John Stone has responded to two terrorist attacks both as an active-duty Army Soldier and EMT/firefighter. He speaks from those experiences in his new podcast, Yucked Up.

Yucked Up is a new podcast for first-responders that is taking the field of public-safety by storm. John created the podcast and serves as its host. Since launching the show in November 2017, John has already hosted some very influential figures in public-safety on early episodes, including Daniel Sundahl, a paramedic and popular artist, and Dan Kerrigan and Jim Moss, both firefighters who co-authored the best-selling book, Firefighter Functional Fitness. But launching the podcast was years in the making.

John grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida. He joined the U.S. Navy right out of high school because he wanted to travel the world. He served as an aviation mechanic working on airplanes on a base in Atlanta. While working graveyard shifts, John put himself through EMT school during the day. He became fascinated with the field of emergency medical services during his hospital and ambulance rotations and he started looking for medical jobs in the military once he received his EMT certification.

A couple of former U.S. Army Special Forces officers recommended to John that he join the Army to become a medical specialist. However, John got injured during Basic Training and was unable to complete the transition. Instead, he accepted a position with a Mobile Communications Unit. John and his unit were sent out to accompany battalions to manage all their voice and data communications.

In 1996, John was deployed in Saudi Arabia when he was asked to help instruct a Combat Lifesaver course. Over 20 soldiers were scheduled to go through the program, which would provide them with specialized training to give immediate life support to injured comrades until medics arrived on-scene. John’s EMT certificate and experience highly qualified him to help instruct the program.

Two weeks after the course, terrorists bombed the Khobar Tower, which housed Coalition forces at the time. John was among a group of 2 doctors, 6 medics, accompanied by the 20 new EMTs, who responded to the scene. They attended to nearly 500 wounded; 19 souls were lost that day.

Fast forward years later and John was a Staff Sergeant working as the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge at the Pentagon, responsible for Army and Air Force tactical communications. While working at the Pentagon, John volunteered as an EMT in Maryland at a joint firehouse (a station that housed both fire services and EMTs). He developed close working relationships with the firefighters he worked with and became interested in fire services. John put himself through the University of Maryland Fire Academy to receive firefighter certification.

On September 11, 2001, John reported to work at the Pentagon like any other day when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the west side of the building at 9:37 a.m. “It’s a very interesting dynamic when you’re an active-duty Army soldier and also an EMT/firefighter, trying to figure out which skillset to utilize during an event like that”, said John. Part of the building collapsed which started a large fire that took days to extinguish. On 9/11, 184 people died at the Pentagon.

Three months later, John discharged from the Army and left the Pentagon. He accepted a job as a contractor with a private communications company. Because he still lived and worked in the area, John continued volunteering with duty crews at Ashburn Fire and Rescue in Virginia. In 2004, he left fire services and relocated to South Florida.

Ten years later and John was struggling with excessive alcohol consumption and weight gain. In 2014, he found the courage to reach out and ask for help. John went to a Veteran Affairs Hospital, where a doctor diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, John realized his PTSD more closely related him to first-responders than it did his military comrades who saw combat. And so began his deep desire to help other first-responders experiencing similar stress-related symptoms as a result of handling traumatic incidents.

In 2015, John had the opportunity to attend the Florida APCO/NENA Conference while working for the communications company. He took a pre-conference class on Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) with Christine Cunningham, a CISM Instructor and Dispatch Supervisor in Palm Beach, Florida. During the class, Cunningham used the term “Yucked Up” to describe how first-responders take on so much stress during their careers. The class opened John’s eyes to the effects trauma has on the lives of first-responders. Thus, the Yucked Up Podcast was born.

John’s mission statement: “No first-responder should ever feel like they have to wait 10 years to reach out and ask for help.” His show focuses on stress-related issues that all first-responders face. The show’s premise is that no first-responder is alone and encourages them not to go another day without asking for help.

Sounds simple enough, but crushing that negative stigma for first-responders is no easy task. However, Yucked Up is not a show where John bores listeners with lecture. Instead, he hosts dynamic guests and invites them, and listeners, to enter into dialogue together. In the future, John would like to take his podcast on the road with him as he travels for work and visit local police departments, fire houses, or dispatch centers to record live episodes with first-responders on the front lines.

Visit Yucked Up at www.yuckedup.blogspot.com. You can hear it on iHeartRadio, iTunes, Google Play Music, Spreaker, Soundcloud, and YouTube. For more information, or to be a guest on the show, email yuckeduppodcast@gmail.com.

 

Editorial:

I had the honor of being a guest on Episode #3 and Episode #4 of Yucked Up. Follow the links to listen to those respective episodes.