If you think I’m cool, check out these people…

This crazy ride I am honored to call my life is the way it is because of the people I get to met. What is so incredibly ironic, not planning it this way, each class actually became the proverbial guinea-pig, for the class that follows. The EVE class everyone raves about now didn’t come to be in its current state because of some genius idea I had, it is actually bits and pieces learned from the people I have met while teaching.

While I tell so many, face-to-face, about the people I met in previous classes, I figured it would be neat to try and put some if it down on paper so to speak. I plan to name a few of them outright. Others I won’t for various reasons. One of which is to have you wonder if it is you, or someone you work with. If we’ve met, you know I have ADD. So, the order of the people listed below, will not follow an accurate timeline. Instead, it is in order of… as I am thinking of one person, in a specific place, my mind goes “squirrel” and I think of the next person, and the next, and the next, and so on.

I plan to update this on a regular basis. First because I can’t sit long enough to type the story of every amazing person I have met in one sitting, and secondly, I meet new people all the time. Enjoy.

  • I would have to start with  Sam Voshell. We first met in an EVE class. As our relationship grew, I learned he was an old- school Karate practitioner, former Army Airborne, a brilliant respiratory therapist, hands down one of the most incredibly mentally- tough guys I have ever met. He became my sounding board, training partner, one of my most trusted friends and even the Best Man at my wedding.


  • An administrator of an EMS agency who could keep a straight face when he would reply with “Don’t worry about it”.


  • A former marine turned EMT, I met the first time in Wisconsin. He traveled from NY to WI to train. The last time we met up, he gave me a knife to add to my collection. The knife was “personal” to him and that made it extremely personal to me.


  • A fire chief who was big, strong, and moved like a cat, thanks to his years and years of martial arts experience. Wonderful to train with, not only because of his skill, but because he was such a gentle giant. While our first meeting was fantastic, it it what happened after he became an instructor. After teaching some of his personnel, he starts telling me how even though we tell instructors (during their training to become an instructor), once people are allowed to have an educated conversation about violence and the use of force in medicine, EVERYONE will have a story. When he experienced it himself, he was shocked. He said as the stories flowed he would say things to his people like “What? We have worked together for nearly twenty years. Our kids have grown up together…. How did I not know such and such happened to you?” It is moments like that, ones where a person has to experience something for themselves, then they tell me about how I was right, that keep me going. 


  • I was in awe of a lady who has worked 30 years on the busiest truck in a major urban environment. When I first learned that, I recall immediately thinking to myself… “Wow, I could never…” as I thought what it must have been like, what all she has seen and done. She has certainly experienced more than me, or most for that matter, could ever.


  • Teaching an instructor course, during participant presentations, I sat in amazement as I watched a guy present in my over-the-top, emotional roller-coaster style. I watched as he had the class engaged using the same behavior I do. I have had several instructors present EVE, where I sit back realizing I love how they present, then I think to myself “Wow! I love what they are saying.” Then I go…. wait, I wrote that… Why don’t I sound that good? Point is, there are so many different teaching styles I love. But only one is unique to me. So when I saw this guy, one I NEVER suspected to act like me… It was just cool.


  • Teaching at one of the national conferences, two guys come in late. I got the vibe something was up. My human animal kicked in for some reason. As we began to perform skills, I saw one moved like a cat. I walked over to him, told him he was apparently skilled, asked what training he had, and his reply was, “Just a little military”. I didn’t have one one me, or I would have pulled out the Bullsh*t card and handed it to him at that very moment. As it turns out, my suspicions were correct. As we become friends, he revealed his intentions were to come into class to see “what kind of crap” DT4EMS was all about, and what I was teaching. He was former Army SF, a Muay Thai practioner, owned his own tactical medicine educational company, authored a book or two… and yeah, you get it. He was/is legit, and lack other legit ones, it is immediately apparent, they just don’t tell you right away. They don’t brag about it.


  • In Alaska I was able to meet Alaskan natives, a medic who worked on oil rigs, and people who work as a community health aid- they may be the only healthcare in the remote villages.


  • One medic was viewed as so awesomely cool, his students had bumper stickers made about him. During the initial portion of class, he was the one with arms folded, and I could tell he was going to be a tough nut to crack. He wasn’t being a jerk about asking any questions. The questions he would ask were legitimate, information seeking ones, any seasoned urban-street veteran medic would ask. By the end of the initial class, it was obvious he was on board. What he said to me nearing the end of the instructor portion floored me. He said “Kip, I will be your disciple.” To which I am sure I gave him a bewildered look. He went on to say he realized he would face persecution from peers as he carried the message of culture change forward, similar to Jesus’ Disciples. While I am glad Otis has not been beheaded, stoned to death, or any of the other things Jesus’ Disciples faced, I am glad he wanted to help spread the message.


  • Met a FF/Medic who oozed cool. He’s in great shape, and very handsome, I believe he had done some modeling. On the side he owns and operates a DJ business.


  • A lady who is a wife, mother, a fitness fanatic, a marital artist, self-defense instructor, who was in one of the original Tae Bo videos.



  • To this day, still one of the hardest guys for me to ever read during a class… Turned out he was an MMA junkie. Very skilled in MMA. He is a professional FF/Medic. Just prior to the class ending, he made a comment on how he thought the program was just what EMS/Fire needed. I remember feeling so relieved that he, being as skilled as he was, saw the value in the specific message I was sharing.


  • It is crazy what your brain does, well at least mine anyway… I had talked to Lopez several times on the phone before we met. He was so articulate in the way he spoke, and the words he chose, I pictured the chubby-white guy with glasses administrator. Just prior to class starting on Day 1,  I was just ending a brief conversation with a gal (we will talk about her later), when from behind, I hear the voice I immediately recognize as Lopez behind me introducing himself say “Kip, Matt Lopez” as I turned around.  I wish my reaction could have been captured on camera. I turned, expecting to see a chubby white guy with glasses… as I saw him, in that exact moment, I was reaching out offering my hand, my brain shouts “Holy crap!!” Lopez was not at all what my brain had pictured. Turns out he looks like what some say is Vin Diesel, others see The Rock.


  • Mullen-  Met him the first time in Florida at an instructor course. What stands out to me the most… best laugh on the planet. He is incredibly witty. If what he says doesn’t get you to laugh, his laugh is infectious, and it will. Super-smart, kind-hearted, just an all around great guy that people like to be around.


  • During an initial EVE course, I met a guy I was so impressed with, in the first few hours, I went to his admin and asked if he could stay for the entire instructor class. I may have only ever asked an agency specifically for a person only once before this time. What was immediately apparent was, whenever he would ask a question, or make a comment, even the most seasoned providers (peers) would actively listen to what he said. I realized early he was something special. I did several things to “test” him, to see if I was correct in my assumption he was the real deal. One of those tests came when we free-rolled. Although I outweighed him by a significant amount, and was training in BJJ regularly, I was unable to submit him. His experience with the Marine Corps Martial Arts program gave him the skills he needed to fend off/escape my submission attempts. His experience in combat overseas, as a corpsman, gave him the indomitable spirit he possesses.  The test was to see how he would handle pressure, and if he felt he was losing ground, would he turn into a punk and try to bite me, or some of the other ridiculous cheats some people do when they are not “winning”. Not only did he pass the test with flying colors, he made me feel a special type of respect that I hold dear, and share with a select few. 


  • I met a man who I’m not sure is capable of feeling physical pain. When we first met, I noticed he had calves the size of pumpkins. Over my years of training/sparring with people, I found those with large calves usually punch with incredible power. I don’t know if there is any scientific research to it, I am just speaking from attempting to block a few of their punches with my face over the years…. Not only was this guy an amazing, obviously seasoned presenter, but moved extremely well for a big guy. Educated, eloquent, and one I would hate to tangle with, would best describe Al. The pain thing came out when we were working on some skills and I noticed Al wasn’t moving away from pain. I thought his partner must be doing the skill incorrectly, or Al was trying to play tough-guy. So, true to my nature I went over to investigate. I attempted the skill only to find it ineffective on the beast known as Al. *Note- In my 20 years of teaching self-defense, I have only met one other person who failed to respond to the stimulus being used in this particular setting. 


  • A guy built like a tank, handsome as all get-out, brilliant when he speaks, a smile that lights up a room, possess a skill to process incoming information I wish I had, but, he wrestles with some demons because of his military history in combat. He is one, that still worries about everyone else, and their well-being, he can’t see he could use a hand himself. I was unable to see my demons until I could, thanks to help. Like him, I could function (what I thought) just fine. Immersing myself in helping others, just like he does, allows one to not address, the fact the demons even exist. I can’t wait to see how many people he helps when he is 100% healthy, because he is flippin’ brilliant in so many ways. 


  • Monitoring physical skills practice, I happened to notice a participant seemed to cater to one of his shoulders. He still moved just fine, but I figured he had an old shoulder injury like I have. After watching it a couple of days, we were at lunch and happened to sit next to each other. When the opportunity presented itself, I asked him quietly, “Hey, you got a shoulder problem too?” as I mentioned I noticed he seemed to favor it. He said “nah, it’s my back.”. I replied with a question as to if it was a car accident, or the likes, he said “No, it was from a jump.” Then my wheels were turning as I tried to think about jumping on trampolines, motorcycle jumps, jump rope… and as I prodded further he explained it was from jumping out of a plane, and it was jump number XX….. That was when I was like… who jumps out of a plane x-number of times? He went on to disclose he was a former PJ. I nodded my head in acknowledgement, as if I knew what that was… At the time, I did not. I do now, and holy smokes! He told me how he was on a training exercise, a night jump, when he was in the air, he recalled thinking “Man, I’ve sure been falling a long time” and that apparently his equipment malfunctioned. He said he saw the lights of rescue units, and as he saw the tree line, it dawned on him, they were coming for him. He pulls his chute’s cord, just above the tree line. He obviously lived, but suffered career ending injuries. Over the next couple of years he became someone I thought  very highly of. I still do. He like so many other real-deal folks I know, share little, until they get to know you better. When he told me a story of a combat mission, my heart broke for him. I felt every word as he told me the story. This guy talks about how much he admires the combat corpsman I mentioned earlier.


  • In nearly every class I teach I experience something similar… an alleged resident UFC fighter. My experience has been (more often than not) the public at large equates every person who have ever competed in an MMA event, a UFC fighter. This common perception is not accurate, and here is why… Thanks to the UFC, there most certainly has been a rise of MMA as a legitimate sport. However, not every MMA practitioner is the caliber of a UFC fighter. The UFC is recognized as the ELITE of MMA. Many of the traveling cages are amateurs attempting to go pro, with the hopes of someday attaining the status of the ultra-elite UFC fighters. Think of it like this, many MMA fighters would be the equivalent of a high school football player, with the UFC being that of a pro-football player like within the NFL. It is highly unlikely the best high school football player could compete with the worst NFL player. That is an example of the difference. 
      Ok. Having that as a base of  understanding, remember, nearly every class has “that-guy” who is the UFC fighter. Well, this one actually did. Turns out he was hands down one of the nicest guys I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I tell people of how I asked him to put me in the clinch and throw a few knees into the bag I was holding. I chalk that up on the list of crap never to do again since he knocked my ovary out of place. You can read more about him here


  • Early on in this particular EVE class, I noticed a guy with a large scar on his face.  I noticed he would scratch the scar at different times during class. I found myself trying to ascertain if it was an itch, or if it was subconscious as he contemplated a thought. As we became more comfortable with one another, he shared the incident that caused the scar. He told me it was an EMS call for service regarding a behavioral emergency. He told me how nothing appeared out of the ordinary with the call. He said he recalled his brain thinking  how the 18 year old patient reminded him of his daughter. He went on to say, as he was introducing himself, trying to establish a rapport, he placed his hand on her should and began to speak. Before he could finish the sentence, she kicked him in the testicles. He demonstrated as he described, bending over,  cupping his groin area. At that very instant he told me how his brain said “She’s trying to cut my throat”, as he raised his hands to his throat (like the universal choking sign), he said her hand bounced of of his and tracked up and across his face, causing the gash that left the large scar.


  • This guy was had been shot on the job, and I never heard about it, until he told me face-to-face during an EVE class. He told me how he too was a police officer/paramedic in California. His wife thought him getting out of law enforcement and going full-time EMS would be safer, and he complied. He said they had moved to another state, and he picked up a new ambulance job. While on one of his shifts, his uniform shirt was soiled on a call. He asked to borrow a shirt to continue the shift. He was loaned the only one available, and it was several sizes too big. Not wanting to look foolish in such a large shirt, he recalled a ballistic vest being on the ambulance.  Thanks to his previous experience as a police officer, he knew a vest takes up space in a shirt. He decided to put it on under the over-sized shirt to not look so unprofessional. He went on to tell me what happened next… He exited the ambulance on a call, and grabbed the first in bag. He turned toward the residence, and as he walked forward, he was shot in the chest.


  • Nothing is more moving than a moment when a class is shocked by what a peer says. A medic, who is also a nurse, revealed he had been knocked unconscious from an attack occurring in the ICU. Not one of the people in the room, many of which knew him for years, had any previous knowledge of the attack. You could see the emotion ripple like a wave through the room as he spoke from the heart about how worried he was for his family after it happened. He was having horrible issues with short term memory in the weeks since the attack. He said he was worried about not being able to function at work, and how the loss of income from not being able to hold down a job, was literally terrifying. 


  • A man who would help me in many ways. Mostly by telling me stuff that should “remain in the draft folder”. We had talked back an forth on the phone for several months before we met face to face during an EVE class. Since our first meeting, he has been one that I can reach out to when I have a leadership question. 


  • Finally, after nearly 20 years of hearing about this guy, I was able to meet him. He is a highly respected paramedic, instructor, martial artist, and SWAT guy. Whenever I would meet someone, and they found out I was teaching EMS self-defense, anyone that knew him, would immediately ask me if I did. So many believed he and I were cut from the same cloth. It was during an EVE-Advanced Instructor course, I finally met the legend. Bert not only lived up to the reputation that preceded him, I felt he exceeded it. He is another on the list of highly skilled, yet humble, I have now been blessed to meet. 


  • In the northeast, there is a guy who did what others said he couldn’t. He felt the choices students had available could be better. He decided to break the mold of what EMT and Medic school should be. He wanted to create a work-ready EMS provider. He assembled a team of hand-picked instructors to help him with his vision. I will tell you, he runs an amazing program. The New Britain EMS Academy takes the well-being of the student serious. Not only do the students receive instruction and practice of all of the normal EMS requirements, but they have physical fitness, and diet training as well.


  • Out of the same location above, I met the man who would later help me see the need to seek help for my PTSD. After we have know each other for a year or so, I was riding in his car, as he drove me to the training location. Stuck in traffic, he began to talk about things, the demons, people face with PTSD. Each thing he would describe, in my mind I would think… “me too.” After quite some time, I actually said “me too” aloud. Without missing a beat he replied “I know.” That night, from the hotel room, I called my wife and asked her to get me an appointment. That conversation with Vic started my road to recovery.