Friday, September 18, 2015

Progress....Follow by the Results From Hitting a Brick Wall

We had a very productive week. After attending to my religious observances, one of my partners, Tom, joined me at a meeting with the Greater Philadelphia Office for Film & Television ( We met with the Executive Director Sharon Pinkenson and her Production Coordinator, Erin Jackson Wagner. They were very cordial and welcoming and are looking forward to the production ramping up. They also are very helpful as they coordinate all the meetings with the necessary departments from the city and the various departments we will be working with. They know their stuff and are very, very good at it! As matter of fact, we closed the meeting my asking for some suggestions for the location scouting we were going to do the next day, and after we explained what we were looking for, they both chipped in with numerous suggestions.

The next day, Tom and I headed out bright and early to visit some parts of the city. Philly is a good-sized city so we decided to find the area that would be most appropriate to the three different active fire scenes that will have to be shot. Reviewing my notes, I have nearly 20 specific areas to consider, but there is one that really stood out. The Film Office will also help us in searching the records for the properties to see which ones might be available for use. We are very lucky to be working with such professionals and I'm sure their guidance will be a major asset to our efforts.

Now, we must concentrate on the work that needs to be done to get ready for the launch of our crowdfunding effort to raise the necessary funds for the shoot. The first thing we have to do is create what is referred to as a "pitch reel" or a "sizzle reel." It is a short video in which we explain why we're making this effort to shoot our pilot episode. We have no more than two minutes to convince a viewer to support our efforts financially. However, don't think that that is the only way for you to help. You can also assist us by telling your friends and family to follow us on Twitter (@DalmatProd). Additionally, if you or someone you know is affiliated with a company that works with the fire-rescue service in any manner, let them know about our efforts. We will be looking for corporate sponsorship in return for promotional consideration in the show. 
Those of you who have been reading our blog regularly know that one of our major concerns and causes is firefighter health and wellness. Sadly, just this week, we lost a 50 year old, battalion chief from South Carolina to a cardiac episode.

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about my neighbor, a 17-year veteran of the fire service and four more with EMS. He was scheduled for a knee replacement and was sent for his pre-op evaluation. During the EKG, the doctor saw an irregularity and told him he had to get his butt over to the office of two "interventional" cardiologists. He was scheduled for a full thalium stress test. The results that showed up were so critical that they stopped the test and had him admitted right away. When all the tests were done, he found out his capacity was at 35%, he had a thickening of atrial wall, had suffered a silent MI and needed a stent immediately. He also found out that he had to put in his disability retirement papers.

Now I don't care who you are. When you are passionate about the job you do and you love to do that job, getting this kind of news is like running into a brick wall. And that is the way it hit him.

I had the chance to chat with him a short while this morning. He's begun the disability paperwork. He's following the doctors' orders, taking his meds and most of all, working hard to lose weight. But he told me that a few weeks ago, he found himself in that "dark place." Some of us know of what he speaks and some of us don't. But we'll just call it a bad depression. Here he was, going great, loving his job at a very busy station, with 17 years under his belt and looking forward to those last three to retire under the Florida state plan. Instead, his entire world collapsed around him. 

The same thing happened to me twenty-three years ago, when I finally had a good job paying me very well and two years into it, I had a backache. Next thing I know, I have two herniated disks, multiple surgeries and am diagnosed with "failed-back syndrome." I was disabled. Once I got past all the surgeries, injections, etc., and I was back home all alone, with my kids in school and my wife already working three jobs, I felt like the biggest loser in the world. True, I had a private disability policy that covered me, however it didn't pay anything near what I had been making before I got hurt. And the worst part was that by now, the doctors concluded that my back was probably damaged when I partially fell through the floor of a burning house during a training program by the State of North Carolina. But it was only a presumption. No way ti prove it, though I did cause me to blow one knee out and that was covered. 

As my neighbor was explaining this to me, I interrupted him for a moment and said, "I know you absolutely hate having to put in your papers, but I'm damned glad you are still here to put them in."

So, what about you? Are you going to make it to retirement?  No one can make any guaranties, but we can do all we can to remain or get ourselves healthy. Please....for your family, for your friends, for yourself, embrace the new Firefighter Health Initiative. 

Thanks for stopping by.....Stay Safe

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