TokyoSand’s Week’s Best Political Cartoons

As she always does, TokyoSand has taken the time to scour the media for the best political ‘toons of the week.  Political cartoons are appealing because they sum up a situation using few or no words, whereas the rest of us require hundreds or even thousands of words to try to explain the why, what, when, where and hows of what is happening in our world.  Thank you, TS, for all your hard work in finding these gems!


This is only a sampling, so be sure to check out the rest of the ‘toons at TokyoSand’s Political Charge!!!

The ‘Crisis’ That Isn’t A Crisis At All

One of the big news items this week has been a shortage of infant formula.  Now, if you think about this one, it defines a problem that I have mentioned before, and foreshadows what the future may well come to look like.  First off, there is a very cheap and readily available solution to the problem … women come fully equipped to feed their babies without needing to spend money to buy commercial formulas!  They are called ‘breasts’ and most women have two of them, thus are able to produce enough milk to feed their offspring for the first few months of life.  No other species on the planet requires commercially produced products to feed their young.  But even if, for one reason or another a woman is not able to breast-feed her newborn, there is another simple solution — regular milk with a bit of corn syrup added.  When daughter Chris was a baby, we did that more than a few times when we couldn’t afford tinned formula.  So, this shortage of infant formula is a non-crisis that has been blown way out of proportion in the media.  It’s laughable, but what it portends is not in the least bit humorous, for it shows our lack of creativity and resilience when the going gets tough.

Just a few days ago, I commented to a blogging friend that the day will come when all those billions of dollars the wealthy have hoarded will have zero value to them.  There will come a day when wits and knowledge will be the de facto currency.  If you haven’t read it, I strongly suggest the book One Second After by William Forstchen.  It is a chilling tale of an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) hitting the U.S. power grid and what life would be like in the seconds, hours, days, and weeks after.  Things we don’t even think about, like being able to get a prescription for a life-saving drug such as insulin, the ability to buy food, find potable water, stay warm, and more.  The premise of an EMP hitting the power grid, or a super-storm taking out power for a long period of time, or a nuclear weapon deployed … is not at all far-fetched.  If we cannot even remember how to feed an infant without tinned formula from the supermarket, how on earth would we survive with … no supermarkets, no refrigeration, no internet, no lights, no heat, etc.?

The people who will survive will not be those wealthy people who are used to having their laundry done, meals cooked & served, houses cleaned, and every other thing done for them by servants.  The people who will survive will be those who know how to grow their own food, who are resilient enough to survive without such luxuries as automobiles, electric lighting and air-conditioning.  Will those same people who cannot even figure an alternative to commercial infant formula be able to find food and water to keep their families alive?  Not the families of those who have lived their lives believing that they are somehow ‘special’ and that their money entitles them to special treatment.  It will come down to survival of the fittest, not of the richest.

Imagine Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk being on the same playing field with all the rest of us, their billions of dollars sitting offshore in a Swiss bank, or invested in whatever high-yield stocks they own, and they have access to not a single dime.  And even if they did, there is nothing that anybody could do for them – their dimes and dollars have no value to anyone, and thus no value to them. The only things of value will be food, water, and shelter.  Will humans work together for the greater good, or will they backstab and nitpick in an attempt to rise to the top of the heap?

So, back to the shortage of infant formula … this ‘crisis’ as it’s being called, is in part due to the very people who are now crying about not being able to find formula!  You see, back in 2020 when the supply chains were tied in knots due to the pandemic, greedy people fearing a shortage bought infant formula in massive quantities and hoarded it.  People had plenty, so they didn’t need to buy it for a year or so, which led to depressed sales, supply exceeded demand, and thus the producers cut back on production.  Standard laws of supply and demand, Econ 101.  This, coupled with a recall by the nation’s largest producer of infant formula, has resulted in a 43% decrease in availability.

No, the temporary shortage of infant formula is not a ‘crisis’ by any stretch of the imagination, but we should see this as a lesson, looking into the future where other, more important things are at stake, and begin preparing for the day when there is a real crisis.  Learn to grow a few healthful things, walk more and drive less, become less dependent on modern conveniences and technology.  Be prepared.  I am not a conspiracy theorist, nor a doomsayer, but let’s face it, my friends, there are so many ways available for an enemy such as Russia to retaliate for what they perceive as our improper intervention in their affairs and … what better way than to shut off the electricity? The technology exists, has existed for many years.   And please … stop obsessing over the shortage of infant formula … it is temporary and not really important, for there are viable alternatives.  There are no viable alternatives for food and potable water.

Serious-minded people

Truth. One of the first casualties of war in politics. Truth and honesty — major components of integrity. We the People deserve the truth, but since our vote matters to the politicos far more than our lives matter, truth in politics has become a commodity to be bought, sold, and traded. Our friend Keith sums it up well … truth matters.

musingsofanoldfart

Let me start out with the following firm belief of mine. I wish others who think winning at any cost gives politicians a free pass, would heed this belief of mine. I am not in favor of name calling, but I would say if people in or running for office want to be taken seriously, they need to be serious-minded with their comments. Saying obvious untrue things is not a step down that path.Full stop.

I am not naive enough to think politicians will stop lying altogether. To get elected, they will continue to overstate or even invent their role when good things happen and understate or blame the other side when bad things happen. And, if things aren’t too bad, many will even tell you it is bad to drum up fear. If things aren’t good enough, they will search for ways to make them even better sounding.

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What About the “Woke” Right?

Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has neatly summed up the “State of the Nation” these days. Let me just say that by the Republican’s faux definition of the word “woke”, I am PROUD to be WOKE … I have to live with my conscience 24/7 and my conscience likes me being Woke! Thanks Jeff … great summation!

On The Fence Voters

According to our conservative friends, being “woke” refers to those who are ridiculously politically correct and who speak out too much on social injustice. It’s commonly used as a pejorative term when referring to those on the left, increasingly paring it with phrases like “woke mob” or as a sledgehammer, using “anti-woke” to proclaim their vehement opposition.

The right-wing’s been successful at putting the term into the general public. And they do it by minimizing and mocking those standing up against generations of injustice suffered by marginalized folks such as the LGBTQ and people of color communities.

But the truth is, while they like to hang the term on liberals, we could and should hang it around the necks of today’s GOP and use it the same way on them. Because what we’re seeing right now play out across America is beyond radical. Perhaps we could call it “extreme wokeness.”…

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Saturday Surprise — Critters, Critters, Critters!

Whew!  We made it to the weekend, my friends!  There for a time, I thought it might be questionable.  After the week we’ve had, I think the only way to start the weekend is with some … whaddya think … guess again … CRITTERS!!!  Oh … the title gave it away, huh?

First critter is our own furry family member, Pandi, short for Pandora, who underwent surgery last Friday to remove four tumours and was sent home on Saturday with pain meds and a “collar of shame” that has cost me a few night’s sleep and depressed the heck out of her.  On the upside, last night Goose and I decided the collar must GO … after all, she had learned how to get out of it and her stitches and staples were healing nicely.  So, a few before and after pics …


And now onto bigger sorts of critters …

Pedro Jarque Krebs, born in Lima, Peru in 1963, is a Peruvian wildlife photographer, best known for his darkly ambianced, studio- quality close-up portraits of beasts, large birds, and other wild animals.  He has numerous awards to his credit, including Sony World Photography Awards, SipaContest, IPA, and Px3. Krebs also draws attention to extinction problems like the fact that more than half of our planet’s animal populations have been wiped out in the last 50 years. Let’s take a look at some of his work …

And now that you’ve hopefully started the weekend out with a smile and a warm heart, go forth and have a wonderful weekend!

Not a Happy Man.

Sometimes our friends across the pond see things more clearly than we do, and our friend David proves that point with this excellent post! Thank you, David!!!

The BUTHIDARS

At this point I have to admit, not for the first time that I’m not a happy man with the state of the World. The war between Russia and the Sovereign state of Ukraine where the people of Russia are not being told the true picture of why there is conflict and just what is going on is allowing innocent civilians to be deliberately targeted either by the direct orders of Uncle Vlad or at least with a nod and a wink from his office. I very much doubt that anything happens that he doesn’t know about. Added to the fact that he makes vague threats about nuclear weapons being used if there is any outside interference in order to scare off any would-be supporters of the Ukrainian people and their homeland. It seems to be working to some degree even though it could well mean the destruction of much…

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Just Two Snippets de Snark

I just have two short snippets of snark today.  Sometimes two is enough.


Pandemic or no pandemic???

“You cannot have your cake and eat it, too” said my mother on a near-daily basis.  And yet, that is precisely what a portion of this nation would like to do.  They pushed and pushed to declare the pandemic “over” and finally got their way.  Mask and vaccine mandates are largely now a thing of the past and people are going on about business as if there had never even been a pandemic. The girls and I went to 📚Barnes & Noble yesterday (first time since March 2020!), responsibly wearing our masks, and there was not one single other person there, not even the staff, wearing a mask.  There will be a price to pay for this perfidy, but that’s a story for another day.

Today’s point is that … while people selfishly wanted to believe and convince others that there is no longer a pandemic, they are now ranting and carrying on because President Biden lifted Title 42, a restriction against immigration put into place by the former guy because of the pandemic!  Now, if there is no more pandemic, then there must be no more Title 42.  If you want Title 42 to remain in place, then you must believe the pandemic is still a danger and must agree to mask and vaccine mandates!  You cannot have it both ways!!!

The reality, as we all know, is that a sizable portion of the people in this country are anti-immigration and they see the pandemic as an excuse to deny asylum to migrants and refugees.  Plain and simple bigotry.  Call a ♠️ a spade.


Right to life???  Don’t make me laugh

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, guns have become the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in the United States, surpassing car crashes, drug overdose and poisoning.

“There were more than 4,300 firearm-related deaths among people under 19 in the U.S. in 2020, a 29 percent increase from 2019.”

According to the report,  the rise in gun-related deaths among Americans between the ages of one and 19 was part of an overall 33.4% increase in firearm homicides nationwide.

Population of U.S.               330,000,000
Percentage of population that owns guns 32%
Number of gun owners in U.S.               105,600,000
# of guns in hands of citizens               390,000,000
Average # of guns per gun owner                              3.69

People scream and yell about the “right to life” when the subject is abortion, but nary a peep do you hear when the topic is kids being murdered by guns.  Way to go, Americans!  With more than 390 million guns owned by US civilians that we know of, and only a total of about 330 million people in the nation with only about 32% being gun owners, something is seriously wrong here. This means that on average, each of the 105.6 million gun owners owns 3.69 guns!  WHO THE HELL NEEDS 4 GUNS???  I guess it’s one way of cutting back the population … see, there’s a positive side to everything.


And a belated ‘toon in honour of Earth Day (yesterday) …

Saturday Surprise — Puffins (& beer) (Redux)

I must apologize for once again reduxing a prior Saturday Surprise post, but I am thoroughly exhausted this evening and my brain just isn’t coming up with any new material!  Still, I think you’ll enjoy this one from September 2018!


Hello friends!  Thanks for dropping by before starting your weekend!  Today is the first day of September already!  Can you believe it?  Where has this year gone?  Here in the U.S., it is a 3-day weekend, for Monday is Labour Day.  My Iraqi friends asked me last week, “What is this Labour Day”, and I had to explain that while it was once a day to honour the working people, now it is pretty much just an excuse for a beer-fest.  Then, of course, I was left to explain “beer-fest” to people for whom alcohol is forbidden.  I fall into these traps often … you’d think I would learn, yes?

I know you all have big weekend plans, but I am still taking you on a short journey today … I promise to have you back in plenty of time to carry on with all your weekend plans, but this is just the perfect weekend to make this little jaunt!  Well … actually it’s not all that perfect, because where we are going is to be rainy and the high temps only around 55° F, or 10° C.  But still … we’ll have fun, I promise.  We can pick up some light jackets along the way … apparently the heat wave missed Iceland.  Oh … didn’t I tell you?  Yes, we are traveling to Iceland!Iceland-forecastWhat do you mean, “Why on earth are we going to Iceland?”  We are going to Iceland to see … PUFFINS!!!  You know … puffins … cute little birds … look sort of like miniature penguins?  Oh, c’mon … it’ll be fun … just hope onto the Filo-mobile and let’s go!

The puffin population in Iceland has been decreasing in recent years.  Though some puffin colonies are prospering, in Iceland, where the largest population of Atlantic puffins is found, their numbers have dropped from roughly seven million individuals to about 5.4 million.  The reasons are many:  fickle prey, overfishing, pollution, and climate change, which is diminishing food supplies like the silvery sand eels, which dangle from the parents’ beaks as they bring them to their young.  In addition, since they are considered to be very tasty, they are hunted as game birds.  No, we will not be trying them!

We have arrived, so let us check out some puffins, shall we?puffin-2.gif

The puffin is not the official bird of Iceland – that would be the gyrfalcon.  But puffins get far more attention, especially from tourists.  Did you know that puffins are only on land for about four months a year?  Right … they will soon be taking themselves back out into the cold Atlantic sea, where they will spend the next eight months or so hunting for fish.  They really only return to land in the spring in order to mate and nest.

Puffins-kissing

Awwwwwwww

Puffins choose partners for life, and while on land, they even share parenting duties, but once they go back out to sea, they go their separate ways until next spring.  I’m pretty sure that is the male’s idea.

puffin-chick

Puffin chick

Puffins are great little swimmers and divers, but when it comes to flying … meh, not so great.  So, watching them take off and land is rather hilarious!

puffin-landingAnd did you know that their gorgeous, colourful beaks aren’t always so colourful?  Puffins molt during their time at sea and shed all the colourful portions of their beaks as well as the black markings around their eyes in the process.

puffin-fish-in-mouth

Lookee what I caught!!!

The joint of their beaks are notched so that the birds can hang on to their catch even while diving back in, open-mouthed for more. One little puffin can carry up to 10 fish in its muzzle at any one time!

Okay, folks … it’s getting downright chilly here, and the rain has soaked through to the skin, so I think it’s time to bid adieu to the puffins.

puffin-1puffin-2Before we head back home, though, there is one last stop I want to make.

Welcome to Akureyri, home of the giant beer can! beer-can-1.jpg

From 1915-1989, beer was banned in Iceland. Although it seems completely counter-intuitive compared to the image of the beer and mead-swilling Viking sailor, the malted beverage was outlawed for most of the 20th century. Today, Iceland has begun to embrace the drink, and a giant beer can at the Viking brewery in Akureyri marks that change.

beer-can-2.JPGStand over there … facing the beer can, to the left, near the corner of the building.  See that pipe?  No, no, no Joe … do NOT drink what’s coming out of the pipe … they say it isn’t potable, but its sole purpose is to add a nice beer smell to the area.  Okay guys … I’m ready to head home now, where the temps should be in the high 70s and the ice in my hair can melt!20180419_141127.jpgWhew … this is better!  Okay, folks … keep safe and have a great time this weekend!


I was reading the comments that were left when I first posted this nearly 4 years ago, and a few of them noted other places — warmer and closer — to see Puffins:

Ellen:  Cap’n Fish’s Puffin Cruises in Boothbay Harbor, Maine is an experience that is not to be missed. They are a family operation, now in the third generation. There are several other cruises as well, but Cap’n is our favorite.

Hugh: By the by, Nufundland also has large Puffin colonies if a person doesn’t want to leave dry land!

David:  If you’d come in this direction you’d have found Puffin Island just off the coast of Ynys Mon (Anglesey) (Wales)

Colette:  We have Puffins off the Northern coasts of The British Isles too Jill!

Happy Earth Day 2022!!!

Today is Earth Day … the 52nd anniversary of Earth Day, to be exact.  Typically, Earth Day is assigned a different theme or area of focus each year; last year’s theme was “Restore Our Earth” and this year’s theme is, appropriately, “Invest in Our Planet”.  This short clip is from last year, but I loved it and so am sharing it again this year.


I am always surprised by people who say, “Yeah, so???” Or those who say “What the heck is Earth Day?”  Or worse yet, those who say it isn’t their problem. Each generation has contributed to the damage that is threatening our very survival, each generation multiplying that damage as technological ‘advances’ come along, many of which only exacerbate the problems.  Modern day jets, oil & gas pipelines, bovine-sized SUVs, food waste, plastic wrappers & containers … all these and more are fairly ensuring that within a few short decades, the planet will no longer be able to support 7+ billion humans, not to mention the plants, animals and insects that were here long before humans.

In part, we need better education about our environment and how to care for it.  But of late, climate change has become a political football with some claiming that it’s a “hoax”, others who are connected to the fossil fuel industries more concerned with their own profits than life on Earth, and still others listening to false claims by the likes of right-wing media and politicians.  None of which is helpful in the least bit — if we are to save this planet for life as we know it today, we must be united, everyone working together to clean up our acts!

So, please bear with me while I explain very briefly.


History – In The Beginning

The concept for Earth Day was conceived in the mind of then-Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Senator Nelson recruited help from Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey and others, and on April 22,1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 2018-4Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

In 1995, President Bill Clinton awarded Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest honor given to civilians in the United States—for his role as Earth Day founder.

From Then To Now

Through the years, Earth Day has focused largely on global warming and a push for clean energy. Earth Day 2000 used the power of the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC for a First Amendment Rally. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on global warming and clean energy.Earth Day 2018-3Earth Day 2010 saw new challenges:  Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to the narrative—cynicism versus activism.  Still, some 250,000 people showed up at the National Mall for a Climate Rally, launched the world’s largest environmental service project—A Billion Acts of Green®–introduced a global tree planting initiative that has since grown into The Canopy Project, and engaged 22,000 partners in 192 countries in observing Earth Day.


And Today???

No, this is not a picture from Ukraine, but rather a landfill in New York City taken prior to 2001, obviously, for you can see the Twin Towers in the background.

Under the previous administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was nearly decimated and environmental regulations rolled back or reversed.  For the four years between 2017-2021, the United States has stood alone among all nations in eschewing the science of global climate change.  However, thankfully, the Biden administration understands the critical need to address the multiple issues that are destroying our planet and  we are, once again, an active player in the fight against climate change and other environmental issues.  I believe that the vast majority of people in this nation do understand how critical our environment and our stewardship of the planet earth is.  Unfortunately, the pandemic and the Russian attacks on Ukraine have caused problems we couldn’t have foreseen and slowed down our progress on environmental issues.  We simply must get back on track, and soon!  Read the latest IPCC report … we are quickly running out of time!

People today are so worried about the cost of fuel for their gas-guzzling vehicles, but they should be far more concerned about what the drilling, piping, and burning of that fuel is doing to our planet!  Far worse damage occurs daily than is occurring to your wallet!


What can YOU do?

You may think that there isn’t much you, personally, can do to help restore our earth, but you’d be wrong.  Each and every one of us can do a few simple things to help and little things add up to big things, as we all know.  Here are a few ideas from the Old Farmer’s Almanac …

1. SUPPORT OUR POLLINATORS!

Bring native bees and other pollinating creatures to your garden. One way to do this is by selecting the right plants. Need ideas?

2. CLEAN UP PLASTIC IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD OR LOCAL PARK

One of the best ways to connect with the Earth is through cleanups! Go on a walk with a trash bag and help to clean up any plastic that you find. Perhaps you know of a nearby ditch that is polluted with trash that needs a spring cleaning! You’ll start to realize that plastic permeates every aspect of our lives. But as the world wakes up to its addiction, just how easy is it to ditch plastic while growing and storing more of our own food? Don’t forget to recycle what plastic you can. See a Plastics Recycling Chart.

3. SWAP OUT YOUR KITCHEN AND HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS!

Let’s talk about the cooking and cleaning products that touch the food we eat as well as our skin. This year, we’ve discovered a line of kitchen and household products called If You Care.” Everything’s biodegradable and does not use chemicals or plastic. Think 100% recycled aluminum foil, chemical-free parchment paper for baking, compostable bags made with potato starch, and even vegetable-based inks for their packaging. We love company’s motto: “We care simply because it’s the right thing to do!” You can find If You Care products online and in stores. See the store locator.

For more ideas, visit the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

And just a few other resources, if you’re interested:

And just for fun (and to test your knowledge) … a quiz!


In Summary

This is a post about Earth Day, but more to the point it is a post about the need for Earth Day.  It isn’t just about one day a year, about marches and articles such as this one, but it is about awareness.  The entire purpose of Earth Day is to raise awareness, to stir people to take action.  Climate deniers will continue to deny the need to protect our environment, not because they are as stupid as they seem, but rather because they are as greedy as they seem.  But there is much that each and every one of us can do with very little effort.  Recycle, pick up trash when you see it on the streets or in your local parks, plant a tree, plant flowers to encourage pollination, turn the thermostat down, conserve water, reduce food waste, turn off lights, consolidate errands and trips in the car, walk more/drive less, take the bus … use some common sense and be a good steward of the planet.  And meanwhile, keep petitioning your elected officials at local, state and federal levels … let them know that a healthy environment is more important to you than the profits of the fossil fuel and other industries.  Please … my life and yours are at stake, but more importantly our children’s and grandchildren’s lives are at stake.

Happy Earth Day, my friends!  Why not celebrate by planting a sapling or a few flowers in the back yard?

Note to readers:  Some of this post is a repeat of last year’s Earth Day post, but I have also added new content and resources relevant to 2022 and the celebration of Earth Day.

Good People Doing Good Things — Teresa Gray et al

I think everyone in the world is familiar with Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, a wonderful humanitarian group of doctors and other medical professionals that is best known for its projects in conflict zones and in countries affected by endemic diseases.  But last night, I came across another group, Mobile Medics International founded by Teresa Gray.  Mobile Medics International sends volunteer medical professionals to disaster areas and humanitarian crisis around the world, and the current crisis in Ukraine is what brought the organization to fame and Teresa Gray to the attention of CNN where she became the latest CNN Hero.

Ms. Gray and the group are based in Anchorage, Alaska, just a 4,500-mile hop, skip, and a jump from Ukraine, but that didn’t stop them.  When they deploy, it’s normally within 72 hours of a disaster to fill the gap before larger groups are fully operational. Their missions typically last seven to 10 days.

But the Ukraine crisis required a different type of response. Four days after the invasion, one of her volunteers from England began driving along the western border of Ukraine to assess where their help would be most needed. Eventually, they determined that Romania was overwhelmed by refugees but lacked infrastructure other countries, like Poland, had.

When her group members deploy, they’re prepared to be entirely self-sustaining. This ensures that they can work for days at a time without taxing the local infrastructure.

“We can bring our own food, our own water, our own sleeping accommodations. We try to take basically an ambulance in a backpack.  This is the most dangerous mission we’ve ever done. We’re taking the necessary medicine for chemical warfare, in case chemical weapons are deployed. But honestly, the heroes are my volunteers who were begging to go.”

Gray’s team was told about hundreds of refugees on a university campus who had very limited medical care. When they arrived at the campus in Galati on March 26, Gray was surprised …

But I think I’ll let Ms. Gray tell you her story and that of Mobile Medics International, for she does it so much better than I could, but be sure you have a box of tissues at hand …

What follows is a small portion of an interview between a CNN correspondent and Ms. Gray …

CNN: How did you find your way into the medical field?

Teresa Gray: Growing up in Michigan, my godmother was a paramedic instructor, and she would drag me down to the firehouse and make me be a mock victim. I would have to be bandaged and splinted and all sorts of things while they practiced their skills. I loved it. After high school, I stumbled across an ad for an EMT, and I thought, “I’ll go give it a shot,” and it all made sense to me. I knew in that moment I had found my career.

I started as an EMT, became a paramedic. Eventually I moved to Alaska and ended up being a critical-care flight paramedic. Our cities are hundreds of miles apart, so our ambulances are Lear jets. We fly to the villages, pick people up and bring them back to major cities. I’ve picked up patients in dogsleds, on snow machines — whatever we needed to do to make it happen, I’ve tried all the different avenues of paramedicine. I’ve loved them all. Now I’m a registered nurse, but I also still hold my paramedic license.

CNN: What led you to get involved in disaster response work?

Gray: In late 2015, I had semi-retired. I was a stay-at-home mom, and I was watching TV and I saw the 3-year-old Syrian child on the beach of Lesbos face down in the water. I had not really been aware of what was going on over in Greece or the Syrian refugee crisis. And so I just decided that I was going to go to Greece and see if I could help. It was life-changing. These people were stepping off the boats, soaking wet, hypothermic. It was heartbreaking. But I made a difference for people.

CNN: In addition to natural and humanitarian disasters, your group also does medical sustainability missions.

Gray: We will find communities that are chronically medically underserved, and we ask them to commit five years to building their own medical infrastructure, and we support them during that time. We’ve done that with the Philippines very successfully. We normally go in twice a year and we give them the equipment, the supplies, the medications they need, and the ongoing training. And then we also mentor them and support them through telemedicine.

When we first started going to a remote island in the Philippines, they had a huge population of cleft-palate babies being born, just simply because their nutrition wasn’t good. Within three years, we eliminated cleft-palate babies on that island by giving out prenatal vitamins. That’s all it took — but that’s what it took. So that’s what we do. It doesn’t matter what you need, if we can provide that for you, we will.

My hat is off to this wonderful woman who came out of retirement and to her wonderful team of volunteers who put their lives on hold in order to help people, to save lives.