t,” said the Lord, “I already have a model that can talk a 250 pound drunk out from behind a steering wheel without incident and feed a family of five on a private service paycheck.”

The angel circled the model of the medic very slowly, “Can it think?” she asked.

“You bet,” said the Lord. “It can tell you the symptoms of 100 illnesses; recite drug calculations in its sleep; intubate, defibrillate, medicate, and continue CPR nonstop over terrain that any doctor would fear…and still it keeps its sense of humor. This medic also has phenomenal personal control. He can deal with a multi-victim trauma, coax a frightened elderly person to unlock their door, comfort an assault victim’s family, and then read an article in the daily paper about responders being too slow to locate a house (a house which had no street sign and no house numbers.)”

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek of the medic. “There’s a leak,” she pronounced. “I told you that you were trying to put too much into this model.”

“That’s not a leak,” said the Lord, “It’s a tear.”

“What’s the tear for?” asked the angel.

“It’s for bottled-up emotions, for patients they’ve tried in vain to save, for commitment to that hope that they will make a difference in a person’s chance to survive, for seeing an accident victim walk again, for the family time they will miss while serving the community, for life.”

“You’re a genius,” said the angel.

The Lord looked somber. “I didn’t put it there,” He said.


EMT’s Prayer
As I perform my duty Lord
Whatever be the call,
Help to guide and keep me safe
From dangers big and small.

I want to serve and do my best
No matter what the scene,
I pledge to keep my skills refined,
My judgment quick and keen.

This calling to give of my self
Most do not understand,
But I stand ready all the time
To help my fellow man.

To have the chance to help a child
Restore his laugh with glee,
A word of thanks I might not hear,
But knowing is enough for me.

The praise of men is fine for some,
But I feel truly blessed,
That you oh Lord have chosen me
To serve in EMS!

-L. Lipps