Category Archives: EMS

Distribution: Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS and Dispatch personnel – Thanksgiving 2016

As always, I want to give another thank you to all who forward this message to your departments and staff. You trust me enough to share my message to others, and I strive to not make you regret that decision.

To all reading this message: For many of us it has been a long year. And in spite of everything going on, you still get up and do a job that is under-appreciated and in some cases ignored. Like I said in my last note, sometimes encouragement is in short supply. I am one of many hoping to change that and make things better for all of us. Thanks for spending a few moments with me, and Happy Thanksgiving!

In this email I want to address a comment I’ve received on more than one occasion. Some people reading this may not feel that they are the heroes that I reference in my ending line. A lot of public safety personnel have the same struggle with being called a “hero”. This is how Doc sees it.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines hero as:

1. In mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods.
2. A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life
3. A person noted for special achievement in a particular field: the heroes of medicine. See Synonyms at celebrity.
4. The principal character in a novel, poem, or dramatic presentation.
5. See submarine sandwich.

We can safely discard 1, 4 and 5 since I’m not talking mythology or food. However, I (and a lot of others I might add) see thinks like running into a burning building to check for survivors, going inside buildings to fight a fire that might easily collapse on you, taking on an active shooter, etc. falls into “feats of courage or nobility of purpose” in my book. I think the problem is that we think of “hero” as one who has a cape, some sort of super power or does something that is non-human. And that just isn’t true.  We look at people like the NYPD, FDNY or other high-profile instances who gave their lives say “They are heroes, but not me”. And without taking anything away from those brave people, the only thing that separates your department from theirs is 2 things: location and opportunity. And if “push came to shove” in your community or a community close to you, it would be you that would be pushing up the stairs into the fire, pushing into a school to get a shooter, or pushing through a disaster area hoping to save at least one more life in the rubble.

I had my hometown Sheriff’s Office and Volunteer Fire Department downplay themselves to me at one point. It was just a “job” for them. Until March 2, 2012 when I (and lots of others) saw them make tremendous sacrifices and go to such great lengths to rescue folks after the Kentucky Tornado outbreak. They still may not like the term “hero”, but what they did was nothing short of heroic. And in my mind, what I witnessed first hand was legendary.

Ronald Reagan once said “Those who say we live in a time where there are no heroes just don’t know where to look” and I think he is right. So maybe instead of looking to others, it’s our turn to stand up, accept the mantle, and be the heroes of our stories.

Finally, as we approach “the holidays”, we all know that the holidays can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, other supervisors, clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, or send an email. Reach out if you need to. Life is a battle best fought with others.

In closing, as always, thank you so much for who you are, and all you do. I’ve said it before and will say it again: You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

Distribution: Please distribute to all Police, Fire, Dispatch and EMS personnel – Happy Thanksgiving 2015

As always, I want to say thank you to everyone who has made it possible for me to distribute this message. I cannot express my gratitude enough for your assistance. I also want to thank you, the reader. You’re busy and the fact that you are taking a few minutes to hear what I have to say is humbling. I hope you walk away a better or happier person because of it.

During the month of November, lots of people go to social media to daily list something they are thankful for. There are the usual staples of spouse, kids, parents, other family members, friends, their church, etc. The kind of gratitude that warms your heart, puts a “spring in your step”, and just makes you feel good. There are others I have seen, however that are shall we say, unconventional.

– That I’m not a turkey.
– Indoor toilets.
– McKayla Maroney’s “not impressed” face.
– That I “have” to work the day after Thanksgiving, so no shopping for me!
– Facebook . . . because with it, I have visual proof that my friends are eating well.
– I am thankful my kids are finally at an age where they’ll watch my shows with me, instead of making me watch their shows with them. I’m pretty sure Disney XD was causing my brain to atrophy.
– Any day my spouse doesn’t have a saved segment of Dr. Phil backing them up on something.
– I am thankful that I don’t look anything like the portraits my kids draw of me.

Any counselor, pastor, or 12 step program will tell you that being thankful is a key to living a happy life. We all tend to look at the things we don’t have or that we wish we didn’t have, and I’m just as guilty as anyone. Sometimes just listing the things you are thankful for will improve (even drastically improve) your attitude and you moods. So what are you thankful for? What makes you smile when you think about it? I encourage you to take the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas and do some “homework”:
– Write out a list of things you are thankful for, no matter how big or small.
Things like pets, places, food, and hobbies. My list includes the Red River Gorge, Ale-8 (a Kentucky soft drink), and the Florida Marlins. It doesn’t have to be big things.
– Write down a list of people that you are glad you know and have made contributions to your life.
– Write down a list of surprises that made you happy (Finding $10 in the parking lot, someone buying my lunch, surprise birthday party, etc.)

And then once you have your list, see if you can add anything regularly. Consciously LOOK for things to be happy for and see if you don’t feel better.

Finally, as we approach “the holidays”, we all know that the holidays can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, other supervisors, clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, or send an email. Reach out if you need to. Life is a battle best fought with others.
I’ve said it in every email, and every chance I get. I’ve said it to the chiefs and administrators when I contact them. I’ve said it to you on the parks and restaurants. You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

Please distribute to all Police, Paramedic, Fire and Dispatch personnel – Merry Christmas 2014

First, I again want to say thank you to all the Chiefs, Sheriffs, Officers, Administrators, and fellow Chaplains who have made it possible for me to distribute this message.

I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. For those of you in stations or cars working during the holidays, we appreciate the sacrifices you and your family are making while ensuring our safety and security. It does not go unappreciated or unnoticed.

If anything marks the holidays, it’s a sense of gratitude (hopefully). I know that we sometimes see the worst that society has to offer, and the holidays may seem like anything but gratitude. But what I’m coming to know more and more as I get older, that gratitude can be anywhere, and will be there when you least expect it. Sometimes you just have to know where to look. Just like most people, I can get disappointed, agitated, disillusioned, or just plan cynical. Sometimes we have bad days. Today, as I write this email, it was a bad day for me. Horrible really. But then took time to read a card I got in the mail. It was from a dispatcher far away from where I live who read my email and took the time to reply and it turned my day around (and if that person reads this before you get my reply, it is coming!).

So what do we do when we get to the end of the year and our “tank is empty” so to speak?

  1. Count your blessings  – A wise person challenged me to do a gratitude jar recently. So you get this jar and every time something good happens to you, you scribble it down and put it in the jar. Someone buy your lunch? Out it in the jar. Someone shook your hand at the gas station? Put it in the jar. Find a $5 bill in a parking lot? Put it in the jar. Then when you have those bad days, look at the jar. Maybe even read some. Use than money to buy your lunch.
  2. Open your eyes – If you tell me nothing good ever happens to you, or that no one ever cares, I challenge you to look closer. It might not happen every day but I bet that more happens than we notice! And the mid has a funny way of working. If you start noticing even the small things over the next few weeks, guess what will happen. You will see more good things than before.
  3. Don’t wait for big things – Some people wait forever for their “ship to come in” and it never does, so they get disillusioned. Life is too short. Take note of the small things. If you wait your whole life to win the lottery, you will be passing up so many good things that others would give anything for.
  4. Have “A Person” – Have someone in your life that can call you out when you are in a dark place. I have a few that can do that. When I start the “woe is me” they get to tell me what I am failing to see. Let me be honest, no one likes being called out. But it just might help you see how good things really are.

In closing, I know that some of you think that this is all crazy. You “live in the real world”. Maybe you don’t see anything good in your life right now. Just give what I said a try. What do you have to lose? If I’m wrong then all you are out is a few minutes and a dollar for a jar. But, if I’m right, you can be happier this time next year.

During the holidays, I always put in this information, because I know that someone may need it. The holidays are meant to be times of joy, happiness, time with those we love and hope. While it can produce stress for even the best of us, for some of you can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. It can be hard to balance out what you have to deal with and still know that there are great people in society as well. I also know that it’s hard for us to reach out sometimes (and I’m no exception to this rule). If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, and any other Supervisor available for help. There is also other Clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. My phone is always on and I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, send an email. Reach out if you need to.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and best wishes for 2015. I’ve said it before and will say it again, you all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

Doc’s thoughts on suicide.

DISCLAIMER: If you are contemplating suicide, please call the Suicide Help line at 1-800-273-8255.

I am going to discuss a subject that no one likes to talk about. And relate it to a group that most people prefer to shun or ignore. And let you in on a dark secret I’ve held in my heart and a fight I’ve waged from before. This may be a hard read (and I am sure it will be a hard WRITE), but sometimes we have to speak up and “strike while the iron is hot” so to speak.

By this point, I am sure that you have heard about the death of Robin Williams. How he died too young (63), the impact he had made, or about the times that something he did deeply impacted someone’s life. One that got me moving early on was a line from Dead Poet’s Society “Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Do not be resigned to that. Break out! “

You’re going to hear a lot of commentators talk about depression, mental illness and how they relate to suicide and how they are different. But I’m not going to get to in depth in those areas. You may hear theological debates on “if it’s forgivable” or something like that. I’m not going there either. Determining who gets into Heaven is above my pay grade. What I do want to point out is the “peace” (or lack thereof) that comes with suicide.

I want to say that there is no “peace” in suicide. If you do not believe that, ask the survivors – the family and friends of those who took their own life. They have so many questions, and most they will never have an answer for. There is guilt (“Maybe I could have stopped it”, “If they had just told me”). In addition to the other normal emotions during a time of loss, there is a regret that they did not get to say their goodbyes.

And I’m sure that you have guessed the “group that most people prefer to shun or ignore” is the Law Enforcement community. According to statistics, an officer is 2-5 times more likely to be killed by themselves than they are by a suspect. They also tell us that over 30% of officers have thought about suicide at some point in their career, and that an officer is twice as likely to commit suicide on the night shift than any other shift.
We in the Miami Valley are not immune from these trends, having had one locally in the last few months. So how do we turn the tide?

1. Never assume that anyone is immune to it. Who thought Robin Williams would have taken his own life?
2. Know the signs of distress. If someone is openly talking about it, TAKE IT SERIOUSLY.
3. If you (or someone you know) needs help, SEEK IT!

Let’s not allow this tragedy to be in vain. We watch out for each other on duty all the time. Watch out for this too.

Some of you may be thinking about it now. Life isn’t “worth it” anymore. No one cares about you. Your spouse is not speaking to you. You are “at the end of your rope”. One of my instructors in Bible School told this story.
Several years ago, my brother was allowed to witness an open-heart surgery. During the procedure, the patient’s heart had been stopped from beating. When it came time to restart it, despite repeated attempts, the medical staff was unable to cause the heart to beat again. Finally, although the patient was obviously unconscious, the surgeon leaned over and spoke into the patient’s ear, “We need your help. We cannot get your heart restarted. Tell your heart to start beating.” Incredibly, in that instant, the patient’s heart began to beat again!

Here is the dark secret I promised. At one point in my own life I have experienced some what I would call “mild depression”, and even thought about “ending it all”. (Do not be alarmed, it hasn’t been recently). And up until now I never really shared that with anyone. I was afraid of what people would think or what would happen I guess. But I’m a stronger person today thanks in part to those experiences, which is one of the reasons that the subject is still a soft spot in my heart.

So if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, talk to someone. You CAN be happy again. You CAN live life to the fullest. You can touch others with your story. You can tell your heart to “beat again”. So live! Reach out!
If I can help you in any way, contact me!

DISCLAIMER: If you are currently contemplating suicide, please call the Suicide Help line at 1-800-273-8255.

Please distribute to all Law Enforcement, Paramedic and Fire personnel: Happy Fourth of July

First let me apologize for the lateness of this message. As always, I want to say a big thank you to all who has made it possible for me to distribute this message. I cannot express my gratitude enough for your assistance. I also want to thank each of you reading this. It’s always my goal that something said in these notes will encourage, inspire or uplift you in some way. I know you’re busy and you do a lot to get ready for your shift. So thank you for reading.

As we near the Fourth of July, Independence Day here in America, we take time to remember the sacrifices of those before us. Those who pledged “to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” Writing some years after the events of the Revolutionary War, John Quincy Adams wrote, “Posterity, you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.”

But for those of us in and around public safety, we know that lots of people are not making “good use of it.” There are humans inflicting all manner of evil on each other and sometimes we feel as if we are not accomplishing anything. Not to mention storms and natural disasters. Sometimes we get “weary in well doing”. Sometimes we think we are not making a difference. Sometimes we almost give up. I know what that feels like.

I just finished World War Z with my son. It was a good movie, but I think I have a theory. It’s not zombies or smallpox or aliens or some weather disaster that will cause the world to disintegrate into chaos. I think it is growing darker as people care less. It grows darker as people stop looking out for each other. It grows darker as we hide in fear or self-preservation, or the less we speak out for truth, good, and justice. It grows darker as WE grow darker.

So what do we do? I know that you are out there “fighting the good fight”. Please know, I don’t say this lightly. I say this to some of the strongest people I know. I say it for people who I have seen with my own eyes fight all kinds of evil for a fellow officer, EMT, or firefighter. I just ask that you take courage and fight just a little harder. Fight for each other. Fight for what is right. Keep up that fight! Keep marching toward evil and fighting back the darkness! Are you tired? Feel hopeless? Reach out to a brother or sister. Reach out to a supervisor, chief or Chaplain. But whatever you do, don’t give up and don’t give in. If you need help, ASK. If you can give help, SPEAK UP.

That is what can change our world for the better. We are in this together.

In closing, as always, thank you so much for all you do. I’ve said it before and will say it again, you all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

Please distribute to all Police, Paramedic and Fire personnel – Merry Christmas

First, I again want to say thank you to all the Chiefs, Sheriffs, Officers, Administrators, and fellow Chaplains who have made it possible for me to distribute this message.

I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season. For those of you in stations or cars working during the holidays, we appreciate the sacrifices you and your family are making while ensuring our safety and security. It does not go unappreciated or unnoticed.

It’s that time of the year again. The Holidays can be a source of wonderful joy. I look forward every year to having some down time, spending time with my family, and going back to my home town to see more of my family. And there’s always a stop (or two or three!) at a police station or fire house to spread more of my support.  It’s a time of traditions. Most of us have them, though yours and mine are likely different. I know that some of you reading this will be working those days. Some of you volunteered so the department newlywed can have that first Christmas with his new bride or the new father with his newborn on Christmas morning. Some of you will be busy at work when I crawl out of bed on Christmas morning, or will hear the tones drop multiple times that night. Some of you will do it in freezing temperatures, and others will do it in warm ones. You will change your holiday schedule and family time around your work, and may not even think about it because “That’s what I do.” As a Chaplain, I’ve been privileged to see some of what goes on “behind the scenes”. I hear the stories and see the sacrifice. Lots of us do. Don’t ever forget that. But if you do, you know where to find me. So, do Doc a favor this Christmas. Have a great time. Be with people you love during the Holidays. Find some time to relax. Do something that makes YOU happy. Sit and enjoy some warm cocoa, or a cold drink (a good raspberry tea is my drink of choice) and enjoy it. You deal with the bad enough. Find some good and soak in as much as you can.

During the holidays, I always put in this information, because I know that someone may need it. The holidays are meant to be times of joy, happiness, time with those we love and hope. While it can produce stress for even the best of us, for some of you can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. It can be hard to balance out what you have to deal with and still know that there are great people in society as well. I also know that it’s hard for us to reach out sometimes (and I’m no exception to this rule). If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, and any other Supervisor available for help. There is also other Clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. My phone is always on and I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, send an email. Reach out if you need to.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and best wishes for 2014. I’ve said it before and will say it again, you all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

Please distribute to all Police, Fire, and EMS personnel – Happy Thanksgiving

First, I again want to say thank you to all the Chiefs, Sheriffs, Officers, Administrators and fellow Chaplains who have made it possible for me to distribute this message.

I hope you find this email helpful and encouraging. This email marks five years that I have been sending out these emails on the holidays. So whether this is your first time reading, or you’ve been on board since the beginning, welcome. I’d like to take this time to reflect on some of the things I’m thankful for at this time.

I will say that this has been a life-changing experience for me. In the last five years, you have taught me more about life (and even myself) than I thought possible. This all started by just wanting to say “Thanks” to a group of local folks who I thought were under-appreciated. And over time, that “mission” has evolved and broadened, and broadening me with it. For that, I say Thank you.

I say “Thank you” for picking up some meals. Thank you for inviting me into your homes. Thank you for opening up and telling me what you really thought about the job (It’s hard, you don’t like the hours, you are lonely on the holidays.) Thank you for not sheltering me from the bad, from the disasters, from the politics, and from the things that make your job so difficult. Thank you for telling me that is OK to feel anger at the kidnapping suspect, for saying it’s OK to vent with you later. Thank you for also telling me that a death notification is very hard, emotional, and draining and it’s OK to go outside “for some air”. Thank you for showing me you are human. That you get angry, hurt or depressed. Thank you for allowing me to see your emotions at the funeral. And for those who knew when my wife was in the hospital, and for sending the cards, thoughts, calls and prayers.

For those of you whom I have never met “in person”, you have not been any less appreciated and impactful. Thank you for showing me that even in your department’s worst times, you take the time to drop a nice email or call me. Thank you for trusting someone (whom you may never meet) enough to read and pass along my notes. Thank you for giving me insight into what it’s like policing in Alaska, or working a fire crew in Maui.

Thank you I can now understand better what you feel, and as a chaplain, that’s what helps me be able to help you. And last but not least, thank you for showing me that the “Thin Blue Line”, “Thin Red Line” and the “Thin White line” are not just images or ideas. They are a reality and a symbol of what is good in the world.

Finally, as we approach “the holidays”, I usually advise that the holidays can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, other supervisors, clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, or send an email. Reach out if you need to. Life is a battle best fought with others.

I’ve said it in every email, and every chance I get. I’ve said it to the chiefs and administrators when I contact them. I’ve said it to you on the parks and restaurants. You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.