Just a quick post (catch up) tonight…Yesterday, Keith “Meat” Blankinship pulled his last shift. Meat retired after 22yrs of service with the City (2 with the EMS Department, 20 post merger), he is 49 years old. I have known Keith his entire career. We actually volunteered together back in ’88-’89. He is responsible for getting me interested and so involved into vehicle extrication. I soon became an instructor and we taught many, many classes together. I don’t remember the year but, Keith, Mike Elliston, Bill Seacrest and I actually finished 2nd in a State Vehicle Extrication competition (I have the pics and you’ll love em.. I just need to get to a scanner). Soon after, Keith got hired for our EMS Department and I got on the FD (the departments would soon merge ).
Meat and I never worked together until I was assigned to Station #4-A as his Captain. We made some lasting memories. I remember the talk I had with him just after my assignment. We were old friends and he knew I was an aggressive Captain. He expressed some concern with his comfort operating in his SCBA,with meeting my expectations and , most of all; didn’t want to “let me down”. I assured him that if he gave 110% that he would not let me down and that I would give that same 110% to get him comfortable. Together, we would build upon and advance his skill and comfort level. I had him wear his SCBA every morning. HE never asked why or bitched. I had him “on air” every morning until he breathed the last sip of air from his bottle (it wasn’t about R.O.A.M, it was becoming familiar and building confidence). He wore it while checking off the equipment. At first, he’d get 1/2 way through. Within weeks, he could finish his check offs and move on to cleaning the station on a single bottle. Another few weeks and he was making a bottle last long enough for check offs, station duties and breakfast. Yea… after his morning duties, he even fixed egg sandwiches wearing his mask! LOL
You shoulda seen some of the looks we got when a visitor would come in (especially a Chief) and catch Meat cooking in his SCBA. You know what though?? It worked and Keith was thankful. We had several other “team work” and “confidence” drills that I’m sure, in the beginning; convinced the crew I was NUTS. I’d “tie” the guys together. Left leg to right leg. Left arm to right arm with a bag over their joined hands. I’d have one in a blacked mask and the other in a clear one. They had to learn to walk together. Someone had to take charge / make decisions and the other had to learn to listen and trust. One had use of a left hand while the other had only the right. One was blind and the other could see. It built a team and made stronger individuals. Again, Keith recognized it and was thankful.
He thanked me several times and told me how much it meant to him that someone took to time to work with him. That meant a lot to me because I had always looked up to him. I mentioned how he got me into extrication but he also mentored me through Paramedic (yes.. there was a time that I wore a “glitter patch”). Meat was and remains today a top Medic. Should I ever go down, he is one of the few that I would want working on me.
He is a Lifetime member of Franklin County Rescue Squad, he is a PHTLS, BTLS, PALS and CPR instructor. He acts as a “preceptor” for our Department and a local medical collage. He was awarded “Preceptor of the Year” several times. He is known as an easy going, polite, soft spoken “gentle giant” redneck type from Franklin County who wouldn’t hurt a flea. Above all that, to me; Meat is a goodgreat person, a neighbor and friend.
“Redneck” you say? Trust me. Meat had just got married and moved to Catawba. His house has a large “picture window” and he had also just purchased a big screen TV. He was having a party .. Halloween or something. He moved the TV to the window facing outside and then parked his car (a Pinto or Vega I believe) against the house facing the window. He could then sit in the car and it was just like being at the Drive in movies. LMAO. I think it was some kind of cowgirl western playing that night. I’m not real sure but the plot was something about a gal named Debbie who lived in Dallas. LMAO!
The nick name??? Hummmmm.Way back in 1989 he was out of town at some type of Aircraft crash rescue class / school. On night, after class; the students hit a local “watering hole”. He was single then and a real chick magnet. Anyway, all the gals hung with Keith. Next morning, the mystery name surfaced. MEAT. You’ll have to come to your own conclusions … I’m not gonna touch it.
So, Meat is moving on and will be instructing for a big time health group in our area. “Professor Meat”. Thanks for all the hard work. Thanks for taking me under your wing when I needed it and for allowing me to take you under mine. Congratulations, good luck and best wishes. Enjoy retirement … you’ve earned it!
Here are a few shots..
Thanks for following, we start 4 day break tomorrow. Until the next one, stay safe and in house.