Wednesday, May 22, 2019

History Lessons: The Angels of Lights and Sirens

As many know by now, I work for American Medical Response (AMR), Fremont County. When I signed on in December of 2017, it was with Guardian Flight/EMS (Ground). It was a confusing time, to be ushered in and learn the history of emergency medical services in rural Fremont County, Wyoming and the Wind River Reservation. But it was also a wonderful time of learning.

My background in Health and Medicine was actually founded at Sutter Amador Hospital in Amador County, California. I worked three jobs there...hired on initially as the Office Assistant to the Director of Facilities (Engineering and Environmental Services)...then a short stint as a Financial Clerk...and was then asked to be the Interim Medical Staff Coordinator for a time. Working in a hospital is, well...pretty much chaos on all departmental levels. However, each person I came in contact with, I got to know, and know as well as I could. I have to say, scheduling was pretty much the worst part of the job. But...I'm the creator of systems that serve me and the purpose, and once implemented, everything [pretty much] runs like clockwork.

That's how I roll.

Many years later, I worked for Interim Hospice of Sacramento. I was actually prepped into the job by a temp agency, doing a massive data transfer from one program platform to another. By the time I was done, I pretty much knew the new program like the back of my hand, so the position was kind of a shoe-in for me. Again, I set up a system of operations that would serve the needs of organization and management, with my motto being: Keep it simple and excellent. The more complicated you make it, the more you have to manage.

Scroll forward to today.

Working for a ground ambulance company...no matter the company branding (as I've well learned)...is, well. very different. Bottom line: it's absolute chaos. All the time. I was working for both Guardian Flight and Ground EMS, and everything I knew about health and medicine was out the door and different than I ever knew before...at a hospital or hospice care. The environment, the lingo...it reminded me of the time when my kids got back from combat training in the Marines, and they were sitting in the back seat of the car, speaking in military acronyms. I was like: "Um, hello? Civilian, right here. I can't understand a single word any of you are saying...!"

It's taken me over a year and a half to understand "normal" life in an ambulance station, and I very well know that I'm still not up to par. My own par. Because what our EMS Providers see and do is beyond comprehension. They give so much, they see so much, know so much. At any moment's notice, they're off. The stations may be buzzing with activity...or crickets the next. I've had to learn (sometimes the hard way) to tip-toe to my office in the morning, because you know what? The crews are sleeping. They had a rough night. And there might not be enough coffee in the world for them when they wake. Or sometimes it's light, and we're laughing, joking, talking...and then their pagers go off...when they're listening to the dispatch radio...when they're ready, 24-7, 365...

Fremont County, Wyoming...the State of WY...the United States of America...needs to be grateful for their EMS services. Their job is to save your life. Their job is to apply the bandages to your wounds. Their job is to muddle through the mud, the dirt, the snow, the heat, the wreckage, the fire, the trauma...to serve, well...

You.

This EMS Week...no, every week, every day...see the Lights. Hear the Sirens. Know that those who are in that mobile box called an ambulance are coming and going with earnest for the communities that you live in. That your families and friends live in. That your children and elders live in. That your leaders, politicians and business owners live in. Life and death situations know no bounds...and they know it. Believe me...

Because when it comes down to the wire...you are and will always be the priority.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone at American Medical Response of Fremont County...for your service, your dedication, your hearts, minds and souls. It can often be a thankless job...and you might think it such, I know...but for those who really know:

You are the Angels of Lights and Sirens.

Facebook.com/AMRFremontCountyWY




Sunday, May 5, 2019

Road Trippin': If I Could Fly

Cinco De Mayo weekend. I can honestly say I had the best cup of coffee in my entire life in Merida, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Granted, I was staying in a 5-star hotel (nothing but the best, right?), but I tell ya...that coffee was the richest, smoothest, most amazing coffee ever. No cream or sugar even needed! Drank it "black", but it really wasn't black. It was a very dark caramel and the aroma itself, I swear, had finger-like wisps coming out of the cup, right into my nose, as if to say...

"Told ya."

I have yet to experience such a cup of coffee as the one I experienced in Merida. I may never travel down that way again, but the impact of that moment has stayed with me. Like so many things throughout my life's journey...

I don't do politics anymore...I'm bored to death by all of it. I know full well that I'm an ultimate enigma in Wyoming (driving a Prius), but as I'm road trippin', I do catch the "news" now and then. Liberals doing this, Conservatives doing that. Memes and GIFs poking at each other, back and forth. And here I am, as a Moderate (neither right, nor left), thinking:

You're ALL freakin' crazy!

As most of you know, I travel down to Utah occasionally for some "triple R" time. Relax, Regroup, Refocus. I get the "Relax" part from The Lotus Dawn. I get the "Regroup" time as I do the things that I want to do - dine, shop, sleep...maybe schedule in a casual date or two (hasn't been going so great these days, please don't ask). But to be honest...the "Refocus" time has been mainly on the road, driving to and from my destinations.

When I road trip, I fuel up and just go. I open the sun roof, I crank my music and just...well, go! If I want to stop, I'll stop. If I want to see someone, I'll let 'em know. But for the most part, road trip time is for me and me alone. Sure, there are places to go, people to see...but for me, it's the journey along the way that makes the trip. I may screech to a halt and capture a sunrise or sunset. I may stop at a historical landmark. I may have lunch at a greasy spoon in the middle of nowhere. But it's all mine. You can't do that in a plane, train or bus ("Um, pilot, could you land the plane at this wacky tourist trap in Nebraska?"). I love being at the wheel of my little Prius pod...and, at the wheel of my own life.

On my way to and from Utah this time, I had the "joy" of experiencing canyon-sized potholes, mainly between Green River and Fort Bridger. I remember driving these roads a few times this Winter, and know very well that the hugely-pocked asphalt was a result of snow removal. Yes, it has made a terrible mess of things, and I was almost thinking that the State of Wyoming should pay for any and all tire damages on I-80 (damn it all to hell!), but...then I thought about the snow removal workers, who were out there at all times of the day/night...doing the best they could to clear the way for all travelers and truckers. Then I felt bad, and had to stop for another espresso to ease my guilt.

Anyhoo...on my way back home, a certain song came on my playlist. "If I Could Fly" by Ocean Lab (see below). Music is so powerful. This song played between Farson and South Pass, and as I passed historical landmarks such as "Wyoming Women's Suffrage Pathway: Home of the Women's Vote"..."South Pass City"..."Atlantic City"...and yes, the beautiful scenic stop of Red Rock Canyon...my thoughts swirled around:

There are no walls out here. Hell, there's pretty much nothing out here but sagebrush, antelope, deer and a lot of wind...and a lot of road kill...

There are also many moments on my road trips where I've set the cruise control and find myself "flying". Where nothing else in the world matters. Politics, religion...all the problems of the world dissolve. Arguments, debates, "news"...mean absolutely nothing.


Because when it comes right down to it, none of that shit matters. You have someone in your family dying of cancer or other illnesses, and everyone is up in arms about borders, a "wall". You have a friend that is suicidal, and all the entertainment media can talk about is what Kim Kardashian is wearing. There are so many problems, so many bottlenecks...and the best that anyone above us can do is turn a blind eye and silver-tongue us that things can get better. Then they don't...

Maybe it's time we deal with the "walls" that have already infected this United States of America for decades. Political, social, cultural, mental, emotional, religious, spiritual walls. Prison walls. A physical wall isn't going to cure anything; it is the core attitudes that have to change before any successful change. I sincerely believe that the political parties of the USA are destroying this nation and the visions our Founding Fathers intended for us. They must be rolling over in their graves...

Well, that said...my chile relleno from Rosa's Cafe in Ogden was delicious. It's nice to be home. I see my little seedlings are doing well and are aching for a replant. I have some unpacking to do, laundry to do...and a lot of thinking to do after my R, R & R.

It's not Merida coffee, but...it is coffee. And that's a good thing.

Bottoms up!

If I Could Fly

A thousand people on the street
The rain is trying to drown my feet
The cold bites into every bone

The solemn faces pass me by
A gray veneer on buried smiles
A crowded train to take me home

If I close my eyes a minute
See a world within a minute
Standing on the road
my wings to take me high
If I could fly

See the world beneath me
Feel as though I'm set free
Oh, if I could fly

A simple smile can change a day
An understanding look can say
I know exactly how u feel

But we have learned to build our walls
so very strong and very tall
for fear of what the world might steal

If I close my eyes a minute
See a world within a minute
standing on the road
my wings to take me high
If I could fly…

Copyright Ocean Lab “If I Could Fly” 


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Road Trippin': Holi, Holi!

As an avid Bollywood fan, I have longed to visit India for its music, culture and, well...the Holi Festival. It has been on my bucket list for a long time. A "quick definition" of Holi can be found on Wikipedia at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holi

Like many cultures around the world that celebrate Spring, Holi is the Hindu Spring "Festival of Colors", and this last weekend was epic for me, personally. Many of the Bollywood films I've watched have Holi festival dance scenes, and it just looks so fun and happy and celebratory! I've always longed to be mixed into the crowds...dancing, hugging, throwing colors in the air and at each other...

So when the opportunity arose to attend the Holi Festival in Spanish Fork, Utah, I jumped at the earliest chance and bought tickets. Despite a looming Wyoming weather forecast, I forged through the wind, ice and blowing snow through South Pass and just out of Little America to Fort Bridger...determined (or at least be known as "died trying"). My logic (and I did have a little bit) was that...it would be the next best thing to the real deal without actually having to book a flight to India.

And it was! Granted, it was in Spanish Fork, Utah, but the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple was a most amazing backdrop, with the beautiful Wasatch Mountain range in the distance. Thousands (I mean, literally, thousands) gathered for one of the most amazing events I've experienced.

(There are videos on my personal Facebook page, too. https://www.facebook.com/carolrharper)



View from the Temple.
I pretty much inhaled the whole experience. I got a henna tattoo on my left hand/arm...had hot, fresh samosas for lunch...stopped and shopped at all of the vendors' tents. I met so many people...hugged so many people...the music was amazing...threw colors on so many people who smiled and laughed and knew that we were all there for the same reason:

To celebrate Spring! To live life, to love...to shed the Winter and look forward to new beginnings!

Many of my friends and family wonder where I am in my spiritual life right now. Today, Sunday, March 31, 2019 is as good a time as any to say that I am "spiritual" (however you want to define that, I don't know how anyone really does), but...I do not belong to any spiritual, religious persuasion or belief. I have studied, read, experienced and have witnessed the terrible history and misguidings of so many world religions, tribes and people...with the idol of money as the primary "god"...that I have simply shed the complexity of it all and have finally learned that life is not meant to be as complex and horrible as those in power have and continue to make it.

That we are all human. That we laugh and cry...we hurt, we're angry, we're stressed, but...we are also good, kind and forgiving! We come together in times of trouble. We give, we work, we play. We have it in us to be more intelligent than those who are telling us to not laugh, not cry, not hurt, not be angry, not be stressed.

But to what end? What's it all about if we cannot be?

Just Be?

You could travel the world
But you can't run away from the person you are in your heart.
You could be who you want to be, make us believe in you,
Keep all your light in the dark.
If you're searching for truth, you must look in the mirror,
Make sense of what you can see
Just be…just be.

They say learning to love yourself is the first step
That you take, when you want to be real
Flying on planes to exotic locations
Won’t teach you how you really feel
Face up to the fact that you are who you are
And nothing can change that belief
Just be…just be.

‘Cause now I know, it's not so far to where I go,
That I respond, it's inside me
I need to just be…
Just Be.



Monday, March 18, 2019

AMR Fremont County offers "Stop the Bleed" classes on April 5 & 6

AMR “STOP THE BLEED” CLASSES OFFERED – American Medical Response-Fremont County is proud to host “Stop The Bleed” classes on Friday, April 5 at 5pm at the Riverton ambulance station at 1052 Petersdorf Drive, Riverton and on Saturday, April 6 at 11am at the Lander ambulance station at 310 N. 1st Street, Lander.
Both classes will be approximately two (2) hours long and will include subjects such as controlling bleed using tourniquets and how to respond to mass casualty incidents.
EMT-I WFAI Seth Agee and AMR Clinical Education Specialist Daniel Brookeshear will be the instructors.
We look forward to the opportunity to provide this free training to our Riverton and Lander communities. For more information, call 307-463-0653 or e-mail seth.agee@amr.net


Saturday, March 9, 2019

History Lessons: Beholding Beauty

Yesterday (March 8) was National Women's Day. I raised my coffee mug, thought about and celebrated all the women who have influenced, inspired and encouraged me throughout my life. I even celebrated the women who haven't been so nice to me (there have been a few). I've learned a valuable lesson: Life is way too short to waste precious time with mean, ugly people.

Ugly word, that word "ugly"! They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To me, society has always had unreasonable expectations and unhealthy definitions of what is beautiful and what is not. Thanks to Hollywood and the media, we tend to judge ourselves based upon how "beauty" is defined for us, how it is marketed to us...as if we're all a collective of lemmings...when the truth is, there is beauty in everyone and everything. To me, being beautiful is a choice. I will never understand why some women pride themselves on being a "bitch". Years ago, I saw a bumper sticker that read: "Warning: Bitch on Board". Now, that's attractive. Yeah, I sure wanna get to know/be around someone like you!  (Not. Thanks for the warning.)

In the 90's, I took on some part-time modeling jobs with an agency in San Francisco. I lived in the San Jose Bay Area at the time, and my kids were in grade school, so I'd have to get up pretty early - do the 280 commute - in order to make it to hair and makeup by 6 a.m. Sometimes the job was on location, sometimes the jobs were as far south as Gilroy...but I made it clear to my agency that I had to be home before my kids got home from school. Yes, I learned a lot about the industry with each job I took, but...my very last modeling job made me realize that it really isn't a career path for a young mother whose priority is her kids.

During that time, I learned a lot about makeup and skin care from a dear friend and beautiful person, John Trau. Today he is the Director of Sales and Education at Immunocologie, but back in the day, I had the distinct advantage and pleasure of having him live with us for a spell, and during that time he taught me much of what I know today about skin care and, well...beauty.

The biggest lesson? Be a beautiful person! No matter what is going on in your life, be beautiful, to yourself and to others. It absolutely slays me when people call themselves "ugly". "There's nothing I can do about this mole/wart/acne...I hate my big nose...my hair is so dry and brittle...why did God do this to me?..." We can rentlessly pick ourselves apart until there's nothing left of our self-esteem, but I'll tell you this much...there was a time in my life where I may have looked beautiful on the outside, but was slipping into depression, negativity and "bitch" mode because I let those kind of people into my life. I blamed myself because I chose to let the toxins in. But once I shed myself of them, I swore I would never let them in again...and I've been all the happier for it.

I've had many friends ask me for my beauty tips...how I do my makeup, what I use for skin care. I've already summed it up with my motto in life: Be good, be nice, be strong. But yes, I do have a daily regimen that includes everything I learned from John, and also from several beautiful women in my life. Women like Brandy LaRae of the Amador Wellness Cottage in Plymouth California...Briget Kisling Bunker of Studio 402 here in Riverton, Wyoming...Quilter extraordinaire Kathy Allen of Quilts by Kat, Sutter Creek, California...LaTonya of The Lotus Dawn in Ogden, Utah...Cheryl Payton of Dragonfly Beads, Casper, Wyoming...I've been following [way too many of] my girlfriends on Facebook and their trials and journeys with cancer and various other illnesses. All beautiful, strong women that I am abundantly blessed to call my friends!
I love you all.

So...in celebration (and an extension) of National Women's Day, and for all of my women friends who have asked...below are a few of my beauty tips. I'd like to thank Andy Robinson Wirth, Dominic Vicari, Ellie Caputo, Rich Hoffman and Charleton Churchill...and all of the photographers I've met through the years, for their amazing talents.

- Drink lots of water. Hydrate! Water is life...it cleanses every part of your body, flushes out toxins. Always carry a water bottle with you.
- Think natural. Your skin is the largest living, "breathing" organ of your body. The first thing you put on your skin is what is absorbed (within minutes), so make sure it isn't loaded with chemicals. I use organic coconut oil, collagen and hyaluronic acid serums, tea tree oil. Avoid products with perfumes and dyes. I like to sample products before buying them, but...I'd much rather use coconut oil, or crack an egg and put it on my face, than waste my money on, well...utter crap.
- Sweat. Exercise for at least 10-15 minutes per day. I have a bad hip, so I have to be careful about what activities I do, but get those pores and sweat glands goin', then take a nice hot shower (feels so great)! Your skin is a miracle - how it involuntarily reacts, absorbs, sheds. It's always working!
- Exfoliate. Slough off those dead skin cells. I use those egg-shaped exfoliating sponges. I found a pretty good microdermabrasion scrub for under the eyes. Be very gentle when you exfoliate, as your skin is very delicate. Doesn't take much to scratch and tear the outer dermal layer.
- Diet. Eat healthy. You are what you eat. So if you eat a bag of Cheetos...LOL, just kidding. I eat a lot of meat and veggies. I try to balance the carbs and sweets (not much of a sweet tooth these days, though). And sure, I have a few pounds on me that I'd like to shed...but you know what? I'm happy. I'm in a great place in my life right now, and I'm not going to let folks judge me because I'm not a Barbie doll.
   Avoid alcohol. I know that if I overdo it on the beer or wine, I not only feel like crap, I look like crap and my entire body hates me. So try to minimize/balance your alcohol intake.
Now, coffee? Sorry, not happening. 😉 Hehehehe...
- Makeup. Makeup is an art...your face is a canvas, your hair is a frame. For those of you who have that natural beauty and can get away with a little mascara and lip gloss, I salute you! But I happen to really like makeup, and have learned a lot, not just from John and makeup artists in the industry, but by observing and studying women whose faces I just can't take my eyes off of...and then there are those who get you wondering if the circus is in town.
   Avoid the extremes. Fashions and fads come and go, but I personally ignore them and gravitate towards a more classic, "timeless" look, conducive to my own identity and personality. I might try a different eye shadow or lipstick once in a while, but I always have my daily "tried and true". Like an artist, I do have a lot of different brushes to achieve certain effects. Experiment. You know what you like, but also get honest feedback from your friends who will give you constructive criticism. What looks good on someone else may not necessarily look good on you.

A clean canvas. Yes, that's me with no makeup!

Photo by Andy Robinson Wirth
Photo by Ellie Caputo

Photo by Rich Hoffman

Photo by Dominic Vicari

Photo by Charleton Churchill
My high school Senior photo. LOL!




Sunday, March 3, 2019

Shopping Local: Blrerblblbblblbblelblblblbl!

When I lived in Sacramento, I had a great temp agency that placed me in various temporary/part time jobs. My very favorite company I worked for was Ultra Glass...a very solid, customer service-focused window and glass company that was all about, well...happiness. Laughter! The best service ever for their customers and clients. It was a complete and total fit for someone like me. Yes, we all worked, and worked hard. But we also knew how to play and play hard. Ultra Glass had the formula down pat: Keep your customers and clients happy, yes...but also keep your employees happy, because they're the ones who interact with those customers and clients, and will recommend and refer more.

How did they do that?

I'm reminded of a 1970 Christmas classic, "Scrooge"...a musical based upon Dicken's A Christmas Carol. Ultra Glass definitely had the spirit of "Mr. Fezziwig"

The scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgPlz67L-LI


Ultra Glass would buy VIP passes for all their employees to Sacramento Kings games (driven to the stadium, in a limo!)...would celebrate every holiday with a barbecue or potluck...would make every employee feel like a VIP, every day! If you did your job and did it well, you were rewarded. But even if you didn't, you were still made to feel important and encouraged to rise up to the standard. Everyone was given a chance to succeed...rarely did anyone fail because of that.

To me, Ultra Glass is the ultimate example of strong, small business power in America.

Okay, so I have to explain my subject line: Blrerblblbblblbblelblblblbl!

While at Ultra Glass, we'd all be working away...and every once in a while, we'd gaze outside and see a flock of turkeys moseying on by. Sometimes they'd come up and peck at the windows...other times they'd be doing...(um, er)...other things. But we'd all, at the very least, get a laugh out of it.

Sometimes (because we were in an industrial cul-de-sac)...we'd have stupid idiots spinning donuts around and around...the sound and smell of peeling tire treads made us stare and shake our heads.

But in that same cul-de-sac, Ultra Glass also had the local fire department out for fire safety and extinguisher training.

Sometimes they had to deal with mail being delivered to the wrong address...and they'd always communicate, positively and professsionally...with our local delivery services. The USPS, UPS, FedEx...

Sometimes Ultra Glass had to deal with employees not showing up for work...and they'd call my awesome temp agency, asking for more qualified candidates.

Once, my purse was stolen in the parking lot of a chain grocery store down the street (very well known as a crime area in North Highlands). Ultra Glass gave me the day to file a police report, cancel my cards, spend literally hours at the DMV for a new DL. Not only that...they'd call me to ask if I was okay, if I needed anything...

I live in a rural town, right smack in the middle of Wyoming. I am happy to say that I work for a great company, American Medical Response (formerly Guardian EMS), that (so far) understands what it means to serve a local, rural community. Emergency, critical care services should never be taken lightly or taken advantage of, but...sometimes I wonder if folks really understand just what our EMTs and Paramedics go through on a daily basis.

I do. I get the same great feeling here at AMR as I did with Ultra Glass. We're all connected, we're all important, and we need to be able to feel free to laugh, cry, vent, etc. Basically, be human.

Because when it comes down to it, ALL of our lives should always matter in a small town, in a big city, in a "red OR blue" State of the Union. There will always be "issues"...but most especially, there will always be times when we need to shed the political elements and concentrate on the "big family" factor. That we are all "in this" together...

Because, turkey babble aside...how we succeed as a community depends on how we treat each other. How important we make each other feel. How compassionate and understanding we are.

How we recognize those who make a difference in the human experience.

VIP seats at a Sacramento Kings basketball game...courtesy Ultra Glass of Sacramento.






Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Necole Monere: Glitter is Good


I come to you today to admit I have a problem:

I love glitter.

I love sparklies, rhinestones, and shinies so much, I have caused entire raid wipes because something sparkled in the distance, and my obsessive, ferret-brain overtook my senses and forced me into action. I have an actual rhinestone dealer saved in my bookmarks...and I am convinced all enemies can be defeated with a glitter gun.

The movie, Predator. Imagine, if you will, an alternate timeline...where Arnie carried glitter guns instead of regular guns. What do we always see in movie-ism, where the bad guy or threat is invisible? Nobody can do anything until they can spill some ink or water (or something liquid-ous) on said Baddy McBadderson.

Now, think again: Predator is invisible…and that dude is, well...kinda sticky.

Introducing: THE GLITTER GUN! Arnie would have made short work of Mr. Dental Nightmare with just one dose. That shizzle would have stuck EVERYwhere! So, first now Predator has a SUPER obvious (and prominently pretty) target on his back.

Secondly...glitter is kinda gritty. IMAGINE what that thigh-rash duder is gonna have after a mile with that stuck in his crotch. AND...if Predator gives up the silly goose and goes home...Mrs. "Dental Nightmare" is totally gonna know he was at the strip club. Done-zo, buddy.

Predator = 0, Glitter = 1

Depression. Now, I know you might be thinking: "Well, that escalated quickly," but hear me out. How can you be upset if you sparkle? Having a bad day? Pop some shimmer lotion on! Need a quick pick me up? Try a laser pointer and a fur, pant-wearing quadruped. The results may not be as long-lasting, but it will definitely provide a distraction and a quick dose of snicker-giggles.

Depression = 0, Shinies = 2

Did everyone see the viral video of the engineer who put glitter bombs into packages to thwart package thieves? Despite perhaps being staged, those peeps still got a massive dose of craft herpes, followed by an intense battle with a vacuum. And speaking from experience, the vacuum did not win. They're still finding bits when out and about!

Staged thieves = 0, Glitter 5 

So, at this point our count looks like:

Enemies = 0
Glitter/Shinies/Sparklies = 7

But be warned...you can turn the tide of battle against yourself!

Raid = 0
Home Team = 0

Team-Killing Glitter Distraction = 20, full wipe.

Healers in tears. Tank takes ball and goes home.
______________________________________

Necole Monere is the published author of a plastic-bag-addicted tabby and glitter aficionado, Captain of the Silly Song Club, and humor columnist. Often found annoying cats by twerking. If you wish to read more of her work, check out:

...a tale of tabby woe, as a hefty kitty deals with his crinkly addictions.