South Burlington, Vermont: Fire Fighters to Become Certified Paramedics

South Burlington, Vermont: Fire Fighters to Become Certified Paramedics

Most Recent Writing Tips

How to Get Professional Feedback on Your Writing

How to Get Professional Feedback on Your Writing

How to Get Professional Feedback on Your Writing  O'Dell Isaac was a substitute teacher and military journalist who struggled for years to write a novel. A decade went by without any progress towards writing or publishing a book. Then, in November of 2018, he managed...

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South Burlington, Vermont: Fire Fighters to Become Certified Paramedics

South Burlington Vermont Fire Department Fighters EMT Writer

Seven South Burlington fire fighters have nearly completed a year-long paramedic training.  Fire fighters Will Moran, Nick Perkov, Brad Dattilio, John Christman, John Goodrich, Will Boyea, and Justin Bliss are scheduled to graduate in early December from a program that Fire Chief Douglas Brent described as “never available in Chittenden County before.”

Previously, fire fighters would travel as far as Conway, NH; Albany, NY; and South Portland, ME for training.  “We risk losing people to out-of-state when we send them away for training like that,” Brent said.  So, instead, the seasoned fire chief took action and wrote the $635,000 FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) grant for the program, which he received in 2009, “the largest fire grant in Vermont that year,” he said.  The grant covers wages, tuition and equipment, and because Chief Brent organizes the administration of the grant, it comes at no cost to the City of South Burlington.

All seven of the EMTs participating in the training program are level 2 EMTs who have served South Burlington for several years. Fire Fighters from Essex and Colchester are also participating in the program.  “Making it a regional grant put us higher on the priority list,” Brent said.

Fire fighters are training to attain the EMT level 3-paramedic  certification. To achieve paramedic certification, candidates must pass a three-part test: a practical, a written and an oral.  “I don’t want to sound like a proud father,” Brent said. “But I was told that the current class average is 89 percent,” he beamed, “the South Burlington average is 99 percent.”

“We’re healthily competitive,” South Burlington fire fighter Nick Perkov admitted with a smile.  “The seven of us work really hard at training and studying together.”

The seven students have trained with medical staff at UVM, including Dr. Wibberling whom Perkov described as “extraordinary to work with; he has a tremendous amount of knowledge.”
According to Perkov, the service improvement to South Burlington includes the fact that “a paramedic is able to administer more procedures and medications, and has more advanced knowledge of what a patient may have.”  For example, unlike EMT level 2’s who can only administer 8 standard medications, paramedics can assess symptoms and appropriately administer a total of 28 cardiac, respiratory, and pain medications.

Additionally, paramedics are able to administer initial care that otherwise might have to wait until a patient’s arrival at the hospital.  “We’re trying to bring definitive treatment to the patient,” Perkov said.  He pointed out an expression in the medical field “Time is Tissue” saying that a paramedic can get to work on many issues right away, avoiding many serious conditions. “Once there’s tissue death, it doesn’t come back,” he said.

The mean time in South Burlington for response to a 911 call is 4 minutes.    “Providing definitive care in less than 4 minutes—that’s huge,” Perkov said.

For example, as Perkov points out, “A seizure patient can’t protect their own seizure. Before [as level 2 EMTs] there was nothing we could do.  Now we can give them meds to break the seizure. This also alleviates some of the burden on the hospital.”

The response to emergencies will remain the same.  A fire truck and ambulance will be dispatched to every medical emergency with 2 paramedics on the ambulance and 3 additional EMTs on the fire engine.  “It’s a team approach,” Perkov said.  “It’s not just one paramedic treating the patient. We show up with all three [EMT] levels.  It’s not anything different; it’s just more for the patient.”

“It’s always helpful to have extra hands to lift and help with the patient,” Chief Brent said.  “And if a patient is very sick, we might need more than one person to help the patient.”

Another benefit of having a paramedic on board the ambulance is that the patient receives similar care to what he or she would receive upon arrival in the emergency room, “we don’t have to drive as fast anymore,” Brent said.

“We can take our time [getting to the hospital],” Perkov added, “we don’t need lights and siren.  There’s so much we can do right there in the ambulance.”

Chief Brent anticipates that the new paramedic program will be “fully on line by January first.” This is the Chief’s fourth grant since he began his service for South Burlington. He has written and received other grants for the department for gear, the “jaws of life,” and several rescue vehicles, among other items, totaling $3.4 million.

SOURCE: Annalisa Parent, Correspondent

Want to be seen as an expert with your tell-all book? Don’t make this mistake.

Want to be seen as an expert with your tell-all book? Don’t make this mistake.

Want to be seen as an expert with your tell-all book? Don’t make this mistake.


Everyone’s met someone who is interested in the why. She’s two with pigtails or he’s four with hair sticking up on one side, but the one thing they have in common is they constantly ask “Why?”

Eat your vegetables.


Wash your face.


Young children constantly prove that it’s human nature to ask why.

We want to know the reasons behind each line item in the local government budget, or–really– why should we eat those vegetables?

Yet the “why” is the one element beginning writers often overlook when writing their books. They’ve got the expertise, and do a thorough job with who, what, when and where.

And let me tell you, they crush the how– it’s the bulk of an entrepreneur’s expertise– how to use the great system I’ve come up with, how to lose five pounds in two days, how to improve your life or keep an orchid alive. (That last one’s a mystery to me!)


Want to be an expert with your tell-all book? Don’t make this mistake.

Writers answer those questions well, but why (See what I did there?) do they leave out the “why?”

Let’s go back to the questioning kids. If you’ve been around the younger generation for a span of one holiday meal, you were tempted to say– or actually found the words coming out of your mouth– “because I said so.” It’s ok. Take a deep breath. It’s natural to want to assert “I’m an authority and I know this is right.” And as an author, that’s a beautiful impulse that’s going to get you far. That said, a child may fall for “because I said so,” but your readers will not.

They want to know why your weight loss system will work better than the three previous ones they’ve tried, why your products or strategies will have an impact in their lives, why science supports your method, why French Fries are the next big thing… you get the idea.


Why is an essential question to answer for your reader.

Why questions are also the hardest to answer.

Think about it: the reason so many adults are tempted by the “because I said so” route is because we’re grasping for answers.

Why is the sky blue?
Why is the moon sometimes round and sometimes a C?
Why aren’t all the cars red?

It’s mind-dizzying! Even when we know the answer, it can be difficult to articulate. But, that’s exactly what we must do for our readers.

We must break the process down into its smallest elements and explain each one. In order to do that, we must have a deep understanding of our why.

And there’s the rub. Of course we know what we’re talking about, we know it inside and out. That’s why we’re writing a book on it.

But, the breakdown, finding the right words to explain the why, or sometimes even finding out which why questions are priorities– those are the writing areas that pose the challenge.

I’ll be addressing the process to dig deeper into your why in my next post. I’ll also be walking writers through in-depth exercises on just this topic at my upcoming Entrepreneurs’ Writing Retreat, Book It! Your Publishing Roadmap to More Sales, More Speaking Engagements and More Credibility, in Delray Beach, FL this March. There are fewer than ten spots left, but I’d love to have you join us. Drop me a line and I’ll fill you in.

Not ready for a retreat, but want to stay posted on more writing tips to bring out your best writer? I’d love to share my weekly writing tips with you, and hear about what you’re writing. Sign up for weekly tips here.

Happy Writing,

The Power of Freewriting

The Power of Freewriting

The Power of Freewriting

Wine-gettyTwo writers walk into a bar.
They each order a chardonnay.

Have you ever heard this one?
That’s because I made it up.



 Sometimes, when we’re stuck, or our creativity is blocked, it’s best to just write though it.  This is true even for seasoned writers and artists.
So, when you’re writing is stuck, write a joke, write a rhyme– just get that writing flowing.

What does that look like? Just start writing, with no censorship, no wrong answers, no “That’s so dumb; I’m not writing that.”  Just write.  No, really!

And just to prove I am serious, here’s my no-judgments, totally-off-the-cuff, free write:


Two writers walk into a bar.
They each order a chardonnay.
As the bartender hands over the glasses, he says,
“You post-modern creative types.  All  you’re ever about is wine, wine, wine.”



 Two writers walk into a bar.
They each order a chardonnay.
Though they know it won’t take their writing far,
they shrug and say, “what the hay?”

Now, look, Pulitzer isn’t going to be calling me up anytime soon to be handing out prizes for that piece of writing.  So, why was I so vulnerable with you, showing you unrevised, uncensored work?

To prove this point: the Chardonnay Chronicles above may not be prize-winning.  Hell, they may not even be usable, but they got my creative juices flowing.  

By putting two and two together in odd ways, by playing with a joke or a rhyme, I stepped outside of myself, allowed myself to create without the pressures of perfection or publication.


 Think of it this way: before a workout or a run, one usually stretches, right? Warms up a little bit?  Gets the blood flowing to the muscles?
Why would it be any different for writers? We need to get things flowing too, and not only is that OK, it’s part of the process.

Writing Workout Stretches Getting those Creative Juices Flowing

Making a warm-up a part of your writing habit helps get you into the mood, and can also be fun– especially if you know you’ve got permission in that timespan to create anything, regardless of quality.

Oddly, though, what ends up happening for me is that some of my best stuff comes from this pressure-free moments.  Publishable? Not always.  The beginning of something cool? Often.

Our creativity is wonky (Yeah, I just used that word in a sentence.) and accessing it can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible.  The people I’ve worked with in groups, one-on-one, and at retreats have fallen into amazing writing grooves after our work together, and that’s the joy of what I do.

I’d love to share some writing tips with you and hear about your writing successes.  Come on in and join us. The Chardonnay’s just fine.  (See how I brought that around, there. Yeah.  Umm. Ok. EXITS STAGE LEFT.)

Writing got you down?

Writing got you down?

Writing got you down?


stpehen-king-quoteThe idea is all around us: writers must read.  Reading makes better writers. However, what’s with all this hype? Is it really true? And most importantly, how can reading get us unstuck and beyond writer’s block?

First of all, reading gives us the opportunity, not only to get lost in a story, but to wonder what moves the author made to take us there.

Thus, how can we learn and get motivated by what we read?

1) Underline passages that call out to you. Put a post-it note on the page to come back to it later.

Sometimes, I revisit marked passages as a kind of writing prompt. What did I like about the passage? Was it a certain word or mood?  Was it the author’s ability to explain something really well?  Try to analyze what made the passage work, and think about ways you could try that on your own. I always find this method gets my creative juices flowing!


Reading Writing Tips


2) Imitate the author’s style to see what you can learn.

The cool thing here is that you can learn both from authors you like and don’t like!  Take an idea– preparing your favorite dish for example, and try to write about it as Hemingway or Faulkner.  This type of exercise is helpful in noticing what works in a master writer’s style.  It also helps us to see what we are drawn to.  Here’s the thing for me: I have never done this exercise and not  wanted to keep on writing, trying new things.


Reading Writing Tips Retreats Workshops Vermont classes



3) Play with words. Open to a random page in a book you’re reading now, close your eyes, and drop your finger on the page.  Whatever word you land on, use that as a writing prompt.


 What would happen if your main character used the words as the beginning of dialogue?  What would happen if you brought the words to life as a chapter title?  Could the idea behind the words be the central focus of a poem?


Burlington Vermont Writing Writer Writers workshop classes lern to write well


These are all ideas that I get a lot of mileage out of, if you will, as a writer.  Even more satisfying, so many writers over the years have gotten themselves unstuck using these, and other tips I’ve offered in their work with me.

I’d love to hear how they worked for you, so please do leave a comment below or

Tweet: Thanks for the #writingtips @annalisaparenttweet me.


If you’d like more helpful tips to land in your mailbox once a week and to hear about upcoming opportunities to write with me in person, throughout the world, sign up in the brown box above. As a special bonus for a limited time, I am giving away “Five Tested Pro Tricks for Kissing Writer’s Block Goodbye.” Just sign up above and get the FREE download.

Through a Cat’s Eyes

Through a Cat’s Eyes

Most Recent Writing Tips

How to Get Professional Feedback on Your Writing

How to Get Professional Feedback on Your Writing

How to Get Professional Feedback on Your Writing  O'Dell Isaac was a substitute teacher and military journalist who struggled for years to write a novel. A decade went by without any progress towards writing or publishing a book. Then, in November of 2018, he managed...

read more

Through a Cat’s Eyes

I submitted a story today to be included in an upcoming book on Rescue Cats.  Would you read this story?

What does it feel like to be a cat, alone on the streets, unrescued, unloved, unnamed?

In a community where there are more stray animals than people, Mama Kitty faces the constant threat of other animals invading her home,  harming her babies– or worse: of being captured by the man with the metal cage that rattles and never brings any cat back.  At least not alive.

Things turn from bad to worse when she is taken in by the kind woman renting the house in front of her dilapidated shed home and she feels comfort and love for the first time.  This should be a good thing, right? Mama Kitty knows from experience how tenuous a human invitation can be.  One misstep and she could be out the door,*gasp* given to the man with the cage.  Who would care for the babies Tom Cat left her with if she were gone?

Worse still, she is actually coming to like this lady who crawls across the floor to her slowly so as not to scare her, feeds her cat food soaked in bacon grease, and gently buried her baby Patches when she was run over by a car.  Can she afford to trust this lady? Can she afford not to?

Mama Kitty is a 3,100 word story that follows the life of  a cat and a woman, from the time they meet during Annalisa’s first job, through their cross-country move, and how they come to bond with and love one another with the help of time and patience. Told through the cat’s eyes, it traces the struggle to trust a human, and ultimately the struggle to let go of the deepest bond she’s ever known.

Annalisa Parent vermont Writer Cat Story

The Importance of Keeping a Writer’s Notebook

The Importance of Keeping a Writer’s Notebook

The Importance of Keeping a Writer’s Notebook

writersnotebookI have a writer’s notebook. No, I do.

It’s just that I haven’t yet gotten in the good habit of having it with me—all. the. time.

So, of course, inspiration strikes when I’m at the grocery store, or at work, or in the car; and random notes get jotted down on the back of receipts, post-it notes, and half-typed into my iPhone at my-thumbs-aren’t-fast-enough speed. Often, while I’m pulled over on the side of the road with my hazard lights on.

 It’s time for a change.

I need to eliminate the little bits of paper from my life, because one of these days, I’m going to lose one.

And of course, it will be the one shining brilliant star of an idea that I ever had for a novel, or the most beautiful sentence I will never write again.

Annalisa (I hear you saying), just type your ideas into your iPad. Yeah. About that.

Put a pencil in my hand, and I’ll write you a tome.

Sit me in front of a computer, and my muse suddenly goes mute.

I cannot create and interface with technology at the same time. That’s just not the way my writing process works, and I’ve accepted that.

However, recognizing my limitations is not enough. I need to make the next step in the all-important word to writers: discipline, and start carrying my notebook everywhere with me.

So, if you see me around town without a notebook in hand, you have my full permission to ask me about it.  

No, nag me about it.  Foist a notebook into my hands.  Send me one for my birthday. (That would be a good reminder, wouldn’t it? Nothing like a little behavioral conditioning.)

But, enough about me, what are your writing goals these days? Drop a comment below, or give my company a call so we can chat about how to achieve those goals. 

(This entry was drafted on a single leaf of notebook paper from my desk at work. Hey, at least it was a full sheet…)

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