Posted by: medicblog999 | January 2, 2010

Going Home. My last day in San Francisco

CoEMS

A transatlantic flight, 2 SFFD Ambulance shifts, 2 SFFD Engine shifts and some amazing memories to last me a lifetime, and it was finally drawing to a close.

I woke up on my last morning just ready to go. As I’m sure most of you have experienced, no matter what you are doing, if you have been missing home and family, once the trip is almost over, all focus just turns to getting home and seeing loved ones again.

It didn’t make it any easier that my iphone had finally well and truly died last night and so I had no easy way to contact my wife and let her know what was happening. It was also hard getting my head around the time difference and time I was leaving San Francisco – 17.15 today, but would not be arriving back in the Newcastle until 19.00 tomorrow. It seemed like such a long time!

I had one thing to do before finally heading to the airport later in the afternoon. I had to go back to Justin’s home to pick up a gift that Kim had gotten for me before I had arrived. I wanted a Dinosaur toy for Alexander that was impossible to get in the UK, but fairly easy to get in the US, and Kim had kindly agreed to get it for me so that it could go in the pile of gifts from Santa this year.

It worked out quite well anyway as it gave me something to do whilst waiting for the day to pass and for the time to arrive when I would be leaving for the airport.

I had a late checkout arranged at the hotel which turned out to be as useful as a chocolate fireguard. Normal check out was 10.00am, but a late checkout was 11.00am. WOW!!!!

So I packed my bags and left them at the hotel, then headed off to the BART station to jump on the train back up to Justin’s neck of the woods.

He again picked me up at the train station and took me back to his where I had the opportunity to say a proper goodbye to Kim and the girls.

It felt oddly strange to say goodbye to Kim. I realise that she has been just as much a part of this as Justin or my wife Sandra. She has had a really tough week looking after the girls whilst Justin and I were concentrating on our little project, and whilst I was heading back home to see my family again, she was about to lose Justin for another 8 days. I know how hard it had been for Sandra, and I knew it would be tough for her too. But like they say, behind every good man……..!

Justin drove me back to the station with Morgan and Eliza in the back seat. We thought it best to do another quick video journal to say goodbye from San Francisco, so we did this whilst on the way back to the Bart station.

[pro-player width=’530′ height=’253′ type=’video’ image=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw-SN8Z6RXE’%5Dhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw-SN8Z6RXE%5B/pro-player%5D

Justin and I said our ‘see you soon’s’ and then it was off on the train and the start of my Journey home.

I would see Justin again in 48 hours time when he landed in Newcastle, which left me feeling both excited and nervous at the same time. I was really looking forward to showing him a NHS Ambulance service and all of the options that I have in the different ways I can treat and look after my patients. I wasn’t looking forward to him enjoying the North East winter weather!

, and there was always the worry that Newcastle and Gateshead just don’t hold the same excitement factor as San Francisco. I’m pretty sure I know who got the best side of the deal on this trip anyway!!

Once back at the hotel, I was faced with my last challenge of the trip. How the hell was I going to fit everything in the cases? This time I had my now famous helmet to fit in, as well as a bloody big tyrannosaurus Rex, which kept on letting out a mighty roar when it’s back pressed up against anything.

I wonder if that would raise any suspicions going through check in and baggage handling?

I eventually managed to fit them all in then struggled with my bags to the train station again and then I was on my way to the airport.

I managed to have a few glimpses of the city as I was moving away from it, and it was sad to see it move away in the distance.

I don’t want to forget a thing!

That’s part of why I have spent so much time writing these posts. I know some of you may have found them a little long and maybe even boring in parts, but I want to be able to come back to these in years to come and be able to spark memories which may have faded over time.

I have been so lucky to have taken part in this. There have been so many pieces that have slipped into place for this to have been the success it has become and will hopefully go on to be.

I class Justin as a true friend and I feel a connection to his family that I hope we will be able to revisit sometime in the future. I guess it’s like friends you meet whilst on holiday, you always promise to keep in touch and maybe even meet up again sometime in the future, but in the vast majority of cases, you never pick up the phone again or send an email.

I sincerely hope this time it’s different. I would love to be able to go on holiday on year and for both of our families to meet face to face. I know Sandra and Kim would get on amazingly, but I also know that Justin’s and my life would be hell for that week!! One of them alone is a force of nature, can you image the two of them together!! I think the iphones and computers would be banished without any hope of blogging, emailing or tweeting!

I arrived home late the next day. Sandra was still at work and wouldn’t be home for about another two hours. Alexander, my 2 year old (at the time) came into the kitchen to see me, then went over to his Grandma and clung onto her leg and turned away from me. It took him about an hour before he would come anywhere close to me. I guess that was his way of telling me that he was none too pleased that I had left him for 10 days. Josh came bounding into the Kitchen and gave me a big hug and told me how much he had missed me.

Then it started, the first of many times I heard the questions

“So, what was it like?”

How can anyone possibly do it justice? I still cannot say more than

“It was amazing”

To go into any more depth would mean bending someone’s ear for the next hour!

Then eventually, there was a knock at the door and Sandra came in……..I was back home and it felt amazing.

2 days of normality then straight back to it, this time showing Justin around.

You can read Justin’s first post about his trip to the UK at this link. He has just started writing today and is going to chronicle his trip just like I have done mine. I can’t wait to read what he REALLY thought!!

I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it, it has been tough to write so many words at times (Its been 16 posts and approximately  35,000 words), but I am so glad that I have. Although hopefully this is only the start of the Chronicles of EMS, and there will be much more to see and read.

Normal blogging will resume in a couple of days, pop back and see me then!

Ohh, I cant possible leave without showing a photo which sums up the fun that was to be had as well as the serious stuff, and it proves that my charms finally worked on Willa! Who said I would never get a photo of you!

What a amazing Trip - Goodbye San Francisco

What a amazing Trip - Goodbye San Francisco

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Responses

  1. I think I can comment on the lack of permission on the UK side since I am neither an American nor Britisch citizen and living in the Netherlands.. In the past there has been negative publicity regarding the difference in standard between the NHS and the US system (without naming anyone) and without wanting to criticise your system over there, Mark, the NHS has still a long way to go to get anywhere near other European system like for example Skandinavia (which have statistically the best health system IN THE WORLD) although it is hard to compare a system like the NHS which has to care for so many people with not enough fundings to a system in a country the size of Sweden with a population as big as the one of ONE CITY in the UK, London, for example (Sweden has got around nine million people), but still… The NHS would look disgraceful and although your project was probably meant to show similarities as well as advantages and disadvantages in both system, I, as a foreigner from another country who has lived in the US for two years as well as London (for three years) can clearly see it is about a discrepancy here as big as China, no offence.I still love your blog and the project very much though, well done you! :-)Whenever I see Justin and his photogenic appearances I have to think of Neil Flynn, the “Janitor” in “SCRUBS”, he looks so much like him LOLGreetings from Amsterdam, Lisa 🙂

  2. Hi Lisa,Thanks for the comment and your view point. I do however, see things slightly different from you. I am incredibly proud of the NHS and what we achieve for our patients. I dont, by any stretch of the imagination think that we are anywhere close to perfect, but I think in general our patients get a pretty good service. Speaking personally and through watching members of my family go through the health care system, I have never had more than a slight gripe at the service that has been offered, and in those cases it was down to individual staff rather than the system as a whole anyway.I am also aware that Scandinavia has a pretty good prehospital health care system too, but obviously I have no experience on which to compare anything…..yet!!…Maybe we could come with the Chronicles team at some point in the future???As for the horror stories that come out about the NHS, they do occur, but very very infrequently and are likely to be found in any health care country in the world, however that is the whole point of 'The Project', to get out there and see first hand what its like in various countries and try to make things better.Lets see what Justin has to say over at happymedic.com over the next couple of weeks!As for the lack of permission, this is all to do with social media and the inherent fear that some organisations have of it. Im sure that will change will time, then hopefully, you and many others will be able to see the truth about the NHS. North East Ambulance has always been willing to be shown on TV, as can be seen in my involvement as one of the main paramedics followed around for 2 series of the TV show 'Emergency'.I know I am sounding a tad defensive, and maybe thats because I am feeling that way, but I just honestly dont think that the discrepancy is really THAT big at all.Thanks again!

  3. I think I can comment on the lack of permission on the UK side since I am neither an American nor Britisch citizen and living in the Netherlands.. In the past there has been negative publicity regarding the difference in standard between the NHS and the US system (without naming anyone) and without wanting to criticise your system over there, Mark, the NHS has still a long way to go to get anywhere near other European system like for example Skandinavia (which have statistically the best health system IN THE WORLD) although it is hard to compare a system like the NHS which has to care for so many people with not enough fundings to a system in a country the size of Sweden with a population as big as the one of ONE CITY in the UK, London, for example (Sweden has got around nine million people), but still… The NHS would look disgraceful and although your project was probably meant to show similarities as well as advantages and disadvantages in both system, I, as a foreigner from another country who has lived in the US for two years as well as London (for three years) can clearly see it is about a discrepancy here as big as China, no offence.I still love your blog and the project very much though, well done you! :-)Whenever I see Justin and his photogenic appearances I have to think of Neil Flynn, the “Janitor” in “SCRUBS”, he looks so much like him LOLGreetings from Amsterdam, Lisa 🙂

  4. Hi Lisa,Thanks for the comment and your view point. I do however, see things slightly different from you. I am incredibly proud of the NHS and what we achieve for our patients. I dont, by any stretch of the imagination think that we are anywhere close to perfect, but I think in general our patients get a pretty good service. Speaking personally and through watching members of my family go through the health care system, I have never had more than a slight gripe at the service that has been offered, and in those cases it was down to individual staff rather than the system as a whole anyway.I am also aware that Scandinavia has a pretty good prehospital health care system too, but obviously I have no experience on which to compare anything…..yet!!…Maybe we could come with the Chronicles team at some point in the future???As for the horror stories that come out about the NHS, they do occur, but very very infrequently and are likely to be found in any health care country in the world, however that is the whole point of 'The Project', to get out there and see first hand what its like in various countries and try to make things better.Lets see what Justin has to say over at happymedic.com over the next couple of weeks!As for the lack of permission, this is all to do with social media and the inherent fear that some organisations have of it. Im sure that will change will time, then hopefully, you and many others will be able to see the truth about the NHS. North East Ambulance has always been willing to be shown on TV, as can be seen in my involvement as one of the main paramedics followed around for 2 series of the TV show 'Emergency'.I know I am sounding a tad defensive, and maybe thats because I am feeling that way, but I just honestly dont think that the discrepancy is really THAT big at all.Thanks again!

  5. You know this is and was a chance for a couple awesome medics to meet, learn and live a little of one another's lives and countries as they learn about the systems and how they work elsewhere in the world….Why must it be turned into a debate over health care systems ? There are problems and issues with them all , and all of them have the occasional horror story attached to them. No one system is perfect, and I just didn't think that was what this whole experience was about anyway. I have truly loved following the blogs etc and look forward to reading thehappymedics experiences as well. What an awesome chance for them both and what friendships and memories they shall always have. Let's not turn it into some debate that could have millions of opinions and beliefs ……… I think the project is awesome and am sooooooo lookin forward now to “the other side “*hugs*

  6. Well said about the NHS Mark. Obviously the service could be better, and a lot of the extra cash that has gone into the NHS has not hit the right spots. However, how many ambulance services in the world have the 8-minute target the ambulance service has? It's OK if you have a couple of crews (or more) to each 1½ square miles (US miles at that!) but I don't expect that they reach 75% within 8 miutes out in the boonies.Of course we'd like to be better. However, I had a chest pain call the other day. Within five minutes the patient was on O2 (no reading on the pulseox but his lips were a bit cyanosed) and within another 10-12 minutes he was on the ambulance, STEMI having been diagnosed (even I could see that on the ECG – from across the room) and was about to be thrombolysed.Incidentally, what's wrong with Newcastle/Gateshead? 12/10 for nightlife and a series of bridges across the Tyne that would make anywhere proud. I really like the High Level but Tyne Bridge is just wonderful. The “Winking Eye” really showed London how to build a bridge for the millenium celebrations. Lovely Victorian architecture too if you're into that – as I am (I was born just outside Manchester).

  7. Hi Shelly, whilst I agree with you about the expeiences that both Justin and I shared and what a truly memorable experience it was, the lofty goal is actually to compare whole systems and ask the difficult questions, which is why I do appreicate comments from all of my readers, especially those who sometimes dont see things in the same light that I might.If funding was no option, then I know that the ultimate end point for the Chronicles of EMS would be a round the world trip with a conclusion pulling together all of the best practices and systems that we have seen on our travels and imagining what a 'worlds best ems system would be like!

  8. Well said about the NHS Mark. Obviously the service could be better, and a lot of the extra cash that has gone into the NHS has not hit the right spots. However, how many ambulance services in the world have the 8-minute target the ambulance service has? It's OK if you have a couple of crews (or more) to each 1½ square miles (US miles at that!) but I don't expect that they reach 75% within 8 miutes out in the boonies.Of course we'd like to be better. However, I had a chest pain call the other day. Within five minutes the patient was on O2 (no reading on the pulseox but his lips were a bit cyanosed) and within another 10-12 minutes he was on the ambulance, STEMI having been diagnosed (even I could see that on the ECG – from across the room) and was about to be thrombolysed.Incidentally, what's wrong with Newcastle/Gateshead? 12/10 for nightlife and a series of bridges across the Tyne that would make anywhere proud. I really like the High Level but Tyne Bridge is just wonderful. The “Winking Eye” really showed London how to build a bridge for the millenium celebrations. Lovely Victorian architecture too if you're into that – as I am (I was born just outside Manchester).

  9. Hi Shelly, whilst I agree with you about the expeiences that both Justin and I shared and what a truly memorable experience it was, the lofty goal is actually to compare whole systems and ask the difficult questions, which is why I do appreicate comments from all of my readers, especially those who sometimes dont see things in the same light that I might.If funding was no option, then I know that the ultimate end point for the Chronicles of EMS would be a round the world trip with a conclusion pulling together all of the best practices and systems that we have seen on our travels and imagining what a 'worlds best ems system would be like!

  10. Mark, I really appreciate the humility and gratitude you express about this experience. Good things happy to good people.

  11. Meant to write, “good things happen to good people.”

  12. Mark, I really appreciate the humility and gratitude you express about this experience. Good things happy to good people.

  13. Meant to write, “good things happen to good people.”


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