PINETOP-LAKESIDE - Mimicking Capt. Kirk from the Star Trek Enterprise, Paramedic Charles Rose brought a bit of levity to Pinetop Fire this week when he started the day saying, “Captain Kirk’s daily log. I don’t know what day it is or what time it is; everyday is the same.” And, that’s the way it seems to many on the front lines — and even to those quarantined to their homes — who are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rose is not just a paramedic at Pinetop Fire but is also in nursing orientation at Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center, and has been working triage at Summit as a paramedic. He also owns the Arizona Snowrider’s Board and Ski Shop in Pinetop.
Rose’s schedule at Pinetop Fire is 48 on and 96 off. A second job is permitted if it does not interfere with the fire department. Department policy also dictates that you cannot work another job 12 hours prior to your fire shift. During the winter — November through March — those four days off pretty much include work at the ski shop. His work schedule at Summit depends on Summit’s needs, and full-time employees have priority.
“Nobody wants you to get burned out on either end,” said Rose.
Rose is no stranger to hard work, but his circuitous path to get to where he is today is not quite like he planned after high school.
Graduating from Blue Ridge in 1997, Rose said he had no clue what he wanted to be when he graduated. He had played winning football under Coach Paul Moro and loved snowboarding and skiing, but he only had one career thought.
“I wanted to be a businessman. My parents were smart and financially stable and my mom and dad owned a business in Las Vegas and did well, so I wanted to own a business.”
And, he did. He owned The Lodge in Pinetop and still owns a ski shop. Though his wife Samantha had her Masters degree and encouraged education, he said he told her, “No, I’m good.”
But, things changed after he became a father. The bar didn't seem like such a good idea with a family so he sold it and got into insurance.This occurred during the economic downturn of 2008 when they had a second child on the way, and his wife Samantha was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Rose needed something different.
A friend at the ski shop was working as a firefighter-paramedic and told Rose he should be a firefighter — that it had a good retirement and health insurance. He told his wife and three weeks later he was in the academy.
After obtaining his EMT, Rose worked for the White Mountain Apache Tribe for two years, while also working reserve for Pinetop Fire. Once Pinetop had a full-time opening, he joined their team. His next career step was acceptance into the paramedic program in 2012. Though he wasn’t sure he really wanted to do that, he said “during the whole process, the amazing Godmother of Paramedics, Lynn Browne-Wagner, RN, MSN,” suggested there was going to be a bridger pathway program to nursing for paramedics, advising it was a natural progression and offered a good income."
Rose said he told her, “I don’t even know if I want to be a paramedic, and I do not want to be a nurse.”
After finishing paramedic school, the bridger program to nursing did become available the next year. He said paramedics always wonder what the other side is like after they deliver a patient — what happened; what was the end result and they often wonder if they were on the right path regarding the patient's issue. With already having experience and understanding of the critical care aspect, coupled with the attractive income, Rose gave it consideration.
He finally said yes to the bridger program and it was a tough road requiring a real commitment while working full time at the fire department and during the winter season at the ski shop.
During this time, Rose said he remembered two things his mom taught him about the times when things get tough. “If it’s a money problem, it’s not a problem, and don’t ever forget, they can’t eat you.”
He remembered those things because it was tough. But, in 2018 he took the state nursing exam and passed it on the first try. He was a licensed registered nurse.
Acknowledging burnout, Rose took 2019 off and worked on his bachelor’s degree and some of the fire courses he needed to take. Unable to do a year’s residency program for nursing – which is what most departments require, he was later offered an opportunity to do triage as a paramedic. This opened the door for him to become a part-time nurse doing orientation during a pandemic. He said this was “baptism by fire.”
Being a very caring and people-oriented person, Rose learned as a paramedic that you don’t have a lot of time to chat with the patient, and is re-learning it in nursing.
“As a new paramedic on scene you have to cut off the conversation. We are on the scene for five minutes and we have to get in, get out, down and dirty,” explained Rose.
In nursing, Rose said he thought there would be more time for patient care but you must administer the care and move on to charting. He said he has been coached on this by the nurse preceptors who remind him of time prioritization.
With regard to that baptism by fire, Rose said that though he is cognizant of pandemic issues, because he is part of the fire and medical community, he has an understanding of how the virus is transmitted.
“We are always in some kind of crisis,” said Rose. “It is risk versus gain. We wear the right PPE (personal protection equipment). We have been lucky to have it.”
Rose said at Pinetop Fire they were ahead of the curve and ordered early and found where to obtain things. At Summit, he said the community has also been great to donate things.
Rose said he and his wife have talked about the virus. He does not want to endanger his wife or his children.
“Unless I am showing major symptoms, I am going to live my life normally," explained Rose. "I change at the station or the hospital or leave my clothes outside at home. I do all that is necessary to mitigate risk.”
Like most everyone else right now, when he is not working, Rose wants to enjoy family time and leave fire and medical where they belong. The family enjoys hiking with their four dogs, and just being home he says there are always things to get done. He also says a nap would be nice.
Cooking is de-stressing for Rose and he loves to cook Italian and Mexican and things that mesh with those meals and add his own spin. At the fire department while some are microwaving a meal, he puts together, in the same amount of time, a meal that the others say looks gourmet. To that, Rose replies, “When I make a meal, I eat with my eyes as well.”
One day he would like to own a food truck and do the traveling nurse regimen.
In the meantime, he would like to see things get back to at least semi-normal.
Rose, who exudes a zest for life, considers his job one of trust and hope for people. He said his professions usually see people on the worst days of their lives and it is an honor to be that rock for them.