Sam Groff is the founder and owner of PrepMedic. It's a critical care flight medic and a Northern Colorado special operations response team member that attaches medics to high call volume SWAT teams. Sam shares a wealth of other law enforcement experience with us. He also has a fantastic YouTube channel and social media platform where he shares knowledge about paramedicine and gives you evidence-based recommendations. He also goes over some gear reviews and gives you some other information about those platforms. We'll also talk a little bit about mental health with Sam. We discuss how it's okay to be okay.
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Hi everyone and welcome to this week's episode of entering the badge podcast. I'm host Jerry Dean Lund and I don't want you to miss an upcoming episode so please hit that subscribe button and my phone's out, please do me a favor and give us a review on iTunes or Apple Podcasts. So hey this podcast has a great message and we should send it out to more people. So please take that 30 seconds to a minute to do that review and just maybe by doing that it will push this up into someone's podcast feed that really needs this message. Hey everyone. I want you to know how committed and dedicated I am to you. I truly appreciate and love those in the first responder world and those who surround them. They're an incredible important part of my life and I know if you're listening and they are yours as well and that's why I have these guests on a truly amazing guest on so you can learn from their struggles and maybe find those ways to improve your life. If you're struggling through life and not being able to pick up on maybe some of these tips that these amazing guests are giving you, I offer a free 15 minute phone call with no obligations. I'm going to talk to you about you living up to your greatest potential and ways I can uplift you and assist you in yourself discovery and having you create true connections if people around you see you don't fill alone in this world that is so big and sometimes we feel so alone with what we're going through and emotions.
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My very special guest today is the creator and owner of PrepMedic Sam Groff. It's a critical care of flight medic and a member of a special operations response team in Northern Colorado that attaches medics to high call volume SWAT teams. Sam has got a lot of other experience and law enforcement that he shares with us. He also has a great YouTube channel and social media platform where he shares knowledge about parametisan and he gives you some things you can implement that's evidence based. He also goes into some gear review and gives you some other insight on those platforms as well. We're also going to dive down into a little bit of about mental health with Sam. We talk about it's okay to be okay.
Sometimes as individuals we respond to things differently than other individuals. We're all humans and have emotions but sometimes we all don't share those same emotions. So we're going to talk to Sam about filling okay. Sometimes you'll have other people that are not filling okay that go into the same call and how do you deal with that. So let's jump right into this episode with my very special guest.
How you doing Sam?
How about yourself?
I'm doing great. Thank you for asking. Sam, can you tell the audience this a little bit about yourself and your background?
Yeah, so I am a currently a flight paramedic. Got my start back in the day in the Midwest in Madison, Wisconsin then in Central Iowa as a ground paramedic kind of started a parallel career path at that time doing SWAT medicine was a reserved equity and an entry team member for a team out there and they're a team medic and that kind of evolved over time as many people do. I moved with my wife out to Colorado, continued to SWAT medicine stuff on the side. Also started a YouTube channel about that same time which my wife is still amazed that people want to hear me talk on a regular basis. And then got into flights out here and have been doing the critical care flight medicine game for about two and a half years now. So that's where I come from. Yeah, that's awesome. So are you still doing SWAT medicine stuff too? Right now. So out here it's a little bit more broad. So I'm on a special operations team. Special operations response team out here that does SWAT medicine for two teams and then we do a search and rescue, diverse doing some high angle stuff as well.
Wow. So you're kind of a jack of all trades.
Yeah, do a lot and definitely a master of none. Yeah. I feel you when you kind of get these different lines of work, it's hard to be a master of everything and you know like ambience like men, like ambience, what medic and do all these things because you have to spread your time out with everything. Yeah, it's almost like being a firefighter in this day and age, I feel like you know, you've got your fire suppression and your rescues and your vehicle extrications has met and all of that other stuff lumped into one. So it gets to be a lot.
Yeah, definitely. How's your wife handle all that, you know, that you're juggling? I mean, she's a medical resident. So I never see her anyways and she's way busier than I am even with all of that stuff. So I, she wouldn't know one way or the other. You guys are just meeting, meeting crossing paths basically on exactly. Luckily our son still too little to really understand it so. So we slow it down relatively soon.
Yeah. How can you survive a marriage like that? How do you make that work with being so busy?
You know, I think the biggest part of it for us has just been like carving out the time no matter what it takes. Yeah. You know, we both have vacation. You know, she's a resident, but she still has vacation. She still has time and really just setting it as a priority. You know, I, I try to put out a pragmatic video every week. I'm working my shifts on the helicopter. I'm doing my own call shifts for times. All of that stuff, but you know, I, those things have to take about to backseat sometimes.
And I, our priority list isn't like a set list. It's not something where I always prioritize her first and, you know, my kid's second and job third, like sometimes the job comes first, but sometimes also the marriage comes first. And I'm a lot of success of just arranging them according to what we need in that moment, you know, what, what really has to be done. But that's not to say we have it all figured out. You know, that's every year's different, every day is different. And we, yeah, I couldn't sit here and tell you that we don't fight about it periodically. Yeah, I mean, I don't think anybody listening figures, you know, that they have everything figured out, especially when it comes to relationships and working, you know, these types of professions and your wife, you know, being so busy to do really like carving off the time. My wife and I have a goal to go somewhere every 90 days and then we try to have that date night once a week. Because it's important to have that connection. Yeah. Yeah. And if that, if that starts going downhill, I mean, I think we've all had that coworker that things aren't going right in their personal life and nothing goes right in their life at that point. Like they're not doing well at work. They're not doing well at home. You know, they're not having fun out. And I think that's really the baseline at least from my perspective has been your home life has to be squared away for you to actually be a competent medical provider, firefighter, please officer, whatever it is. I think that's, that's key.
Yeah. Because it totally affects your emotions. I mean, you can't check them at the door. There's just no way to like perfectly check those at the door.
No, if somebody has a system for actually doing that for real and not just saying it, I'd like to meet them.
Yeah, right. Yeah. They probably don't have any kids.
Yep. Yep. I agree. That there are always the wild card and so many things that we do and working these crazy hours. Yeah. My coworker put it best. I think he said, kids make everything harder. Not necessarily worse, but everything harder, logistically emotionally. It's just not the same. My, our son is like 13 months now and I look back on like what my obligations were before that, my life was so easy. Yeah. And now it's not right. Right. And now people are, you know, pets are so huge and people's lives. You know, that's kind of like just like having a kid. These people really looked at them as their, as their kids and taking up a lot of time. I saw kind of a funny ad for Amazon, they were hiring people and it says, and it was a picture of a bunch of different pets and it's like, please don't leave us at home alone. So as a prompt for people to, you know, work remotely and I was like, hey, you know, catching on. Yep. They're, they're getting it. We're still waiting on some legal protections for it. I think that's the one, the one downside there. But yeah. I think companies are starting to realize that that's a thing that matters to a lot of people.
Right. Why, why did you form a passion for SWAT medicine?
So, you know, that came up really as a community need and, you know, that was one of the things we wrote down to kind of talk about is that I've found a lot of success in looking at what the community I'm working in needs or what they lack and working to establish that. And central Iowa is where I kind of started it. We were in Ames was the city in the story county was the surrounding area. And both, both areas like Ames had a population of, I want to say 100,000 people, it's in story county, you know, with that encompassed there were two SWAT teams. Both relatively low, called volume. But between the two, there were no medical providers. There was no, like at the time, we didn't even have vests on our ambulance. We had no rescue task force. We had nobody on SWAT. And that seemed like a big gap to me. And we'd have, you know, officers coming into the ER and they'd have, you know, their turnicates were all messed up and they're, they're stuff and we'd try to fix them. And I'd start to replace their things out of our store room. I'm pretty sure I was stealing, but nobody called me on it. You know, start replacing some of their stuff, giving them, like packing gauze and starting those conversation and that's where they kind of got interest, they're like, well, we don't have this. What would you do? And I kind of talked about, you know, terms and house mother organizations were doing it. And the officers, the ground level officers were super all about it. And in that time, you know, talking with them, forming those relationships, I put myself through a couple tech med classes just to see what it was all about. Because I wasn't a subject matter expert. It wasn't like I had the skill set going on or going into it. And through those connections, they told me about the reserve deputy program, which was you go through the Iliya Police Academy except in like a weekend by weekend basis. Takes you about like a year to get through the whole thing and then you can go through an FTO process with the sheriff's office. So applied did that, did my academy and then started applying to their emergency response team, which was their version of SWAT. And then like the second I was through the door, it was kind of one of those, hey guys, we should do this. Hey guys, can we get this? And they were so supportive of it. They got me, you know, and NAR48 bag, stocked it for me, my employer. That was working full time as a paramedic was like, yeah, whatever you want to do. Just go do it. The medical director had a check box that helped that she was married to one of our main paramedics. So, you know, there wasn't too much barrier. But through that really kind of found the community need and then just work to start it, which is a program that's still going today, even though I've been out of it for about four years now. Yeah, that's awesome. I love being a SWAT medic as well. It's a unique bond that you have with your team members. And it's just different. The training is just different. And it's different than, you know, the fire and paramedic training and stuff that I do. It's just something completely different that really engages me and have a passion for. It's like, I want to be there for those guys, right? And gals that are on the SWAT team. Yeah. And it, you know, it's interesting. I'm sure you guys have experienced it. But it's so multifaceted where I got into it thinking it was, you know, swinging turn a kits with bullets flying overhead. And, you know, the reality is that that is such a small percentage of what a good SWAT medic is doing. You know, you're looking at, you know, hydration needs fatigue of your team. You're looking at like the small things, headaches and blisters and trying to optimize their performance. And then, you know, they'll come in and they'll, you know, have the sore on their hand or something and ask you to look at it. You know, it's all these little things. And that's what builds this relationship so that when things actually are going really south, when things are really in a stressful situation, you've had all of these little micro interactions with them, you've proven yourself. And now you have that bond and you can go in and actually do what you thought you were doing from the beginning. But it was, it was kind of like peeling back and onion of looking at all of these different considerations going into it and realizing that it's not really as like cool guy as I think it's made out to be. Vests kind of suck. They're kind of heavy and, you know, they're kind of hot and like they don't keep you warm either in the cold weather. But, you know, all of those little things I think really make it worth it. And you can make a huge difference, not just for the officers, but for the people they're coming in contact with, you know, whether it's the mental health patient having a really bad day that happens to have some violent stuff going on where they had a SWAT team called or, you know, the hostage in a HRT scenario, something like you can make a huge difference. And it's kind of cool to be part of your community in a, in a different way.
Yeah. How do you feel about picking up a new skill set, you know, with firearms and things like that?
Yeah. You know, that was probably my biggest insecurity. Just going into the reserve academy because I kind of had this vision that like every every officer was a gun guy, everybody, you know, was going to be way better than me. And I am way out of practice now. But like going into his interesting to kind of like, it was a really supportive community. You know, I was really open of like, hey, I'm not good at this. Like this is new for me. I can, you know, start an IV, but I'm not sure about doing this qualification. And they were really supportive. You know, it took me out helped out and stuff. And, you know, it was about like a year before I felt like actually competent with a firearm despite claws and the classes and everything like it took a while. But I thought it was a really supportive community. And I was surprised that it's like, please officers are not just a gun community. Like there are people that are bad shots as one for the officers, not so much on swip, but like I'm just treating stuff. And it was just kind of interesting to see that perspective. Right, because they are willing to help you. Like when I first started, I just carried this aside, you know, I'm just a pistol. I didn't carry it in AR and stuff like that. So I was pretty proficient, you know, and felt as time goes on, it's been, I don't know, 13, 14 years, maybe, or longer, you know, starting out doing it and it became more, you know, really comfortable with my gun. But you have to be open and honest, you know, because I was in a big gun guy, either kind of getting into it. And so I hadn't been around a lot of, you know, weapons and stuff like that. So being open and honest and just saying, hey, I need some extra help. I don't really understand this. Maybe quite as much as you, you guys do. Because unless a lot of teams are right there, or some guys that are, I'm like, man, they are awesome, awesome shots. Yeah. And like I feel like there's most flat teams will have like at least one dude that was special forces and some branch or something like these guys are no joke. I remember going into my qualification while I was trying out for the SWAT team and they had deferred my application because I had gotten in a motorcycle rectus, okay, my shoulder and one of the things was a bench press and they were nice enough to allow me to like hold it off for two weeks. But we went out to this quality. He had to do 90% shotgun, 90% pistol, 90% AR and it's like pouring rain and it's like 36 degrees. And the, what was one of the team leaders and he was just a grumpy dude, super nice dude. Super grumpy. And he looked at me. He was like, Sam, you better not be fucking with me right now. Like you, you have to do this. If you don't, I'm going to be pissed. So it's like Max pressure horrible conditions. He's just not having it. He's not happy. He doesn't want to be there, but he's going to do it. That was kind of my intro to the team at least. Yeah. I mean, those SWAT commanders and team leads, they could kind of be grumpy. They got a lot of pressure on them. Oh, absolutely. Those are my favorite people in any public service though, is that the people that are just like, uh, RBF and they don't mess around and they don't give you a smile ever, but they're really solid people. Like they're just so much fun to work with because once you get to know them, you can kind of make fun of them a little bit and rib them and get that grumpy to come out a little bit more.
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you're really do have to like you're talking about those little micro interactions and stuff like that because when it's actual go time, like, and everybody turns on on their game face, I mean, you can really see that in people, you can see their seriousness and desire to carry out the mission as safely as possible, effectively as possible.
Yeah. And for you guys, are you guys sworn within the team and are you entry or do you carry as like a self defense option? Oh, you go in.
So yeah, we carry in. We do entry as well.
Yeah. Yeah. And that's like, so that's how it was. Well, I was in Iowa. We were sworn. We had, we were fully armed with them. We were entry team members first, medic second. But even then, like, you're kind of looked at as a sobality because like all of these career guys that have a lot of experience, like, are in their doing this every day and you're the hobbyist on the outside. And like now it's even worse in Colorado because we're not sworn. So we, we're not armed, we're like marshmallows that have to be baby set. So we'll do entry with them, but like you can be a liability very easily and you can be looked at as a liability even easier. So like really having that trust and that rapport going into it is so critical, so important. Yeah. If you want to actually be effective.
Right. And it's all on your attitude that you, you have and are displaying.
Yeah. I mean, attitudes, everything. That's attitudes, everything, not just in terms, not just an MS fire, put like attitude. I think has gotten me every big success I've had within this career. Every job I've gotten, I think I can attribute at least a partial to attitude. And I think that is what burns people in this career feel so quickly. Yeah. Yeah. I agree with you. Like, how do you set yourself up maybe to like have that good attitude?
Here are five tips if you're feeling stuck in your life still. One, take full responsibility of your life. Don't be that victim anymore. You have to get past that number two. Praise and enjoy the process. Focus on the journey when things get tough. Focus on the end where you're headed and why you're headed there. If you truly know those little things are not going to knock you off your track. Number three, become anti-fragile. Once again, don't let those little things knock you down. They're in a breathing process though. You can get through them and knock it stuck in that moment. Number four, cut out the crappy friends that are sucking the life out of you because you can't excel. If you're around a bunch of crappy friends that are not going to help you excel. And number five, you need to cultivate grit and press a variance. Knowing your journey and having it written down and having it destination is going to keep you on track and help you with that grit and perseverance on getting you to where you want to be. Now let's jump right back into this episode.
I think number one is that you have to identify the people. Like, it's really hard to what did my old mentor say. It was hard to sort of like an eagle when you're surrounded by turkeys. You know, you go to the firehouse that's like kind of known as the Kermudgeon Firehouse. And they didn't all start out that way. Like they're not all grumpy dudes. There was one or two that had a really bad attitude. It infects everybody around them. And it's very hard. And I know it's really hard because I've been in that situation to really break out of that because, you know, it's infectious. You're around it all the time. You start regurgizing it. It's almost like a way to fit in with them is to, you know, complain about the system, complain about what's going on. So really first and foremost, like trying to surround yourself with people with good attitudes. Sometimes that's easier said than done because you can't always have your dream shift assignment with your best buddies ever.
But, you know, trying to get away from those people and then just making it a conscious effort like, Hey, I'm going to work. I'm not going to complain today. I, or stopping yourself in that midthought mid conversation where you're complaining about something. Because it really doesn't get you anywhere. It doesn't mean you have to be a pushover that doesn't mean you have to do like accept bad condition, accept bad managers. But there are constructive ways to go about that and complaining to your buddy about it. And on stop doesn't help anybody. Right. And that turns infectious like you're saying in a, in a negative way. And it's so hard to stop that. Um, I guess, man, crew mentality, I would say, and just not continually feeding in it. Someone's got to be the person that's kind of steps up your steps back and say, Hey, let's move on. This is not getting anywhere. Yeah. And that's a good point too is that if you step up like it's infectious in both directions. Yeah. If you come in, you've got a good attitude. It's a little bit harder to get those people to come around. But if you come in, you've got a good attitude. Like, yeah, let's run calls today. And it, people will, will kind of bring that in. They're, they're going to tease you a little bit for being the gung-ho guy, which has been me most of my career.
But we even see it now like in flights is that we've got a couple pilots that are just, They just really want to fly. And when we come in with them and they're like, man, let's go fly. Let's go do something cool. And like that gets you amped up. And now we're saying like, yeah, let's go fly like the tones drop. You don't get that like, you know, curse at the wall. Come on. Do we really have to, you know, and people get amped up. And you just have a better day. You know, whether or not you get wrecked, whether or not you, you get blown out and have nothing. It's just a better experience for everybody. So my feeling in my career now is why not why not just come into work and just be ready for anything. And, you know, embrace the suck if it sucks. But, you know, if you're verbally saying things that are, that are good. Like if you're, if you're excited, even though you have this like pit of dread, and you really don't want to get out of bed for that call, that can kind of almost turn yourself. It can turn yourself around if you're emoting this positive attitude, even if you don't feel it.
Yeah. Yeah. And how does, like, how does one like maybe turn themselves around, you know, that maybe like, hey, they're listening to this and I had, I've been that guy like, you know, gone through some struggles in life in my career. And how do I turn this around because I don't really want this to follow me, the rest of my career?
You know, I don't have a good answer for that, because I still catch myself, you know, through phases of burnout here and there, you know, through where things just aren't going right for me. I still catch myself being the negative Nancy. And where I've had success, like turning it around is just that conscious effort. You know, just like telling myself if there's an action that I don't want to do, like saying like very blatantly in my head, you're not going to say that today. You are not going to engage with this person. You are not going to complain about this. You're not going to call the administrator on call, like, and just having that like really blatant self conversation and then repeating it. You know, not just doing it one day, doing it like, alright, I can do it in another shift and another shift. And if you get, you know, usually for me, it's two or three shifts. If I can consciously do that, I can see an actual shift in my attitude and my mindset going to work. But it doesn't always work. And that's that I think is the hard truth is that nobody's perfect. And even the most optimistic person out there is going to have bad days and struggles, especially in this career. Yeah, I think sometimes we, we want to be perfect. And we look at everybody else, maybe sometimes that they should be perfect. But that's just not the reality of any job or any situation really is just, you know, that trying to make everybody perfect in your self-perfect, that that's just not going to happen. Yeah. And not getting discouraged if you do slip up, if you do have a bad day. You know, and not comparing yourself to other people, it is, again, like, there are people that I look up to a lot in where I work. And, you know, it's easy to be like, oh, man, like, I had a bad day. I said some stuff. I didn't really, like, I don't feel good about, you know, and then comparing yourself to them, like, oh, man, well, I'm never going to be like that. So, you know, screw everything. You know, I think just kind of taking a healthy middle road with yourself and being able to, you know, understand your human, but still hold yourself to a high standard.
Right. The job is this kind of like, it comes in waves, right? It's just, those waves can be, I think in certain points of my career, they're really big, right? Really big shifts up and down. I think over time I've learned how to better kind of maybe smooth out those ways, you know, that are happening in life and happening in your career. Once you kind of figure out, you know, this positive mental attitude or self-talk and things like that, I think you really can smooth things out for yourself and not only does it make life better for you, it makes life better for the people you're working with and what, right? Well, importantly, the people we're serving.
Yeah. And I think putting it like that, like the careers, it comes in waves, I think, is really astute because it does. You know, you have, and I think a lot of people, they get in like a valley right before the swell, and they're like, I hate this job and that's where they truly burn out. They, you know, leave and something instead of like sitting on it and waiting for the next swell to come along and, you know, get another high from that. But, you know, I think also like understanding how to conserve and how to expel your energy in those cycles is super important. You know, when you start getting burned out, a lot of times, like yes employers can be bad, yes, like pay can be a factor, family life, all of that can be a factor, but a lot of times burn out comes from within. Burn out stuff you're doing to yourself like how are you sleeping? Are you picking up a lot of overtime? Are you drinking a crap ton of caffeine? Are you going to like, like, bet on like a lot of it rolls around sleeping? Are you, you know, are you working out? Are you eating well? Like all of these things, even though they don't feel connected to the fact that you've run your 18th dialysis transfer of the shift, like they can help you handle those better. So, you know, in those, you know, highs, sure, pick up some overtime, you know, go, you know, do some special projects, but when you're in a low, like kind of being able to shed some of that responsibility, you know, go on autopilot for a little bit, you know, take care of yourself and then regroup to kind of give it another push is really important.
Yeah, you have to find a way to recharge yourself, you know, constantly because it is training when you're working lots of hours and being uplay. And you can fall out of all those good habits of working out eating right on drinking caffeine, drinking all those things, like you, and there are so, so, so connected.
Yeah, you know, it doesn't come with like one thing, you know, that I, you know, I don't have any actual stats to back it up, but I think every study I've ever seen on like job performance and happiness, like a raise has very little to do with it. That's not to say people don't deserve more money and that wouldn't help, you know, with lifestyle and all of that, but like, you know, people think like I'm this down and I'm this depressed and I'm this unhappy because I make, you know, $10 now or less than such and such or whatever department and you know, that's not the only factor. That's one of the factors, but just being able to, you can't always control that, but you can always control what you were doing yourself and I think that's really important.
Yeah, I mean, do you find yourself like, you know, talking about, you know, let's we're kind of drifting down into a little bit of mental health and stuff like that, but you're, do you find yourself like it's not okay to be okay type of thing or vice versa.
You know, so I am very fortunate. I have not had any mental health struggles related to the job really like that's that's something that has worked out really well for me and I don't think it's because you know, I'm amazing or super strong or you know better than anybody else. It's just my luck of the drug, you know, I've got bad shoulders, but you know, my mental health seems to be intact and pretty pretty steady.
But what I've noticed recently and and it's hard to quantify because we have a lot of like really new employees coming into the workforce right now. We have a lot of really new EMTs and paramedics and it's really hard to point at individual circumstances say this is the case, but it seems to me that we have such an emphasis on mental health that we have this wave of people almost getting told like you're going to get a mental health. It's like, I've had people in my comments say like this career isn't worth it because you're going to be messed up mentally like you are going to get PTSD you are going to get suicidal and.
We're kind of like we're we're accepting which is really great and we're like getting people to help they need, but at the same time we're almost putting it on some people or they're using it as as a. Not attention seeking but like. Almost like the the crout like the cool kids club like man I'm a assaulty medic and I've got PTSD and I'm part of the cool kids crowd and what that does. Is that we have all of this great stuff for these people, but it still leaves out the people that are really suffering from these things like we have all of this visibility up top for these you know. We issues and people are still falling through the cracks you know it's in my mind I don't think we're getting to the demographic that really needs help. Because those people aren't the people you you know I've had several friends in this career field and even more acquaintances killed themselves and none of them were the people that.
They never talked about it and it happened and you're like wow really like it was like Gary really and it just you know and it's so hard to talk about because you know it it's I understand like how this could come across as offensive to somebody but it really does feel like we we are over glorifying mental health issues in one group while kind of taking away that spotlight from the group that actually needs it. Yeah I mean it's kind of mind boggling what you're saying to me and I'm trying to like how do we figure that out how do we reach that demographic you know. It's hard because you can't call bullshit on somebody you can't like look at somebody and when they say. I'm having these issues I'm depressed I have PTSD you can't just go and you can't just say like no you're like your full crap because that's a recipe for disaster that's a recipe for even more people falling through the cracks and not seeking treatment and that's kind of what got us in the situation in the first place is.
I mean it's kind of denying that this stuff is going on so I don't have a good answer for it I just I get irritated you know when. It's it's almost like forced on people and like I would I'd say is that. I've read still says that you are more likely not to have a mental disorder than you are to have one it's still coming I think it's like one and four and I think it's a little bit higher rates within EMS something like that but. I think that's the notion that you're going to get PTSD that you're going to have these emotional reactions I think is is wrong you know that's not the case for everybody and people have to understand that that. I mean I'm asking I haven't lost any sleep over it yet you know I haven't had any major issues I see a counselor I talked to somebody but. I mean it kind of coming full circle where you came is that like it okay to be okay and it's actually kind of more common not to have those issues so I wouldn't want anybody be afraid of this career path because.
I was more information about how many things. You know, nonstop calls and then throw some traumatic stuff on top of that and then if you you had some anxiety and some depression before like that could amplify it Beyond that if you're not cognizant of it. Yeah, and I can't remember and I just I want to say 35% of people are ready getting into you know as a first responder already have Some issues and then you're right this career for a little exacerbate them probably quite rapidly just because maybe you know undell Issues like in your in your past and So I think that's probably like a big thing where maybe some people are maybe following through the cracks is you know Getting into this profession maybe not realizing what they're kind of maybe some of the baggage that they Habminkering into this and then you know like I said all those things that are connected End up you know kind of cracking the egg open and Turn it into you know these are extreme conditions where you know you a lot of people at PTSD or have other issues for me.
It was Not like one One thing I would say that like oh, yeah, this is what caused my PTSD or whatever It was like a accumulation of a lot of things and things that had not even thought of that probably happened in my childhood and past They kind of probably got things full full circle to for me to realize yeah, I've got some things that I need to work out and to be a better person I'm always striving to be like you know that better person like I've gotten some ketamine treatments I just got this new gangling so like shot like I'm just trying to find like the best version of me like what did that what was it where was that in my career Where was that as a version of me at? Yeah, and I think it like it sounds like you have been really good at seeking out Things to try and trying things and you know looking at like I know I have these issues I've identified that which is the hard part for a lot of people because they haven't identified it.
They haven't gone You've been diagnosed with anything but they're having these thoughts these feelings These daily struggles that they have either internalized as normal or just refuse to talk about So you found that help it sounds like you've been creative in your solution with like ketamine treatments Which I've heard amazing things about from so many people But it's kind of like I guess I'd look at it like a master's program or a doctoral program is that if through undergrad like before your career started in the MS You have to have the study habits and if you go into EMS and you have a good grasp on your mental health Doesn't mean your mental health is perfect But if you're doing really good going into it and like hey I see a counselor I'm on these medications I know this does well.
I know how to handle these anxiety attacks or the days I can't get out of bed or the suicidal ideation like I know how to handle these things You're going to be you're going to be much more successful in the MS than the person coming in that doesn't have these ingrained Skills these things that they've learned over time They don't know how to handle their mental health and now like you said if it's been exacerbated And now you're kind of playing ketchup because you're trying to figure out your mental health while still being like you can't just stop working You know you've devoted so much to school you've devoted so much time so You know having those that self awareness going in I think is is huge for people And it's cool that you're you're trying all those things.
Did you notice a big difference with the Academy and treatment out of curiosity? If you don't I'm asking
no no I'm totally fine talking about it I think I have it took a little bit longer than I thought it would take and to maybe see the results But it's definitely definitely helped I have this I'll talk about it and hopefully I won't get emotional about it But I have this weird feeling quite often just like I'd kind of like this emotion that where I would want to cry and it's just like I'm like I don't know why I had this emotion I guess I just like it would be at these word times and stuff like that that's like gosh, this is just something that's like bothersome to me to have this emotion That's great to be sensitive and carrying and it's like making all these things But I'm like sometimes that that wasn't really matching so that really has subsided and I feel like that's kind of There's been other things that subsided but definitely was something that I was like I'm glad that has kind of like passed And I think you're right you touch on something that's I think very important is the skillset like your your health and your mental health is is developing a skill set
Yeah, like you you have to figure that out and work on constantly work on just like your Swat skills or EMS skills or your firefighting skills you still have to constantly work at that skill set and developing one You know before getting to this career field is even more important I think and I think maybe that's kind of where things that maybe Are starting to pick up is that education developing that skill set and the knowledge Because sometimes we feel these thoughts and feelings in emotion and we're like that's bad.
This is this is not normal when they are completely normal feelings The every human has like I don't we all have these base set of feelings that come through through our lives right right. You know and I guess looking at mental health is just health. You know if I just Okay my shoulder in a motorcycle accident and you know after that I went to rehab and worked on it and I learned how to strengthen that shoulder and all of those muscle groups that were so messed up for it And then I was able to go bench bar for the Swat Triads and you know hit a PR on that and you know felt really good about it, but if I had gone I dislocated my shoulder and then the next day popped it back in and went to try to bench that bar it wouldn't have worked. And that that bar is the stress I guess you could look at it is like the stress of EMS the stress of fire you know all of that stuff if you you know have this issue and you just go into it headlong without putting in any effort like you're going to fail and and honestly you know that System failing you if you won't like Well like that's where the responsibility for You know that that's on you, you know and that's where you have to seek that help and I think what we can do Um, they're the best thing we can do for people is just make sure that those resources are easily searchable easily available But a lot of mental health comes with with That responsibility of seeking it yourself
Yeah, yeah and yeah and to do that you got to you got to know yourself and I feel like We are in a society of just constantly being bombarded by information and have information Consulny right at our just fingertips and phone and computers and everywhere we're looking We're being bombarded by information, but you have to take that time with yourself like that alone time I know some people just don't like being alone at all and I'm like I like to be alone at sometimes and you don't have to be with my thoughts and you know or be out in nature whatever just to just be alone Right and so it's interesting because you know and I think that's that's something that we still don't understand well about mental health is that You know everybody is different like Depression, anxiety, PTSD or just sad feelings are going to be different for everybody and I guess I found and kind of where that like it's okay to be okay And some of those frustrations for me have come from is I remember a call way early in my career and it was you know this port Young teenager sexually assaulted ended up hanging yourself in her closet was a really tragic really tragic story and You know, so we did a debrief we all are department was really good.
They got us you know a grief counselor to talk to for it and having divorced parents having been in counseling Since I was very little you know, I was like, yeah, sure, I'll go talk to some. I don't care. Yeah, why not and talking to them But what I feel like they did wrong is we went into it and they almost assumed how I was feeling and people assumed how I was dealing with it and Honestly, I was dealing with it fine.
You know, it was sad I was definitely sad that day. You know, I definitely didn't want to run other calls that day, but at the same time it was like, okay, it happened. You know, what have happened if I was here or not like that was super sad, but like let's move on And it was almost this assumption that I would have issues for it and it I think it's probably I if I was to extrapolate that I would assume that somebody that's having a hard time with that would also feel the same way of You know, you're assuming that I feel this way, but actually like this is the more nuanced part like this related to you know I they remind me of my cousin or my sister were you know, I don't feel I feel sad but it's a little bit more prolonged you know,
Whatever it is like there it's going to present differently and like you said earlier, which I think is a good point is that these things are not one thing, you know, you didn't go on one car call and were scarred forever, you know, it was You know, built up things it was you know, probably some preexisting things on top of that car crash on top of that suicide on top of that, you know, How's fire yeah, yeah, all of those things can pound yeah, yeah, definitely I think you know if you Listening to you talk about like the counseling stuff like that, I think if you're pushing like, oh, you should fill this way you should fill those way and you're not you're like Then you kind of wonder, is there something wrong with me? I'm just a cold hearted asshole, you know, right? Like I think at one point like there was something and I like people were like there was something I don't even remember what the call was but I remember people were so upset about it and like I just wanted to go we want and I think I probably googled like what's a sociopath because you know, you don't see people deal with it differently Yeah, and you know, being able to move on and not really losing sleep or bring home like that's totally fine, you know, if that's how you're but so conversely like it's totally fine Like it's totally fine if it's hard to move on from that. Um, my employer right now is pretty good like if you do some traumatic stuff during your shift like you can go talk to them and they'll they'll get you off the street for the day they'll get you home. You know, if that's what you need or you know, they'll put you in an office job for the day if that's what you need so you know, I think just understanding both sides of it and You know to be completely honest, I don't it's hard for me to put myself in the shoes of others because I haven't experienced it. You know, I'm probably not the person that somebody that's having a mental health crisis really not crisis because like obviously I'd be there for somebody if they called me and I go over to house whatever. But I'm not the one that can emphasize the empathy with somebody, you know, going through these issues and I think it's important to find people that can that have gone through some more things.
Yeah, yeah, that's that's a really really great point. And I love that your employer and other employers are doing this are kind of given people a break. I think, you know, unfortunately a lot of the officers, just like it's from can be one of those days was like once you're mad at call to another traumatic call. And I think that's where you kind of like when you have those repeated traumatic calls in a row. They're not giving yourself any time to kind of like process and that's where it starts to kind of like. Build up and then you just write you I had so many traumatic calls today and I'm just shelving everything all my emotions and feelings to get through the day.
Yeah, and where I've noticed that is like like you said it builds up through the day you don't even realize it's building up your like cool we're cool like let's go right now like let's embrace the sock let's just do a bunch of traumatic stuff today. And then you go home and I don't even realize I'm doing it half the time and but all of a sudden my wife and I are fighting or you know there you know I and what it is is it's you go from this like you're at this work your mindset and then you go home and know you're not taking it out on them but you're a different person you know you're not the same and that's where I've noticed it on on myself is that you know it takes me time to get home and to reaclimate to being home to you know.
Kind of shed all of that stress that's built up through the day even if it wasn't traumatic even if it was just 19 calls in 24 hours and you're just done. You know being able to kind of come home and let that go and that's been a learning experience for both my wife and I is that I can now communicate with her better and just say. I'm not myself right now like it's going to be a second like I'm still decompressing it helps be as I have like an hour and 15 minute commute home so like I can listen to an audio book and music and get myself in a different mindset. Yeah. And when I when I recognize that I'm okay when I don't recognize that that's when problems occur in my home life at least sure that's I think any first response or listen to you like yeah that's I mean if you're not you're. You probably are doing it any any don't realize I think you're right you're so correct like shifting that gear from going from work to home and.
Home to work I shift those gears like the night before I go to work like there's a gear that kind of shifts and like my mental prep is different and getting my stuff ready to go to work like have a system and a routine.
And you know unfortunately and unfortunately I live in the same studio I work for so like it's a 10 minute drive home and like I got to be better about shifting that gear when I when I get home and it's can be really hard even. Having so much I feel like knowledge and stuff like that is still just sometimes really hard to implement and even shifting gear to go to like swap training or. You know or call out and stuff like that those those gears shift pretty pretty fast and to down shift when you come home is is really hard. I think my wife's like I don't really like that shift in you like you have to go to a call out or you're on this lot training. And I personally like I'm sure there are things that say like in the long run it's not as good or whatever but. I like the 24 hour shifts the 48 hour shifts because that allows me to get to work to shift into the mindset be there. You know be fully engaged and then go home and then get out of it instead of you know eight hour shifts which we used to work and I will. Where it was like you'd go to work you'd get in that zone a little bit then you'd come home you'd be grumpy and then you go right back to work and I like having those really delineated like. I'm here this is what I'm doing now I'm home this is what I'm doing and not having any blending which is like you said with swat training it's hard because there for ours on. You know you drive you go to swat training you kind of get in that headspace and then you go home and you're kind of amped up and you're. You don't know what to do with yourself and those ones are where I have more trouble.
Yeah yeah I feel and I feel for the officers. You know the work like the 12 hour shifts and then they're off for 12 and then back on and I'm like that's brutal that's just brutal like. I'm going to be sleeping like any good quality sleep and like that's for me sleep is like my emotional thing like if my sleep is not on and off if it's off. I'm that grumpy guy like you know my fuses shorter and I'm not a happy camper.
Yeah there's there's a book that talks about it and I won't even try to quote it but I think it's like the emotional survival for the law enforcement officer. My department in Iowa actually it was required reading through part of their onboarding and it talked about a lot of this stuff about how going to work is traditionally it would be a military member or police officer but now like EMS especially street corner posted. I'm not sure if you're going to have a fire department you have this like hyper alertness while you're at work and you're kind of you're always looking for things you know be as I seen safe is the scene safe I don't know looking around all the time. And then you go home and and that's it's almost like coming off caffeine you know it's that that initial drop but. I know there's actual there's stuff to back up these feelings.
I think pretty much everybody experiences like you said I think anybody listening to this that works in the career goes yeah yeah I've had that. Yeah and now that you realize that the difficult part is figuring out how to change that and. And make the rest of your life work because this is a career this is and it sometimes can be all consuming of your life and I personally have what that happened. So then you have to kind of like really yourself in and like this is this is the career this is a job I can't let it consume me and be my total identity. Oh absolutely I mean and look at behind me I'm at home and yeah this is a YouTube studio but like what this is my YouTube channel focus on it focus on first responders and law enforcement swap medicine and all of that.
And so it's so easy for this to become your identity and so many so many public safety employees like they're not you know they're nothing without that career or that certification or you know that that specific job and that's. I don't have an answer for that like I let that consume me all the time just because it's in so many aspects of my life but trying to figure out how to separate that and you know like you said look at it's like this is a job. This job tomorrow like life will go on and having something else on the side I think having hobbies that are completely unrelated and friends that have nothing to do with medicine or fire or police.
Like they're the best people to be around or and to have those friends be especially in the fire department. I mean they're your family you live with them you know one third of your life is with them and they're going to become close friends and you're going to like have parties and stuff but. Having those things that have nothing to do with it is so important it's you know you you're out and you tall right. Yeah and you know I'm out and call out of there's stuff to do like you can do things that are not related that get you totally out of the mindset but I think that's super super important. Yeah I've noticed. You know this is like podcasting is it's kind of a hobby in in a lot of ways super enjoy it and you know it's great to talk to you know people like yourself Sam and it's just like. But yeah it's like hobbies are they in this career field I feel like they just slowly fade away and then it becomes all consuming of my career and trying to. Trying to keep that balance through your career is so important.
Yeah and that balance looks different for everybody you know if it's okay for I for this to be a big part of your life for firefighting or. Public safe to be a big part of your life and to enjoy it and to have hobbies that are fall around it. I so that balance is not always going to be like a totally even scale but just having something else like for me what I found is videography. I think that's the first thing that's been happening with the world. I can go do this other thing.
Yeah. Yeah something else I visited a fire department in Finland and it was the Helsinki fire department which was rated as like the second most advanced in the world. I also Because their thought is is that they won't want the government to pick up the bill if you get heard on the job or You go into stability. They want you to have something else, but to it gives you something outside of work So that nothing it doesn't all revolve around fire fighting. I just thought that was really neat That they were doing that. Yeah, that is super cool Sam what what caused you to like get into the creating a YouTube channel and is it is it a medic preface off the YouTube channel Pre-medic so sorry no, all good You know it kind of goes along with the SWAT medicine side is that it was a Okay community need sounds like I'm I'm padding myself on the back a little bit too much, but there was a lack You know you go on YouTube and you have a lot of law enforcement officers on YouTube.
You know, don't it operator mic the cop Angry cops you know all the you've got a lot of representation there On social media and then you know you have a lot of nursing stuff. There's a lot of educational stuff for nursing on there and you have firefighters my favorite right now is Fire department coffee guy. I always for you DC yeah, like Very good awesome Our Chronicles yeah fire very that's it that's it So like I love this stuff, but you don't have paramedics When I started looking there was skinny medic and that was it There were no paramedics on YouTube and there was nobody to Like look at to learn more about the profession to do any of that and then there was nothing to Like educate people on like home first aid you have like some preppers that are teaching people how to put in IVs backwards You know and and telling you that saline's gonna save everybody's lives if they can do this one thing But there wasn't good prehospital education so we had this call out in the middle of nowhere I was it was a super cool like prolonged field care Guy is arm stuck in an auger and we ended up like R. Signing him giving a huge cocktail of meds for His developing crush syndrome and like doing all these super advanced things We were doing it on our own you know we're out there with one other paramedic and this volunteer fire department trying to get this guy out of this screncel And we got back we had an opening for an application and we had one applicant and he was a felon and we weren't gonna hire him Yeah, and that was like for me that was the most I was like oh, this is this is this kind of sucks because we did something that's really cool. I'm making a decent living This is so unique and that's where I I had a camera my wife had bought me a camera for Christmas I was doing like little skied at it some stuff. I was like, you know what I'm gonna do some research. I'm gonna start a YouTube channel and Delved into the market and found an opening there to start creating content so my content usually it revolves around like
Four main things three four main things where it's you know education on EMS you know How do you become a flight medic? What is the path to get there? You know, do you want to be a firefighter like how do you become a firefighter? How do you You know go a navigate this career because it's not simple like do I have to be an ETE do I like what do I have to do And then the next thing is is like community education and I saw that as a need where we have all of these issues and and I don't know about you I've never had a neurologic recovery in Cardiac arrest from somebody that bystanders didn't start CPR first right I've never seen somebody live So that to me says that there's a huge thing that bystandards can play but people don't aren't trained They don't feel comfortable to do it and then you know you look at things like tragedies like sandy hook where you have Is kids dying or or Columbine even where there's lack of education on bleeding control and We kind of look at the system and we say the system's gonna save me Well, it takes you three minutes to bleed out of your femoral artery and it takes you in national average of about six minutes For an ambulance to get to your doorsteps so you can do the math and determine that You have to be your own first responder.
Yeah, yeah, so like that's the other part is like helping the community respond for themselves and to like you don't need you should do it in person class But you don't need an in person class to learn the basics of shoving a t-shirt into somebody's Artorial hemorrhage So looking at that and then the rest of it is just for my own enjoyment and because I love what I do And I'm proud of what I do.
It's kind of fun to have footage and and show people what the career is like so You know really kind of focusing on those main things and I I don't know this for sure But I feel like I found success because It wasn't there because there was a community need For it there was something that that I could do and that's where I've had most of the success in my career Like I said before is you know identifying SWAT medicine to the YouTube channel now Where we looked at like a Dogs we've got a lot of dogs up in the mountains doing search and rescue even our SWAT dogs doing warrants in the middle of nowhere So we're starting a program with my flight service to load a One of the handlers up and their dog when they get shot or heat stroke and flying them directly to a vet clinic
So like if you look in your community and use you probably have the skill set to address one of its needs and that's a really powerful way to get I think Longjewity in this career is to like take take an act of role within your community not just sitting back and waiting for Tragedy to strike like going out and figuring out how you can help like do like You know do like working with kids you can go do you know stuff with them to educate them on fire safety You know Do you like you know I don't any anything yeah, yeah anything with it and we all have a skill set that we can apply or you can go get a skill set like I did with SWAT medicine Yeah, that's that's awesome You're like one of my favorite guests where like I love one guests see a Need and go out there and fill it like that is that's powerful Yeah, and it's it's self-serving too like it's not just like oh man look at how altruistic I am like You know it helps If you do it it helps you a lot of people complain and they say like EMS isn't a career. I disagree. I think EMS is a career. I think It's tough right now. I think you have to work hard at it but Being integrated with your community is super important and it's cool that you work in the same community you live in like I get it There are huge downsides to that and I don't do that right now But like at the same time you're trusting your family to the people that you work with to You know the the hospital system and to the nurses and the doctors and to the firefighters and You're invested in your community and I find that investment by finding things to do for them and I I think that makes this a career honestly
Yeah, that's super awesome Sam how where can people find you and like follow you?
Sure, so you can find me primarily on YouTube It's at pragmatic is the new handles they're going out of with or Instagram I'm prep underscore medic I don't know who at prep medic is but I want to Instagram handle and it will give it to me It's probably not even using it. I know he's not he's got one post on it
Oh shoot that sucks Sam I really appreciate you being on today In great conversation and people please you know follow Sam and support him and you know It's got some great content out there. That's exactly how how I found you was the great content you're putting out there Thank you.
Yeah, thank you for being on today Thanks again for listening Don't forget to rate and review the show forever you access your podcast If you know someone that would be great on the show Please get a hold of our host Jerry Dean Lund through the Instagram handles at Jerry firr and fuel or at Enduring the badge podcast Also by visiting the show's website Enduring the badge podcast dot com for additional methods of contact and up-to-date information regarding show Remember the views and opinion expressed during the show So we represent those of our host and the current episodes guests.