The Holdsworth Group - March 2019


Volume 1 • MARCH 2019


A ll too often, as we get wrapped up in the day-to-day grind of running our agencies, the real reason we started down our EMS career path gets lost in the hundreds of things competing for our attention. Heavy call volumes, HR concerns, reimbursement issues, the need to be positively visible in the community, emails, voicemails, projects to be completed, and planning for the future all soak up precious time and often conspire to suck the joy right out of the day. We arrive home tired and frustrated and find ourselves unable to engage with the most important people in our lives — only to get up and do it all again the next day. I want you to stop for a minute, take out a piece of paper, and prepare to think. Why? Why did you choose EMS in the first place? What is your life as an EMS/ Paramedic/Administrator supposed to look like? What’s really going well? What just plain sucks and isn’t what you envisioned? (This quick exercise is about you, not me, so don’t just blow me off. Actually do it!) If you’re like every other EMS person I’ve ever met, you got started in the business for one or all of the following reasons. • To serve your community • To take care of patients — yep, even the frequent flyers • To advance in both personal and agency capabilities

• To feel like you make a difference in the world To drive fast and look cool (in the beginning, anyway) Based on the quick exercise I just asked you to do, did you write down your “why”? If so, are you being true to it? When you’re clear about your why, all your business and career decisions become clearer too. For example, my why was that I wanted to become a paramedic and do the Johnny and Roy thing. Seriously, I wanted to be a “Rescue Squad” medic! It took me six years to get there, and along the way, I had to change jobs, training paths, and more. I worked as an intercept paramedic for more than 20 years, and I finally met Randy Mantooth in person a few years ago. (You can see the two of us in the photo with a copy of my book!) For the agency leaders reading this newsletter, I know it gets frustrating juggling chainsaws and feeling like the world is pushing back against your efforts. However, it is critical that you schedule time off to restore your sanity and health and take time to work on your service rather than in it. I recently watched a couple of my friends in the business drive themselves to early graves by not heeding this advice. In fact, I had my own health scare for similar reasons. Going forward, you have to become “ethically selfish.” My premise is simple: •

Remain positive about your agency, your mission, and your staff, but also be selfish about your time, your health, and your career. Throwing yourself under the bus for the good of the organization isn’t good for it or for you. You must selfishly back away to regroup and plan for the future with a clear head. Your part in leading your service begins and ends with your personal why. So, if you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, overwhelmed, uncertain, trapped, or just pissed off, and you didn’t really like what you wrote down a couple minutes ago, know that you are not alone. The good news is that you can take specific actions, decide to start honoring your why, and learn how to change in ways that will make both you and the agency stronger and healthier. Want to chat about your situation and how I may be able to help? Let’s connect at



SET SAIL FOR VACATION Take Your Next Trip Offshore

If you’re lucky enough to have been aboard a ship under full sail, chances are you know the thrill and serenity sailing can give you. If you’ve never been but have always wanted to know what it’s like to get out on the wind and waves, there are many great options available for beginners. Here are some ideas to inspire your next waterside vacation. START SMALL For those who dream of becoming a skipper one day, a great way to start is by sailing dinghies. These one-sail, beach-launch boats fit 1–2 people and can be rented at most water sports shops. If you want to make it a family experience, shops usually have 16-foot catamarans for rent as well. Catamarans have two hulls rather than one, making for a smoother, more spacious ride. If you’ve never sailed before, inquire about lessons. Most rental operations have instructors on hand who can show you the ropes. The great thing about sailing is that whether you’re in a 12-foot dinghy or a 60-foot sloop, the same basic principles, rules, and skills apply.

TAKE A DAY SAIL Many day-sail charters exist for those who want to go out a little farther than a dinghy would permit. If you’ve captained a boat and are familiar with the waters, you can apply for a bareboat charter. However, if you are inexperienced or simply don’t want a local guide at the helm, signing up for a day trip with a skipper and crew is a great option. DO A FULL CHARTER Short of owning your own vessel, chartering a boat for multiple nights is the closest you can get to living out your nautical dreams. Some of the most beautiful destinations on earth — from the Caribbean Sea to the Mediterranean — are best experienced from the deck of a sailboat. Letting the sea guide you to amazing snorkeling destinations, remote cays, and bustling harbors is the stuff of real adventure.


I realize that the title of this article has probably already pissed off some readers. If I made you mad, I’m sorry, but the truth is that every EMS organization is a business, regardless of size or structure. Municipal fire departments, hospital-based services, investor-owned organizations, and even the thousands of small- and mid-sized volunteer or hybrid agencies — they are all businesses. Now, regardless of your personal feelings on the issue, stick with me for a couple of minutes while we go through the 12 basics: 1. Businesses have staff, clients, customers, or patients. 2. Businesses get funds for their services through fees, subsidies, donations, or grants. 3. Businesses have to buy supplies. 4. Businesses need state and/or local permits/licenses to operate.

5. Businesses complete tax/accounting paperwork, tax returns, budgets, and nonprofit 990 forms. 6. Businesses promote themselves to clients to recruit staff or do damage control if something bad happens. 7. Businesses must make a profit to stay 8. Businesses maintain insurance and abide by labor laws. 9. Businesses pay attention to benefit, wage, and hour laws. 10. Businesses plan for continuity during crisis and disaster situations. 11. Businesses need strong, effective leaders to attract quality staff members and keep them. in business. (Yes, even nonprofits have to stay within budget and have enough left over to operate.)

12. Businesses fail due to lack of money, lack of trained staff, poor legal management, or lousy leadership. Every single one of these 12 points applies to every EMS agency just as much as they apply to the local hardware store, law practice, or auto dealer. We are a business. I chose to write this article because, in just the first couple months of the year, it has already become apparent that many EMS agencies still believe they can rest on their laurels and the communities they serve will let them slide by on some of these issues. You can’t, and they won’t. You will lose support, funding, staff, and eventually your ability to operate. Send me an email at for more info on evaluating your business. I look forward to hearing from you!




Annie Duke may seem an unlikely business consultant, given she’s best known as a professional poker player. But the lessons in her new book “Thinking in Bets” extend far beyond the felt. Duke, who studied psychology at UPenn and has consulted for a number of companies, takes the decision-making lessons she learned at the poker table and applies them to the hard choices we have to make in business. To emphasize the nature of her work, Duke begins with an introduction called “Why This Isn’t a Poker Book.” She writes that the process of thinking in bets “starts with recognizing there are exactly two things that determine how our lives turn out: the quality of our decisions and luck.” When you make a decision, you rarely have perfect

clarity regarding all the factors in play. This imperfect picture is what makes every business decision risky. Duke argues that ignoring inherent risk results in dangerous, outcome-based thinking. As an alternative, she proposes that you acknowledge not every decision will be the right one. This way, you can investigate the nature of your decision- making process and improve it without being blinded by lucky (or unlucky) results. Poker provides a fertile analogy for this concept. It’s a game of imperfect information. No matter how much poker you’ve played, you never know which cards the other players hold. You can make educated inferences based on the information you gather, but there is always going to be a risk in calling a bet. The process parallels how we decide what’s best for a company. We

analyze all the information we have at hand and make a projection about the best option. Until the decision plays out, we won’t know the outcome. Though Duke knows more about poker than just about anyone, she doesn’t limit her examples to gambling. She writes with equal skill and depth about everything from CEOs to football coaches. “Thinking in Bets” is a comprehensive overview of risk assessment that provides countless tips on how to improve your decision-making. Even if you have no idea whether a flush beats a straight, you’ll find “Thinking in Bets” a valuable addition to your leadership library. Leadership requires making hundreds of decisions. Don’t you want to make them better?

BEET, MINT, AND RICOTTA HUMMUS INGREDIENTS • 1 6-ounce beet (about the size of an adult fist), scrubbed • 1 15 1/2-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Where’s the Fun?

• 1/4 teaspoon

• 1/3 cup tahini, well-mixed • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese • 1 garlic clove, grated • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

fresh ground pepper • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander • Mint leaves, poppy seeds, and olive oil, for garnish


1. Heat oven to 425 F. 2. Wrap beet tightly in foil. On a foil-lined baking sheet, roast wrapped beet until fork tender, about 60–70 minutes. 3. While beet is roasting, blend chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, ricotta, garlic, salt, pepper, and coriander until smooth. 4. Once beet is cool enough to handle, use a paper towel to remove beet skin. Trim root end and cut into small pieces. Add to blender or food processor, and blend until entire mixture is smooth. Add additional salt if desired. 5. Transfer to a shallow bowl, top with garnishes, and serve.





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269 Main Street Cromwell, CT 06416 HOLDSWORTH.COM



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Why Are You in Emergency Medical Services?

How to Make Your Sailing Dreams Come True

EMS Is a Business

Leadership Library: ‘Thinking in Bets’

Beet, Mint, and Ricotta Hummus

Facts You Didn’t Know About St. Patrick’s Day


Shamrocks, Leprechauns, and the Color Green

first color to symbolize St. Patrick’s Day, and the saint himself is almost always depicted dressed in what was referred to as “St. Patrick’s blue.” What caused the shift from green to blue is more speculation than hard fact. Some have theorized that the change happened sometime in the 17th century when the symbol for the United Irishmen Rebellion became the clover. St. Patrick used the clover to teach the Irish people about the Holy Trinity, and it eventually became a symbol that represented both the saint and the holiday. Another theory comes from Ireland’s nickname, “The Emerald Isle,” which was coined due to the plentiful green foliage that adorns the country’s landscape. It also relates to the green in the country’s

flag. In fact, each of the three colors in the flag has its own symbolic meaning: green for the Catholics who live in the country, orange for the Protestants, and white for the peace between the two. Of course, you can’t forget leprechauns, the little creatures that have always been affiliated with the holiday. But just like St. Patrick’s original blue garb, these impish tricksters used to wear red instead of green. As green overtook blue as the shade of choice for St. Patrick, leprechauns followed suit and updated their red outfits to green ones instead. To avoid pinches from leprechauns and everyone else you encounter, be sure to put on some green this St. Patrick’s Day to blend in with the festive crowd.

There’s only one day of the year you’ll be scorned for not wearing green: St. Patrick’s Day. If you’ve ever gone the whole holiday wearing any other color, you’ve probably been pinched by your peers, family, spouse, and anyone else decked out head to toe in green. Green has become so deeply associated with St. Patrick’s Day that many people are unaware it wasn’t always the holiday’s official color. Interestingly, blue was the



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