A Personal Tribute to a Fallen Hero

As regular Word on Health readers know, several nights a week I take off my blogging hat and exchange it for my volunteer Fire and Rescue uniform. Together with my fellow firefighters, medics and EMTs we respond to emergency calls from our local community.

Whether it’s the proverbial cat up a tree, the baby who’s stopped breathing, a multi-vehicle pile-up or a home engulfed in flames, we are energized by the “lights and sirens” adrenaline rush and an overwhelming desire to help people during their worst hour. Rarely do we think about the dangers we face and we’re acutely uncomfortable when people tell us we’re heroes for doing what we do.

It takes a tragedy to put things into perspective. Yesterday, that tragedy struck at the heart of our community. As most residents of Washington, DC and Northern Virginia already know, we lost one of our bravest and finest. Paramedic, Joshua Weissman died after falling 30 feet into a rocky creek while responding to a vehicle fire on Interstate 395.

He was just 33 years old. He leaves behind a young wife, a successful career, family, friends, colleagues and the untold promise of life.

His legacy however lives on in the people he helped and the medic students he taught, myself included.

Josh gave his life to serve others and today we honor him and all the other first responders, emergency workers and law enforcement officers that have made the ultimate sacrifice in their selfless service of this great Country. We also extend our deepest sympathies to their family, friends and colleagues left behind.

Bad pharma or bad journalism?

SRxA’s Word on Health takes its hat off to Richard Meyer of Online Strategic Solutions Inc. for his recent  blog post in defense of the pharmaceutical industry.  In a world where bashing the Industry has achieved almost Olympic sport status, it’s good to hear the other side of the argument.

His article was in response to Paul Blumenthal’s piece in the Huffington Post entitled, “How Drug Companies Game Washington.”  This article lambasted the drug industry for the $2.3 billion it has spent on lobbying and the $183 million on campaign contributions since 1998. Blumenthal also pointed out that Pharma maintains a war chest for grassroots lobbying aimed at altering public opinion and deterring any legislative proposal that would lower costs for consumers and profits for the drug makers.

Countering these allegations, Meyer pointed out that the pharma industry is a business and it, like any other, has a right to make money.   He asserts that the original post is shortsighted and inaccurate at best. He criticized Blumental for failing to mention:

  • the great medical advances that pharma has made in disease such as AIDS and cancer
  •  the free drug programs that most companies have for people who cannot afford their drugs
  • that it costs over $1 billion to develop and launch new drugs
  • that only one out of every 8 or 9 drugs ever make it to market

Meyer also took issue with the assertion that drug companies are thriving fat cats and reminded readers that 50 -60 thousand people have been laid off from the drug industry in the past year because of changes in healthcare law and drugs coming off patent.

Sure, the pharma industry has a lot of skeletons in their closet but  it’s good for a change to be reminded of all the things they have done right, rather than the usual gripes about wrongdoing.