Caution When Ordering: Updated Dec 12, 2019
As an unbiased reviewer, I've heard enough recent issues with order fulfillment and customer service responses that I feel the need to give an update and a caution.
As you can see in the reviews below, some customers are experiencing issues with receiving their radio straps. I've also received an email or two from his unhappy customers. If you follow JP Custom Leatherworks on their social media, you can see that he's still working and fulfilling orders. My guess... he's a little too busy for the orders he's taking, leading to delayed fulfillment and the inability to get to customer service requests as needed.
I still believe in the quality of the radio strap I received. I've continued to be very happy with the quality of my radio strap and how well it's held up over the last two years.
I'm stoked to be able to write about the amazing customer service and stand out product from Joe at JP Custom Leatherworks! I worked with Joe on a custom firefighter radio strap and radio holster, something different than the standard Boston Leather and something more reasonable than the Second Alarm radio strap. A handful of guys I work with at the fire department already have some radio straps, a few different brands, but nobody had ventured into Joe's products. I couldn't wait to see how his products compared, and I couldn't be happier!
As a fire department, we use Motorola portable fire radios. When we find ourselves in an IDLH (Immediately Dangerous for Life and Health) environment, this could mean a smoke filled room and/or a hot environment, we have to be prepared. This is where firefighter radio straps are becoming popular. Traditional placement of fire radios are in an exterior coat pocket, and the cord of the mic is exposed to the dangerous environment. Recent changes and studies have shown benefit to protecting the radio in a holster and doing so with it under your bunker coat. Then, the mic can be run through the opening of the bunker coat, exposing just what is needed, instead of the full length of the mic cord. This has led me to try a radio strap in training and during fires.
After a couple emails back and forth, Joe and I had decided on a leather type, stamps, and colors for the stamps. I was really happy with the turnaround time as well. All of the custom leather companies are 6-8 weeks out for custom radio straps, and JP Custom Leatherworks was no different. Want to know what was different with Joe? He actually emailed me a couple times throughout the process to let me know how the process was going! I've mentioned this to a couple of firefighters I work with and they are all floored with this! None of the other companies kept them updated.
How do you feel when you first arrive on the scene? The first moment, is the hardest for me.
Recently, we dealt with a severe patient. As we pulled up on scene we knew it was going to be a tough, working call. It was a traumatic injury, and we had our work cut out for us.
I find those early moments similar to the moments before a big test, or the moments before a big race (marathon, triathlon, etc.) It's not as if you don't want to do them, but that first step is the hardest. For me, the hardest part is touching the patient for the first time. It's a time clock that I don't want to start.
The moments during the call go by like a blur. Sometimes things go well, and sometimes things don't go well, but the worst part is touching the patient for the first time. It's not knowing if the person is alive or dead. It's not knowing if they are breathing or not. It's not knowing if they are warm or cold. It's not knowing if they are bloody. The unknown is hard to grasp, but it comes at you like a freight train as soon as you touch the patient, for the first time.
If any first responder is reading this, don't hesitate to reply back to this post. Send me a message on Facebook, send me an email, lets talk it out.
Also, feel free to dig into some other posts about topics like this one. To the right are Categories that my posts have been broken up in. Read away!
On my fire department, and many other departments around the county, the fire service is the "tail wagging the dog". The fire service has become the big brother to emergency medical services or at times the not-so-nice step father... Where I'm from, our city had two different entities, fire and EMS, that were merged in the early 2000's. While this was seemingly a good thing, it was not and is not without it's challenges.
Fast forward almost 20 years later, we continue to be a slow changing, inefficient, stuck-in-our ways department that is teetering on the edge of trouble. We continue to have paramedic shortages, disgruntled paramedics and EMT's, and management that is hesitant to address the issue.
The Big Picture
We did ourselves a disservice by advertising the 911 system so well. We receive calls through the 911 system for anything from a rug burn caused by a piece of yarn, a toe nail that caught in a blanket and possibly ripped off, a quicker ride to the hospital because the waiting room was too busy, and someone who inserted something into something he shouldn't have. And YES, those are all calls I personally have been a part of! People are calling 911 and seeking help from the emergency departments for ailments and injuries that deserve a family practitioner, a nurse, or sometimes, just a little ice and to go to bed. Instead, ambulance calls are on the rise and emergency rooms are too full.
1977 Police Officers' and Firefighters' Pension and Disability Fund
As a firefighter, my retirement plan is based largely on a pension, called the 1977 Police Officers' and Firefighters' Pension and Disability Fund, whew... a mouthful. It's also called the 77 Fund or I'll call it the Fund. The Fund was created to serve public safety officials in the State of Indiana. Cities/towns and employees contribute to the Fund, which then pays benefits to retirees, disabled members and survivors of members. The Fund has been performing well and is well "funded", meaning there is enough money in the fund to pay the members their share.
Benefits and Contributions
The money that goes into the Fund comes from both the city or town, and the employee. According to IN.GOV and the latest information, the contribution percentage is around 23-25%. 17-19% of this comes from the employer, leaving the last 6% coming from the employee. With that being said, the employer may chose to pick up some of the employees 6%, which is the case on my department.
After 20 years of employment, you become "vested" or allowed to collect some of the benefits from the Fund. You can't collect those benefits until you are 52 years of age. So, after 20 years of service, you can collect around 50% of base salary, which in our case is "New Guy Salary", aka Not Much Salary. You can continue to improve your percentage until you hit 32 years of service, capping out at 74% of Not Much Salary. You will continue to collect at that dollar amount until you die. There are a couple different stipulations and situations that can cause that to change, but those are for another post.
Why it's good?
As a paramedic firefighter for the last 12 years, I've had good days and bad days. I've had great days and horrible days. There have been a couple days that I could call the best days, but I don't remember those. I remember my worst days, and there are several of them.
We often say that our best day is someone else's worst day. Occasionally we are a part of making that worst day go away, but the moments that stick in our heads are when we aren't able to fix the problem. I was a part of one of those calls a couple days ago. I was on one of the two worst calls of my career. Both of my worst calls involved children, the same age as my children at home.
EMT's, paramedics, firefighters, we don't forget the sounds of those calls. We don't forget the screams, we don't forget the hopeful conversations, we don't forget the sound of crying. We don't forget the visions either. We don't forget what our patient looks like when we walk around the corner. We don't forget the first look on the faces of the family.
As we leave these calls, we are asked to place the sounds, feels and visions of these calls into a box, close it up and move on. I believe that is a character trait of a good firefighter, and a skill that we develop throughout the years. But as years go on, these boxes really start to take their toll.
Next time you see a firetruck drive by, give them a wave and a smile, you don't know where they are going or what they are coming from. If you've been treated well by a paramedic, and are a result of one of their positive outcomes, thank them and let them know that what they did helped.
Often times we leave the scene thinking we are failures. Regardless of the odds, or how well we perform on the call, sometimes it just doesn't matter. Often times we hold onto these boxes, a lot of them. We all give a lot for our communities. As PTSD, suicide, sleep disorders, and cancer data is showing how much our careers affect us, we continue to jump on our trucks and bounce down the road.
On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence visited and spoke at the University of Notre Dame's Commencement Ceremony. Being the previous Governor of Indiana, he had a warm welcome. There were some news stories about a group of students planning a walk out during the Vice President's speech. After speaking with a Secret Service agent following the speech, he said there were about 100 students that walked out, but the crowd started to boo the students who were walking out.
The Vice President landed in South Bend on Saturday and left in the early afternoon on Sunday. I spoke with several Secret Service agents, who were all personable and genuinely happy to be there. There were uniformed Secret Service, Secret Service mechanics, and EOD guys checking out the trucks in the motorcade. The size and scale of the operation was amazing! It was a great experience!
Jack of All Trades, Master of None