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City Life

Read With US: CITY LIFE – a book by Michael Morse – Ch. 5

by Michael Morse, contributing writer, excerpts from his book, City Life

Take a breathtaking ride ride along with emergency responders.

Rescue Lieutenant Michael Morse brings you into the homes, minds and hearts of the people who live in one of America’s oldest and most diverse cities. He takes you along for a breathtaking ride as he responds to emergencies that can be heartwarming, hilarious—and sometimes tragic. From the profound to the absurd, from challenging situations to total disbelief, it’s all simply a day at work for our firefighters, EMTs and police officers

Chapter 5

Code Red

“Engine 11 to fire alarm, we have a smoke condition.” Miles could have been ordering a pizza from the sound of his voice, but everybody responding to Calla Street knew better. This was a working occupied house fire. Engine 11 arrived on scene and confirmed it.

“Code Red!” All companies responding to the fire had a job to do. The second arriving engine was responsible for the water supply. The first due ladder company needed to “get the roof.” The third engine backed up Engine 11 and the second ladder started a primary search. Special Hazards did whatever the situation dictated and Division 1, the chief, was the incident commander. Rescue 1 arrived and established the EMS sector and waited for victims. Thankfully everybody got out of the house.

Seven or eight family members huddled together outside and watched their home burn. Renato got some blankets and handed them to the shivering people, a small comfort but one I’m sure was greatly appreciated. The fire started in a rear first-floor stairway and had reached the third floor by the time somebody noticed smoke and called 911. It spread fast and ended up in the loft. We had the stubborn blaze under control in about thirty minutes. Salvage covers were brought in to cover the family’s valuables from further damage. When the smoke cleared they were allowed back into their home to collect some things, then the American Red Cross provided them with emergency lodging and food. There are hundreds of similar incidents every year in Providence.

Not Easy

It looked like he was walking under water. His frustration was obvious, the cause was not. They walked together toward the rescue, an attractive couple in their late twenties. She moved gracefully, taking her fluid movements for granted, as most of us do. He fought for every step he took.

“What’s wrong?” I asked when he finally made it to the truck and sat on the bench seat.

“I can’t move very well and my head feels heavy,” he responded in a deadpan voice.

“Do you have any pain, especially near the eyes?”

“My left eye hurts and my vision is a little blurry,” he answered me.

“How long have you felt like this?”

“This time, about two days. I’m worried it’s getting worse.”

“Do you take any medications?”

“Not now, but I was taking Copaxone until it made me sick.”

“Were the daily injections the problem or the medication itself?”

“I think it was the medication,” he answered, interested in my questions now.

“Have you tried Avonex or any of the other medications?” I asked.

“I don’t like the side effects.”

“When were you diagnosed?” I asked.

“Two years ago. You are the first person other than my doctor who knows what I’m talking about,” he told me. We talked during the trip to the hospital about his disease, multiple sclerosis. His frustration had more to do with being misunderstood than his symptoms.

“My wife’s family thinks I’m lazy. My friends think I should work out more. I think I’m going crazy,” he told me. He was in the process of being hired as a Providence police officer when his symptoms began. First he felt strange tingling sensations. Then pain in his eye and blurry vision. Next was the fatigue.

That was the worst part, he said. “I can’t do a thing without being exhausted. I feel like a burden to my wife. Thank God for her, she has been great.”

I did my best to give him something to be optimistic about but found it difficult to do. MS is a dreadful disease. His wife met us in the ER. I wished them well before going back to the truck; let them know that though it is a struggle, living with MS can bring them closer together. They appeared to have what it takes to survive the long, hard years ahead of them. As we drove away from the ER, I called Cheryl, my wife, and asked how she was feeling.

Serenity

I had lunch on Thayer Street, whole-wheat crust pizza with fresh mozzarella and plum tomatoes, and a ginger ale. The peaceful sound of a saxophone drifted through the rescue’s windows. Sixty degrees on January 5. For almost twenty minutes we relaxed until an intoxicated male at a pay phone needed medical assistance.

Thirty Minutes

The usual suspects were in the empty lot at 1035 Broad Street, pointing toward the corner where Junior sat. He was slumped on the curb, obviously intoxicated. We had been dispatched to this corner for an intoxicated male. Thirty seconds before we arrived on scene, somebody else called from a few blocks up with chest pain. Rescue 2 was coming from Hartford Avenue, six or seven minutes away.

“Let’s see what’s up the street,” I said to Renato. We rolled past Junior to check on the chest pain. Inside a storefront was a guy about my age clutching his chest. I keyed the mic.

“Rescue 1 to fire alarm, we’re diverting to 1089 Broad for the chest pain. Have Rescue 2 continue to 1035 Broad for the intoxicated male.”

“Roger, Rescue 1. Rescue 2 receive?”

“2 received.”

We helped the guy clutching his chest into the rescue. Steve, from Engine 10, started an IV while Renato ran an EKG. I got the guy’s information from his brother, who stood in the doorway of the rescue as we worked. Forty-five years old, no medical history, doesn’t take any meds, has no allergies, no illegal drug use or alcohol. He was sitting down writing something when the chest pain began. 158/94, pulse 86, pain scale 10/10, radiating up the left arm toward the jaw.

“I’ve got a line,” said Steve. I gave the patient 325 milligrams of baby aspirin to chew, then a nitro tab to slip under his tongue. The initial four lead EKG showed some ST elevation. I waited for the results of the twelve lead. Renato read it out loud.

“Anterior wall myocardial infarct. You guys ready?”

He gave me the printout, then left the back to drive to Rhode Island Hospital. I called the triage desk en route. Leigh was waiting when we got there.

“Trauma Room 3,” she said and led the way down the busy corridor. Dr. MacGreggor was in the room waiting along with Maggie. I told the doctor the story while Leigh and Maggie started another line and pushed the meds that the doctor ordered. Rob ran another EKG, which was identical to our findings. Thirty minutes from the time the patient felt the beginning of his heart attack he was in the cath lab. Everybody involved played a major role in saving the patients life. Even Junior, who got us going.

Madness

She sat on the stretcher in the back of the rig, a beautiful one-year-old with an air of royalty about her. She looked like the Queen of Sheba as she captivated her subjects: myself, her grandmother, and Danielle, my partner for the night.

It was the baby’s birthday. During the party, she managed to get into a roll of toilet paper. When she grew tired of playing with it, she ate it. The grandmother saw that she was choking, tried in vain to clear the airway but couldn’t. Somebody called 911. I had just arrived at the ambulance bay at Rhode Island Hospital when I heard the call.

“Engine 12, respond to 919 Douglas Avenue for an infant with an obstructed airway.”

They didn’t send a Providence rescue because we were all busy on other runs, as is often the case. Mutual aid companies respond to Providence thousands of times every year due to a dangerous shortage of rescues in the capital city. Six rescues handle calls from a city with an official population of 175,000 but is much more populous than that. Fortunately, I was able to clear the hospital quickly.

“Rescue 1 to fire alarm, clearing Rhode Island, we can handle Douglas.”

“Roger, Rescue 1 at 1835.”

Captain Morrocco gave Engine 12’s report three minutes later.

“Engine 12 to fire alarm, advise rescue a one-year-old infant, airway was clogged but now is clear, respond Code C.”

Just what I wanted to hear. We slowed to a reasonable speed and arrived on scene. I had released Engine 12 and was in back doing vitals on the queen when the side door opened suddenly and a man entered, screaming at the grandmother. He was out of control, slamming his fists on the roof while continuing his tirade. I stood from my seat and literally pushed him out the door. He continued his verbal assault on anybody who would listen, eventually venting his anger on the baby’s uncle who was standing near the rescue.

“Rescue 1 to fire alarm, have the police and Engine 12 respond here.”

“Do you have a nature?”

“Assault in progress outside the rescue.”

I put the mic down and watched the man punching the side of the house we were parked in front of. He then ripped a drainpipe from the side of the house and began to walk back toward the rescue. I heard Engine 12’s siren in the distance and could only hope they got to the scene before things got out of control. They did. The guy with the drainpipe stayed where he was as the four firefighters got out of their truck and came toward the rescue. I unlocked the door when Captain Morrocco knocked and told him what was going on. By that time, three police cruisers had arrived and had the guy with the drainpipe in custody.

It turns out that he was the little girl’s father. Somebody had him on his cell phone and was telling him that his daughter was choking to death. He was fired up when he got to the scene. Ten minutes later everything was back to normal. The father wasn’t arrested, the baby wasn’t choking, the engine was back at the station, and I was doing my report. It was difficult to articulate what I believed to be an unsafe situation for the one-year-old girl without knowing all of the circumstances. If I have to come back to this address, I hope it’s not because the baby is injured.

Some of us are held responsible for our actions.

Delivery

The Baby Jesus was coming but there was a delay. The mom had a diabetic emergency on the day she was to deliver. Her blood sugar level dropped to 26. Her family tried to get her to drink some orange juice with sugar but it only dribbled down her chin.

Engine 12 was first on scene. Lieutenant McCoart gave me his report when we arrived.

“Thirty-six years old, full-term maternity, diabetic with low glucose. Her family found her in bed unresponsive and soaked with sweat.”

Renato got the stair chair from the back and I took the blue bag. The patient lay in bed, semiconscious in a bedroom at the top of the second-floor stairs. Three generations of caregivers surrounded her—her sister, her mother, and one of her daughters who was around ten.

“She managed to drink a little juice but she is still out of it,” said her sister. Renato got a box of glucagon from the blue bag. Two vials were inside. He opened one containing 1 mg of solution, extracted it with a 3 ml syringe and a 22-gauge needle, then injected that into the other vial which contained the dry medication. He mixed the solution, sterilized an area on the patient’s upper arm, and injected the medicine into her triceps muscle.

“Does she take any medications?” I asked the sister.

“Insulin, morning and night. She is also taking prenatal vitamins.”

“Are there any complications with the pregnancy?”

“They are inducing labor today. She is having a boy, the first one in the family!”

I looked at all of the women in the room and thought how lucky the newborn baby was going to be. Spoiled rotten, I’m sure, but surrounded by adoring sisters, aunts, and grandmothers.

Our patient began regaining consciousness. She looked surprised when her eyes focused and she saw a room full of family and firefighters. After a few minutes we loaded her into the truck and transported her to Women and Infants, where she will stay until the delivery. I’m sure the family will be ready when the mother and son return.

Fathers

“You don’t look depressed,” I said to her as I walked past her and followed her counselor into the kitchen of the group home. She gave a hairy eyeball, directed at the counselor I’m sure, then walked to the rescue with Andrea, my partner for the day. Two counselors, not much older than my patient, gathered the necessary paperwork for an interagency transfer.

“She’s all yours,” said one.

“What’s the problem?” I asked.

“She won’t eat, says she is depressed and suicidal. She’s also two months pregnant.”

“How old is she?”

“Sixteen.”

I took the papers and joined the girls in the truck. Andrea left the back to drive to Hasbro Children’s Hospital, leaving me alone with a pregnant, sullen, suicidal sixteen-year-old. As the group home shrank from view through the rear windows, my patient visibly relaxed.

“What’s going on?” I asked Alexandria.

“I’m hungry and they won’t feed me. I’m eating for two and if my baby dies, I’m suing them. All I want is some candy. It’s my candy and they won’t let me have it. I can’t eat the shit they call food. They want me to eat stinking round pizza. My boyfriend said he would bring ice cream but they won’t let him. Them stupid bitches, I’m going to sue them and everybody they know if my baby dies.”

“Besides that, what’s going on?” I asked. She looked at me for the first time. She looked afraid.

“I don’t want to stay there.”

“How long have you been there?”

“Since Tuesday.”

“Did you come from foster care or home?”

“Home. I want to go back.”

The rescue stopped suddenly.

“What’s going on?” I asked Andrea.

“I don’t know but two motorcycle cops have shut down the highway. They’re trying to rush us through.”

Once we got past the barricade, Alexandria and I unbuckled our seat belts and hunched by the rear windows, trying to see what was going on.

“Slow down,” I asked Andrea. She stopped the truck on the exit ramp. We all watched as a procession of state, local, and federal police drove past us. I’d never seen such an impressive procession.

“Who do you think it is?” Alexandria asked.

“I don’t know, some big shot. Maybe the president. Andrea, back up a little, I want to see better,” I shouted over my shoulder to the front.

“You can back up on the highway?” Alexandria asked, impressed now.

“Of course, we’re Rescue 1. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Hell no!” she answered.

Andrea backed up about one hundred feet so we could see better. After about thirty police cars and motorcycles, a hearse came into view. Alexandria asked if I knew who died. I didn’t. I asked her if she knew who it was. She didn’t. We watched the endless procession drive down Interstate 95.

“They’re probably heading toward the Veterans Cemetery,” I said. “My father is buried there too.”

She just looked out the rear windows as we got going. I wondered what she was thinking. When I checked her in at the triage desk at Hasbro, I told the nurse her story, adding that although she was trouble at the group home, I found her to be rather pleasant.

“It’s the culture,” the nurse said. “She won’t be very nice to me, I’m sure. I’ll remind her of her mother.”

I wonder if Alexandria has a father who cares. Maybe her situation wouldn’t be so dire if there was a responsible man in her life.

Stay in Narragansett

Every time his girlfriend started to speak he yelled, “Shut up!” She was sobbing next to their car, a new BMW with considerable front-end damage. Dave, the lieutenant on Engine 7, stood to the side observing. The guy asked Dave something and Dave apparently didn’t respond the way he liked.

Dave, not shy by any means, stood looking at the guy with his arms crossed. I was impressed with his restraint. The guy who crashed his car went on and on spewing some nonsense about how much he hates Providence, how we were a bunch of punks, and how he wished he was back in Narragansett with his $500,000 home. His girlfriend spoke up, trying to talk sense into the moron.

“Shut up,” he screamed at her. Neither was hurt in the accident. I had her sign a refusal form, clearing the Providence Fire Department and myself from liability should the lovely couple from Narragansett sober up, consult their attorney, and decide to include us in their lawsuit. The guy was continuing his drivel about the morons who interrupted his perfect night by allowing him to crash his car into the bridge abutment at Memorial and College Streets.

I truly don’t know how Dave refrained from clobbering this guy. I made one attempt to have him sign the refusal; he was behaving like a five-year-old. No problem. I wrote up the report, stated the intoxicated person refused to be treated or transported, and refused to sign the refusal. We left him with his girlfriend, the cops, and the tow truck. I hope his girlfriend smartens up before it is too late.

Saviors

The stairs were spongy, soft and dark. I used the Maglite Captain Healy gave me for Christmas to light the narrow passageway.

“I’ve never seen him like this,” said a sixteen-year-old boy who led us up the stairway into the third-floor apartment. The place was clean, tiny, and barely furnished. The front room served as the boy’s bedroom. A small cot occupied one corner, an old TV another. No big-screen, stereo, or fancy things, just bare necessities.

We walked through the kitchen toward the bedroom. There, a fiftyish man lay on his back, soaked with sweat. A bowl of uneaten pork was next to his bed, which was actually a twin mattress with clean sheets laying on the floor. The boy was a wreck.

“He won’t answer me, he can’t get up, I didn’t know what to do,” he said, concern for his dad obvious.

“Has he been drinking?” I asked.

“He had some E&J brandy,” the boy told us. “But he doesn’t get drunk. He’s not a bum, he works seven days a week. He doesn’t have any medical problems, no medications or allergies,” he told us when asked.

The kid was near tears as he watched me and Jeff try to wake the guy up. It was six in the morning, my twenty-ninth run since I showed up for work thirty-seven hours ago. I honestly didn’t think I would be able to carry him down the stairs to the rescue. The frustration having to cater to the endless flood of needless 911 calls takes its toll eventually. Unfortunately, the people who need and deserve first-rate medical care delivered in a professional way are the ones who suffer when the people they called for help show up at their door exhausted and cynical. Thankfully, Jeff took over.

“I’ll get the chair,” he said and left the apartment. I tried again to wake up the patient enough so we could help him down the stairs. No luck. The guy was incapable. Jeff came back with the chair and set it up, the war of wills lost. Somehow I mustered the energy to carry the guy down the rickety, dark stairs and into the rescue. We did some vitals and found the problem. His glucose level was 34.

I told the kid what we were doing as we started the IV and administered an amp D-50 and 100 mg of thiamine. As the medication took effect, the patient improved considerably. The son held his father’s hand as he regained consciousness. The simple act of kindness between father and son made me forget all the nonsense, the drunks, morons from Narragansett, and abuse.

To witness such an act of grace between two people I initially dismissed as just more work in an endless shift was the greatest gift I can remember receiving.

Sinking

“Do you have any idea when he took the pills?” I asked his son once we had the patient in the rescue.

“My aunt called around six and said I had better get home, something wasn’t right,” he replied. “Is he going to be okay?”

“He’ll be fine,” I said confidently. “Worse case scenario they’ll have to pump his stomach.”

I wanted to reassure the man’s son, who was in his early twenties. They lived in a nice house in the Mount Pleasant section of the city. Pictures of Boston sports stars decorated the place, not much sign of a female presence.

“Has he ever done anything like this before?” I asked.

“Never. He drinks a little and has been depressed for a few weeks but he has been getting help. His girlfriend left him last month but he has been doing better.”

“Are you coming with us?” I asked.

“I’ll follow in my car.”

“Why don’t you meet us at the hospital, he’ll be fine.” I didn’t want him following the rescue. Bad things tend to happen when people do that.

“Don’t worry, take your time,” I said, closing the rear doors of the rescue as he watched his father lie on the stretcher. The guys from Engine 15 were getting vital signs and starting an IV. The patient, who had walked with help from his house to the rescue, was now unconscious, BP 90/55 with a pulse of 110, pulsox 90 percent. His pupils were pinpoint, respirations shallow, 14 per minute.

“He’s going downhill,” I stated the obvious. I drew 2 mg of Narcan and had Henry push it through the IV line. It didn’t do any good at all.

“I need a driver.”

Jeff and I stayed in back while Henry drove toward Rhode Island Hospital with Engine 15 following. A seemingly routine call was going bad. Jeff got the bag-valve device set up while I drew two more milligrams of Narcan.

Another BP, 86/40. I looked at the bag of empty medication bottles. Tenormin, Coumadin, Klonopin, and Seroquel. The Narcan was ineffective, his respirations sinking and his BP dropping. I called RIH triage and gave them the report, ETA three minutes. There was nothing more I could do for now. I thought of getting the ET kit ready but didn’t have time to intubate. I wish I hadn’t been so nonchalant with his son.

At the hospital the medical team stood ready in Trauma Room 1. They gave more Narcan, assisted ventilations, then intubated. The man’s son arrived as I was walking out. I didn’t know what to say to him.

Huh?

She had a pain in the neck so she called 911.

“When did the pain begin?” I asked.

“About an hour after I got home from surgery.”

“When was the surgery?”

“Yesterday.”

“What was the surgery for?”

“Neck pain.”

“Do you take any medications?”

“I have a prescription but I haven’t filled it yet.”

“What is the prescription for?”

“Pain.”

Water

I was watching Saving Private Ryan when my phone rang. It was my brother, Bob, calling from Iraq. I hadn’t heard from him in around two weeks. He was “on a mission.”

We talked for a while, pretended things were normal for a few minutes. When that got old, we talked about his situation. Grim, he acknowledged. Not much more can be said, but grim. He misses his wife and kids. We miss him. He’s back at his base, the plywood walls of his quarters welcome after two weeks on the road. Baghdad is especially disturbing, he said. Two weeks through hell to transport water.

When I hung up I tried to watch the rest of the movie. When we were kids we would spend Saturday afternoons watching war movies on an old TV in our basement. I must be getting old and soft; I could barely focus on the screen through my blurred vision.

I wiped my eyes with my sleeve and turned the TV off.

Game Over

“Think he’ll mind if we change the channel?”

“He’s dead.”

“It doesn’t feel right.”

“It is the AFC Championship.”

“Right.”

“I don’t want to touch the TV, it’s all sticky.”

“How do you know, you haven’t touched it.”

“You’ve got gloves on.”

“I’ll do it.”

We watched the end of the second half with a dead thirty-year-old guy. He was shirtless, kneeling with his swollen purple face pressed against the filthy linoleum. Cockroaches watched us from the ceiling as we waited for a police sergeant to clear the scene. An empty syringe lay on a bureau, next to a hot plate. His last meal sat at the bottom of the pan, rice, beans, and roaches, hours old. We forgot about the dead guy and focused on the game. My skin was crawling when the sergeant showed up. I told him my time on scene, now officially the time of death, and left.

Too Late?

“Yeah, and I’m a rookie.”

“I’m telling you, I didn’t do any heroin.”

“What are these?” I held up four syringes filled with a murky brown liquid.

“Heroin, but I didn’t do any.”

“Why are your pupils pinpoints?”

“I’ve been smoking crack since yesterday.” He held up a rock and a glass pipe as proof.

“What’s the heroin for?”

“In case I need to calm down.”

“This much will probably kill you.”

“I wasn’t going to do it all at once.”

I emptied the syringes and disposed of the sharps. He sat on the bench seat as we rode to Rhode Island Hospital. I couldn’t leave him to drive the car we found him in so we left it in a hotel parking lot. He fidgeted as we drove; I asked him what the hell he was doing.

“I was clean for seven months, had a fight with my girlfriend a couple of days ago and kind of lost my mind.”

“You’re going to be back on the streets in a few hours. Why don’t you get yourself to an NA meeting before it’s too late.”

“It’s already too late.”

“It’s never too late.”

We walked into the ER together. I hope he takes my advice and gets back on track and doesn’t smoke the crack I forgot to take away from him.

Appreciation

He thought it was all his fault. His wife was on the stretcher, cervical collar in place and lying immobilized on the long backboard. Shattered glass covered her coat, mixed with spatters of blood, magnifying the effect. She was dazed but not critical. Her husband, injured himself, refused to be treated. He needed to take care of his wife. I understood.

They held hands in back of the rescue. He was getting in the way so we worked around him. Blood pressure first, some oxygen, an IV. I shined my light into her eyes and saw her pupils react properly. The three-inch laceration on the back of her head had been treated by John, from Engine 7. I’m sure he has seen much worse during his deployment in Iraq at the start of the war, though he never says much about it.

The ride to Rhode Island Hospital was short. The accident happened on  I-95 in front of the exit ramp to the ER. My guess is somebody in a pickup truck missed the exit, stopped in the travel lane to back up, and was struck by the couple now in my rescue. They never had a chance. I told the man he did a great job avoiding what could and should have been two fatalities. He continued to blame himself, thinking he should have been able to avoid the truck.

They had been driving to their home in Coventry, about ten miles down the highway, when everything stopped. He told me his wife screamed “Look out,” and he only had an instant to react. An eighteen-wheeler was on his right, another car on his left. He did all he could do.

His midsized car crashed into the back of the pickup on an angle toward the right front side. Had he swerved into the eighteen-wheeler, they would have been crushed. Had he swerved into the other car, they probably would have spun out and rolled over. In my fifteen years on the fire department, I have seen a lot of people killed in the exact spot their accident occurred.

Perhaps these two were lucky; maybe fate was on their side. I say the guy reacted perfectly in a bad situation and saved his wife’s life.

“Get off the cross, we need the wood,” I told him as we backed into the rescue bay at the ER.

Throughout the night and into the next morning I talked to the man. His wife was out of the trauma room and in critical care. Every time I brought another patient in, our paths would cross. He couldn’t thank me enough. I told him I didn’t do anything anybody else would have done but he refused to believe me.

“You did what they would do,” he said, “but you put all of your heart into it.” He introduced me to his family who straggled in as the long night went on. I was a bit embarrassed by the attention.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate it.

Sisters

Sister One left her three kids with Sister Two and went to Boston to stay with her boyfriend for the week. On Friday night she decided she wanted her kids with her. After partying for a while she showed up at Sister Two’s house, drunk. The kids and Sister Two were not there. They were in Olneyville; Sister Two wanted to give the kids a treat, so she rounded them up and went to get wieners at two thirty in the morning. When Sister One found her kids missing she got mad. Really mad. When Sister Two came back at three in the morning with the kids, Sister One attacked her, stabbing her in the face five times. The cops were called but Sister Two didn’t press charges, so they sent the kids home with Sister One. Sister Two called 911 for a rescue.

That is where I came into the fray.

When I showed up, Sister One was gone with the kids and Sister Two was waiting for us on her front steps. Her wounds were not life threatening but would leave scars. She had a puncture wound under her nose on the left side of her face, one under her lip on the right side, another two on her forehead, and one on top of her head for good measure. She ranted and raved about the bitch that is her sister as we rode to the ER. I only heard Sister Two’s story. I’m sure Sister One sees things completely differently. I’m also sure that the kids have seen too much already.

Thirty Years

I’ve been playing guitars since I was fourteen. I’ve almost got the Aerosmith song “Same Old Song and Dance” down. It was the first song I tried to learn, and I’ve been working on it for thirty years.

One day at the station, my friend Jeff asked me to teach him a few chords. I showed him some easy ones: D, C, Am, G.

“Learn those and get back to me,” I said, then forgot about it.

Last week, I was trying to learn a Foo Fighters song, “Times Like These.” The chords looked pretty easy. Days into it, Jeff came into my office.

“You might be able to play this,” I said to him, thinking it would be difficult but not impossible for him to play. He picked up my guitar and went to the dorm. Less than an hour later he returned, sat down and played the song, start to finish, and sang the verses.

The best I can do is hum along to “Wild Thing” while switching two chords. I wanted to throw the guitar out the window. Thirty years is a long time. When I got home I went to my basement, plugged in, and let some hideous noise loose from my Ibanez Les Paul (lawsuit model 1976).

Thirty years, three chords. Rock on!

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Chapter 4

Chapter 3

Chapter 2

Chapter 1

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RINewsToday

Michael Morse, mmorsepfd@aol.com, a monthly contributor is a retired Captain with the Providence Fire Department

Michael Morse spent 23 years as a firefighter/EMT with the Providence Fire Department before retiring in 2013 as Captain, Rescue Co. 5. He is an author of several books, most offering fellow firefighter/EMTs and the general population alike a poignant glimpse into one person’s journey through life, work and hope for the future. He is a Warwick resident.

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