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Michael W Morse

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Responding
by Michael W Morse   

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Books by Michael W Morse
· Rescuing Providence
                >> View all

Category: 

Memoir

Publisher:  Emergency Publishing ISBN-10:  1887321144 Type: 
Pages: 

362

Copyright:  November 11, 2011 ISBN-13:  9781887321143
Non-Fiction

Amazon
Emergency Stuff
Rescuing Providence

You are part of Rescue 1, an advanced life support vehicle in Providence, RI, as you respond to emergencies during a grueling thirty-eight hour shift.

What I like about this book, as well, as his first one, is that I found at several points, I was reminded of what I like most about EMS – the view of others’ lives and the quiet moments where you just stop and feel the whole universe around you, and sad or joyful, tragic or miraculous in that moment you feel that you are a witness to life and the human condition that is laid bare before you, and even if that moment hurts, you feel honored to be allowed to see and feel it and to be present. Three moments in particular in this book stand out for me, Morse on scene over time with a Cambodian woman, whose history he has learned, the brutal childhood and the spiral into alcohol, ending with him present to call the time on her now cold and stiff body; a scene where Morse visits his own mother in a nursing home and brushes her hair while she sleeps; and then on a transport to pick up a child with severe disabilities, and witness the love of his caregivers, as they brush the boy’s hair who they have cared for his whole life and say good bye. We as EMS are there in moments where we see life in its barest truth, and we also have the gift of touch that the single most powerful gesture we possess to affirm that we, as an individual and as a collective, are human.

Peter Canning

Excerpt
“Rescue 3 and Engine 7; respond to 268 Benefit Street for an elderly male who has fallen down the stairs.”



We put down the paddles; I went for the Rescue, Wayne for the couch.



We leave the station and turn left toward Benefit Street. When Providence was an industrial powerhouse, factory workers and their families inhabited the homes that line the historic street. Textile mills and factories were abundant nearby, most of which have since been destroyed by fire. Some of the mills have been converted to living space or offices but nobody is making much of anything these days in Providence, the manufacturing base has been shipped overseas. The Providence Preservation Society saw the value of the old homes that had been subdivided and turned into tenements long before developers and real estate professionals did and insisted the homes be preserved. Rather than let the area be redeveloped or demolished, the buildings were restored. We now have the finest cohesive collection of restored 18th and early 19th century architecture in the United States right at our doorstep. The “Mile of History” is one of the most prolific, vibrant parts of the city. Reproduction gas street lamps illuminate the area at night; you can imagine yourself walking in the footsteps of Edgar Allen Poe who spent his later years in Providence courting a reputable widow, Sarah Whitman, at the Providence Athenaeum, the fourth oldest private library in the country.

The guys from Engine 9 are inside the historic home; their truck parked about thirty feet past the doorway leaving room for the rescue. We pull the stretcher from the back of the rig; place a long spine board on top and walk in, passing a cast iron boot scraper that has been there for centuries.

An elderly couple sits on a couch in the front room. Bob Cataldo from the 9’s gives me the story.

“He was trying to help his wife up the stairs with the laundry basket, she was raising it up to the balcony, he leaned too far and fell over the balcony and right on top of her.”

“No way,” I say, shocked that the people are not more seriously hurt. I walk over to the stairs, a balcony with a three foot railing is at the head of the stairway which has a landing about ten feet down, then another seven or eight steps.

“Way,” says Bob.

”Are you folks okay?” I ask the gray haired couple sitting next to each other on the couch. The man is crooked, rubbing his lower back, his wife sits straight, but has a laceration and bump on her forehead.

“I’m fine, I’m worried about her,” the man says.

“I’m okay, I’m worried about him,” she replies.

“I’m worried about both of you. I can’t believe you two walked away after that fall. You must be pretty tough.”

“Sixty years of marriage will do that,” they say at the same time, and then smile at each other.

“We’re going to get you to the hospital, just bear with us, I want to get you immobilized on a backboard for the ride.”

“I know how that goes,” says the man, “just a few months ago we were in a car accident on Academy Avenue, I went through it then. It’s a good thing I did, the doctors at Miriam Hospital said the EMT’s saved me from being paralyzed, I had a broken neck.”

“I thought you two looked familiar,” I said, “that was me! A hit and run driver sideswiped you and ran you into a utility pole. If I remember correctly, you were worried about your wife.”

“He’s the one that ended up in the hospital for a week,” she said, reaching over to hold her husband’s hand. “There was nothing wrong with me.”

With help from the engine company we “package” our patients for the ride to the hospital. I still can’t believe these two elderly people had two traumatic incidents in the last month and managed to tell the tale. From the look of things, no serious harm was done by the fall, which is truly amazing. First, a fall of ten feet can be serious at any age, being eighty increases the chance of broken bones or worse. Second, having a two-hundred pound man fall on you from ten feet has its share of complications.

We ride down Benefit Street toward the hospital, my patients, together for better and worse, under my care again.


Professional Reviews

Peter Canning
I’m sitting in my ambulance posted in the North end of Hartford. Thankfully it has been a quiet morning so far and that has enabled me to finish Responding, Michael Morse’s great sequel to his first book Rescuing Providence. Michael is an excellent writer and one of the best EMS bloggers around.

Responding chronicles a 38 hour shift, but it also has flashbacks to earlier calls, and at the end has many of the short stand alone stories that for me are the reason for reading Morse’s blog.

What I like about this book, as well, as his first one, is that I found at several points, I was reminded of what I like most about EMS – the view of others’ lives and the quiet moments where you just stop and feel the whole universe around you, and sad or joyful, tragic or miraculous in that moment you feel that you are a witness to life and the human condition that is laid bare before you, and even if that moment hurts, you feel honored to be allowed to see and feel it and to be present. Three moments in particular in this book stand out for me, Morse on scene over time with a Cambodian woman, whose history he has learned, the brutal childhood and the spiral into alcohol, ending with him present to call the time on her now cold and stiff body; a scene where Morse visits his own mother in a nursing home and brushes her hair while she sleeps; and then on a transport to pick up a child with severe disabilities, and witness the love of his caregivers, as they brush the boy’s hair who they have cared for his whole life and say good bye. We as EMS are there in moments where we see life in its barest truth, and we also have the gift of touch that the single most powerful gesture we possess to affirm that we, as an individual and as a collective, are human.

And by recording these moments, Morse brings our world to life and does the job of the writer that of bearing witness to our humanity.

I think this is what William Faulkner was getting at in hisNobel Prize address, where he described the job of a writer. Man, he wrote, “is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.”

Before I became an EMT I read EMS books for accounts of the calls. Now the calls themselves are less interesting to me that the writer’s ability to chronicle what our lives in EMS are really like. While this book has war stories, more important for me is the view of what Morse’s life and world is like as an emergency responder and how he has come to his place in it.

Responding is welcome addition to our growing body of EMS literature.


Bob Kerr, Providence Journal
Brenda Olenkiewicz, the counter girl at the Coffee Grinder in Warwick, gives “Rescuing Providence” a very strong review. “I learned a lot. I didn’t realize how much crap they go through.”

Now, she wants more from author ‍Michael ‍Morse, more straight-from-the-streets prose that takes us to the crazy, cruel, funny places that emergency medical technicians (EMTs) see every day. “I have to get this one,” says Brenda, pointing to a copy of “Responding,” ‍Morse‍’‍s latest book, on the counter. The author is a customer. His books are sold at the Coffee Grinder. Later this month, ‍Morse will sign copies of “Responding” in this good place in the Governor Francis Shopping Center.

“This has been in my drawer,” said ‍Morse as he sat at the counter with morning coffee. “It’s haunted me.”

So he took it out of the drawer and trimmed it into shape and made it the second book to tell of his time as an EMT, of those long hours of responding to accidents and assaults and the falling down misery of people on the streets of Providence. It has been more than four years since ‍Morse‍’‍s “Rescuing Providence” was published. The book covers one 34-hour shift around Easter weekend of 2004. It is based on notes ‍Morse wrote down after rescue calls. It is very good. It is a look at the city as few ever see it.

“I loved the job so much as I was doing it, and I wanted to tell the story.” The job is one of those that a person either loves or finds some other way to make a living. It is exhausting, dangerous and incredibly rewarding. ‍Morse says he considers his two books anthropological looks at the people of Providence. “I’m invited into their lives,” he says. And he takes us along. “Responding” is a fine, skillfully paced second book that offers more fascinating pieces of life in the city, of the tragedy and the brutality and the small rituals that order the time between calls at the firehouse. There are the people the EMTs see at the worst of times: There is the woman, soon to graduate from college and get married, who falls from an escalator at Providence Place. She still has a pulse when ‍Morse and his partner get her to Rhode Island Hospital, but she doesn’t make it. ‍Morse treats another woman, repeatedly beaten by her boyfriend, for burns on her back. That’s where her boyfriend hit her with a hot pizza. There are people who fall down drunk and know the EMTs by name, and people who seem to regard the rescue wagons as their personal taxi service.

And sometimes there is someone who just makes everything stop by the sheer injustice of her being where she is. There is the little girl who walks from a doorway crying as street madness swirls around her: “Everything stopped, in my mind anyway,” writes ‍Morse, “and I walked past the people insisting we take their uninjured kids to the hospital and held out my arms. And she came to me, and I lifted her up and held her, then sat on the top step and let it all go.” Read this book and the one before it and you will better understand this place we’re in. The best way to order it is by going to www.emergencys  tuff.com/9781887321143.html  . bkerr@providencejournal.com   (401) 277-7252


Old Jake
Want to know what it's like to be a part of an ALS Fire Department Rescue, you need only read RESPONDING by Lieutenant Mike Morse. It is really a voyeuristic thrill ride of 38 hours traversing the City of Providence with an experienced Fire Fighter and his partner responding to all types of Medical events. The book grabs you on page 1 and refuses to let you go until you have completed this adventure. The Highs and Lows of all the runs. You meet the folks of Providence at their worse and how they are treated by a veteran of the Fire Service & EMS. Mike Morse tells a factual story of what it takes to be in EMS in Providence and a tale of the City of Providence. The only problem with this tale is that it stopped! I am hooked, and so will you! This tells you what really happens in a manner that is true and empathetic. You will finish wanting more. As I want more now! A super page turner that you won't want to put down......


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