Show cover of Stories From the Road: First Responder Stories

Stories From the Road: First Responder Stories

Camaraderie. Courage. Commitment. Join host and former firefighter/paramedic Phil Klein as he delves into the heroic and heartbreaking stories told directly by the men and women who work the front lines every day. Whether you’re a first responder or simply interested in the lives of first responders, Stories From the Road presents a captivating, weekly perspective into the unique world of public service as only those who have experienced it can share.

Tracks

Former Deputy Bridget - "Harassment"
“I never reported the things that were happening to me. I wanted so bad for people to respect me as a deputy sheriff, as an operator, as a narcotics investigator, and I realized that it was just not gonna happen.” – Former Deputy Bridget.Serving as a law enforcement officer inherently brings its own set of challenges and, for the 13 percent of full-time law enforcement officers who are female, those challenges can multiply quickly. As Bridget found, both men and women affected by harassment often feel as though their world is crashing down, and it can be difficult to know how to address and solve the problem. Victims may question their own sanity, lack needed resources and departmental support, and when they do report an incident, find themselves subject to retaliation and further mistreatment.Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein as he sits down with Former Deputy Bridget, who went to the police academy the week after she graduated from college. In her four-and-a-half-year career, she worked in patrol as well as on the SWAT team and the narcotics and organized crime unit. While she can say with confidence that she chose her career in law enforcement, it took her longer to adjust to her role afterward as an attorney. What she did know was that she wanted to help first responders in a different capacity by providing legal guidance, helping them understand their rights, and, when necessary, effectively building the case for a lawsuit. If you need legal assistance, please contact Bridget at Lady Law Shield.That’s a wrap for the sixth season of Stories From the Road! Thank you so much for listening and sharing your stories with us. If you enjoy this podcast, please take a moment to give us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. We look forward to hearing more of your Stories From the Road in 2024!Support the Show.
29:53 11/28/23
PFC Murph - "Leaving the Job Behind"
“I made the conscious decision that I wanted to put my family first, and that is – it’s so important in our profession that you do that, because you need to give your best at home and, you know, do your best to leave work at work, because your family at home needs you. When people said, ‘Oh, you’re crazy! You’re leaving all that money on the table – you’re leaving all that!’ I said, ‘You know what, I never had it. […] I’m taking a sure thing right now so I can go home and be with my family.’” – PFC Murph It was a “fleabag-type” motel – the kind of place where, if you were looking for trouble, you were guaranteed to find it. In the early hours of a Saturday morning in April 2001, PFC Murph rolled into that motel parking lot on a routine patrol. What he found, was a suspicious number of out of state plates but, after running the tags and observing the cars’ contents, he found nothing out of the ordinary – nothing that prompted further action. It wasn’t until he received a call from the FBI six months later, that he realized his suspicions were valid, and the “digital breadcrumbs” he’d left by checking the plates had provided agents insight about the 9/11 hijackers’ behavior.   Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein as he sits down with PFC Murph, a retired law enforcement officer of 20 years, who served in roles ranging from school resource officer and PIO to crime prevention specialist and officer. He shares how sometimes it’s the run-of-the-mill days, like running license plates in a motel parking lot, that come with the most unexpected endings. He discusses his decision to retire early in order to be with his family, the importance of putting family first, and the necessity of leaving work at work. Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to tune in next week for the final episode of season six. Please take a moment to give us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. Support the Show.
27:03 11/21/23
Coordinator Mindy - "The Derecho"
“And the instant thought I had was, ‘I hope we don’t have catastrophic injuries. I hope we don’t have any deaths, because we are now on an island. The people to the west of us are being hit by this, people to the east of us are gonna be hit by this. To the south, to the north - they’re all being hit by this. We are on our own.’” – Coordinator MindyIt’s been three years since the derecho swept through Iowa and, although the days following have since become a blur, Mindy vividly remembers the storm itself: the sickly green color of the sky, the tumbling temperature, and the pieces of corrugated steel peeling from the rooftops around her before becoming airborne. She also remembers the urgency of her work: the warning calls made to the communities in her jurisdiction, the reassurance delivered to coworkers with a calm she did not necessarily feel herself, and the focus brought to a flustered fire department. Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein, as he sits down with the podcast’s first emergency manager, Coordinator Mindy, who has spent 22 years in public service. Mindy discusses the work involved before, during, and after the derecho, how her concentration on the 17,000 people in her service area left her temporarily forgetting to take care of herself, and the important steps communities can take to make sure they are prepared for wind and weather disasters. Thank you for listening! If you have a first responder story to share, please visit www.storiesfromtheroadpodcast.com to learn more about how you can be a guest on an upcoming episode. Support the Show.
28:40 11/14/23
CO Wayne - "Career Ending"
“It was a hard pill to swallow. And […] it was one of these deals that if you was gonna retire, you know, you got that retirement date, you go have your little retirement party and everybody pats you on the back. You get that proverbial gold watch and everything, you know, ‘Good job!’ and, you know, ‘Enjoy your retirement.’ And, like I say, I walked in the door […] that day and people never seen me again. I never walked back in the door.” – CO WayneIt wasn’t Wayne’s plan to work in corrections but, once he started, he found quickly that he had a passion for it. In a career that spanned nearly two decades across multiple states and levels of security, he prided himself on being firm, fair, and objective. He especially enjoyed his work in transportation, which included getting inmates to everything from surgeries to court hearings, and it was a role from which he assumed he would retire – until an icy January morning changed everything.Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein as he shares the mic with friend and guest Corrections Officer Wayne, who recalls the accident that ended his career. While transporting two inmates to a court hearing, the van Wayne was riding in hit a patch of black ice and barrel rolled, leaving the van’s passengers trapped inside. After sustaining knee, back, and shoulder injuries as well as a concussion, what he originally thought would merely delay his return to work until the following Monday resulted in extensive physical therapy and surgeries and prevented him from ever stepping foot inside the prison again. Don’t forget! If you’re enjoying Stories From the Road, please take a moment to give us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. Visit www.storiesfromtheroadpodcast.com for more content. Support the Show.
21:31 11/7/23
Captain Kara - "Fire and Life Safety"
“I don’t care how long anybody has been doing this – when you hear that, it just creates something in you that is almost a feral response. You know, I don’t think that it’s something that you can even control – even if you are the most calm, salty, old-school firefighter and you’ve done it a thousand times – when you hear that, it just creates a reaction in you that’s just visceral.” – Captain KaraThe fire department’s alert system sliced through the previously quiet night, and Kara was jarred awake by an incomparable rush of adrenaline. A structure fire had been reported in rural Upstate New York by a neighbor, and she immediately knew there was a lot working against them, including time, distance, and water supply. Although they were racing through the inky darkness, from the back seat Kara felt like they were crawling, and she could only think about how far ahead of them the fire must be and the need to get to the people reportedly trapped inside. Join former firefighter/paramedic and host Phil Klein as he shares the mic with Captain Kara, the first female officer in her fire department’s 213-year history. Kara discusses her work that spans what she calls the “best of both worlds.” Not only does she perform the hands-on work necessary to combat structural fires as a volunteer firefighter, but she also utilizes data as a fire and life safety educator and juvenile firefighter intervention specialist to understand how people are getting injured in relation to fire emergencies. Ultimately, she hopes to reduce the number of people injured or killed by fire and burn-related emergencies.  In addition to her career and volunteer work, Kara also owns St. Florian Fitness. Her goal is to reduce line of duty deaths related to poor cardiac health. You can learn more about Kara’s work by visiting her organization’s Instagram page: St. Florian Fitness. Thank you for listening to this episode of Stories From the Road! Please take a moment to give us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. If you’d like more content, or to learn about opportunities to be a guest on the show, visit www.storiesfromtheroadpodcast.com. Support the Show.
38:31 10/31/23
Paramedic Josh - "Eleven Patients and No Help"
“You know we asked – I asked – ‘Hey, if you can send anybody from that other service we can get some mutual aid, and then if you can clear anybody out [of] the hospital, we have multiple children kind of on the ground ejected from a vehicle,’ and we – I – knew it was serious.” – Paramedic JoshA sea of red taillights laid out before them, Josh and his colleague quickly realized that the New Orleans East interstate – usually humming with traffic – had turned into a haphazard parking lot. They had been given minimal information about the motor vehicle accident they were approaching, but rather than wait for the ambulance to navigate the maze of cars, Josh decided to make the rest of the trek to the scene on foot. He'd hoped to find a run-of-the-mill fender bender at the end of his half-mile journey, but his arrival brought something far worse: a nightmarish scene comprised of a severely damaged minivan, 11 children in various states of injury, and absolutely no help.  Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein as he shares the mic with Josh, a quality manager and critical care paramedic, who shares a story from early in his career. Josh and his colleagues weren’t unfamiliar with operating on limited resources, especially while working weekend shifts in New Orleans – a city that is no stranger to widespread chronic diseases, gun violence, hordes of tourists, and a perpetually festive atmosphere. But when Josh finds himself to be the lone paramedic on the scene of a mass casualty incident involving children, he must swiftly learn how to balance his desire to be an expert clinician with the need to effectively manage the scene and his resources. Thanks for listening to Stories From the Road! Please take a moment to share it with a friend and give us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. Check out all available episodes on www.storiesfromtheroadpodcast.com.Support the Show.
28:49 10/24/23
Firefighter Wendi - "Representation"
"In 2023, less than five percent of career firefighters are female. Despite all the efforts that we put in to make the fire service more diverse, we’re still at that. That’s only a one percent increase in the last 10 years. That’s not very good. So, it is still history, and it’s still important. Representation is extremely important. I didn’t even know females were firefighters until I was in my 20s – like I just thought men did it."    -Firefighter WendiWorking in public service is difficult enough, but navigating a male-dominated career path as a female brings additional challenges. Fortunately for Wendi, she’s always been ready to rise to the occasion. So, what would she say to other young women interested in joining the fire service? “Just keep going. Don’t let them get you down. Work hard. Get those certifications, and don’t ever stop chasing your dream.” Join host and former paramedic/firefighter Phil Klein as he sits down with this week’s guest, Firefighter Wendi. After a prior career left her feeling unfulfilled, Wendi decided to go back to school to pursue a degree in forensic pathology. What she discovered instead was a love for the fire service, and at age 32, she finally found her calling. While it hasn’t always been easy, Wendi values the opportunity to help both people and pets, to forge strong relationships between career and volunteer firefighters and members of the community, and to educate others as a fire instructor and CPR/first aid instructor. She shares her thoughts on everything from navigating challenging interpersonal relationships at work to agencies’ policies on tattoos and the slowly evolving views on women in public service. Thank you for listening to Stories From the Road! If you’re a first responder with a story you’d like to share, please visit the ‘Be A Guest’ section of the Stories From the Road website to learn more about the opportunity to be featured in an upcoming episode.  Support the Show.
26:51 10/17/23
Dr. Campsey - "Recovery"
“So, I never complain about anything anymore. I’m not sure I was really much of a complainer to begin with, but I don’t complain at all. I’m willing to roll with the punches with change. I am trying to create. I don’t feel like I’m the most creative person, but I’m trying to be better at it. […] So, if I could tell people what to do, you know to help them recover, I’d say find a routine. I think routine is something we all need every day.” – Dr. CampseyIt was a seemingly ordinary November morning in 2021 for Dr. Mike Campsey. A work meeting at the hospital dictated that he exercise earlier than normal, but he was accustomed to the predawn wakeup. After a HIIT workout on his stationary bike, he began calisthenics, but he quickly realized that something was very wrong. His right arm wasn’t cooperating, and it wasn’t long before he was lying on the floor, his face drooping and his speech reduced to an infantile babble. He miraculously managed to make enough noise to wake his wife two floors above him, and she knew immediately upon seeing him that he had suffered a massive stroke. A life flight and an embolectomy later, Dr. Campsey found himself staring down the long road to recovery. Join host and former firefighter/paramedic Phil Klein as he sits down with interventional cardiologist, Dr. Mike Campsey. While not a traditional first responder, Campsey brings a different perspective to the lifestyle of caring for others – often above oneself. He shares the anxiety, grief, and depression that brought some very dark months after his stroke, his decision to seek help, and his conflicted feelings on being diagnosed with PTSD. While he knew there would be physical recovery, it was the mental recovery that was perhaps the most unexpected and challenging – but also the most transformational. To learn more about Dr. Campsey and to read his blog on health and leadership, visit www.mikecampsey.com. Enjoying season six of Stories From the Road? Please take a moment to give us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more exclusive content! Support the Show.
26:32 10/10/23
Sgt. Jason - "Reunification"
“So, upon my arrival on that day, I stopped in the middle of a five-lane road and said, ‘This looks like a good place to be. I’m gonna stay here.’ I walked in to find uniforms, matching of mine, looking for command to say, ‘This is what we need to do.’ […] At that time that I finally got there, the kids had been moved from the high school into a church that was just a few blocks away, and we were trying to get the kids back to their parents.” – Sgt. JasonStructure. Order. Composure. These words don’t typically come to mind in the aftermath of a school shooting, but for Sgt. Jason, they were essential to effectively managing the situation and reunifying students with their families. When he was called to Arapahoe High School after a shooting in 2013, he discovered the pandemonium you would expect to find with relocating thousands of panicked high school students to a nearby church and desperate family members flooding the scene to find their children. Sgt. Jason recognized that while first responders were well-trained to respond to the active shooting situation itself, they lacked the organization necessary to efficiently pick up the pieces and put them back together afterward. Join host and former firefighter/paramedic Phil Klein whose guest, Jason, spent 15 years with law enforcement in roles ranging from field training officer to sergeant. An avid proponent of training, he worked to ensure his department exceeded the standard in everything from report writing to crisis intervention. He shares the unique perspective he has gained from responding to shooting situations like the one at Arapahoe High School and the critical changes that have been implemented from lessons he and other first responders have learned. Your support is appreciated! Please take a moment to share Stories From the Road with a friend, and don’t forget to give it a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. Support the Show.
35:00 10/3/23
Cop Shrink Deana - "Boundaries"
“. . .but it was the moment that I recognized I am not taking care of myself. I’m not taking care of my daughter. [...] I’m serving the population I wanna serve, but I’m doing it in a way that’s hurting me and hurting my relationships.” — Cop Shrink DeanaFor 12 years, Deana the “Cop Shrink” has answered the calls of over 100 federal, state, and local agencies in need of therapy for their first responders. These men and women have experienced everything from infant deaths to line of duty deaths and natural disasters to mass shootings – critical incidents Deana has experienced, too, as she helps others cope with subsequent depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and burnout. But when the cumulative, traumatic effects of grueling 12-hour days, cross-country flights, cold meals, and missed time with her daughter leave her feeling overwhelmed and helpless, Deana recognizes changes must be made to beat her own burnout. Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein as he shares the mic with the “Cop Shrink.” In addition to providing therapy and responding to critical incidents, Deana also teaches basic and advanced officer training at the academy level. She shares her journey to becoming a first responder therapist, which began with her childhood admiration of her grandfather, a police chief. It was when she saw the police psychologist in Lethal Weapon, however, that she knew exactly what she wanted to do. She discusses the many lessons she has learned since that day about setting boundaries, learning to say no, and understanding you can’t pour from an empty cup.  Welcome back to the sixth season of Stories From the Road! Please take a moment to give us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or whatever platform you use to listen. If you’re interested in being a guest on an upcoming episode, visit www.storiesfromtheroadpodcast.com to learn more. Support the Show.
30:43 9/26/23
Detective Vic - "Chaos Continued"
“They hit him with that Narcan, Mr. Blount jumped up like, it was like a Halloween thing.  The guy jumped up on the %*^# gurney and is throwing — he’s in withdraw — and he’s throwing up against the side of the wall like a fire hose.  And I’ll never forgot, the nurse goes, ‘Would you do that in your house?’” – Detective VicYou’d be hard-pressed to make up a story involving a cast of characters known as Portuguese Elvis, Whiplash Willie, and Hansel and Gretel, but for Detective Vic, they were a very real part of his 20-year career in the New York City Police Department. From summer days spent sitting on DOAs in sweltering city apartments to fellow department members who couldn’t pull their own weight – literally – and navigating the subterranean lairs of apartment buildings only to discover NYC’s largest cockfighting ring, Vic takes listeners on a whirlwind ride that could only happen on the streets of New York City. Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein for the final episode of season five as he shares the mic with returning guest Detective Vic, who acquired more than a few stories from his work in everything from auto crimes to narcotics. Now retired and an author, Vic entertains his readers with humorous and improbable insights of events from his personal life as well as his professional life inside the nation’s largest police department.  Can’t get enough of the chaos? Click here to learn more about Vic or to purchase his books.  Thank you for listening! We hope you enjoyed season five. If you’d like to be a guest on an upcoming season, visit our website, www.storiesfromtheroadpodcast.com to learn more! We’ll see you soon for season six!Support the Show.
37:14 4/11/23
Officer Jay - "A Claymore Mine, a Herd of Goats, and a Fire"
"Like with first responders: 'Oh, what was the craziest call you've been on?' Like we don't wanna talk about that. We want to tell the fun stories. We want to tell, ‘Oh, this one day this happened, and it was funny!' Where I think a lot of people in our profession, they always forget to tell those fun stories to the regular civilian, and I think it's pretty important." – Officer JayA claymore mine, a herd of goats, and a fire: what could go wrong? It was June 2006, and Jay was on his third deployment in Afghanistan. As part of a patrol providing overwatch for a mission, Jay and his fellow unit members had received intelligence alerting them to expect combat and, in anticipation of activity, he set up a trip flare and a claymore mine – a conglomeration of explosives and 700 ball bearings sandwiched inside a curved, rectangular plastic case. But after the trip flare had been triggered and the mine subsequently detonated, the patrol members quickly realized that no amount of intel could have predicted the sure-footed enemy who had really been behind the looming ambush. Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein as he shares the mic with returning guest Officer Jay who, prior to retiring after his 12-year career in law enforcement, served for four years in the Marine Corps. Jay discusses how civilian curiosity often involves hearing the worst, when many first responders and military members often have entertaining, even hilarious stories like this one that are just as important to share. Don’t forget, you can check out Officer Jay’s previous story from the road, Healing, in season four. Thank you for listening! Please take a moment to give Stories From the Road a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. Join us next week for the final episode of season five. Support the Show.
25:21 4/4/23
Chief Linda - "Mayday"
“This is all right at the beginning of fire season, and my symptoms really escalated from that point on. I started being paranoid, a startle response, it was crazy.  I thought I was going crazy.”  - Chief LindaThe mid-September Saturday in 2015 seemed harmless enough. It was forecasted to be cloudy with low winds and high humidity – a reprieve from a hectic, relentless fire season. Linda had been the duty chief for most of the major fires that had occurred, and she was looking forward to a few days off. But what came to be known as the Valley Fire – then the third-worst wildfire in California state history – had other plans. Join former firefighter/paramedic and host Phil Klein as he sits down with Linda, a retired chief and 32-year veteran of the fire service. Linda vividly recalls rushing to the fire and learning that the helitack crew – a group she knew well – was in the midst of a mayday situation after being cut off from their escape route. Left in command of the fire while the crew was being rescued, Linda was simultaneously forced to deal with the knowledge that her colleagues were in danger and the realization that the fire was quickly outgrowing the resources initially ordered to combat it. Linda shares how witnessing the crew’s severe burns and injuries profoundly impacted her mental health and led to her diagnosis of PTSD. Now an author and performance coach, she strives to help others accept their PTSD diagnoses and work actively to recover. Chief Linda's book, Solving the Post Traumatic Stress Brain Injury Puzzle: A First Responder’s GPS, can be purchased here. Thank you for listening! Please take a moment to give Stories from the Road a five-star review on Apple podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. Don’t forget to visit us on Patreon to learn more about how you can support the podcast.Support the Show.
39:01 3/28/23
Ret. Sgt. Michael - "Relentless Courage"
“Seconds later, a male subject partially came out at the top of the stairwell. He was sweating profusely; his eyes were wide open with this glazed look literally staring straight through us.  And at this point we’re yelling, ‘Show us your hands! Show us your hands!’ and he had no visible reaction. I mean no facial expressions, I don’t remember his eyes blinking, no body movement.  I mean, literally, just staring straight through us.”  - Ret. Sgt. Michael Screams pierced the early hours of that December morning, drawing an invisible line between what had been an uneventful shift for Michael and all that would come next. He and his partner had arrived at the high-rise complex within minutes of each other and took off running in pursuit of the chilling cries. Michael knew that in one of the condos a couple was barricaded behind a bedroom door, hiding from a man wielding a knife. What he didn’t know was that he’d soon be forced to make a split-second decision that would change his life forever. Join former firefighter/paramedic and host Phil Klein as he sits down with Ret. Sgt. Michael, a 20-year law enforcement veteran, whose career began with the United States Air Force in 1998 in security forces. When Michael honorably separated from the Air Force in 2004 as a captain, he joined a California police department where he served in a variety of roles before retiring in 2018. It’s an extensive resume and despite his impressive work domestically, internationally, and on the streets of California, Michael still asserts the bravest thing he’s done is ask for help. He shares how the end of the call at the high-rise was the beginning of a years-long journey through investigations and a federal trial – events that forced him to relive that morning over and over, nearly driving him to take his own life before a friend’s actions pulled him back from the brink and set him on the path to healing. To check out Michael’s book, Relentless Courage, click here. To visit Michael’s LinkedIn, click here.Thank you for listening! If you’re enjoying Stories From the Road, please take a moment to give us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. Support the Show.
32:50 3/21/23
Paramedic Kevin - "At the Bottom of the Bottle"
“For a while there, that was my crutch. I just, I kept going back to the bar and I was reliving that call — at night, during the day – just trying to figure out what happened. What could I have done? What should we have done? Could we have done anything better for the people that were there when we were triaging them? When we were treating them? If other units had gotten there quicker? If we had gotten there quicker?" – Paramedic KevinIt was Christmastime 2001 in Manhattan, which only added to the chaos of the scene. When Kevin and his partner arrived in Herald Square, people and bodies were everywhere. It was hard to tell where the back of city bus ended and the front of the white van began, the vehicles seemingly conjoined after the accident that took the lives of six and injured countless more. Kevin grabbed triage tags to make sense of the scene, assigning colors to victims based on the severity of their injury, attempting to do the most he could for the most amount of people while waiting for other units to arrive.  Join former firefighter/paramedic and host Phil Klein as he shares the mic with Kevin who has worked as an EMT, paramedic, deputy volunteer chief, and instructor during his 30 years in EMS. With 9/11 having happened just a few months prior, Kevin recounts how the guilt of taking that day off, coupled with the horrifying accident in Herald Square, led him to relive the scene over and over and question whether he could’ve done anything differently that day. It was this sea of questions that led him to drown his anxiety at the bottom of a bottle in search of answers – a habit that nearly ruined his relationships with friends and family and his career. We’re looking for guests for our upcoming seasons, and we want to hear from you! To learn more about how you can share your own story from the road, click here. Thank you for listening. Support the Show.
25:44 3/14/23
Detective Vic - "Car Thieves and Chaos"
“While I’m sitting in this Dodge Caravan, a four-seven precinct van drives by and they give me – we call it the hairy eyebrow – like they give you a dirty look and I’m like %@#*!  If they run the plate on this car and it comes back stolen, they’re going to circle around. I’m not gonna be able to open the door cause there’s no panels. I’m not gonna be able to identify myself. It’s pitch black in here.  They’re going to pull me out of this car by my head.” – Detective VicIf you've ever wondered what WD-40, a horse and carriage, and four kilos of coke have in common, look no further than Detective Vic's career. When he wasn’t spending his childhood in the Bronx watching the comings and goings of the 45th precinct’s officers, 10-year-old Vic could be found pocketing FBI Most Wanted posters from the local post office in hot pursuit of the nation’s most contemptible criminals. From the age of five, Vic knew he wanted to work for the NYPD and, when the time came, he sidestepped his parents’ wishes that he attend college and realized his dream of joining law enforcement. What ensued was a wide-ranging career that included stints in an anti-crime unit, narcotics, and eventually work in an auto crimes division. Join former firefighter/paramedic and host Phil Klein as he sits down with Vic, an author and 20-year veteran of the New York City Police Department, who experienced more than his fair share of the entertaining, the enthralling, and even the embarrassing. From dealing with the infamous detective, El Diablo, to getting caught with his pants down – literally – in a fight for his gun belt, Vic paints a vivid picture of some of the more unbelievable and unforgettable aspects of working in law enforcement in NYC.To learn more about Detective Vic, or to purchase his books, click here.  Thank you for listening to Stories From the Road. Did you know we’re halfway through season five? Please take a moment to give us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. Thank you for your support!Support the Show.
32:03 3/7/23
Flight Nurse Katie - “I Worked Hard for This”
“I look at the EMT, and I’m trying to stay as calm as possible, because panic is probably the most contagious thing out there – I will argue that panic is the most contagious thing out there [...]. And I just look at him and say, ‘Hey, as soon as my partner walks over here, don’t jump out, don’t do anything, just open the door […] – he’ll see what’s going on.’  And he did, and I said, ‘Well Bill, this is where we are now.’” - Flight Nurse KatieSometimes amidst the chaos, life sends us a sign that we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be. For Katie, that epiphany came during her first semester of nursing school, when she was given the opportunity to shadow a flight nurse. She was enthralled by the experience, from the sights and sounds to the unmistakable command the flight nurses had over each situation, and she knew she was hooked. Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein as he sits down with Flight Nurse Katie who, seven months into her role, has only seen her hunch – that she belonged in a helicopter helping others – confirmed again and again. In this episode, Katie recalls the snowy-day scene of a motorcycle accident involving a helmetless rider. She shares the moments of self-doubt she experienced over the tumultuous four-hour call, the motorcyclist’s miraculous recovery, and a trauma surgeon’s words that reminded her she was well on her way to achieving the autonomy she’d once admired in the crew on her initial flight. Thank you for listening! We appreciate your support. Please take a moment to give Stories from the Road a five-star review on Apple podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. Don’t forget to visit us on Patreon to learn more about how you can support the podcast. Support the Show.
28:00 2/28/23
Paramedic Nick - "Since I Walked Away"
“I remember shutting my locker door and then my intuition, my gut instinct, was that was the last time I was going to shut my locker, and I had this like really uneasy feeling of, ‘Ooh, that was really weird. Why did I think that?’ Because that’s not normally a thought that would come to my mind.” – Paramedic NickYou signed up for this. It’s a phrase that seems to be pervasive among fire departments and police stations across the country – a mantra uttered to justify witnessing the incomprehensible and being asked to fix things that sometimes just can’t be fixed. For Nick, it also served as a message that complemented lessons from his childhood and convinced him to repress the complex emotions he was experiencing as a first responder. This, along with the loss of friends to line-of-duty deaths and suicides and the overwhelming weight of the daily decisions he had to make, led to anger, outbursts, insomnia, nightmares, and the eventual realization that he could take his desire to help others in a much different direction. Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein as he shares the mic with Nick, a former paramedic/firefighter turned best-selling author, podcast host, and founder of the brand Building Grit. Nick has made it his mission to use the insight he gained from his 18-year career and his journey fighting PTSD to help other first responders with their mental health battles. By sharing his experiences, Nick hopes to empower others to tell their own stories and contribute to a greater dialogue around the importance of mental health. Click here to learn more about Nick's work and to purchase his book, Building Grit: How to fight the fires of PTSD and come out stronger on the other side. Thank you for listening to this episode of Stories From the Road! Please take a moment to give us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts, or whichever platform you use to listen. Visit www.storiesfromtheroadpodcast.com to check out other content and episodes. Support the Show.
27:20 2/21/23
Paramedic Alexis - "Flowers"
“We meet so many people in a single shift and, after a while, it does accumulate, but we may be the only first responders someone sees, let alone the last person they see or the last voice they hear on this earth.” - Paramedic Alexis Flower petals and stems lay strewn about the seats of the car Alexis was photographing – along with brain matter and blood. Her eyes scanned the car’s mangled interior, and she wondered how the call, dispatched as a low-level trauma, could’ve ended up being this: a man fighting for his life, his car wrapped inextricably around a light pole after being clipped and spun by another driver who fled the scene. Upon learning the flight team would be unable to fly because of weather, Alexis headed to help her team transport the man to the hospital – but not before noticing a small card that had been dislodged from the bouquet and plucking it from the wreckage. Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein as he welcomes returning guest Paramedic Alexis. She recalls the rainy day in rural Louisiana nearly a year ago, when she and her partner were blindsided by the severity of an accident that they initially believed could be no more than a fender bender. She shares the heartbreaking note scrawled on the bouquet’s card, her endeavor to find and share the message with its intended recipient, and how its sentiments prompted Alexis to share a very important message of her own with her husband. Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this story from Alexis, be sure to listen to her other episode, “Two Floors Up” from season four! Please take a moment to give Stories From the Road a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. Visit www.storiesfromtheroadpodcast.com for more content. Support the Show.
19:52 2/14/23
Chief Scott - "Three Weeks, Three New Babies"
“It was a really unique situation because this girl was actually carrying – as a surrogate – the baby for her sister who couldn’t have children, so this was like a super important pregnancy. It had to succeed.” - Chief ScottTwenty-five years. Fifty deliveries. Three weeks. Three new babies.Many first responders find that obstetric emergencies are more often studied in the classroom than experienced on the job and, when they do occur, they’re usually few and far between. For Scott, however, a three-week period of his career involved the birth of not one, or two, but three babies. Precise timing was imperative for the calls, which ranged from a pregnant woman in cardiac arrest, to a woman experiencing an uncommon pregnancy complication, to a woman giving birth within just two minutes of Scott’s arrival. Fortunately, all delivered a happy ending to three very grateful families.Welcome back to season five of Stories From the Road. We're glad you're here! Join host and former paramedic/firefighter Phil Klein as he kicks off the season with returning guest Chief Scott, who has been involved in the delivery of 50 babies – the only statistic he has tracked during his two-and-a-half-decade career. He shares how he’s been privileged to keep in touch with the families and the children he helped during those weeks, and he describes the collective joy among first responders who get to share in being a part of life’s miracles. For Scott, these are the calls that help him persevere through difficult situations and remind him that what he and his fellow first responders do truly matters. Our seasons are only as good as your stories! Click here to learn more about how your story from the road could be featured in an upcoming episode. If you enjoyed listening to this episode with Chief Scott, be sure to check out his other episodes including "Mentor" from season three and "The Iron Worker" from season four. Support the Show.
26:58 2/7/23
Chief David - "Years of Trauma"
“You’re supposed to be the person that shows up and makes things better, and it’s pretty hard to make things better if you’re struggling yourself.” – Chief DavidFirst responders’ coping mechanisms are often instituted over years of service, with each call serving as another brick in the wall they build to divide the life-changing trauma they’ve witnessed from their ability to work their next shift and operate in the normalcy of life outside the station walls. When there is a culture that prevents open discussions around the job they do and the impact it has, first responders can become further entrenched in behaviors that attempt to deny or conceal mental health issues like PTSD.  Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein for the final episode of season four with David, a Navy veteran and retired battalion chief who spent 23 years in the fire service. David shares how following in his father’s footsteps led him down his chosen career path, how losing his younger brother called him to serve with greater empathy and understanding, and the work it took to come to terms with his PTSD and seek the help he needed. A best-selling author and professional speaker, he works as a coach and mentor to help others see how their failures can serve as an opportunity to “refine instead of define” them.  To learn more about David’s work, purchase his book, Fireproof: Your Grand Strategy for Transforming Failure into Fuel for Your Future, or listen to his podcast, From Embers to Excellence, click here. Thank you for your support of season four! From the guests who courageously share their stories, to the listeners who tune in every week, and the sponsors who see and support the value of transparent dialogue surrounding first responders’ experiences and mental health, you are all important members of the Stories From the Road community, and we can’t wait to have you join us for season five in 2023!Support the Show.
33:05 11/29/22
Officer Jay - "Healing"
“It was a couple years at this point, where it’s really affecting me. I was in denial about PTSD, and I was like oh well, I was a marine, I was in combat in Afghanistan. Alright, this is basically, you know, combat in New Jersey.” – Officer JayOfficer Jay had been on countless 911 calls, but something about this one felt different. Perhaps it was the lack of information available from dispatch or the call’s nondescript branding as a “disturbance,” but whatever it was, the uneasy feeling followed him as he and his partner drove to the address in question. When the door was answered by a man with a gun, Jay knew there wasn't much time to take cover, but he didn’t know how the incident would ultimately change his life. Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein as he sits down with Jay, a retired police officer who served in law enforcement for 12 years. Jay recalls the moment a 911 call turned deadly as a man pulled a gun on his partner, and he was forced to make a life-altering decision. He describes the weight of his actions on his mental health, his department’s lack of support and resources, and his eventual choice to push his thoughts aside, mask his feelings with alcohol, and become idle and unmotivated – all telltale signs of PTSD. Now, Jay works with first responders and veterans in the hope that his story will inspire others to break the stigma and seek help. He also encourages first responders to take time for themselves and to make their mental health and their families a priority.Did you know that next week is the final episode in season four of Stories From the Road? But don’t worry – season five is already in the works for 2023! In the meantime, check out all the great episodes available on www.storiesfromtheroadpodcast.com or whichever platform you use to listen. If you’d like to be a guest on the upcoming season, click here to learn more. Thank you for your support!Support the Show.
28:54 11/22/22
Firefighter Paul - "100 Year Flood"
“We had to climb over – there was all kinds of debris – we had to climb over what I thought was a desk, and then we came across that, it may have been a pallet full of building materials somewhere along the lines, and when a Coke machine went floating by, I knew it was kind of getting pretty serious.” – Firefighter PaulThere are numerous places a firefighter might expect to use water rescue training but, for Paul, the basement of a hospital wasn’t one of them. Yet, when five inches of rain fell swiftly on his community in 2020, Paul and his team found themselves wading through chest-high water in a hospital cafeteria to search for three people who were reportedly trapped. As the mission evolved, first responders realized flooding at the building’s lowest point wasn’t the only threat, and water damage on all three floors, coupled with the loss of electricity, necessitated a more complex response. Join former firefighter/paramedic and host Phil Klein as he shares the mic with Paul, who has been a firefighter/EMT for 19 of his 27 years in public service. When a 100-year flood caused major damage to an area hospital, Paul found himself relying on lessons from a multitude of trainings to navigate a scene for which there is no specific preparation. He encourages other first responders to take advantage of any training available to them in order to give themselves the best chance at succeeding in an unforeseeable situation. Thank you for your continued support of Stories From the Road! Please take a moment to give us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. If you'd like to be a guest on an upcoming episode, please visit www.storiesfromtheroadpodcast.com to learn more.  Support the Show.
22:58 11/15/22
Ret. FF/EMT Keith - "Purpose"
“And it feels good because when I left the job, I really kinda lost my identity for a while, and I felt like I wasn’t able to help people.  And lately, especially, I’ve sort of gotten some of that back, where I’m giving back to the community I love so much.  I know these men and women who, you know, selflessly go out every day and sacrifice so much.” – Ret. Firefighter/EMT Keith First responders often excel at compartmentalizing the difficult aspects of their job. This may serve as an effective temporary coping mechanism, but the mounting pressure of complex, unprocessed trauma can lead to a deluge of feelings and thoughts that seem insurmountable. While that tipping point varies for everyone, for Keith, it took 17 years and a reunion with one of his colleagues to truly realize the power that one of the worst calls of his career had held over him for all those years. Join former firefighter/paramedic and host Phil Klein as he sits down with retired firefighter and EMT, Keith. Just 18 years old when he joined the fire department, Keith recalls being prepared to see difficult situations but unprepared to deal with the individual and cumulative impact those events would have on his mental health and his life. Now, Keith helps those who are new to or are considering a career as a first responder understand how to break the stigma around asking for help and better prepare for the mental and emotional tolls of public service.Thank you for listening to Stories From the Road! To learn more about the advocacy work Keith is doing for first responders affected by PTSD, please take a moment to check out these links:·        The Sunday Group·        First Responder Coaching·        Keith's YouTube ChannelSupport the Show.
27:20 11/8/22
Chief Scott - "The Iron Worker"
“I told her it wasn’t me, you know, it was me with a team, and that’s what always happens. And I think people need to realize that it’s not always about the guy or the girl [...] who may be at the head performing the intubation, or giving the medication, or the first person who shocked him. It’s the whole chain of what goes on from stem to stern, and when that all falls into place, man, you can do some great work.” – Chief ScottWhen Scott and his team are dispatched to an electrocution at a railroad expansion project, they arrive to find a group of iron workers encircling one of their own. A second-generation iron worker, the 28-year-old woman had been working three stories up on the project’s pedestrian bridge when steel struck a high-voltage power line and left her in cardiac arrest 35 feet in the air. Her mentor’s quick thinking got her to the ground in less than two minutes, and paramedics worked diligently to get her pulse and blood pressure back as they transported her to a nearby hospital. Scott believed she stood a chance of surviving, but he wasn’t sure he’d ever know the outcome – until his phone rang a few days later. Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein as he shares the mic with returning guest Chief Scott. In a world that tends to dwell on the negative and disseminate it via social media, Scott works to ensure his team has every opportunity to see their work makes a difference. He discusses the phone call he received from the young woman’s mother following the incident and the importance of celebrating the positive and recognizing that every call is a team effort. If you enjoyed this story from the road with Chief Scott, you can check out his first appearance on the show in his episode "Mentor" from season three! Please visit us on Patreon to learn more about how you can support the podcast. As always, thank you for listening! Support the Show.
28:33 11/1/22
Sgt. Harry - "Firearms and Fatals"
“The most rewarding thing I found was, basically, it was always — it was just the little jobs.  It was the little old lady who was broken down in a car who was absolutely terrified.” - Sgt. HarryWhile policies, organizational structures, and acronyms may differ from country to country, first responders around the world share many similarities, often united by their desire to help others, serve their community, cope with the untold effects that witnessing trauma can have on their mental health and, of course, to share stories. For Harry, these stories run the gamut of emotions from the humorous to the horrendous, and they serve as a vital reminder that all first responders are celebrating victories and managing losses – regardless of their location. Join former firefighter/paramedic and host Phil Klein as he shares the mic with best-selling author and first international guest, Sgt. Harry, a 30-year veteran of the police force in the United Kingdom. Harry recalls his first attempt to join the force at age 10, and his subsequent roles ranging from special constable to VIP protection officer for members of the royal family and government officials. He spent time as an operational firearms commander, pursuit tactics advisor, and a firearms tactics advisor, along with working on an armed response unit and investigating fatal collisions. He discusses how the stigma around seeking help has largely improved in the UK, which has led first responders to feel more comfortable vocalizing their needs. Click here to purchase Sgt. Harry’s book, Firearms and Fatals: An Autobiography of 30 Years Front Line Policing Exposed.Thank you for listening! If you’re enjoying Stories From the Road, please take a moment to give us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. To learn more about the podcast, visit www.storiesfromtheroadpodcast.com. Support the Show.
38:41 10/25/22
Officer Charles - "Ten Eight"
“So, we’re doing this debrief, and they’re like, ‘You know, no one wants to talk. Everyone either wants to go catch the bastard, or they’re still in shock.’  So, like alright, if no one wants to talk, you guys can go 10-8. I have no reason to keep you here.” – Officer CharlesIt’s stressful to contend with the public’s emergencies day in and day out, especially in a culture that can be less than supportive of first responders’ work. But when the trauma they experience is personal, the compounded crises at home and at work can force them to examine how they handle pressure and even to question whether to continue their career. For Charles, it was the losses of his sister, a friend and colleague shot in the line of duty, a field training officer who got COVID, and a friend and colleague who died from a self-inflicted injury that led him to redirect his path and his approach to serving others. Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein as he sits down with Officer Charles, a former law enforcement officer and current dispatcher and podcaster. Charles details how he discovered his true passion – helping the people who help others – and how it inspired him to provide peer support through a crisis intervention team and to go back to school to study psychology. Click here to listen to “Ten Eight Podcast” and to learn more about Charles's efforts to openly discuss mental health and burnout among first responders and to illuminate the work they do.  Thank you for listening! Please take a moment to give Stories From the Road a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. Visit www.storiesfromtheroadpodcast.com for exclusive content and merchandise.Support the Show.
38:10 10/18/22
Kayla - "The North Tower"
“One of the things I’ve learned about PTSD, frankly I was angry at myself that I didn’t – that I didn’t recognize signs earlier.  But the only thing I knew about PTSD is that the military, first responders had it and I didn’t know what it looked like. ” – KaylaIt’s one of the first things those who were in New York City always seem to remember about the morning of September 11, 2001: its magnificent, crystal blue sky. Perhaps because it’s difficult to fathom, even in retrospect, that such tranquility would serve as a backdrop to the chaos that unfolded, or because the plumes of thick, dark smoke snuffed out the sun from view but not from memory. Regardless the reason, the “breathtaking view” is what Kayla recalls admiring as she stepped off the train and made her way to her corner office on the 68th floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower, unaware her life was about to be changed forever. Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein as he sits down with Kayla who was working as the director of public affairs for The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey during 9/11. Kayla vividly recalls the dizzying descent from her office to the street below with the assistance of first responders, many of whom were rushing in as others rushed out. She describes the desperate attempt to account for her Port Authority co-workers and leadership in the aftermath and the unexpected long-term effects on her mental health. Kayla urges everyone, whether a first responder or civilian, to recognize the signs of PTSD and to not be ashamed of standing up for yourself and asking for help. Thank you for listening to Stories From the Road. If you’re a first responder with a story you’d like to share, please visit the ‘Be A Guest’ section of the Stories From the Road website to learn more about the opportunity to be featured in an upcoming episode.  Support the Show.
31:49 10/11/22
Lieutenant Zachary - "Be a Warrior"
“What is it that makes a warrior a warrior? […] The warriors were different, and you don’t have to be a marine or a firefighter to be a warrior. You can be a single mom working two jobs just to help your kids. But it’s this concept of ‘adversity helps you grow.’ Iron sharpens iron.” – Lieutenant ZacharyFirst responders are inherent problem solvers, and it’s a skill Zachary has implemented in every facet of his life as a former marine, firefighter, lieutenant, serial entrepreneur, author, and keynote speaker. He knew he wanted to be a firefighter from the first time he saw a shiny, red 1960s fire engine in his neighborhood as a kid, but it wasn’t until after 9/11 that he found himself in a position to pursue that childhood dream. Join former paramedic/firefighter and host Phil Klein as he shares the mic with Lieutenant Zachary, who shares his story of tenacity and innovation. Zachary discusses how his complete disorientation and lack of accountability during a mutual aid fire put his problem-solving skills in overdrive and prompted him to develop a nonelectric light source that could be combined with firefighting equipment, accessories, and safety signage. What began as sales from the trunk of his car evolved into a multi-million-dollar company, but his focus has never wavered from enhancing safety and helping his fellow firefighters. To learn more about Zachary’s company, MN8 Foxfire, and their photoluminescent safety products, visit www.mn8foxfire.com. As always, thank you for listening! If you're enjoying Stories From the Road, please take a minute to support the podcast on Patreon and share it with a friend!Support the Show.
28:47 10/4/22
Paramedic Alexis - "Two Floors Up"
“It draws you in. There’s no other way to explain it – if you’re not an EMS or a first responder, fire, police whatever – it all just draws you in.” – Paramedic Alexis What if you didn’t choose your job? What if it chose you? Alexis wasn’t privy to a lot about what her father dealt with during his 26-year career as a police officer, and what she did know only solidified her belief: she did not want to be a first responder. She was well aware of the job’s inherent dangers and the mental and emotional toll it could take, and she opted to fulfill her desire to help others by becoming a teacher. But when she realized she needed a career change, she found herself – and her purpose – in an EMT class, and after her first shift in an ambulance the rest, she says, is history. Join former firefighter/paramedic and host Phil Klein as he sits down with Paramedic Alexis who discusses how calls affect first responders – but not in the necessarily in the ways they might expect. After being called to the scene of what is initially reported as an infant drowning, Alexis braces for what she assumes will be a swift and difficult emotional response. Instead, she finds the call’s impact to be latent and unpredictable, and she’s left to grapple with some extremely tough lessons very early in her career.Thank you for joining us for this first episode of season four of Stories From the Road! Please take a moment to give the podcast a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. Visit www.storiesfromtheroadpodcast.com for exclusive content, merchandise, and to learn more about being a guest on the show. Support the Show.
31:55 9/27/22