Some thoughts on the overall situation. ...and from one who was able to make a graceful transition (and not from any good planning on my part; I suspect Another was in charge). YMMV, but I I'll lay some things out here for both of us as I think the teaching gig is winding down for me.

You can do an tail-kick job and do it full tilt. ...as long as you take the down time and the recharge time. Anything else is a recipe for disaster in your personal and professional life. The unfortunate tendency is to continue with the "temporary" situation to the extent it becomes 'life as usual'. That's not fair to anyone, especially if there is family involved. It's not fair to you, your employer or your customers if you aren't delivering a balanced package to the jobsite.

In one of the breaks between wives, we fired up a new contract. As one of the leaders/worker bees involved I worked 120 hour duty weeks. I can recall having my number two drive me home in his car (so I had no easy way back to the office) and tell me to sleep. He said he'd only pick me up when I was coherent. He picked me up some unknown time later and I dropped him at his house: same deal. That's great when it's a new/one time/important thing. It sucks when you get a call at home after too many days on and too much overtime and it's expected (internally/externally) that you will actually ride your motorcycle toward a call and meet someone there in a rig.

There has to be a line drawn at some point. ...or else you start talking way too seriously with the dog while you're out walking (because it's unsafe to skate in the exhausted physical shape you're in). ...and you realize it's time to make that phone call. ...and you find you know as much of the basics as the Masters-level people at intervention. ...and you have to make another phone call. ...and that one is only paid at 25% of billable by the insurance company.

I made my call; Commander Dave made his call. I'm not suggesting you make your call; I just reiterate the availability and level I recommend regarding resources.

I told Shelley the last Sunday (July 1990) we worked before we got married that it would be my last scheduled shift on the streets. I'd been working Sundays as an overtime shift to work with her and as a means of not letting go. I'd been transitioning out of the field since 1988 when I put the tie on. The problem was I kept getting yanked out into the streets while doing Very Important Things behind a desk. I was learning that if I was available, I would be used. ...and used hard. ...once again.

After our marriage I started slowly trying to back out of that aspect. I screwed up when I found out I only needed some CE to maintain my medic license in 1992. ...and further screwed up when I chose ACLS as the CE method, didn't study, and passed it anyway. Okay, one more medic recert. But I started dropping certs as quickly as I could after that. No medic after 1994 (original cert 1975), no EMT (never was), no driver/attendant County cert... Heck, today, I don't even have a CPR card. Though I do carry a CPR shield on all my keychains...

But... I'd moved across to the teaching thing in 1982 or thereabouts. ...and that let me still have some input into the system. Call it "poisoning young minds", but I have enough feedback about the basic tenets of the patient-care paranoia I pass along to know that my students are making good marks out there in EMS and in industry. ...but that gig is also getting old. The money is cool, but the secondary effects on my family are starting to bother me. Many weeks I'm only off one day; one evening at least is taken up with class prep. No biggie, and I don't teach every weekend; but I'm back to where I *want* to work in the yard. ...and go to the soccer games. ...and sleep in with my wife. ...and the balance sheet is getting lopsided once again.

At the main job, I was lucky(?) enough to catch the leading edge of an impending change at our firm. The operations director was covering too many departments to do an effective job and I spouted off to the general manager one day with my thoughts on the subject. The next day there was a job announcement posted that was essentially a recap of our conversation. Oh...

Thus was born the Resource/Facilities Department. Over the years I have spun off no less than three departments to what have become Director level heads. Fleet Services, IT, Plant Management, Systems Support... They all started under my umbrella.

...and I'm quite happy with that. I go in to the office; eight hours later +/-, I go home. If we get wild and fire up in a new county in sixty days from a standing start, Purchasing can handle it. But I couldn't have if the last two spinoffs hadn't happened. In that case, others recognized the burden and made decisions for me. ...because I would have kept on trying, even while recognizing that old pattern of 'use to the limit' starting to unfold once again.

...and that's the crux here: you're being used to your limit. You are no longer in direct control of the overall situation. They call; and if you have to take a taxi in because you cannot drive, you're there. ...and no compensating time off. When I worked in the fire service, we'd often have to work over if our manpower was on assignment in another county. But the payback came in the form of time returned to us when the show was over. That doesn't happen here: you cover their tail for whatever reason and still have to pull your regular duty. ...again and again and again.

..and there comes a time and a place when the meter has been sitting in the red zone for so long it's not even remarked on. ...and the next 'anything' that occurs pegs it. ...and that's when bad things happen. To people, to family, to patients...

I won't even go into all of the escape mechanisms that kick in along the way. I covered that for my students last week. ...and just told them to put all those notes in the back of the closet and leave them there until they noticed any of the behaviors I mentioned as warning signs. Then pull them out and start getting things back in balance. ...and I won't start in here about trying to take care of the entire show by ourselves. Sometimes we have to recognize the true functional boundaries...

Because if we don't respect those borders or maintain that balance, things tend to slide off the edges of the page,


04/07/2001 * || send comment