District 3 – September 2022

As time passes, we find ourselves thinking about what could have been, or what we should have done. I hate procrastinating, but I find myself doing it all too often. I have said for years I was going to hunt as much as possible during the Fall and Winter seasons, but I do not spend as much time in the woods as I’d like to. In true fashion, I’ll say that I am going to do it, but I don’t take the time. I find myself watching way too many hunting videos from The Hunting Public! Although I don’t like procrastinating, but I find myself doing it all too often when it comes to me. I love being in the woods, as I find it revives my mental health. More on mental health shortly!

Although being in the great outdoors is fun and adventurous, there are incidents we face during hunting season and the colder weather. It seems hunting accidents are increasing or at least the calls we get for them appear to be on the rise. My family has enjoyed hunting for years and have been fortunate enough not to experience a hunting accident. With that said, it only takes one mistake for the situation to turn catastrophic.

With the fast-approaching seasons, there are simple things we can do to help prevent these types of incidents. A few suggestions for the hunting season:

If hunting alone, know your surroundings.

Make sure someone knows where you’re hunting and when you are going. I tend to leave the house with someone, but I mostly hunt alone. My wife says I talk too much while hunting. With the world of technology, when it works, we only need approximately thirty seconds to ‘phone a friend’ prior to the adventure.

Check the weather and dress accordingly. 

Take some food and water-you never know when that three-hour hunt will turn into an all-day hunt.

Pack some hand and feet warmers. I pack an extra pair of socks because there is nothing worse than wet cold feet.

Add a small first aid kit to your pack, as it could come in handy.

It never hurts for the tree stand users to take and use a safety harness.

I find that I overpack, until the temperature suddenly drops after I wake up from my nap. Remember, the colder weather mixed with wind and other lovely Fall weather allows for our body temperature to drop quicker. Preparation and communication can save your life.

I mentioned earlier there would be more on mental health. Sadly admitting, at the beginning of my career, I always thought I would be able to control the feeling and emotions endured in the EMS and fire service. I believe I felt this way because I thought it was just part of what we do. As time went on, I found it became harder and harder to control both my feelings and emotions. I pride myself on giving my patients the best I have, but at times, your best could be better, and you don’t even know it. I’m a person that reviews almost every aspect of the call during, and once it is completed.

You will meet those individuals that no matter how bad the incident is, they appear to be fine. They may appear to be fine physically, but it does not mean they are not feeling or having emotions related to the incident. Everyone deals in their own way.

As leaders, I do find it to be our responsibility to pay attention to our people and making sure we are watching for everything we can. My mission is to help where I can, even if it means just listening to someone off load some feeling, emotions, or maybe even grief.

Long ago, when I started in the profession, you were not strong if you needed help. There were people that talked about you, and you were labeled. I would love to feel we have moved past that nonsense. However, one will always think about what it will do to their reputation or character prior to seeking the help they may need.

If I’m being honest, you must be honest with yourself. You will not be able to endure a lengthy experience of depression or ill state of mental health before something preventable happens. Once I realized this profession comes with much more, and seldomly heroism, I made things uncomfortable for myself. First, I would make sure my mental health was in a healthy place. Then, I would become an advocate for those needing help. I am not a counselor or psychiatrist, nor do I claim to be, but at times we all need help. I’ve stated this before, if anybody needs help, all you have to do is call. Many people try to pay attention and reach out to others, so they don’t have to endure a phone call, but we are all human and knowing things 100% of the time is unrealistic. There will never be judgment passed, conversations with others about you, or that awkward feeling that you should have never reached out.

There are many resources in Missouri for those who need help. Most departments have resources as part of their benefits, or at least know how to find help for those in need. Most of these are confidential until you make it known.

Let’s continue to do each other a favor and be there for one another. Again, if you need anything, I am here.

In other notes, I heard the State Fair was a success with call volume being lower than normal. I view this as a good thing! It allows for more training and getting to know each other better. Thank you all for your time spent at the fair.

As part of Martinsburg Fire Protection District, we thank the FFAM for the $2,500 grant towards communications. As a small department, we appreciate the stewardship towards the Missouri fire and EMS service.

Please stay tuned for a date announcement for the 2023 Convention being held in Springfield, Missouri. As soon as information is learned, we will pass it to all of you. I believe it will be a great convention as lots of hard work is already being put towards it.

Please stay safe and enjoy your time. I look forward to seeing you at some of the upcoming events.