Emergency responders: When a building collapses or a fire breaks out, they’re often first on the scene. As part of Forum’s “In My Experience” series, we talk with first responders about delivering babies, saving stabbing victims, losing colleagues, and dealing with the stress of a job that puts them at the center of trauma and chaos.

Dan Robertson, firefighter for the Oakland Fire Department; and president of the I.A.F.F. Local 55, which represents firefighters from Oakland and Alameda Counties
Arthur "Art" Hsieh, paramedic program director at Santa Rosa Junior College, per diem paramedic in the Central Valley and editor-in-chief of "Em!," and online news source for EMS professional
Kyle Barbour, operations officer and field member of the Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit, emergency department technician in a Bay Area trauma center, and part of San Francisco Suicide Prevention
Delya Stoltz, paramedic for Westside Community Ambulance and Patterson District Ambulance

  • thucy

    Many thanks to firefighters, we’re all nervous about this drought and what it means in terms of risk.

    My question is more for EMS. What percentage of emergency responses have nothing to do with the media’s perception of “emergency”?

    In San Francisco’s graying landscape, a lot of ambulance work is actually just responding to cardiac and diabetic events.

    Both heart disease and diabetes type 2 are entirely preventable through diet and exercise, but here in the States we’re more inclined toward the heroic rescue than the cost-saving pragmatic solution. There’s cash to be made from disease, not health, but either way it won’t benefit the ill-paid, hardworking EMS worker.

    • Art Hsieh

      Totally agree. But there are changes on the horizon, much change is being driven by the Affordable Care Act, where reimbursement is being more closely tied to value.

      Health organizations such as Kaiser Permanente are investing significant money into preventive and maintenance health care to reduce the incidence of critical illnesses such as heart attacks, stroke, and diabetes. It’s simply more cost effective. Other health organizations are also realizing its effectiveness.

  • Carrie

    I assume that the thing to do when pulling over is to get out of the way even if you’re off to the left. If you’re in the left hand turn lane and the right side of the street is 4 lanes over doesn’t it make sense to pull as far to the left as possible?

    • Daniel Robertson

      When I’m driving the ladder truck, I want the public to be consistent. Law says slow down, pull to the right & stop. Not that it doesnt happen some times, but if I pass you on the right, I’m breaking the law. If there’s no traffic, and you are the only one on the road, it’s not much of a problem. But if there is traffic in all 4 lanes of that road, i want you going to the right


  • Guest

    Thanks for taking my call today. I was disappointed that none of the guests offered tips for first responders or first responder course suggestions, as that was the purpose of my call.

    • Art Hsieh

      You can check into your local community college for first responder courses or EMT courses. They may also have short, 2 – 8 hour courses in CPR and First aid. There are also private and nonprofit organizations that offer training, not only for individuals but for groups, companies and other organizations. Hope this helps!

  • wendy

    What a valuable radio show today.

    thanks to all the guests on the show, we got to hear from
    The other side, and their experiences responding to us
    Who needed them.

    My father was in a medical crisis Christmas 2005 in Orange County, CA.

    We called 911 and
    An amazing group of professionals came, fire and ambulance.
    they took over, calmed us family down….
    my Dad lived another 6 years.

    Thank you all who do such a challenging job
    To help us in times of need !

    • Art Hsieh

      And thanks to you for your kind words. We do appreciate it.

  • Kenji Yamada

    Forum, thanks for giving us a chance to learn what these good people do for us every day.

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