Read Me/Disclaimer

Read Me/Disclaimer: This is a non-political/socio-political blog. It's a running tale of my Saudi Arabian adventure, great, good, bad, and ugly. It is uncensored, and I don't really care what you think of it, read it or don't. I don't care. I did not decide to do this as a means to an end, but rather to document the means with which I occupied my time while waiting for my end... All that being said, I'm an American Expat in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The opportunity to help build this system and the salary that accompanied it were to good to pass up.-Geoff

"The views presented here are just the views of some asshole named Geoff, they are not necessarily the views of my employer, my co-workers, my family or anybody else. First hand knowledge and second hand accounts were used to compile the information. These are not scientific facts and figures. These views are not necessarily supported, endorsed or even appreciated by the KSA the USA or any other country for that matter and the author makes absolutely no claim that they are."**

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Holy FML!

Strike every nice thing I ever said about my students and how hard they worked!  Today was spent not teaching, not running around putting out spot fires like I often do, but arguing.  The students in our highest levels, and the best students of those levels no less have mounted an insurrection.  No doubt fueled in part by international headlines about revolution!  Revolution and protests in Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Bahrain and hell even the US have I believe created an atmosphere of "we are young, we are loud, who gives a shit if we are right?!" "yeah look we can say dirty words so ha!"  At the heart of our students protests is the fact that they have to take midterms...that's right midterms.

**Let me clarify that I draw no comparisons between revolutions of freedom from oppressive regimes and this nonsense.  My only point was that the Arab Spring may have unintentionally fostered an atmosphere of generalized revolt.  Not against anything in-particular mind you, just a generalized feeling of revolt against "unhappiness".  Maybe it really is just an "Era of discontent"

Midterms were originally postponed a day due to a dust storm.  The next day was so nice the students decided to take it off too.  Since they had already missed two days, the dean rescheduled exams until after the spring break and ordered classes to be taught the rest of the week.  Yeah that didn't happen...because nobody came to school for the rest of the week and just took an extended spring break.  So this morning we were all ready to take the exams...all except the students.  After an extra 15 days to study, they came to school tired, and angry, having spent their entire Spring Break in nearby alcohol rich countries, they had no intention of taking a test today.  So instead they got together over the past day or two and decided that they would threaten us with complaints if we dared to give them the exam now.  You see, Spring Break is for their vacation here in the Magic Kingdom, not for study, but as a reward for all their hard work.  So therefore, the 15 days was not a blessing, but it was actually a curse.  Are you following this bullshit?  Because I had trouble following it...Long story short, they have been ordered to take the exam tomorrow at 1, they wanted to go home early today in order to "study"...can you believe this?  I didn't have much to do in my lab anyway, so I let them go 90 min early.  They spent the time they were given in the parking lot bitching and trying to get even more students riled up about imaginary problems. Then they called our "boss" in Riyadh, and while we can't get him to answer our calls about anything, he answers theirs.  I asked the department for a meeting, and let them know that I was 99% positive that this was all the doing of one organizer, and that our response needed to be unified, swift and unrelenting.  For the most part they agreed.  By the end of that meeting, our "boss" had called us for "no reason", "just seeing how everything is going"...

I know for a fact that they are organized because they all said the exact same phrases of complaint...smooth super spies, smooth...At one point, I thought about telling them that the penalty for mutiny on the good ship "Mr. Geoff" was walking the plank.  Or that deserters would be shot...reason got the best of me though and I just decided to laugh it off.  Yes folks I laughed it off.  Don't feel bad for doubting that, I still can't believe it myself.

Pretty sure the lazy bastards aren't going to show at test time...if they do, I'm expecting a repeat of the insurrection before and after the test...freakin' unbelievable!  I'm thinking about handing out grade cards that say "I am a lazy, bullshitting, liar, BUT I got an A!" 

Oh well, I got the grill fired up, my Budweiser N/A, some cigarettes and my iPod...Its all gonna be OK

Friday, March 30, 2012

When did we stop doing this?

Its true that this place can be kinda wearisome...There are things here that are so ass backwards its not even close to funny, then there are other things that just seem to make a lot more sense...Food for instance...Preservatives are a dirty word here, the milk is only good for about 4 days...Beef is imported from Brazil and the cattle are grass or grain fed without steroids, the beef is also untreated with any of the colorings or preservatives of American beef the taste difference is amazing, I actually prefer the taste of American beef, but c'mon, I had 34 years to get used to it!  The produce section in the store is all organic for the most part, most of the fruit and veggies still have dirt on them and are imported from nearby countries.  The juice here is nearly all fresh and is better than I ever could have imagined it would be.

Mostly though what I wanted to talk about was family.  In the states, family is an afterthought, here (although it doesn't apply to me or other expats really), family comes first.  You might disagree with the religious mores of the country, but the focus on family is hard to deny.  Tonight for instance I went for an evening walk by the sea.  Nearly every cabana was filled up with grandparents, parents and children.  I walked by watching the extended families prepare for prayer time and cook their dinner over open fire grills while the youngest played futbol on the beach.  Every cabana and open space was filled with families gathering to eat and enjoy each other.  When was the last time you ever saw that in the states?  Maybe in the most disciplined families it happens every Sunday, but for most families it happens only on holidays, if ever! 

What a concept, raising children with a whole family approach...we've never heard of anything like that in the states have we?  Listening to the wisdom of our elders until they are too old to speak and then caring for them with the respect that only family can provide until they pass.  I'm not staying here forever, but I will definitely be bringing a few things home with me.  When exactly did we get too busy being industrious for this to happen in the US?  At what point in history did we decide that since grandma falls a lot, we'll put her in a "nursing" home so that a bunch of underpaid, under-appreciated, under-background checked teenagers can look after her? What excuse did we use to justify that decision? 

Call me crazy, but the fall of America really IS going to be like the fall of Rome.  We're not going to fall to the drums of a foreign army, that could never happen, instead were going to fall to the degradation of our own ideals.  Racism, nationalism and the communist elements of entitlement are all going to have their say in the whole thing, but even they don't have the power to take us down.  Were going to do it to ourselves, smiling and striving the entire way.  When we've all finally forgotten what freedom means and exchanged it for some conveniently packaged, sparkly illusion of a perfect life, we'll be done.  Somewhere along the way, we got the crazy idea that success meant a suit and tie, and a BMW in the driveway of our large house.  Maybe we thought it was taking the family on a big vacation every year.  Maybe our children getting good grades and going to a good College and becoming someone famous.  Maybe being important and telling people what to do. But most likely we thought it meant individual purchasing power...not that we needed anything mind you, just that we wanted things. 

What about changing it up a bit, what about defining success as a family that takes care of itself and lives in a community that does the same?  What about defining success as a warm family that you can count on?  Imagine splitting the responsibilities and hardships that come with tragedy over an entire family?  Imagine the cost savings of eating together every night, imagine a house full of life, the sounds of three generations echoing through the halls.  Imagine the strength and togetherness that comes from 5 men rather than 1 going out to harvest wood, maintaining a garden and a yard, make repairs, change oil and maintain cars, how about 10 family members pooling resources?  In my immediate family alone (with me home and only working one job), we could average about 300k a year, sometimes higher, sometimes lower.  We have the skills between us to:  Build decks, garages, carports, to fix cars, weld, assemble, grow and cook food, play music, teach, coach.  We've been in the military, worked as paramedics, salesmen, roofers, flooring guys, teachers, nurses, business managers, real estate agents, law enforcement and Law, we've been elected, we've been appointed, we've been influential.  We share the common interests of baseball, hockey, football, politics, animals, music, motorcycles, medicine, reading and literature.  We all like redneck stuff like rivers, camping, grilling, fishing and trucks, (we all enjoy adding beer to any of the above activities), we all enjoy crafts in some form or another.  And yet despite living relatively close to each other, we often times only see each other every month, sometimes only on holidays. This concept doesn't need to be due to some underlying religious theme in some piss poor reality show, and it doesn't have to be some crazy survivalist compound.  If we want to salvage any portion of the American dream, I think were going to have to warm up to this idea in some form or another, maybe it doesn't have to be this extreme, maybe living in the same neighborhood is enough, maybe even living close is good enough, but this idea of striking out on our own to get rich and famous is going to have to fall by the wayside if we ever want to experience real happiness.  We've all struck out on our own...and unless we define success by working 80 hours a week and wearing a tie, we've all failed miserably. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Here's to the Heroes

I had a squad leader once define courage as "doing what needs to be done when its the scariest fucking option out there".  Somehow a civilized definition of that just doesn't pack the same punch...

Lots has been written about EMS and Fire and PD and safety and LODD's, and all sorts of blah, blah, really important stuff.  Every 2nd week EMT candidate recites the words "BSI, scene safe" in his or her sleep.  As an instructor, I try and make it come alive and say that Scene Safety is not about some mythical bad guy hiding in the shadows at a domestic violence call, but rather its about the unsecured street that your working in, the abandoned building you just entered, the blood that is soaking through your boots and pants while you kneel down and hold someones hand as they die.  Those are the real issues of scene safety.  "Forget about the DV call, the cops already got that guy all hemmed up."  I try and educate and instill a higher order of thinking that allows them to be prepared in advance for the crazy things they're going to face.  For the most part this works.  For the most part we are able to educate unsafe practices out of folks, and for the most part we're able to protect ourselves from most "icky stuff" even in the field.  But sometimes, just sometimes, a situation arises in which a hero is needed.  Every day all over the entire world, men and women step up to be just that.  Later on they are Monday morning quarterbacked to death, their actions portrayed in the media as foolish, the talk around the base or the station about how "we would have done it".  The Lawyers already seeing dollar signs regarding the mistakes that have been revealed. Some of us though know the truth, that at that particular moment in time, a hero was needed.  

So here is my brief ode to the heroes, they go through hell some days, the ones who stop their cars and hold bloody necks still while waiting for the on duty responders, the ones who are covered in blood, shit and vomit at the end of the call because a chief complaint of vomiting wasn't thought to bring about a naked man covered in GI blood and vomit who happened to stop breathing as you pulled up.  The responders who run up to a car on fire with no PPE and only a fire extinguisher, the Paramedics who help a man evacuate his dogs from a burning house while waiting for the FD to arrive after realizing that their only other choice was to tie him down.  The responders who dig through glass and rubble at a building collapse before the USAR team is activated.  The ones who trek through the woods in the winter looking for lost and hurt hunters despite having no special wilderness gear or training.  Here is to the first responders trained and untrained who risk everything to save their fellow man.  Mostly though, here's to the heroes that keep going to work, day in day out, shift after shift they keep putting on their uniforms and boots and go do it all again despite personal problems, despite an imperfect marriage, despite low pay and crappy conditions, despite the fact that if George Clooney walked in to the living room while they were coding someone, the family would probably ask him to save them.  You do us all proud, every day, I am so very proud to have been among you. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

4 1/2 month reading list

Don't know what it is about the 2 month time frame, but it seems that about every 2 months I just feel the need to update this...So here it is:

Previous List:
Full dark, No stars-Stephen King ***

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-Steig Larson****

The Dome-Stephen King****

Twilight-Stephanie Meyer***

Girls of Riyadh-Rajaa Alsanea**** *

The Girl Who Played With Fire-Steig Larson****

New Stuff:

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest-Steig Larson***

11/22/63-Stephen King*****

Assegai-Wilbur Smith***

Project Books (Reference or a chapter here and there)

Bates' Guide to Physical Assessment and History Taking-Lynn S. Bickley

Islam the Straight Path-John L. Esposito

I almost felt that Larson was reaching with his third book in the series, a little too impossible, but then the willing suspension of disbelief is the great thing about fiction.  I also "ah-hmm procured"  the new movie "The Girl with Dragon Tattoo", I was definitely able to follow it a bit better than the original movie, and thought that Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara both did excellent jobs in their parts.  I continue to think Craig is just the coolest thing ever and can't wait to see the new Bond.  King is a master storyteller, always has been and always will be, I loved it, every word of it, had me staying up until the wee hours until it was done.  As to Wilbur Smith's novel, I haven't read a Smith novel since I was a teenager, I used to love them, men acting like men, women falling in love and being strong for their men, Duty, Honor, War.  What's not to love?  I only picked it up because I decided to save a little money and start only buying books that had hit the bargain bin...Smith was the first author I recognized.  Enjoyed it immensely and may go get another, eventually though I'm going to have to face the fact that it's Wilbur Smith and his romantic portrayal of men being men on the African continent hasn't been realistic for decades, and was never quite as romantic as he portrays it.  Not to mention all of his novels are very similar...not quite as bad as the Hardy Boys formulas, but pretty darn close to the same idea.  His knowledge of the History of Africa and his ability to blend it in to his story is incredible though.  The two reference books have been pretty good to me, Bates' was simply a review of stuff I already knew, but at a slightly higher level.  Esposito's book is an excellent read and helps save you from falling victim to rumors and Myth's you've heard and also helps you understand the modern Islamic world.  if I went home in a couple of years and all I knew about this place was that people drove like morons, and had lots of oil money, well I'd be very disappointed in myself.  Don't worry though, Esposito is an American Professor and his work is mainstream...I'm still a Christian, they haven't converted me.  I've picked up the rest of the twilight series (hey they were in the bargain bin!)  I'm hoping that it can help the wife and I find some common ground, maybe I can learn what a romantic man is supposed to act like...because Lord knows I've been screwing that up for years!  Anyway a million screaming teenagers can't be that wrong...can they?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Off Limit Topics...

The first and foremost off limit topic that people want to keep talking to me about...9-11 (September, 11th 2001). 

OK, once and for all, lets get this out,  It would be bad form (to say the least) for a Non-Japanese citizen to wander around Hiroshima and say wow, you can't even tell an Atomic Bomb ever fell here, or a German guy to ask a Jewish guy, "so how bout that holocaust thingy?  You think that really happened?".  I don't see what people don't get about this...I mean its a touchy subject even in America still, it will be for a very long time, maybe forever.  But, here from a non-American to an American its downright rude...and you can stick your theories up you ass for all I care.  You can discuss it amongst other foreigners all you want, but to ask someone of the nationality of the tragedy, if they think maybe their own Government or military "did it".  Is just bad form.  So lets clear up my version of events, and remember I'm a little lefty sometimes, but here it is, just so people can stop asking...

It should be noted that the latest offender of this policy was not Saudi...not Arab....and not Muslim...but was primarily not an American citizen, but would like to be...yeah, I don't think so...

9-11-2001.  A bunch of murderous assholes, got on airplanes, they took over those airplanes by force and threat of force.  Later they crashed those airplanes into easily recognizable and ideologically significant targets in America.  They killed innocent men, women and children because they thought differently than they did.  Brave men and women then attempted to rescue the survivors of the attacks and recover the victims regardless of the nationality, gender, race, sexual preference or religion.  Many of them died in the process, and many more have seriously debilitating and lasting side effects both physical and mental from the events of that day.  That is what happened on 9-11

All of the rest of it, all of the details, citizenship of the hijackers, plots, conspiracy theories, and pardon me...Bull Shit. None of that detracts from or changes the fact that the paragraph above is what really happened on 9-11.  Now do I believe as I've actually been asked: If it was a Zionist plot (called a Jew plot here)?-NO  Do I believe it was perpetrated by the CIA?-NO, Do I believe that the buildings were rigged with explosives and the planes were just decoys?-NO, Do I believe that Osama Bin Laden and the other Hijackers were undercover CIA agents?-NO, Do I believe that the US Government knew about the plot, but allowed it to happen as a pretext to "plunder the Arab world of oil and money?"-NO  "What about Rosie O'Donnel and all of the other Important Americans who think it was a conspiracy?"-Really?  NO SERIOUSLY?  REALLY?  Rosie Fuckin' O'Donnell?  The last time "Rosie" was important in America was at the lunch counter!  Her and all of the other conspiracy theorists can as far as I'm concerned crawl back down their holes, but...They are Americans, and they were there (in the US), my own logic yeah, they can question whatever they want to of those rights afforded to American Citizens.  But not afforded to foreign nationals asking an American these questions in passing as though we were discussing the weather or trading one-liners at a cocktail party...

So, now you know...hopefully we can avoid this conversation next time...And remember the key points presented here.


#1:  Assholes got on airplanes

#2:  Assholes hijacked airplanes

#3:  Assholes murdered innocent people

#4:  Heroes risked and lost their lives trying to save people indiscriminately


Monday, March 19, 2012

Hello streets...Daddy's home!

Well hell, every now and then God hears your bitching and decides, "well OK fine, I'll cut you a break".  If you haven't been able to tell, I've not been having the greatest past couple of weeks, and all that stress and BS has really started to wear me down.  Works been tough, work's been stressful, I've begun to think this country doesn't want anything better, and life on the home front has been topsy turvy just to ice the cake.  So today when I showed up and found out that even though the weather had cleared up beautifully, the students decided with their ringleader to take the day off of testing...I thought it was just going to be another in a long line of shit days...Boy was I wrong on that one!

Decided to take advantage of the pretty much nothing to do day, play hookey and go get all my paperwork turned in so that I can volunteer ride on the ALS truck with the other Medic or Doc, whomsoever happens to be on that day.  I had started to feel a longing for the streets that I just can't explain.  I'm beginning to think I was actually made to be a paramedic, and just luckily good at it!

Spent the first half of the day cruising around Dammam to about 20 different places getting everything done, had a great student escort in the form of Mr. Z#@%^&  K*&*^.  He kept the process flowing and entertaining, and kept the soundtrack to my Junior High and High School days rocking out courtesy of Saudi Aramco.  Really showed me a side of this place I have never seen!  Invited me to his house and was a gracious host.  It is rare and very nice to see the "real" parts of Saudi.

The guys at the SRCA seemed happy as clams that I wanted to do some volunteer time, and were more than accommodating.  After finally getting everything done, we headed to Khobar to meet up with another student who was working that day and his partner A_____ whose a Doc from Egypt.  Great guys all, met another great guy, a Flight Medic here in the KSA, who is Saudi but has dual citizenship and has done roughly the same amount and type of education I have.  We talked about the problems, the job, the training, my students...all in all had a great time.

Lunch was at "Steak House" which as the name implies is an American style steakhouse, with an impressive soup and salad bar (rare in the KSA).  We laughed and talked and joked for hours.  Towards the middle of this lunch, I realized what a great time I was having and I realized something else as well, I hadn't thought of my recent problems at all, I was just having fun with a bunch of pre-hospital contemporaries.  The day wasn't like something similar to what we do in the US, it was what we do in the US!  Sit around and laugh and joke about things that only Medics and Docs who have been on the street can understand.  Towards the end, Z___ got the great idea that we ought to head to Bahrain tonight when he got off shift, "BUT!" he quickly added "with rules!". We jumped on the idea immediately, and told him that the only rules should be that the first one to pass out buys drinks for the rest of the night!  We all shared a great laugh and went on to listen to his rules...No Booze and No Women!  All at once we said without at least one of those two things, why the heck wold we go to Bahrain?  He laughed and joked and said no seriously, I'm getting married in 2 weeks!  Then we all started in on the sins of marriage and a job like this, laughing, swapping stories, and reciting ultimatums our wives had made over the years.  We decided to postpone Bahrain, but I hope it comes up again in the future.  I think I'm ready for some fun with a group like that...a group like me is I guess a little more accurate.

Heading back to the station, I rode with the guys in the ALS truck...we hadn't gotten 5 minutes into the conversation about how slow it was today when their tones dropped and off we went, first call of the day was a child struck by a car, while we were cleaning up and putting things together from that one our tones dropped again for a hypoglycemic patient.  and we pulled out right behind the ambulance heading to the hospital.  We met another ambulance on scene, and doc did a great job getting the patient all set and ready to go.  2 minutes later, off we went again, this time to a call for two patients who fell from an unknown height.  As we arrived on the scene, we were informed by dispatch that the 1 patient had been transported to the hospital by another ambulance.  We turned around headed home and went to another fall, possible hip fracture.  All in all we left the restaurant at 2:30 and returned to the ambulance station at 6:45.  The guys had another hour and fifteen minutes to go before the shift was over.  I thanked everyone for an awesome first day, and headed home with Z______.

I think this is the most content I've felt in weeks, if not months.  I really hate to admit it after all the money I spent in school and all the years I've been busting my butt to earn degrees, but I think I might just be a Medic...a lifer...

Whatever I think though, I feel pretty damn good.  Foreign EMS is pretty cool.  Oh and BTW that ALS truck I was riding with, it is the ALS response vehicle for Al-Khobar with a population of 360,000 according to the 2009 census and reported by
 That ain't to shabby!

Kudos to the SRCA and the dedicated crews that run these trucks, what I saw today was world class!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

But now seriously folks...

Blah...Blah...Blah....Oh, oops.  Sorry I was thinking about problems at work for a minute there.  Lets discuss a topic near and dear to the hearts of my medic peeps. "Holding it together in the face of personal conflict."  I've had occasion to think about this topic many times in my life, I've recently had good cause to ponder it again.  I really believe that life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it! (excuse me while I go vomit).  Do you ever notice how when somebody, (sometimes me, often me) is really peppy and upbeat they say things like this?  Every now and then though, no matter how peppy and upbeat you are, the bird does shit on you.  It's inevitable, you can only have so much of a good run before you run out of gas, and some people always seem to be running out of gas!  I'm not one of them, that's not my lot in life, my lot is to get caught doing the dumb thing, or the thing that everybody else does that gets ignored right up until the time I do it.  For example  one time, at one place, in one town when we were kids, we would throw rotten apricots from the trees in our yards at cars, my friends could throw apricots all day, all that ever happened was the car would swerve a little bit, the driver would honk and swear, and all the kids would giggle...right up until the time I did it, then the car crashed into the tree and the very mean lady started screaming "get the fu$# over here you little S*%@!".  That's my lot, always has been, always will be.  I also tend to see the world through rose colored glasses, I don't get depressed, I don't get worn out, I don't see problems, I see solutions.  Every now and then though, its my turn on the wheel of shit in the game show of life and my glasses fall off, or I finally see not only the problems, but the full magnitude of the problems.  And usually when I do, I flip---albeit just for a second, but I flip, and I just let all the little things I've been ignoring and blowing off for the past year or so come right up from the pit in my stomach where they've been hiding to my mouth where they exit promptly so as not to have to go through my brain.  Ever been at the office and heard anyone shout "My personal life, or personal problems are none of your f-ing business!" at the top of their really good lungs?  Ever wonder what the hell was going on?  Ever realize a second later that those were your not all to shabby lungs providing that bellow as those words flew out of your mouth?.  Yeah me neither, I was a Marine and a Sailor, I don't say "F-ing".  Then you spend the next 5 minutes trying to explain that you are calm, and that if everybody would just do their job, everything would work out just fine!  The 5 minutes after that are spent saying, no I'm fine, I really don't want to talk about it.  My medic friends get this because this is their life, sometimes because of horrible stuff they saw at work, but more often because they have to go pick up some poor sap right after their wife just told them the rent check bounced, or she's going to stay with her sister for a week, or she's pregnant, (yes she knows you had a vasectomy, but sometimes it slips through!).  Or right before you go out on a serious call you're on the phone with your kids principal saying "What!" "he did What!" "with WHO!".  Its part of the job, it happens, you put your shit back together, get your head screwed on straight and go do what needs to be done.  This is a different society though, its an in'shallah society, and they let most things, and most problems just run off their backs.  My pleasant little outburst however will get remembered for awhile, and it makes me look bad, emotional, and like somebody who is failing. I'd love to blame it on the situation, I'd love to blame it on the other half of the problem, maybe the other 3/4 of the problem, but nope its mine...all mine...FML  The worst part is, I normally take ownership of my mistakes.  Not everybody does, but one of the few really good habits I picked up as I matured was ownership of my own problems.  Of course ownership requires analysis, analysis of ones many facets, of ones particular brand of bullshit, and ones demons.  Thought I had all of my shit pretty much under control, head screwed on straight, demons known and partially exercised, recognition of my own stupid self in the mirror and a keen sense of smell.  Looks like I missed something, looks like I need to get my shit back under control.  Great...Oh yeah, one of the other little motivational phrases I love to spout off is Ghandi's "Be the change you want to see in the world", or even better in this situation, you must understand that you can only be responsible for you which leads into the serenity prayer, which all leads to straighten yourself out, trust in God, and don't waste time worrying about things you can't change...Yeah, those things go over great with a control freak like me...WTF...FML...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Nope, Changed my mind

Think I'm gonna stay, don't think I'm going to hide.  It seems that not everybody loves me here in the Kingdom, but from what I can tell, its not any of the Saudi's except for the occasional student here and there (and what school is complete without the complaining student).  Nope it seems that some of the worthless other GCC employees don't much care for me.   Why?  Because I speak better English and make more money.  They would rather see every student pass this course and kill someone, than challenge them and push them to a higher standard, getting them equipped to save lives.  Just as long as they keep getting their paychecks.  They seem to see me as the roadblock to their success. , blocking them from happiness with my stupid standards of actually arriving to work on time, actually teaching the material, and actually knowing what changes have occurred in pre-hospital medicine in the last 10 years.  Stupid American!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Well folks, its been a fun ride but I think I'm taking the blog private or scrapping it altogether...I haven't completely decided yet.  Seems my boss got a letter from a student demanding my termination, stating that I don't much care for it here in the Kingdom, that I continually berate students and speak ill of the Kingdom, Islam and their mothers and sisters.  Doesn't look like he's taking it seriously, but rumor has it he's a little pissed.  Fortunately for me though nothing could be further from the truth, but that brings us to the point that I like to speak my mind.  I like to paint a true picture, not some fantasy bullshit that people like to show to the outside world.  And it also brings us to the point that I'm a foreigner here...a guest. Anything I said in the future or have said in the past could easily be taken out of context and in the hands of the right little evil shit, could possibly do some damage.  Even just cursing in these sentences is probably enough to get something leveled against me, even though I hate to believe that with all the great people I've met here, that kind of medieval mentality still exists.  So just for the record, these are my true thoughts on the KSA:  Interesting place, full of history with an incredible native people.  Foreigners are abused here and treated like slaves in some instances, though this is hardly the only place.  The only thing I have to say about Islam is that I didn't realize how similar it was to the things that I believe in Christianity.  As to women, well I'll say this, I love my wife, the woman waiting for me (hopefully!) back in the US.  I have not, nor will I degrade, pursue or even give the women here a second thought.  never have, never will.  There is not enough money or effort spent on tourism here, they like it that way, but I think it could do some good at opening things up to the world.  My employer is generous, and I like my job.  My students for the most part are wonderful human beings who I have a great deal of faith in, but just like in America, all it takes is one rotten apple to spoil the barrel.  Because I don't want to get kicked out of the Kingdom, I guess I'll take this private or delete it altogether.  If you want to keep reading, send me an e-mail or comment with your address and who you are and I'll add you.  I'll leave this public for a day or so.  Especially since I'm pretty sure that cowardly little liar reads it every day.  Unless something changes, this is the last public blog post, so hope you enjoyed it, I'm headed to bed...

Friday, March 9, 2012

The basics

So, you've been around the block a couple of times and the buildings haven't changed much.  You've been a medic for 5 years and are starting to get a little bold, somehow and for whatever reason, you've decided you might want to get out of your comfort zone with XYZ Ambulance or St. Giagantic's Hospital, or maybe even the I'm a FIREFIGHTER-paramedic "Lego-land City Fire Department".  Maybe you were even that rarest of breeds, that paramedic of legend, the one who manages to rock out a one piece flight suit and aviator glasses at midnight"Flightus paramedicus".  Whatever you are or were, you're stretching your wings and looking out of the nest.  Well my friend, its a big world out here, and the drop from the nest isn't that far.  So grab a cup of coffee and come on.  We'll see if we can't get you oriented.

Oh, and just so I don't get myself in any trouble:

 "The views presented here are just the views of some asshole named Geoff, they are not necessarily the views of my employer, my co-workers, my wife, my family or anybody else.  First hand knowledge and second hand accounts were used to compile the information, these are not scientific facts and figures.  These views are not necessarily supported or endorsed by the KSA and the author makes absolutely no claim that they are."

Number 1: You are probably looking because you're not happy where your at, maybe you work for some old fat guy who hasn't been on the truck in 20 years, maybe you work for peanuts-literally, maybe your one of those people dragging the salary down for all of us because you volunteer and do the job for free and finally decided it was time to make some money.  Whatever the reason, if your not happy where your at, you won't be happy here.  Please turn around, get your head screwed on straight and come back later when you figure out that only you can make you happy.  Money and sand does not make a man happy.

Now then, if your decently happy where your at and you'd like a challenge--come on in.  

If you need to make some money for a year or two and your not hated or about to be fired where your at...Come on in, money we have, lots of it.  

Number 2: I now know some things about Dubai and the UAE, I know a little about Qatar and Kuwait, and I even know a little bit about Iraq and Afghanistan.  I am qualified to give you guidance on none of these places!  I am only qualified to give you a little guidance on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and even that is from a newcomers perspective.  But "out of the mouths of babes oft times come gems".  So here we go.

Where to work

University or College: high salary, good conditions: (65k-100k)

Institute: Low Salary, poor conditions: (40k-60k)

Ambulance: Med-High salary, poor conditions (50k-70k)

Private Flight Ambulance: high salary, good conditions(65k-100k)

Hospital: high salary, decent conditions (80k-100k)

Oil Company: (all of the above and Rig medicine):  60k-???, Varies, I have no real, tangible reports to go on here, I'm told its boring, cold or hot, and more like being a PA than a medic. 

Desirable Certifications and Experience

A criminal record can be a deal breaker,  A DWI 10 years ago won't kill you, but if you got arrested last year for domestic violence...don't even bother

Degrees and Such:





Instructor Certs (AHA/NAEMT):





Provider Certs





These are the highly recognizable certs that are valued here, that isn't to say that other certs aren't helpful, but these are the ones they want.  How many do you have?  If you can check off at least two in every category, your doing good!

the new style...

I've decided to organize the blog a little better, don't have much of an audience (which is's my Diary Dammit Blog!).  But obviously more than just family is viewing, so I thought I'd add a tab/page.  Most of the stuff will still go in the "Everyday Ramblings" category, but I see so much Bullshit on the web about working here that I felt it necessary to really start my own little educational campaign  to help would be workers and steer away the freaks! (there's only room for me in that regard!). 

Feel free to comment, feel free to ask me questions, feel free to leave a contact email/phone number.  If you leave a phone number you'll get to hear first hand what a Skype call sounds like.  VoiP connecting to cell signal can get a little sketchy, but as long as we pretend were using "Walkie-Talkies" it works just fine!  Hope the new tab helps some readers decide whether or not this crazy place is for them!

Monday, March 5, 2012

I need a beers (plural)...wait, to hell with beers, I need to get drunk!

So what started as a fairly decent day with beautiful weather took a weird twist in the early afternoon and turned into a big ol' pile of shit!

I don't even know how to accurately describe it, but I can tell you this...starting a program as important as this without a management team already in place 2 years ago was a bad idea.  I knew that already though, I knew that when I signed on.  I just didn't know how bad this place could be on some things and some days. What all started as a minor complaint about a hard quiz worth 25 points, turned bad within seconds when a student complaining to a teacher raised his voice and the teacher temporarily lost his cool.  I thought it was over, so laughed and went on, mainly because crying in frustration in front of students and other staff would have been bad.  Walking back to my office, another student told me that "you know he's right, it is not fair and it is not our fault", I said I know, but its not mine either, I'm the guy trying to fix it, but you guys can't be acting up and acting a fool every time something goes wrong here...for crissakes you won't have time to recover in-between episodes!  He stared to get a little insistent and I just said don't raise your voice to me, don't even start that shit! and then I defused the situation by heading down the hall.  Sitting in my office, I heard the voices start to get a little louder, then pretty darn impassioned, heard a third voice of reason jump in and try to calm the other two, and then I heard voice three get drowned out.  I decided I had better head down the hall and figure out just what the hell was going on...And that was the moment that the whole day went from pretty darn good to not that great to "Oh shit, FML"

Probably just lost my best instructor, the guy who does the work of three men.  His friend will probably go when he does.  Damn near lost my number one student too, still might, the day is young.  If he goes so will his friends, at least a few of them anyway.

Sent an emergency email to the boss,... that didn't work, tried calling,... that didn't work, calmed everybody down the best I could and did OK at that, finally said to hell with it and packed it in for night...If were not careful (and I mean walking in a minefield careful) this is going to unravel right in front of our eyes.  We'll all be going home...quick, fast and in a hurry.  the KSA will not have a better supply of medics, these students will have to start over at another school, we'll have jack shit to show for it, and I'll feel like a failure.  Worse than feeling like anything though, I'll know that we let these young men down.

Wanna know what it was all about?  What the whole disaster that damn near might have cost us the equivalent of 4 staff members and 3-5 of the best English speaking students the entire college has?...

Books...the students want books to study from...