13Qs with Happy Medic Blogger Justin Schorr

We couldn’t interview Motorcop, co-founder of Kilted to Kick Cancer, without interviewing his partner-in-good, the Happy Medic (aka Justin Schorr). A high-profile blogger in the world of Fire, Rescue and Paramedicine, Justin is one of those guys that you just can’t help but like. A second-generation firefighter, Justin has been serving in San Francisco since 2002, and worked previously in New Mexico as a firefighter and EMT. We recently sat down with Justin to ask him 13 questions to learn a little bit more about how “Happy Medic” came to be.

How did you first get involved in fire, rescue and paramedicine?

Since my dad was a fireman I was encouraged to join the local Boy Scout Explorer post.  My first meeting was the day before my 16th birthday and I was hooked.  As a basic EMT I was frustrated I had to always call for help so I studied for my EMT-Intermediate.  Still unable to do everything for my patients I realized Paramedic School was needed.

What made you want to start a blog?

An injury at a fire in 2007 left me frustrated, confused and with a touch of PTSD.  I started a blog instead of writing a diary and it heals me. 

How is your blog different from other Fire and EMS-related blogs?

I avoid politics and try to focus on either having a good laugh to blow off stress or striving to improve Emergency Medical Services.

What do you find most challenging about blogging about your topic?

Maintaining patient privacy and the PERCEPTION that I am respecting patient privacy is hard to balance with sharing actual useful information.  In order to ensure everyone thinks I’m doing what I’m doing I have to change so many details the original story isn’t recognizable even to the patient themselves.

What’s the most bizarre situation you have ever been in?

I’ve been in quite a few odd spots over the years and often get this question at gatherings when people find out I’m a paramedic in

San Francisco.  The most bizarre situation I was ever in was on the Reservation in New Mexico. A large brush fire was burning along the river near a restricted tribal area.  This tribe had not been moved to a reservation, this was their original land and some areas are off limits to non-tribals.  Non-tribal firefighters were not allowed in the area near the river and the terrain was rough, so only the local volunteer tribal firefighters were sent to protect the sacred areas as the large fire passed along the river.  We got a radio call later in the evening from them on the radio that their pumper had stalled and they needed a jump-start.  I volunteered to drive the command vehicle down and jump-start their rig and get out as fast as I could.  The dirt road was uneven and wound down from the mesa and came to a fork.  Completely unsure of where to go I tried calling the tribals on the radio but the radio didn’t work.  A dog wandered out of the thick trees along the road and began to trot down one of the roads.  As he left the range of the headlights of the command vehicle, I decided to follow him.  “Why not?” was my thought and it paid off as I came around a corner and saw the disabled engine and the locals.  I got out and mentioned the dog, suddenly noticing it was gone.  Each of them turned, silent, and asked me to repeat what I had just said.  One of them removed a recently lit cigarette from his mouth, ground it out in the dirt and looked at the almost invisible treetops as if he was being watched.  They told me quietly to get back in the truck and leave immediately.  I thought it was a joke at first, but the Assistant Chief, someone who never lied and scolded others for playing tricks and jokes approached me and told me it wasn’t a dog and I needed to leave. Still freaks me out to this day.

If you could build the ultimate sandwich, what would it be?

Salami, bologna, ham, veggies, pepper jack cheese, oil, vinegar, seasoning and spicy mustard on ciabatta.

What is one interesting fact most people wouldn’t know about you?

I used to work in a restaurant making tortillas.

Tell us about an unforgettable day in your career.

Coming to my senses, realizing I was no longer fighting a fire, but in the back of an ambulance. A section of ceiling had fallen 30 feet onto me and rung my bell pretty good.  It was this injury that led to the blog.

Who helped and supported you to be the person who you are now?

My wife.  She sat next to a near burned out EMT of only 3 years and convinced him to make something of himself.

What are your favorite industry websites and why?

I follow fellow providers and retired providers such as Firegeezer and AmbulanceDriver.  Many of the industry websites are overcrowded.

What inspired you and Motorcop to start Kilted to Kick Cancer?

We were sitting in our kilts while camping at the Highland Games wondering if we could do more than just lounge around.  It started as a joke. In all seriousness, we wanted to raise awareness about male specific cancers so we can remove the stigma around prostate and testicular cancers.  And if we can get enough people to pay attention, maybe they’ll send a couple of bucks to research too.

What is your favorite Magnum product?

I love the Nano Tec Polo shirts you made for Chronicles of EMS.  They’re light, comfortable and don’t get wrinkled.  Perfect for traveling around! 

Can you tell us what one tip every medic should heed?

Your patients may not improve like they did in school scenarios. Don’t get upset if they get worse – keep working.

Take a minute and head over to Justin′s blog, The Happy Medic. And while you’re at it, give the big guy some Twitter and Facebook love — just be sure to tell Justin that Magnum sent you.

Posted in: 13Qs, Featured