ARE YOU ONE IN A MILLION?
There are about 50 emergency service instructors who can be a keynote speaker at a national conference. They have a unique or compelling story that is effectively presented with emotion and drama.
There are another 500 who are considered outstanding national instructors or subject matter experts. They have mastered a technical, conceptual, legal or political aspect of the job and they freely share their information with others.
You read their blogs and trade journal articles. Some write books. They are at hands-on training sessions and regional conferences. Some, like The Seattle "Air Management" Guys or Dave "Reading Smoke" Dodson, move into a national conference big room.
There are 5,000 firefighters and medics who are righteous regional instructors. They are the informal leader in the fire company, work as a state fire/ems instructor, and are the go-to person within their department.
Some teach at the community college or university. These folks have a laptop with a dozen projects somewhere between concept and completion.
ONE WHO WAS MAKING A DIFFERENCE
I was thinking about this while standing in a long viewing line, an out-of-place fossil in a dark suit on a summer day three years ago.
Surrounded by hundreds of uniformed Eastern Shore paramedics, EMTs, firefighters and police officers.
I was neither family nor co-worker, but the line-of-duty-death of Stephanie Callaway staggered me.
Sussex County Paramedic Callaway graduated from my EMS Management program. I met her family at commencement. She was one of the 5,000 who could have become part of the top 500.
At the 2011 Congressional Fire Service Institute dinner, the Odessa Fire Company received the first MedicAlert sponsored "Excellence in Fire Service Based EMS" award for an all-volunteer organization.
The two-station New Castle County based fire/heavy rescue/ems company referenced the awful Delaware experience with three significant ambulance crashes in 2008 as a motivating factor in their efforts to deliver safety-focused EMS. It is a bittersweet reminder of what could have been.
ONE WHO IMPACTED THOUSANDS
When Bill Carey set up Backstep Firefighter his goal was "To provide a point of critical thought about certain acts and events in the fire service while incorporating behavioral education and commentary in a referenced format."
Carey said that he was influenced by discussions he had with Andrew Fredericks, FDNY Engine 48 and Squad 18.
Fredericks was one of the top 50, working to improve fire attack procedures. This article explains the Fredericks statue at the Rockland County Fire Training Center.
The following description is part of the Lt. Andrew A. Fredericks Memorial Resident Scholars Chair webpage at the New York State Academy of Fire Service:
Andy would regularly be found in the Fire Academy Library with books, articles and other research material spread out before him. Andy frequently encouraged other instructors to "research, research, research."
LINK to Andrew Fredericks Training Days
ONE THAT RAISED THE BAR FOR ANOTHER
Louis CK describes how George Carlin changed his approach to the work of comedy:
Prolific, hard working… This is the way I would say George has had the most direct influence on me personally as a comedian. The guy did about seventeen full hour standup specials. Very generously, he explained how he pulled this off in a terrific interview that is available on a cd called Carlin on Carlin.
He talks about spending every year on the road, working specifically on the next special. Every show has a goal, to hone the specific set he is expecting to shoot at the end of the year. Like writing a book. When he shoots the special, it's over. That material goes away and he starts again.
I listened to that interview one night, in my car, while coming from a show where I had just done my regular, stump speech hour that took me fifteen years to perfect … The show had gone well … It was solid material … I'd been doing comedy for almost twenty. So what? Then I heard George explaining his process and I was terrified and inspired. What balls, to just chuck out perfectly good material and start again.
My first hour of material took fifteen years to write and I did it for another five. My second hour took one year. I shot it as a special called "Shameless" and never performed that material again. After a hard year of touring I shot "Chewed Up" and now that material is gone and I'm working on another hour now, from scratch.
This is something I never dreamed I'd be able to do, let alone learn to do this late in my life and career. It has given me a new lease on life as a comedian and as a person. It's made me better, more honest and has made every single show of the last three years mean more than any shows in the previous 20.
All of that is due to George. His example, and his words in that interview, were an absolute revolution in my life. I owe him EVERYTHING.
Are you one of the 2 million ready to be one of the 5000, 500 or one of the 50?
Originally published July 1, 2008. Updated April 11, 2011
Mike "FossilMedic" Ward