Archive for the ‘death’ Category

Yesterday was a very emotional day.  A good friend’s father passed away last week,  and his funeral was yesterday.  To me,  he wasn’t just my friend’s dad…  He was also my Brother. 

Worshipful Brother Errol Thomson died tragically driving home from visiting a nearby lodge.  Having obtained the rank of Assistant Provincial Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of South Africa,  Errol was  well known and loved by all. 


A proud Mason and a loving husband,  father and grandfather,  Errol epitomised what Masonry is.  A gentle soul who loved the outdoors,  he took great pleasure in teaching new Masons in our ancient Craft,  and I grew to respect him more every day.

In the English Constitution,  a newly installed Master traditionally would have 3 Past Masters present the working tools for the 3 degrees in Masonry. 
I was honoured to have Errol present the 2nd degree working tools at my installation,  who accepted my request without hesitation.  Being from a different constitution,  Errol had to study the English ritual,  which he did with great gusto.

The funeral was attended by a wide range of Brethren,  who had the opportunity to bid farewell to our Brother in traditional Masonic ways.  


A pure lambskin apron and a single white glove placed upon the coffin,  with a large sprig of Acasia placed upon them. This symbolism marking one of the most important times in the history of Masonry and an honour bestowed by Brethren to their fallen Brother. 



With the sign of Reverence,  I chose from a basket an Acasia sprig  and placed it alongside the countless others as a token of memories never to be forgotten.

I close this blog with a poem written by an unknown Mason at the funeral of a Brother.

Farewell my Brother and may your dear soul rest in peace in the Grand Lodge above. 

There gathered a throng of the bold, the brave;
They stood around a Brother’s open grave;
Such were the words their leader said, As they sadly bent o’er the sleeping dead:

“Brother! round thy home, thy hearth,
Desolation spreads its dearth;
When the evening birds rejoice,
They thou lov’st will miss thy voice;
Wife, and sisters, bright eyed sons,
They, the lone, and weeping ones;
They, the loving, and the fair,
Brother, they will miss thee there!

“Brother! when yon manly throng
Raise the hymn and swell the song;
When they strike each full-toned string,
To the lay they’re wont to sing;
Will they miss one swelling tone?
Will they think of one that’s gone?
In the hallowed house of prayer,
Brother, they will miss thee there.

“Brother! we have laid this night
Thee beneath the mountain’s height;
We have stood beside thy grave,
We have wept, who could not save.
Shall the world mark us with scorn?
Brother, it is thee we’ve borne.
Shall the stranger mock the tear?
Brother, we have touched thy bier.

“By the vows that passed the night
Of thy new inaugural rite;
By our own, our hallowed sign,
By the love that still is thine;
By the heart and by the hand,
Of our own beloved band;
By the tears which bright eyes shower,
Brother, we are here this hour.

“Shall we wait thy coming feet,
When our noble Lodge shall meet;
Shall we stay to hear them fall;
Shall we wait our Brother’s call?
No! for thou art far away,
From the world, and with the clay;
And may we who still remain,
Stand prepared for Death’s last pain,

“When the sun and moon are fled,
And the graves shall yield their dead;
When the mystic spell is broken,
Of the secret softly spoken;
When the chariots fill the air,
Brother, may we meet thee there!
When the earth’s firm walls are riven,
Brother, may we meet in Heaven!

Author unknown

a Hero’s prayer

Posted: September 12, 2011 in death, Firefighters, medical, Poem, poetry
Tags: ,

dedicated to the heroes of 9/11


Brother when you weep for me
Remember that it was meant to be
Lay me down and when you leave
Remember I’ll be at your sleeve

In every dark and dreary night
I’ll be there as you fight
On every road in driving snow
I’ll hold your coat and you will know

On blackened highways hot with searing heat
At windows where a gate you meet
In darkness where young children hide
You know I’ll be there at your side

The House from which I now respond
Is over staffed with heroes gone
Men who answered one last bell
Did the job and did it well

As Medics we understand
That death’s a card dealt in our hand
A card we hope we never play
But one we hold there anyway

That card is something we ignore
As we push beyond our limits for one call more
For we know that we’re the only prayer
For anyone that might be there

So remember as you wipe your tears
The joy I knew throughout the years
As I did the job I loved to do
I pray that thought will see you through.

Author unknown


… are upon us…..well….ME!

Since starting studying, I have worked operationally for 17 years in various roles. I’ve been a paramedic, a Station Officer, an Instructor and course coordinator, a Flight paramedic on helicopters and airplanes, a manager at different private ambulance services and thinking back, I’ve had the privilege of responding at high speeds on the roads in Johannesburg, free state and Durban in  a wide variety of cars.

Ford sierra , opel kadetts, mazda 6, ford telstar, ford mondeo, Toyota camry, audi A4, BMW 328, Golf GTI, Jetta TDI, Toyota RXI, RunX, Colt rodeo, Subaru WRX, Subaru Legacy….hmmm, I could go on, those are the memorable ones.

I have been the the most fortunate person saving many a childs life, seeing the joy in parents eyes when they realise their precious creation has lived through a tragedy.

I have been the unfortunate person, resuscitating countless children due to parents neglect in the form of drownings, car accidents, firearm accidents and abuse. I cant tell you how many small lifeless bodies I held in my arms, after fighting to keep them alive, with tears rolling down my cheeks.

I have delivered many a baby, in shacks, in mansions, in the open veld and inside cars.

I have broken the news to wives that their husbands of 50 years have passed on,seeing the sadness when realisation hits them that for the first time in longer than I have been alive, they are alone now.

I have witnessed the after effects of spousal and child abuse, I have comforted small children after their mommy have been killed by their abusive daddy. I have treated hundreds of gunshot victims, under constant gunfire sometimes, assaults, stabbings, burns…. I’ve seen the savagery of the human race, torture, rape, and other atrocities i’d prefer to forget.

I have responded to thousands of motor vehicle accidents, cut up countless cars,







                                                                                                      witnessed the luckiest people surviving spectacular crashes

                                                                                                                                            seen cars in trees

                                                                                                                            cars in precarious positions

                                                                                                                                      Truck accidents

                                                                                                                       rubbish trucks rolling into gardens

                                                                                                                                Bus and train accidents

                                                                                                           mountain rescues (I even broke my wrist on this one)

                                                                                                                                      even ship rescues

Basically, I have seen every atrocity, experienced sadness and grief, witnessed the worst you can imagine…..


I have been the most fortunate person around. I have been in a profession that values life, working alongside heroes, men and women who dedicate their lives, their family time to help others, regardless of the pain they experience. And now, its time to hand over the reigns to the younger generation.

its time for me to pack my jumpbag away, hang up the rescue jacket.

I salute all the paramedics, Firefighters, Police officers, and all those involved in the Emergency Services still out there. You guys are doing a fabulous, rewarding job (even though it doesn’t feel like it).

This week has been a bad one. Once again bringing to the forefront child safety in cars, a subject which, unfortunately, appears NEVER to end.

Starting off with a minibus taxi rolling, sending all the occupants flying out the vehicle, initially killing  a 6 month old little girl. Lying just 10 m away, sprawls an 18 month old girl, barely alive, hanging to the last of her breath… I managed to stabilize as best as we could, then sent her to hospital, where sadly she died…

This is a contentious issue in that, while I’ve been a huge advocate for car seats in private vehicles, here we have another problem. Public transportation offers absolute no option for child safety for their passengers… and in the current economic climate, majority of the people utilizing these methods to get to work, take their children with them to drop off at a daycare center, nursery school or wherever. These taxi, transport, legally, 16 passengers, in reality, up to 30… and offer absolute no protection for the little ones.

THEN, last night I went out to a horrific accident… Family driving back home, had a head on collision with on of these taxi’s… massive impact, all occupants were injured.  But relatively minor in comparison, and why? because THEY of course were wearing seat belts!

The impact severe, but other occupants relatively uninjured, proving effectiveness of seatbelts

But the worst off was the little 4 year old girl, who, had the utmost and innocent trust in her mother and father to take care of her…

She was standing in-between the driver and passenger seat on impact, her body was flung forward with a huge force, slamming her beautiful body into the dashboard,  cracking her skull, snapping her neck, rupturing her organs and breaking her little bones!

have a look at the back seat: NO car seat, and intact shell..children would’ve been safe

Despite very aggressive resuscitation,…She will NEVER know what it will be like to learn to read and write, she will NEVER say “I love you ” to her mom and dad again, NEVER get to play in the garden with her dolls, NEVER go to “big school”, NEVER have her first kiss, NEVER have her first boyfriend, and NEVER have the opportunity to make a difference in this sick, cruel world of ours.

and why is that…because despite aggressive resuscitation efforts, this beautiful 4 year old girl died… in front of me…and while my 4 year old daughter sleeps at home…and I cannot help but feel this enormous loss that these parents will feel when we tell them the news. And what do we tell them?

simple….Your daughter is dead… because

YOU didn’t have a car seat.

YOU didn’t  keep her safe.

…I am tired!

I have been in this depressing and emotional career for 16 years… and I am so tired of seeing innocent little children dying because the very people who they trust, literally with their lives, FAIL them. And its always the same…

I drive safely    REALLY? What about the other idiots on the road

It wont happen to me: HMM: thats what thousands of distraught families thought before I tell them they killed their children.

so, I go home after this, walk into my daughters bedroom, and I gave her a big kiss on the forehead, I tell her that I love her so much, and  grateful she is in my life,  and thank God that I have a car seat, and that since the day she first left the hospital at birth, she sat in one… and NEVER has sat in the car without one. because, I love her, and I am responsible for her.

I only wish, that all these so-called parents out there take heed… IT WILL HAPPEN TO YOU!

So for the love of your creation, PLEASE, use car seats!

A subject everyone avoids, and no-one like talking about, and especially be effected by it…But… Inevitable.

Yesterday was a particularly difficult day, as a friend and colleague was laid to rest.

And a Fireman’s funeral is particularly emotional.

I dedicate this poem…to Stan the Man!

Fireman’s Prayer

When I am called to duty, God…
Where ever flames may rage…
Give me the strength to save some life…
Whatever be its age…
Help me embrace a little child…
Before it is to late…
Or save an older person from…
The horror of that fate…
Enable me to be alert…
And hear the weakest shout…
And quickly and efficiently to put the fire out…
I want to fill my calling and…
To give the best in me…
To guard my every neighbor and protect his property…
And if according to your will…
I have to give my life…
Please bless with your protecting hand…

Siegfried (Stan) Grundlingh was one of those firefighters that never gave up, and NEVER left a man behind.

A true Fireman, a great friend, one that I had the pleasure of working with whilst stationed at Benoni Fire and Emergency services. We worked and partied hard together…

Yesterday, the fire-bell rang for the last time for him, and he died tragically in Abu Dhabi in a motor vehicle accident.

Goodbye old friend. You will be missed by all!

The fireman

Hey mom!” He yelled from the attic door,

“What’s these old heavy boots and hard hat for?”

With a lump in her throat and a tear stained cheek

His mother swallowed and started to speak.

“Come here my son,” his mother said,

“There’s things to tell when I clear my head.”

The past races madly through her mind.

She searched her heart for the words to find.

At last she sighed and rubbed his hair

And the words that followed I’d like to share.

“Those boots & hat,” She said with pride,

“Were worn by a man with grit inside.

He wore them to help people in need.

Though facing danger would never concede.

Many a time in the dead of night

He jumped in those boots and flashed out of sight

To answer a call, not knowing for sure

What danger or heartache he may have to endure.

Your father, my son, was not like most dads,

It was mainly because of the job he had.

His life was devoted to all of mankind,

Just why he chose it’s not clear in my mind.

I’ve often regretted the life that we led,

When every third night I was alone in our bed.

But your mother is proud to say she was part

Of a man who possessed such a courageous heart.

So the memories I’ve kept & the love I will save

Are small consolations for the life that he gave.

Yet, for all his discomfort & all of his pain

The time that he spent here was never in vain.”

I know full well these words to be true,

And not one word did she misconstrue.

But from all my mother shared that day

It’s these last few words I’d like to convey.

My mother, with tears, save a long loving sigh,

And I knew what would follow was not meant to die.

With a smile so warm & a voice very weak,

She kissed my young brow & started to speak.

“Your father’s days here made others seem brighter.

For your father, my son, was a firefighter.

This poem was taken from the bulletin board at Engine 50 CFD. The author is unknown



I seem to be going through a serious emotional time at the moment. Things are happening in my life that are forcing me to re-look at certain things.

So today, feeling a bit lonely, I was going through a box of old things, and found something that shook me to my first birthday. This specific item was given to me in the Christmas following a case i had gone to that changed my life forever. And looking and reading it, brought all the memories, both good and bad to the forefront. I cried holding this, even Erin asked me what was wrong.

I was told this young man would die, based on the best medical science, all believed it, though all prayed it wouldn’t happen.

It didnt.

He lived.

I wrote a poem a while ago about him. I think this poem is better…

I have no idea what happened to him after he was discharged, I wish i knew, unfortunately I lost touch with his parents.

So, to Victor, Lisa and most especially Keanu, wherever you are, you guys are the most special people i have ever met in my life, because the fact is:

YOU saved me!

Be warned, this is a rant….We seem to go through these stages of not seeing paediatric trauma, and then, BOOM, we get hit with it all at once.

Last weekend I went out to a MVA (Motor vehicle accident) two cars had a high speed head-on-collision, and then another car smashed into them.I haven’t been on a case like this one in a long time. 3 cars with multiple entrapments, 8 Priority 1 (Critical) patients inside them, 3 of them children ranging from 4 – 9 years old. The kiddies were in the vehicle that smashed in from behind, and then rolled off the road. Both driver and passenger were serious, and so were the kids. I found them in the well between the back seat and the front seats. All 3 sustained serious injuries from the severe mechanism. Now, would they have been injured if they were restrained? Yes they would have been, but so severe? I highly doubt it. You see, seat belts are designed to restrain the body in moment of impact and subsequent inertia forces that act on the body. Without restraints, the bodies fly around, crashing into all objects in the vehicle, at forces equivillant to 10 times the child’s body weight.  If only the parents had restrained them…but NOOO, IT WONT HAPPEN TO ME! being the usual response. “I drive safely”-yeah, you probably do, but the other idiots on the road don’t.

All 3 kids were taken to the best facility, and are currently fighting for their little lives.

Then today, I went out to a little 4 year old girl, that was walking with her nanny back home from the park, when she saw her mommy arrive home. So she let go of the nanny’s hand and ran across the road. A quiet neighborhood road, where mostly families drive. However this time, an underage unlicensed driver, in a suped up car, came flying down the road, and hit this beautiful little girl who was excited to see her mommy.

He stopped 100m from where he changed the lives are so many people.There was no pulse on this little one, so pale and lifeless. My team and I actively resuscitated this little girl, in the middle of the road, with mommy and her daddy watching on, the irresponsible driver being arrested, with all the passion we had, and breathed a huge sigh when we got the pulse back. She was taken to the surgeons to continue the miracle work, but my heart bleeds so much for these parents. Prognosis? I don’t know…

But then, as i stop at our usual watering hole, I sit down, and this car stops next to us, and a woman gets out the car. I look up, and see a little boy of about 3 standing on the front seat. Car seat in the back… I cracked! I have to admit, i finally cracked!

I walked up to this woman, and asked her if she she actually loved her child, if she honestly believed she was a responsible parent. I told her what we experience all the time, and with tears in my eyes, I told her that if she didn’t use the car seat, which clearly is the best invention in a 100 years, then it would be  yet again ME coming out and telling yet another parent that they had killed/maimed their own child. She said to me she didn’t see what the big deal was, and walked away.

When will people ever learn? I don’t think they ever will. To all the parents, guardians and minders that are out there… be warned, it WILL happen to you. And when it does, I will be there, or someone like me, will be there, to try and save yet another innocent child because thats just what we do. I often wonder why I chose this profession, why I choose to continue in this emotional and debilitating career and despite all I see, despite the agony I experience each and every time, I will continue to do this, because these little ones need someone to fight for them, to try to save them, to try to give their loved ones hope, and to try to give them a future.

In memory of all the Police, Firefighters, Paramedics, EMS, Port Authorities and other volunteers, who gave up their lives, trying to save the innocent, that died in the cowardly attack on 9/11.

This picture, is of a fireman at the base of the twin towers, having lost his all his colleagues and friends…

An EMS Prayer

As I perform my duty Lord
Whatever be the call,
Help to guide and keep me safe
From the dangers big and small.

I want to serve and do my best
No matter what the scene,
I pledge to keep my skills refined,
My judgment quick and keen.

This calling to give of my self
Most do not understand,
But I stand ready all the time
To help my fellow man.

To have the chance to help a child
Restore his laugh with glee,
A word of thanks I might not hear,
But knowing is enough for me.

The praise of men is fine for some,
But I feel truly blessed,
That you oh Lord have chosen me
To serve in EMS!

Currently in South Africa we have a public services strike, specifically effecting the healthcare industry. Now, we have strikes all the time here. They are never happy with the increases, working conditions and whatever else they feel they need to moan about. What amazes me is that while we in the private sector continuously get a basic living increase, the public sector feels that their, normally up to 4 % more than us, increase is never enough and that they deserve to get more.

Now, I honestly believe that the healthcare industry is a very honorable profession. Hell, I’m in it so i do understand. Its not a job, its a calling, a vocation and a profession. But this strike has gone beyond professional. This strike has now become everything that we fight against on a daily bases.

Its become violent!

The police and the national defence force has had to be deployed to the hospitals, just to protect patients. The strikers are violently refusing entry to sick and injured people, that are just trying to find help and, more importantly, use their God-given right to have access to healthcare.

Many of my colleagues are helping out at the hospitals, transferring sick and dying children to Private hospitals, at the governments expense, just so that they can get help. Yesterday, sick people outside the one government hospital in Johannesburg, were stripped naked by the strikers and beaten, at another, they were shooting at ambulances trying to deliver the injured…

I was flying on the Emergency Helicopter yesterday. We had to fly to Vereeniging, South of Johannesburg, to pick up a young man that had his hand amputated through a violent act. From there, we had to fly him to Pretoria, a good 150 km just to get him to a surgeon at a government hospital that was striking, but was allowing critical patients in.

I know this is a rant , which i don’t normally do on  my blog, but i just had to get this off my chest. These supposed healthcare workers are an embarrassment to our profession, and should be gotten rid of, and genuine, caring nurses and Doctors should be employed in their place.