The Unwired Medic

Teaching EMS providers & other public safety pros about using mobile tech to improve their practice, patient care, continuing education, scene safety, general entertainment, & productivity.

February 3, 2021
by The Unwired Medic
0 comments

Review – JLAB JBuds Go Air

It’s been a while…

Man has it been a long time since I spent time writing an actual blog post here. Sure, I write stuff on Facebook and Twitter, and other social media platforms, but it isn’t really blogging. It’s just sharing stuff and opinions and news. Time for me to make a change for the better and get back to making it a habit to write about tech and public safety stuff again.

With that, I’ll start with something I went out to purchase to make my life a little easier. Wireless Earbuds. I’m probably a little late to the game, but really, I haven’t been terribly impressed with what I have found for a price a working, family man without a large dispensible income can afford. I don’t really see the appeal in dropping a couple hundred dollars on big name brands that probably can give you stellar audio performance (which I sincerely appreciate!), but I’ll wind up using more to fend off calls about my cars extended warranty. No, I have to jungle an iPhone for work and an Android for me and the two are constantly fighting over my Trex Aftershocks for who gets to reign Supreme as the master helper, Siri or Google Assistant.

I don’t mix my work and personal devices especially for security concerns. So for this, I actually wanted two sets of wireless earbuds, and for the bulk of work being a few calls and several Microsoft Teams meetings, plus notifications about stuff that I want to keep from being broadcast loudly, but I want to hear, I needed a fairly reputable, but lower end costing set.

The iPhone standard wired earbuds never cut the mustard. It’s obvious Apple forgot to consult me when they went to choose an ideal model for fit testing because they don’t stay in for more than 5 minutes on a great day and only if I make like a manikin. Turn my head even a little and it’s game over. “Oops! Sorry boss! My headset fell out. What were you saying?”

Well, time to go see what looks good. Needless to say, EVERYONE is in the earbuds game right now. I didn’t want to take a chance on what was being promo’ed on social media ads, so I went by Best Buy (who happened to be running some sales when I was there to see what they had) because I’m still a fan of brick and mortar stores because you can see and get tactile. Enter the JLAB JBuds with a couple different models like the Go Air, Air Icon, and Air Executives. All seem to have a good set of specs on them. I had some promo and gift credits available to me so I opted to go economical since I needed to get two sets. I wound up ordering up pair of Go Air sets… White (for the work iPhone), and blue (for my blue Samsung Galaxy Note) so I could tell them apart quickly. Boy has that decision paid off. Now if you have to pay cash for these earbuds, it isn’t going to hurt. They’re between $17 to $30 at Best Buy plus taxes. And I’d say they’re worth that much. Plus Best Buy hasn’t ever given me trouble with returns if I was unhappy.

Now for the review…

I took them out of their packaging, removed the battery block, and let them charge up on a USB charger for a while. Pairing them was as easy as opening your phone to pairing mode, pulling BOTH earbuds out and selecting the new set. Done. Push the buds in your ears (I recommend you lift your upper lobe up and seat them firmly). I had a couple episodes of having a lone bud pop out unexpectedly and go sailing across my truck or the floor into the nether under some furniture. They are resilient. They bounce and take a beating just fine. I learned to tuck them in very well. Tuck them in firmly. The manufacturer website says you get three gels for your ear size choice. I didn’t get them. Mine were not included in the boxes of either.

JLAB JBuds Go Air Wireless Earbuds

What I like…

One thing that drew me to the Go Air was the smaller size, not just the lower price. My ear openings are a bit smaller. Must be why I can’t hear my wife talking to me. When you remove the earbud from the case and pop it in, it talks to you to let you know it connected. When you are done, drop them in the case. Use one at a time or both. Swap back and forth. Whatever suits you. The case recharges them somewhat quickly and you recharge the case with any standard USB charger. Signal seems really good and so far, callers haven’t complained about sound at all. Audio quality has been surprisingly good for such an economical pair of earbuds. I really have no complaints about that. They sound like well made earbuds.

I now wear one from each color while I am on the road if I am on the highway so I can answer calls from either phone. I do have to pay closer attention to what’s around me since the earbuds do muffle a lot of exterior noise, but they are not noise canceling.

What I am not a fan of…

The gels have a pair of rather prominent logos extruded on them. This could help grip your ears so they don’t slip out as easily, but I find it just irritates my ears and makes them uncomfortable to wear for more than an hour. I am absolutely ready to take them out when that time is done. They also fall out rather easily, which I am hopefully going to get fixed by switching to Comply Foam Tips (https://www.complyfoam.com/) which I found at CES many years ago and I am a big fan of.

I also have a problem with the taps for volume and activating the trigger for Siri or Google Assistant. They just aren’t very responsive and there isn’t any feedback from the earbuds to tell you it’s working like an audio tone. All you get is a really loud thump-thump from your finger tapping on the earbuds reverberating down your ear canal to your eardrum. And a few moments later your phone might light up without an audio tone alerting you that your assistant is waiting for instructions. With most Bluetooth headsets you get immediate audio feedback. This is a big deal because if you are driving, you now have to look at your phone to see if it’s working or you have to concentrate on tapping again. The point of this is to not break from driving. If my phone is in my pocket? That’s not happening. Not everyone has a line-of-sight dash mount for both of their phones. I’d like to see JLAB work on that for the future.

This isn’t the manufacturer’s fault by any means. I’m sure there are other brands and models that can handle this concern… They don’t offer any passive noise mode so they muffle exterior noise significantly. You can’t use these in many environments as a pair, and in fact using only one at a time takes getting used to. It’s like wearing a single ear plug. Sure sound gets through even there, but it still makes a huge difference in your ability to locate sounds outside the earbuds and in the environment. It makes conversations interesting. You’ll have to figure this part out for yourself.

April 3, 2020
by The Unwired Medic
0 comments

What Is Folding And Why You Should Be Doing It Too

Folding@Home LogoLend your PC, laptop, or Mac to the world’s largest medical computing supercomputers and help find cures and treatments…

What is it?

This project can help medical research scientists processĀ protein folding data and molecular dynamic simulations via the use of “crowd-sourcing” their data processing needs, benefiting things like cancers, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, Ebola, and even for COVID-19 research. It actually isn’t really new. It’s been around for a while, but it really hasn’t gained notoriety until the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-19) pandemic hit and ordinary people were looking to do anything they could to help out. You may have heard of something like it even 20 years ago when SETI had a tool called SETI@Home and it was helping them process radio signals being received on the world’s radio telescopes far faster than even the fastest and largest of the world’s supercomputers, in the search for signs of Extra Terrestrial life.

Just how big is this? Why should I join in?

To give you an idea of the massive computer power you can contribute to here, this crowd-sourcing of computing resources has created a distributed computing system that absolutely dwarfs the speed and capabilities of several of the worlds largest supercomputers COMBINED – these computers fill giant rooms at places like the Oak Ridge National Labs in Tennessee (think IBM’s Watson and Summit).

Basically, install a small app that runs in the background on your computer and you can choose a few tweaks such as only when your computer is idle (great if you have a slower computer or are a heavy data user) or all the time (most computers have more than enough CPU and graphics processor time to spare and you won’t even notice). It’s gained a bit of attention recently thanks to some viral sharing on Reddit, from NVIDIA, and more, having jumped from only about 30k contributors at the beginning of March to now over 1 Million as of March 31st!!! They have more participants than resources, so now they are in need of hardware donations to the core systems lab and funds to run it and purchase additional bandwidth to run. Some users with large connections are even donating their bandwidth to help offset. Me, I’m sitting at home with a desktop server running 48GB of ECC RAM, dual Xeon E5620 processors, and both a 4GB and 2GB nVidia graphics cards, so I have compute space to share for days while watching web streamed training or entertainment. Why not put that to use, right?

When you install it, you can run it anonymously, or set up as a user for points. I created a team you can join for bragging rights too, The Unwired Medic (how original, right?). To join the team you will need to enter Team Number 258232 on the web control configuration box. Make your app more secure by getting their Passkey. That’s also super easy. Click a link, send them your name and email and they email you an alphanumeric string that you copy and paste in the web control configuration box. Easy peasy. They have a great FAQ and support forum too.

Join in and help support medical research without spending a dime, and you too can become a motherfolder!

Ready to start?

Great! Click here and it will detect your system and offer the appropriate installer. Don’t forget to join The Unwired Medic Team (#258232) and rack up some points with me!

Additional Resources:


May 20, 2019
by The Unwired Medic
1 Comment

Really, what is “Beyond The Call”?

Welcome to another anniversary week of celebration of EMS providers and services kicked off Sunday, May 19th, 2019.

We should probably expect the same PSAs circulated every year, saying to wear your seat belts, take a Stop The Bleed Class, offers of free Car Seat Inspections, and to recognize our EMS providers and dispatchers for their service to our communities. Agencies will often take the opportunity to convey the value their services provide to the public. All of that is perfectly appropriate. I would add that we should continue to build on that by letting the public know that we also have distinctions in levels of training, and where that training is available to them, especially the EMR training.

Our employers and destination hospitals also often provide refreshments and gifts in recognition of EMS Week. Sometimes they are warmly received and sometimes they are ridiculed openly on social media (which publicly shows our lack of professionalism and graciousness). We also hear nonsensical statements about EMT’s saving Paramedics proverbial asses. I for one have worked with many EMT’s. Most I would categorize as excellent and dedicated. I have been fortunate to have several partners when I was an EMT convey their appreciation for the hard work I did to support them. Not once have I saved my Paramedic, nor have I needed saving. It was, simply, a team effort to ensuring the best possible patient outcome. If a Paramedic truly needs saving, then they should really evaluate their need for remedial education or consider the possibility they are in the wrong career. Frankly, if I were a non-EMS patient and I heard my Paramedic needed saving, I might roll the dice with Uber or Lyft, because that would terrify me. That is as prudent as betting on the tables in Vegas to provide me a white-collar retirement. If EMT’s are making a habit of saving your Paramedics, then the time has arrived for a real “Come to Jesus” talk. If we just like saying that, let’s leave that mentality behind. Let’s start talking about a real patient care team where each person on a crew contributes to the best possible patient outcome. Complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses (but not carry the dead weight of the other). Our patients deserve no less and we are here for them.

This brings me to the point of my EMS Week 2019 article.

What exactly is “Beyond The Call”?

If the universe were mine to command, Beyond The Call wouldn’t be about catchphrases and slogans and feel-good newspeak. It also wouldn’t be rushing to complete a trip sheet at the end of a run and jamming back out to the next call. It wouldn’t be about rushing to the bathroom between calls or grabbing a bite to eat while navigating to the run that just dropped in your lap. It wouldn’t be glorifying how our lives and our identities are only EMS. It certainly wouldn’t be about dropping several paid full page ads in the primary announcement that’s supposed to be about the people of EMS, not ad revenue, and the hawking of thematic gifts for your people (29 full page ads out of 58 pages of the document linked), in a document that really doesn’t seem to defined “Beyond The Call“. We get enough commercialization of EMS in our industry magazines and via social media, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But can we please have one thing where it’s about us? The providers? The people of EMS? And about the people that support the field crews?

Beyond The Call – What it means to me…

First…

… and foremost, it’s strictly about the people of EMS. Appreciation from commercial interests is fine. Advertising your products like this week is just another advertising opportunity, not so much. I see sponsorships opportunities on the EMS Strong documents, but that sponsorship doesn’t seem to flow down to the people in EMS, as far as I can tell. I really don’t know exactly what’s being sponsored, so if you do, make sure to comment and let me know, please.

Next…

… slogans need definition, not just to be there for the sake of slogans. And I don’t think it’s healthy to perpetuate that EMS is our personal lives and identities, and is all-encompassing. It’s perfectly healthy to leave it at the time clock when we punch out. It’s also perfectly healthy to want to help when we are out and about and happen upon an emergency. It is not healthy to be all EMS all the time. And maybe that mentality helps perpetuate the PTSD and high provider suicide risk. The feeling the you can’t escape. I feel too many EMS Weeks convey all work with not a lot of life and personal identity away from it. Maybe shifting that or at least helping us recognize that EMS is not all we are wouldn’t hurt.

Me? I’m a father, a Marine, a dog owner, I enjoy photography as a hobby and I’m probably amateur/semi-pro at that, and I play low brass instruments. I like to shoot firearms too. I also happened to be in EMS since 1994, working my way up from First Responder to EMT, to Intermediate, to Instructor, to Paramedic. I thoroughly enjoyed my work in EMS and my opportunity to teach and help start the ATEMSP.

This third point…

… is what I really want to emphasize, so it will be the longest…

I think this is the perfect time to acknowledge the pursuit of bettering ourselves. Beyond The Call, to me, can be an opportunity to see what happens behind the curtains of the face of EMS, the sexy, adrenaline fueled, and not so infrequently boring part of EMS, the crews running the calls. QA/QI/QC should have a day to be acknowledged. When you partner their efforts with the field provider, especially when a true Just Culture environment is implemented, you give the EMT’s and Paramedics to the the tools to mature and grow, and become even better than ever. In Just Culture, discoveries in the quality reviewing process can give us exactly that. It can also show provider agencies and oversight agencies like State authorities where the field crews aren’t being provided enough tools to be as successful as they could be.

It can be a time to highlight non-clinical support roles that “keep the wheels on the bus”, pun intended. Logistics that supply the crews with gear. Fleet maintenance that keeps the trucks in motion. Billing that strives to pay the bills that in turn pay for all the things. Admin that orchestrates the entire operation of an agency and ensures that payroll makes it to the field providers, and more.

Beyond The Call, is education… The never-ending pursuit of self-improvement. Whether than involves the pursuit of collegiate education, increasing vocational education and raising your cert level from EMT to AEMT or Paramedic, or taking CE, with the emphasis on the C being “Continuing”, not Rehashing past education. CE should also place a heavy emphasis on EBM (Evidence-Based Medicine). Make yourself better for the next call. Take an arts class. They’ve been shown to help develop critical decision making skills and to help you develop alternative strategies to situations (thinking outside the box). Take additional science classes to help you understand more about the patient and their potential disease processes and mechanisms, or their psyche, or their medications and interactions and metabolism.

This is just one man’s perspective on what EMS Week and Beyond The Call is. It seems that we are left to define the theme for ourselves, and maybe that was really the point. So. Tell me. What is it to you?

April 15, 2019
by The Unwired Medic
0 comments

My 9th Anniversary!

Today marks my 9th year anniversary for The Unwired Medic! I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog, even though I don’t publish articles too often. Stick with me for more public safety tech reviews and articles relevant to EMS in general. No spam here! Thank you for reading!

November 29, 2018
by The Unwired Medic
0 comments

Do you still belong in Public Safety?

Depression is a terrible thing. It’s even worse when you begin to contemplate ending your life. And you’re probably filled to the brim with “awareness”. If anything, you are more acutely “aware” than most. I’d like to propose an alternative solution to coping with your demons. Maybe it’s time to consider moving on from EMS, Fire, or Law Enforcement.

I know. You’ve invested a lot of time and education, and you’ve poured your heart and soul into it, but are you getting back what you are putting into it, or is it slowly eating away at you? Are you able to be the person you want to be now? Are you able to separate your identity from your dedication to your work? Are all your friends also in public safety? Do you only talk about your work and the things you have seen? If public safety is also your off-duty identity, I submit the answer is quite possibly “no”. Maybe the Return on Investment isn’t so good anymore. When an investor sees that their returns aren’t worth what they are putting in, they move their investments to something that does return enough. They don’t keep funding a dying thing, hoping to get a little more return.

Hear me out. There are plenty of career alternatives. Photography, technology, sales, counseling, occupational health, public health preparedness (PHP), emergency management (EM), OSHA/MSHA, post-secondary education, educational upgrade to a higher level of care provider or specialist, and so much more. A lot of these options can be quite intrinsically rewarding. Personally, I found education, and both PHP and EM very rewarding. Career counselors can even survey your skills and interests and give you alternatives to evaluate too. You can also keep going in public safety on a part-time or reserve status, or volunteer for a DMAT or something.

But for your own sake, if your outside life is getting to be indistinguishable from work, you seriously need to take stock in yourself and be honest in your evaluation. We don’t need bitter old codgers and we don’t need people on the edge of losing it, one more call away from signing off permanently. You to be whole and compassionate, even for a simple lift assist or IFT, but most especially for yourself and your family. Burn-out is real and even I’ve been there for a time. I’ve asked myself why the hell I keep getting out of bed for this if I can’t get anything more than a paycheck (and not really a very good one at that). My family deserved better, and especially I deserved better. You do too. Be honest with yourself and do what is right for you. Don’t be the next last call. Don’t be the next reason we put a mourning band on our badges. You are better than that, and you have the power to prevent that and reclaim your happiness. You deserve it and don’t ever let yourself believe otherwise. You don’t have to force yourself to pretend to be happy in public safety. It’s a big investment in our lives to be here, but maybe the smart money is on diversification. The smart investor knows when it’s time to spread out his portfolio, and when it’s time to move on to a new thing.

It sounds cheesy AF, but a line The Gambler, by Kenny Rogers, really applies here…

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold’ em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”