NaNoWriMo 2018

Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 8.16.42 PMI’m considering a run at the 2018 NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The problem is that I have two projects already underway and LONG overdue. Last of the White Knights, the sequel to Twenty-Five at the Lip, and Don’t Look Back in Anger have been patiently awaited by the half-dozen masses. That’s not even counting Red Delirium, the sequel to The Delirium: A Zombie Opera of the Great War that I’ve been batting about during Camp NaNoWriMo sessions.

One thing that I’ve been told is that Bright Lights and Cold Steel is really too short. Both G from The EMS Lounge and some of the reviews I’ve gotten on Amazon have said that it’s too short, or that there was a lot more opportunity to grow the story.

I have now read all 3 of the books in
this series. And, sadly, like all things it has come
to an end. Bright Lights and Cold Steel, sets the pace
(table) for the other two books. It is a novella, which you wish were longer.
Good storyline and quite a cast of characters.
My only complaint, and it is not really one, is the length of the tale.
Enjoy the read.

-Donal Hunt

This was a very enjoyable story, and made me curious to read more of the full novel. It’s obvious there is a lot more story to tell with these characters. I’m very interested to read more about the dispatcher and her back story for sure. I love that it is set in the 80’s – a nice gritty sort of feel to everything, especially with the smoking on duty—don’t see that anymore!

-T Cash

I’ll admit that those comments have hit home and I’ve found myself thinking about the early 1980s and how things were done back then. It’s not just the EMS aspects though; because I enjoyed the idea of characters like Richard Henry and Frank Macomber in their youthful element tearing up the asphalt of Borden City in an old school Cadilac Ambulance. It opens up a lot of opportunities for more characters like George Peirce, Calvin and Carley’s grandfather, to make appearances.

So basically I’m making myself a deal that if I can get about 30,000 words written out to complete Don’t Look Back in Anger (You’ll like it, it’s got Richard Henry in it), and some more filler progress with Last of the White Knights then I’ll throw down 50K for an expanded Bright Lights and Cold Steel.

Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 8.41.28 PMOn a different note; sorry about the radio silence. Big things have been happening; I got divorced and made a couple of large moves. I’ve only managed to put out a single novella in the last year and photography has taken over a lot of my free time and that is the Carley and Jeremy backstory Broken Protocols which you can get on Amazon along with the rest of my collective works. I’m also on iTunes and Nook now, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

James Windale on Amazon


60K in the ‘Twenty-Five at the Lip’ Sequel

For some years, I’ve been asked by numerous readers about a possible sequel to Twenty-Five at the Lip, and I’ve always begged off the question. I wasn’t sure that my original piece was good enough to even warrant its own publication – never mind a sequel.

13227073_1006365702751601_6130828040284320008_nIt was during my interview with G from The EMS Lounge that I sort of had to answer the question about a sequel. I had developed some ideas about what a sequel might look like, and I was a bit shocked to admit to myself that I wasn’t entirely sure that the plot would hold water. The worst thing that an author (or director) can do is make a sub-par sophomore effort. We all think we’re making The Godfather, Part II, but really we’re making The Lost World.

I did my best to tie up all the loose ends I could in the original. While I downgraded Ashley Barnes as a major character, I gave her a novel all of her own in Just Say Maybe. In Bright Lights and Cold Steel, I gave some of the backgrounds of Richard Henry, John Davis, and Frank Macomber. But it was while I was writing Bright Lights that I realized I missed writing EMS stuff. Like, a lot.

Characters like Calvin, Valerie, Carley, and Jeremy are actually challenging to write. There was lots of groundwork to lay for them, and they evolved immensely over the course of seven years. Especially Carley. Let me tell you, she underwent the biggest changes. They were all by most precious creations, and the last thing I wanted to do was give them a bad reappearance.lotfk

Over NaNoWriMo 2016 I decided to throw down the first 50K words of a Twenty-Five at the Lip sequel, called Last of the White Knights. I messaged my friend Alyssa and asked if she wouldn’t mind being a model for Valerie the way that Lisa was for Snuffy. Yes, Valerie is in the sequel; no other spoilers, though.

What I’m finding in writing the Twenty-Five sequel is that it’s coming along very much the same way that the original did. The original was actually written totally out of order. The only thing I actually made sure I did was to write that last chapter last. Everything else was written with the plot entirely in my head when I wanted to write them. In truth, Twenty-Five at the Lip was essentially written as a bunch of short stories, which is appropriate considering how it is somewhat auto-biographical.

img_0011Last of the White Knights is a bit lighter than Twenty-Five at the Lip was. This might be the result of a story that is heavily Carley based, as opposed to the original which focused on Calvin, Jeremy, and Valerie existing in rather desperate straights. Carley is having some difficulties, but not the sort that the big three dealt with in the original. It’s also got plenty of Carly-isms which also help to lighten the storyline and allow her to navigate her problems as only she can. Set two years after the events in Twenty-Five at the Lip we get to see into Carley’s father’s family, as well as Jeremy’s, and what’s gone on with Valerie since we last left her.

Twenty-Five at the Lip had about 123K words and the way it looks now Last of the White Knights will also have that. I don’t think I should write less, and there is plenty of material in my head now to make a story that rivals the original. I just hope the fanbase likes it.


You can get the books I’ve mentioned above on my Amazon site, both in paperback and on Kindle. Click my handsome face below to be redirected. Oh, and like my author page on Facebook too, please.


In the Tune of Mike Rowe



Stolen borrowed from Mike Rowe’s Facebook page.

Had Mike Rowe been my guidance counselor in high school I might not have wasted the better part of a decade chasing a degree I don’t have. I might not have been saddled with over thirty thousand dollars in debt, which is a pittance compared to what lots of people in the Millenial Generation are looking at. I’m actually one of the lucky ones; I have a career job, a pension, a union, and an endless workload.

It seems to never fail that at least once a week somebody writes a nasty-gram to this blue collar working class hero regarding his stance on some topic. They promptly flounce away from his fandom, swearing to never turn a favorable eye in his direction again. Unlike many celebrity types (I hope he doesn’t mind me referring to him as a celebrity) he likes to offer a reply, laden with a Twain-like wit that sometimes borders on delightful Churchill sarcasm.


To me, this shows not only a quick, critically thinking mind but a profound amount of class. In a recent grumble-gram from a newly defrocked Rowe fan, Mike was able to explain his reasoning for attending a shooting event in Las Vegas this week called the SHOT SHOW. It’s a seminar put on by Navy SEALs that shows novices how to safely handle and utilize firearms in such a way that they become comfortable with them.



The message from his Facebook page


Mike went on at some length, imparting his usual sage wisdom, which was both equanimous and humorous, but also incredibly humble. He finishes his even-toned response to a strongly worded letter with,

Obviously, you and I have a difference of opinion regarding the role of the second amendment in modern society. But thanks to the first amendment, we can express our differences in whatever way we prefer. We can criticize those with whom we disagree, or we can try to persuade them. We can make a case as to why we believe what we believe, or we can simply announce our disappointment to the world, as though our feelings alone are enough to justify our beliefs.

As for you Marla – you can either stomp off in a cloud of righteous indignation, or you can accompany me to the SHOT Show as my guest, and see what all the fuss is about.

Either way, it’s nice to have choices, don’t you think?


You can read all of it on his Facebook page here.

Working for a county EMS system in Florida allows for a special sort of job stability. Six months out of the year it’s home to Northerners and Canadians, as well as our friends South of the border who come up for work on farms and other labor-driven job fields. Personally, I have my own opinions on the legality of the migrant workforce, but I also like the price of strawberries where it is so I keep my mouth shut. I also don’t see that many Americans clamoring for the sort of labor-intensive agricultural jobs these men and women do and until that happens I suppose that is wise. Regardless, everyone bleeds red, they all feel pain and suffering and whether it’s a Quebecois, a seasonal or transplanted New Yorker, or a migrant worker from Juarez – if they pick up the phone and call I’m going to be there for them. I’ve picked up quite a bit of Spanish, but my French is, how you say, épouvantable.

I think about the way my career life has gone, and it seems as though I was always headed here. Starting out I had wanted to be a teacher. Later I realized I hated teaching, so it was good that I got out before I found that out the hard way. I wish I could say I learned this from school-aged children, but these were adults so take that as you will. I did learn a lot of things in college, such as how to write and do research (I might have some non-fiction pieces coming forth in the coming years) and I think that helps to build a well-rounded person. After all, there’s lots of fake news out there, and it’s good if you know how to cut through the baloney and find out what really is going on.

Mike Rowe has always said that there is nothing wrong with having a college degree. What he laments is that there aren’t jobs for college graduates waiting for them when they take off that cap and gown and put on the heavy yoke of debt with no way to resolve it. What his primary interest now is calling attention to, and closing, the skills gap that is crippling the American job market, and the economy. As it’s been said recently If you want to live in a country that makes things, you have to buy things your country makes. 

81tavaulinl__sl1500_I myself grew up in a manufacturing household, both my parents and step-parents were products of Texas Instruments, and I suppose you could say so am I. I had a Speak and Spell because my parents knew that it was good for them to invest back into their company. That investment worked out well for me too because it helped me grow into a literate adult. Unfortunately, the plant my parents worked at in Attleboro Massachusetts closed, the jobs there being sent to Mexico for cheaper labor. Fortunately, a new company came in and set up shop, and my father was able to retain employment there. My mom went on to nursing school, which later helped direct me to a related medical field, and my step-father works for perhaps the best example of the Florida Lifestyle; he works for Tervis Tumbler.

My parents all work for places that make things, and those things are made in America. If they aren’t making things, they are making things bearable for those who are suffering. There is no shortage of medical jobs in Florida, and all of us regardless of our political affiliation should recognize that manufacturing jobs belong in America. Job skills are at an all-time low, and if you take a gander at the current course load of the average high school student, you’ll find a remarkable lack of hands-on job training and shop classes. All the stuff I didn’t learn to do in high school I now have to ask my dad, step-dad, or grandfather how to do. If that fails, I hit up YouTube.

Seriously, you can learn just about anything on YouTube.

But like so many fine skills that were standard in our school systems before, kids are growing up and staying kids. Nobody knows how to take apart an engine anymore (I can just about change my oil), how to build a bookcase (Maybe, out of a box from Walmart), or fix a toilet (I’ve had some limited success with this one). Perhaps some of the greatest life skills I’ve learned was from an old fire buddy of mine when he took me on one summer and let me help him cut grass and do various landscaping jobs he had going. Garrett is one of the hardest working people I know, and there isn’t much he doesn’t seem to know how to do. If you’re in the Southeastern Massachusetts area, you should check out his work which he proudly displays on his Facebook page. The number is on the page too. Because of what he taught me I am confident I will have the best-looking yard in my neighborhood.

Mike Rowe’s trademark professional credit was Dirty Jobs a show that aired on Discovery. He would step up and help out professional skilled tradespeople in their daily tasks, doing the jobs that you or I think we couldn’t do. I get the occasional comment “I couldn’t be a paramedic” from time to time. It’s followed by “I don’t know how you do it.” It’s really not that hard “once you get past the smell” as Mike would often say on his show. If anything I’m living proof that you too can be a medic (check out my piece on being an INFJ medic).



Yup #CaddyShackWisdom

These jobs, including mine, are some of the best jobs in the world. The best part about them is that they are seemingly always looking for people to fill them. So before you send your kids to college so they can learn how to be offended by everything they encounter, try encouraging them into a career where they can do something to strengthen our workforce and our domestic production capability. Made in America used to mean something, and it’s my hope that this generation can turn it around and make it mean something again.


So as a final thought, make Mike Rowe’s podcast part of your normal routine. If he can’t convince you to take apart your kitchen sink, he’ll at least charm the heck out of you with his old-soul-style wisdom. Also, if you’re the sort of person with deep pockets, or just a regular Joe or Jane who happens to believe in advancing the domestic workforce, consider donating to the Mike Rowe Works Foundation. Here’s the basic rundown, procured straight from the horse’s mouth:

The mikeroweWORKS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity that rewards people with a passion to get trained for skilled jobs that actually exist. As CEO of the Foundation, Mike Rowe spends a significant amount of time speaking about the country’s dysfunctional relationship with work, highlighting the widening skills gap, and challenging the persistent belief that a four-year degree is automatically the best path for the most people.


James Windale is the author of a bunch of books about EMS, some circus stuff, equality, and even some zombie stuff. If you like that stuff (and who doesn’t?) you can get his stuff wicked cheap on Amazon. Just click his handsome mug below. Also, he’d love it if you followed his Facebook page… please?


The Miracle Worker

Today I learned that the world lost a great man. This was a man who exemplified what it was to be a teacher. He expected a great deal from his students, but he always gave so much more in return. Those of us he knew personally he pushed to greater heights, knowing what we were capable of. Some of us were led into careers in the performing arts, while others chose a different path. What we all shared though was a love for a man who gave so much of himself to the students and the craft of theater.

I first met Tom Marcello in 1994 when I auditioned for the part of Benjamin, the youngest son of Jacob, in a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Despite my high hopes, I didn’t get the part, but he found a use for me in the chorus along with a group of kids. It was a small part, but the small parts make the whole complete, and he made us all feel important while holding us to the same standards that he held the leads to.

I’d often heard him referred to as The Miracle Worker. The first production he produced as the director of what would become my high school was called just that: The Miracle Worker. Over the years he would become a miracle worker for hundreds, even thousands of kids who came through the doors of the Joseph Case High School auditorium. When things looked bleak because of financial constraints, money appeared as if out of nowhere. This was a man who had touched so many lives that alumni donated time, money, and energy so that the kids that came after them could have the same experience they did. The theater competition banners that line the walls of the auditorium are a testament to his many great works and sacrifices.

Banners only show so much though, because you had to see him as he was. He carried a towel with him to rehearsals because before too long he was sweating as if he was running an aerobics class. His dedication allowed him to keep pace with the youngest and fittest people that he lead, and they hung on his every word. Mr. Marcello’s personality had him rushing about, from the stage to wardrobe to props to the crew, and if you took the time to say his full name to get this excited man’s attention he might miss you. We shortened it to so that we could get his attention and get out what we needed to say. At least that’s the story I heard, and like any mythic giant there are lots of versions to the epic saga such as this man was.

By the time I got to high school I had known M from a number of productions I had been involved with. I had the benefit of an surrogate older sister and a longtime friend of M’s that helped me find out about auditions for shows he was doing, or the productions of people he knew. He needed a younger person for a part in his own authored production of We Will Remember , a production about the Holocaust, and so I went out for it. It was interesting to be kid from the jr. high having a part in the high school production, and it opened a number of doors for me. M’s multiple connections had information about productions at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, the Rhode Island School of Design, auditions in Boston in the theater district, and even a movie audition. Just having his name on my theater resume next to my head shot was enough to get consideration, but it also came with a great deal of expectation because anyone who worked with Tom Marcello was expected to do great things. And thanks to his guidance we did.

But none of this was ever about him. It was always about us. The sacrifices he made on our behalf were only ever closely duplicated by Brian McCann, his assistant and one of my English teachers who would later become vice-principal and principal of the high school. He worked himself into such a fervor on a daily basis and it was all for our benefit. In class he told us that after a stressful day he’d take a stroll through Toys R Us and push buttons on display models. It soothed his mind and I think in many ways it reminded him that what he was doing was for us; all his many kids.

I strayed from theater a long time ago when I realized that not every director was Tom Marcello. I was quickly burnt out working under a different director with a different style and my life took a different course very quickly. I’ve missed the theater, but given the schedule of a paramedic it’s hard to make the time. I turned to writing when I was 25 for the creative outlet I was so desperately craving and it’s done the trick. But the influence of Tom Marcello isn’t something that just fades away when he leaves your everyday life. He’s the kind of man you carry with you everywhere you go and you know that he carries you as well.

I know many people in the coming days who will be reflecting, shedding tears, and telling amazing stories about a man we all knew and loved. While I won’t be able to attend any memorials or services, I will be there in spirit. It’s a sad thing that we sometimes only think of the people who’ve touched our lives when they’re no longer with us. Remembering people like Mr. Marcello allows us to recall why they were important to us in the first place. This in turn will help us to better ourselves so that we can share a little bit of his light with those who don’t have an M in their lives. Continuing your influence through others long after you’ve gone – that’s a miracle worker.


Here’s a site that catalogues some pictures from various productions run by the Joesph Case High School Theater Company

The INFJ Medic

EMS is an unlikely profession for someone like me. I hate chaos and loud noises and they make me downright uncomfortable. Worse, I really don’t care for the company of the real hardcore Type-A personalities that permeate EMS; the vestiges of the police and fire types that we tend to spill over in to move on to. I’ve often said the EMS is like the Air Force of emergency services and the Marines are the cops and the firefighters are the Army. Sorry if you chose a different service for yourself in real life, but this is my analogy and as an INFJ and an author I am REALLY good at making analogies.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Meyers-Briggs personality type (you can find out your own by Googling the MBTI exam and taking it yourself) I’m a breed that is the rarest of the rarest Pokemon people. Only 1% of men and 3% of women fall into this category and I myself had no idea I was one of them until a few months ago my wife gave me the test to take. I tested out as an INFJ, but because I’m in EMS the psychology end of medicine didn’t do much for me. Once I started reading up on it though I was blown away by the fact that I was reading what might have been my biography written by someone who I had never met. They seemed to know so much about me, some things I didn’t even realize for myself.

In a nutshell INFJs are often:

  • private
  • sensitive
  • quiet leaders
  • great depth of personality – intricately and deeply woven, mysterious, and highly complex, sometimes puzzling even themselves
  • introverted
  • abstract in communicating
  • live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities – part of an unusually rich inner life
  • abstract in communicating
  • artistic (and natural affinity for art), creative, and easily inspired
  • very independent
  • orderly view towards the world but within themselves arranged in a chaotic, complex way only they could understand


And here I thought I was just a weird kid. It turns out that the idiot I had as a third grade teacher was wrong. I didn’t have a learning disability. What made matters worse in that situation though was that someone made the mistake of telling my family that I was incredibly intelligent, to which any parent might be thrilled to hear. Unfortunately that didn’t mean I was a good student, after all if you judge a fish on it’s ability to climb a tree it’ll go through life thinking it’s stupid. Soooo, as you can see I’m not a doctor or a lawyer and there are no degrees taking the place of wall paper in my home.

People like me aren’t cut from the same tree as many of you are. In fact there have been some INFJs who actually believe they aren’t human. I don’t think this of myself, though I can sympathize with that feeling (and it’s great plot fodder so…)

My best friend in medic school once declared that he and I were “kind of competing” in class. I don’t know where he got this from, but I hate competition. I hate it. I detested gym class, not because of the physical elements of it – that was fine. I just hate competing because in the end it’s utterly meaningless. Clin-Con? I can’t imagine a worse example of EMS ego than that. I hate the EMS alpha-dog ego to begin with, so why would this be something I’d even consider doing. Why? It’s competition based on practices used in saving lives. That’s absurd in my mind.

But here’s the thing, ok? The point of this entire blog entry is to point out how different my way of thinking is and always has been. It’s a story of how difficult it was for me to cement myself into a field that was not built or designed for someone like me; someone who thinks like me, acts like me, or goes through life like me.

IMG_2067Ultimately it’s the back story to how Twenty-Five at the Lip was written.

I’m a Highly Sensitive Person. Now being an HSP doesn’t mean emotionally sensitive especially, but rather that outside influences have strong effects on me. Something heavy dropped on the floor of the ambulance bay is going to make me jump, and even shout at someone, but more likely to myself. The Nextel is another element of this. It’s an unpleasant noise, not because it means I have a call, but because it’s an OBNOXIOUS sound and I am sure if there is any justice in the universe the creator of that little jingle has a special place reserved in Hell for them. The thing is that sudden loud noises put me into that sympathetic fight or flight response and it takes someone like me longer to come down from that than the average person. People who worked opposite shifts from me used to hate that I changed the ringtone on the Nextel to something quieter and more humane for my own benefit. After reading a couple of numerous blogs and books like The INFJ Handbook by Marissa Baker I had this light go on in my head. For someone like me, that kind of thing is COMPLETELY NORMAL.

Now of course if you’re not an INFJ, or any of the introverted types, or even aware of this sort of thing you’re going to think I’m really strange, and that’s cool. As a medic I’ve had some interesting experiences with partners who weren’t sure how to work with me. Some people even avoided picking up my shifts because they thought that my quirks leant to some sort of para-god core. The funny thing about this is that INFJs are both born leaders and detest leading at the same time. People look to us for guidance and leadership and while we often give it reluctantly we hate having attention put on ourselves. For me in EMS that translates to “quiet codes” where one person speaks at a time and nobody yells. It also means saying “Thank you” a lot, and using terms like “we” and “us” when things go good and “I” when they don’t. That is taking responsibility and spreading credit, not the other way around.

Regardless these traits also come with some peculiar behaviors and ways of looking at the world. I’ve always been like this. When I was four I was assessed at the recommendation of my preschool because of bizarre, sometimes adult, behaviors that some might have pegged as me being an “old soul.” So my parents carted me over to a psychologist who asked me some pretty rudimentary questions that any four-year-old might be able to answer.

“Jimmy,” they asked me. “What do you do with bread?”

Now any other kid, and normally thinking person, is going to tell you ‘Make a sandwich,’ right? My answer was,

“You make bread pudding.” This was a reasonable answer for me because my grandmother makes – literally – the best bread pudding you’ve ever had and it was my favorite. That was the only logical answer that my four-year-old mind could come up with.

“What lives in the water?” they asked me. Now surely my answer was ‘fish’, right? How could it not be?

“The Loch Ness Monster.”

See the thing about this is that the answers I came up with weren’t wrong. They just weren’t the typical answers you’d expect. This is why I detest the National Registry exams…

One of the really cool things about the INFJ personality is that we are capable of coming up with creative solutions to sometimes difficult problems, though sometimes they might seen cumbersome or odd. In our mind if the job gets done then it is done right. Unfortunately this doesn’t always translate well in EMS and it makes us look strange or incredibly awkward bringing about unwanted consequences.

This one day at MedTech an EMT approached my friend Angie and lamented “I wish I hadn’t picked up the medic shift.”

“Why?” she asked.

“I’m with Windale…”

Now this might have resonated some sort of empathetic response from someone who hadn’t worked with me, but Angie came to his, and my, rescue. She came to me and actually told me he was nervous about working with me. This made me really upset because I knew I had something of a reputation as being that weird guy in the company, but also being really smart and capable. Some people saw it as a double edged sword. “He’s new,” she said. That was all I needed to hear.

INFJs are often natural counselors or teachers (we’re also writers – ta-daa) and so with this in mind I decided to make my approach to this guy in the way that I’d always wished someone had instructed me when I was new. The entire day before I had to put myself in a mindset of how I was going to relate to this person because ultimately I was the more experienced provider on the truck. Within ten minutes of just sitting on the truck and talking with me he realized that I wasn’t the intense guy he’d perceived me to be. He also started reading Twenty-Five at the Lip.

Just for shits and giggles though, I told Angie that I had him so upset that he was curled up in the fetal position on the floor of the ambulance crying and mumbling “He’s from Hell… he’s from Hell.”

This other time someone asked another partner of mine, Jeremy, how he managed to work with me for 16 hours a day. His reply was that I’m simply “particular,” not hard to work with. Most find that I’m fun to work with because we are doing stuff with patients as opposed to BLS driving everywhere.

Calvin 1When I started running calls with new people they actually found it to be like what they expected EMS to be in the first place. Too much time at your average private EMS company can make us complacent and not really that interested in providing the level of care that’s necessary. Just going from nursing home to the hospital for abnormal labs isn’t all that exciting until you start to realize what ‘abnormal labs’ can actually mean. For instance, an elevated troponin is also considered ‘abnormal’ and rightfully so. I ended up with people vying for my shifts because I actually did stuff, not just in the truck but at bedside, setting up IVs, oxygen, monitors, 12-leads, even meds. I let them play, which is something that some medics don’t like to do.

It wasn’t till I started working with a basic partner or a cardiac that I truly found myself in charge, and not under the Type-A eye of another paramedic, that I succeeded. Ironically enough, it was because I was thrown to the wolves and allowed to practice the way I knew which was based on the unique experiences I’d had. I got to be ME as a medic, not someone else’s concept of a medic.

I had a supervisor at a Fall River (Borden City in Twenty-Five at the Lip) based company in the North End who had failed medic school two or three times and had to settle for being a cardiac so that he could become a supervisor. Apparently this company promoted people based not on merit, but your practical ability – that is if they thought you might kill someone you got promoted so that they took you out of the standard lineup. But I digress…

He took some exception to the way I practiced, which was sort of humorous in it’s own right considering his own background. I explained to him that I spent a great deal of time in the ER and my way of approaching patient care was very much influenced by the example set at those institutions. Remember the Loch Ness Monster? I practice a sort of osteopathic approach to EMS, look at everything and treat what’s wrong. To clarify: just because the nursing home called for a rash on your patient’s leg, doesn’t mean you ignore the fact that he’s in congestive heart failure and they didn’t pick up on that. Another way of looking at this is to call it shotgun medicine; pull the trigger and see what you hit.

I think deep down this guy was somewhat threatened by me, which explains the Homeric odyssey that he sent me on, jumping from base to base all over Southern New England. I finally landed at a base in New Bedford (Taberport) with a new supervisor that I’d worked with at another EMS company based out of Dartmouth Massachusetts some years earlier. In the words of my great-aunt Ruby he was a ‘bitch bastard’, just as I’d remembered him being. Before I knew it I was leaving that company, though not overly upset about it given the circumstances. I still had a nicely padded resume and a laundry list of references to call upon. It wasn’t hard for me to find another job, and a better one at that.

There’s a joke writers collectively understand. “Be careful or you’ll end up in my novel.” Ron West, John Prince, and Bobby Carrerio are very thinly veiled people in Twenty-Five at the Lip. Writers have the ability to immortalize people and as sensitive and sentimental people we love to do this. Always be kind to writers because there’s a good chance you’ll end up immortalized somehow. You can be a Valerie LeClaire or you can be a Ron West. Your choice.

Let me bring this back around, because my INFJness is really going strong here. A lot of us are really quiet, and that’s a testament to our introverted nature. People like me are also known for having extroverted moments that are marked by needs for deep, intellectual conversations complimented by almost manic behaviors. For me one of two things is going to happen:

1) I’m going to use up all my fuel and just roll to a stop and crash, or

2) Someone is going to say something about me being weird or stupid because they don’t understand this part of my personality and I’m going to shut down, build an impenetrable wall, and immediately revert back to the safety of my introverted nature.

It’s like being a turtle; a turtle will let you see it for what it is and there is an incredible amount of things a turtle can teach you, if and only if, you’re willing to figure out their nature and language. The thing about turtles is that if you push the turtle, poke it, or try to hurt it somehow it’ll turn into its shell and that’s it.

People who don’t even know about this MBTI thing (myself included until just recently) will discover an INFJ and be completely drawn to them. Many INFJs have experiences where strangers will gravitate to them and just start talking to them. This has happened to me a few times myself, and I’ve also had some amazing luck getting ‘difficult’ patients to calm down and let us work with them.

Then there are things that really irritate us. Something that’s always bothered me is when I’m writing something down and I get interrupted. If I lose my train of thought it’s like I’m losing my sense of direction. The bridge has been hit and Sulu doesn’t know where the heck we are. Meanwhile I’m about to go into fits of Shatner. As it turns out this is pretty typical and I felt bad about it not realizing this was a perfectly natural response to someone with HS, compounded by the God-awful sound of the Nextel or someone talking over me while I’m giving a med report. There’s nothing worse than my report being interrupted by some absurd question that I was getting to if they had just let me. I missed the radio so much because I could talk, say everything I needed to, and then answer questions as necessary.

If you’re confused by any of this I’ll try and make it clearer:

Have you ever tried to hold to a conversation at a concert? I’m not talking a small coffee house with a shitty band playing Radiohead covers. I’m talking The Rolling Stones at Shea Stadium. Or how about the floor of the New York Stock Exchange? Those are really loud places. Why would anyone do that, you might ask. When I get interrupted in the middle of talking about something, I ask the same question because my brain, at all times, is like an air traffic control tower. There are millions of pieces of information flying around and I’m trying to keep track of the important stuff pertaining to the STEMI I just brought you. If you interrupt me to ask about their lung sounds I’m going to get screwed up and lose my place in the story I’m reading out loud to you. I’m getting to it. If there was something urgent about the lung sounds you’d have heard it by now.

Now the average medic is probably going to explode having read this. There’s a procedure after all, isn’t there? Of course there is. There’s the “right way” to do something and then there’s the “other right way” to do it. We go on so much about not being cook book medics that we unknowingly end up being cookie-cutter medics. Is it really any better?

The thing about being an INFJ in EMS is that the Type-As who are so drawn to, and make up most of the EMS population, set the standards for what it is “to be” in EMS. I’m not talking about the docs who write your protocols, because I will guarantee that 99% of them will get us every.single.time.

What I’m talking about is the macho, Rambo-style, know it all who is an expert at everything and can rattle off paragraphs and figures from their EMT or medic text books. That’s a great talent and I’m glad you have it, but if you’re the type of FTO who tells a new, scared shitless medic or EMT that they have no business being in EMS because they can’t spew out the contraindications for Procainamide off the cuff… then this is me telling you to eat shit. If you have zero tolerance for questions or mistakes then you have no business being an FTO. Take off that pin and give back the pay raise that comes with it. Go back and sit with the other cowboys in the dick-measuring corral.

It took me a very long time to get comfortable with my skills as an EMT and a Medic. Worse though, it took me longer to accept myself for the sort of EMT and Medic that I am. Being different in a field like this is tantamount to treason. You’re expected to fit into a very specific mold, for no reason other than the mentality that makes up EMS. Possibly the most ironic thing about EMS was summed up by one of my early preceptors when he said, “You’re nervous, and the bully in me is picking up on that.” Someone in a profession that is based on giving aid to the sick and injured has bullying tendencies? If I didn’t already know that based on my previous history I’d have been blown out of my boots by that statement. In my unconscious INFJ state, I shut down to him from there and fortunately was given another preceptor. In the end I’m still here. The reason for that it because I’m a survivor – a lot of INFJs are. For one reason or another people in their formative years have had to endure. The result of the endurance, sometimes, is an ability to see the world very differently than most of the population. To have the ability to come up with creative answers to difficult questions. And to fall into leadership positions, even though we don’t really want them.

How’s that for a mind fuck?

On the other end of all this is my own humanity. Despite the theories some INFJs have of themselves, I am at least partially human. That means I’m entitled to mistakes, and when it comes to being a preceptor myself I’ve certainly made them. Sometimes you pick up behaviors that you didn’t think you were capable of, just ask children of abuse or alcoholism. In moments of stress and high anxiety I’ve yelled at students and precepts. I’m not proud of it, but I’ll freely admit that it was wrong. That’s something else that I had to address to myself when I wrote Twenty-Five at the Lip. If you’re like me the last thing you want to do is hurt someone, and that goes doubly if you’re in EMS. Never forget why it is that we are here.

Lisa as SnuffyAs I bring you to the end of this psychological tour I’ll share with you something that my friend Lisa sent me. She was the model for Snuffy that you’ve seen a number of times and I could recall on several occasions EMTs venting to me about the conditions they worked under where the egos of their partner filled most of the front cab. She sent it to me saying that it reminded her of me, which was an incredibly humbling feeling. I can’t cite the author because there wasn’t one provided. It could easily be, and should be, anyone in a position of leadership in EMS. We INFJs don’t like being in leadership roles, but often end up there because of our insight and ability to lead, not ruthlessly manage.

That EMT over there is mine.

I’ve been in their shoes. I’ve walked through the shit they are walking through. I’ve put up with the shit you’re giving them. I’ve been them. They may one day stand where I stand.

That EMT has my back. That EMT does my CPR. That EMT starts my IVs. That EMT cares for my patients. That EMT is my partner.

Do not bark at my EMT. Do not ignore my EMT. Do not discourage my EMT. Most of all do not treat my EMT like they are less than us.

I say “my EMT” not because I am a medic and they are an EMT, but because that is my EMS sibling. I get to give them shit, because we spend 12+ hours a shift trying not to annoy each other and to get along. Because I trust them to have my back. Because they’ll never let me down. Because that EMT is my partner.

I need my EMT. You will respect them, or leave them alone.

-That EMT’s medic

Promotional Contest!

I’ve been anxious to do another giveaway that was combined with a bit of promotion as well. After talking with an artist friend of mine she gave me a brilliant idea.

From Monday July 18th to Wednesday July 20th Twenty-Five at the Lip, Tuesday’s Gone, Bright Lights and Cold Steel, and Just Say Maybe are free to download on Amazon – there is more though…

I’m going to do a contest with the interest of getting my readers insight into my work. I’m looking for any art inspired by my four books, short stories, promo pictures, music, or even short films – anything to do with my works. Work will be judged by myself and my staff and the winner will receive a complete set of the signed works of James Windale. Runners up will also receive signed copies of my books as well.

This also has an alternative agenda. I discussed at some length during my interview with G from The EMS Lounge about using art to mitigate PTSD and the effects of EMS, Fire, Police, military, and nursing work. Art is very much therapy and I encourage any and all emergency providers to engage in painting, writing, music, or anything that allows you to put what’s on your mind into something meaningful and helps to curb the effects of this sort of mental trauma.

The contest starts today and goes till Labor Day. Chances are I will do this again if I get a good turnout. Best of luck to you all and I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Twenty-Five at the Lip

Tuesday’s Gone

Bright Lights and Cold Steel

Just Say Maybe
My Interview with The EMS Lounge (with pictures)