10 questions with author and paramedic Mark Mosier
Mark Mosier is a man who has seen it all. As a paramedic with 30+ years experience behind him he has been a part of the lives of many who would have preferred to have never met him. In his book Signs of Life, Mark Mosier takes us with him as he saves lives and heals the wounded. Signs of Life is a book of real people, real call outs and real drama.
Mark Mosier answers 10 of the questions that went through my mind whilst reading Signs of Life.
1. In Signs of Life you write of the real life call outs you have experienced in your 30+ years as a paramedic. That is a lot of years and a lot of call outs. Was it hard to choose which call outs to include and which to omit?
Indeed this time frame included literally thousands of emergency calls. Certainly there are ones that seemed to fit outside that proverbial ‘routine’ response. I tried to give the reader a glimpse of what a paramedic or EMT might see during their career. I also believe it is more impacting for the reader knowing these are based on actual responses.
2. For those who work in EMS each day, and each call, brings the unknown. What goes through your mind at the beginning of each shift?
The shift actually starts when you wake up that day. You are going through the motions of how your shift will start, preparing for that call right as you come on duty, thinking about how you want the ambulance set up, talking with your partner about who will do what on certain calls. You have no control over what call you go to, you do have control over what you are bringing and that is our edge.
3. Throughout your book you speak of searching for MedAlert bracelets. The constant message you gave had me wondering under what circumstances should one wear a MedAlert bracelet? What important factors can these hold that help paramedics?
MedAlert bracelets give us valuable information about serious medical conditions that patients have and may not be able to convey to us. Illnesses like diabetes, seizures, heart conditions, medication allergies and a host of other conditions. When someone is wearing a MedAlert bracelet, we know their condition is serious enough that it can affect the outcomes if we find them unconscious. We have also seen then worn by developmentally disabled with important contact information. We see them in bracelet form,necklace and sometimes in the wallet or purse.
4. Signs of Life is a very informative and educational book. It is more than a story it is a resource. Within you include information on the ‘tools of the trade’ using pictures to give a visual of your explanation. I learnt a lot whilst reading and will now look at the equipment used by EMS and hospitals with a little bit more of an understanding. For some this will take away a little of their fear when in an emergency situation. One thing that interested me was your explanation of flatline being no rhythm in a heart attack patient and that at this time you can’t shock the patient or start the heart. This surprised me as movies lead you to believe that you shock the patient because they have deceased. Can you explain this a little further?
We all enjoy the fantasy of a movie and yes they do make it look real and seem like it should work the same way in real life. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Real life can be cruel and have devastating outcomes. EMS preforms near magic and does this day in and day out. This was one of the objectives in writing Signs of Life. I want people to understand what to expect from EMS and also realize TV and movies are fantasy and real life is much different. All the treatments in Signs of Life are accurate and follow the current practices by the majority of EMS systems throughout the world.
5. When writing Signs of Life were there any times you found it difficult to write about the call outs? Even though you deal it every day, and have done so for many years, emotionally you must still find some situations hard.
Last year I was working in Iraq. A very good Iraq friend of mine asked the exact same question. I smiled at him as he asked this and told him I wondered how many people would consider this. Putting these calls in Signs of Life was difficult as they are always in my mind. I am comfortable talking about them as I know that we, as a crew, did the best we could and gave the patients a very aggressive chance at a positive outcome.
6. In Signs of Life some of the days are pretty full on and it is one devastating situation after another. Do you have difficulties putting the situations of a day’s hard work behind you at the end of each day?
At the end of your shift it can be emotionally draining. There are calls that can ‘bruise’ you for several days. We understand this is a normal reaction and have a great support network within the department. Over the years they have developed a CISD, Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, programs. This is implemented after the death of a child or any scenario that might invoke especially traumatic feelings. We watch this very carefully and it is vitally important to have an open dialogue between the crew members and conduct ‘After Action Reviews’ on most of our calls. We are a family, an extended family. As a crew we will see parts of ourselves our spouses or families will never see.
7. As well as being an author and paramedic you devote time talking to EMS groups, businesses and schools sharing your knowledge and skills and educating them on the role of EMS. This must be very rewarding. Are there any talks you have done which stand out in your mind?
I have been a teaching medic for over thirty years. I have been heavily involved in teaching the lay public first aid and CPR. Initially I didn’t realize what I was giving back to the community. Only after I started having citizens come up to me after class and shake my hand, hug me and tell me how much I have affected them did I realize that I had such a passion and compassion for what I do. When I was in Iraq I was in charge of teaching Iraqi’s first aid and CPR. The looks on their faces and enthusiasm they showed me as I told them this was for them and their families is something you cannot put a value on. Signs of Life is not just a book, it is what every reader needs to know about EMS, whether it is for their career, general interest, their passion or that inspiration needed to talk to their family about making themselves successful in an emergency. I have been to too many scenes where families were woefully unprepared, and it cost them dearly.
8. Signs of Life has it all - car accidents, drug overdoses, accidents concerning children, gunshot victims, domestic violence - you name it you talk about it. You are based in the U.S but these situations are worldwide. What would you say is the situation you are called out to the most?
I would say some of the highest medical responses are cardiac, in other words, heart related problems. As far as substance abuse issues, alcohol is at the top of the list. Whether direct or indirect alcohol is a global issue with devastating consequences. Motor vehicle accidents, domestic violence, assaults, suicides and a host of medical conditions are a result of the lifelong abuse.
9. If you had one message for society in relation to your job as a paramedic what would it be?
Life is precious. It can change in the blink of an eye. Tell your loved ones what they mean to you, hug your children, read Signs of Life and consider making changes with your families.
10.So what next for author Mark Mosier? Will we be seeing a Signs of Life II and if so what can we expect?
Signs of Life II is nearing its release. This is a book that very few will be able to read straight through...it is also based on real calls and as incredible as the calls are, they are real life. The reader will be as invested as the crew is. I am very proud of both Signs of Life and Signs of Life II.
This interview came about due to my reading Signs of Life and feeling I had to find out more about the paramedic behind the book. I had to thank the man who had taken me on one hell of a journey I would never forget. A journey that changed not only the way I see the EMS services but the way I act toward my family and go about my daily life. I now think before acting and see the need of being emergency prepared.
Get Emergency prepared by purchasing a copy of Signs of Life. It will change your life. www.signsoflifeems.com.
Australians can purchase a copy of Signs of Life directly from this site, saving overseas postage. Click here.