Musings on a decade in EMS

You know that song by Faces, Ooh La La, that has the chorus that goes “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger“? That’s how I feel about some parts of my career in EMS. I realized today that I’m about 12 years into my EMS career, and about 7 of those years spent working full-time in EMS. A decade or so of working in public service has shown me a lot of amazing things. I’ve seen people cause each other great pain and harm, and I’ve seen the truly amazing side of humanity – people coming together to help total strangers on their worst day. I’ve responded to MVCs, fires, overdoses, cardiac arrests, asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes, a wildfire, floods, a tornado, and more falls than I can count. I’ve worked for city, county, and private EMS services. I’ve worked as a volunteer, a part-timer, and as a career paramedic. I’ve been on ambulances, squads, chase cars, engines, rescues, and trucks. The one thing that stands out about every single place I’ve ever worked, and every call I’ve ever been on, are the people who’ve been by my side on each call.  Continue reading “Musings on a decade in EMS”

Siren Malfunction?

ambulance-siren-lights-07012015I’ve been working in EMS in one form or another for about 10 years. So, although I am new to the system I currently work in, I am not new to EMS. I had still never encountered this issue before.

My partner, Bob, a true veteran of both EMS and of the system I work in, was in the passenger seat. I was driving the ambulance as we responded Code-3 to a call in a neighboring city for a fallen person/lift assist call. It was early evening rush hour, and traffic was heavy. The way our system works, when we respond to other cities, we switch to their radio channel and identify our unit and our ETA so that first responders know that EMS is enroute to their location. As we were heading down a busy state highway, I changed the siren tone a couple times to help move traffic along. My partner (again, keep in mind, a veteran with over 30 years of service in EMS) selected the proper channel on the radio and picked up the mic to call the neighboring city on the radio. He keyed up and said (city names changed for anonymity) “Anytown Fire, this is Main City EMS Medic 3, enroute to 123 Main Street. ETA 15 minutes.” Continue reading “Siren Malfunction?”

The Socially Awkward Medic

03ff4d26895997.5635dddabbf33I’m awkward. I’m introverted. I struggle sometimes with depression and anxiety. I’ve been, at one time or another, diagnosed with clinical depression, major depression, social anxiety, social phobia, and an anger disorder. You might be reading this paragraph and wondering aloud, “how the hell does he function as a paramedic?” – and you’re not alone. I wonder this sometimes myself.

There is a part of me that is unsure of myself, self-doubt abounds, especially when I’ve made a mistake, or think I’ve made a mistake. I try to always do right by my patients, to ease their pain, settle their mind, make them more comfortable. Some patients are unhappy no matter what I do. Some patients die no matter what I do. I’ve been in EMS for about 10 years now, and I’m starting to accept this reality, that dissatisfaction and death are a regular part of my job, and that there’s not always anything I can do about it except smile, do my best, and then move on to the next emergency. Continue reading “The Socially Awkward Medic”

A Bad Day in EMS

bad day

What does a “bad day” in EMS look like? First you have to ask if it’s a “bad day” for the EMS provider…. or for the EMS recipient. As a provider, I’ve had all kinds of days. I’ve had days where I feel appreciated by my employer, the general public, my coworkers, and my patients. I’ve also had days where I feel insignificant. In the way. Replaceable. Patients who don’t want your help, or worse, need your help and there’s nothing you can do. Family members who discover a loved one at home, deceased, having never gotten the chance to say goodbye, not even sure how long they’ve been dead. I’m a religious person, and I believe that a lot of things happen for a reason, but I also think that sometimes bad things just happen. Babies don’t die because they’re bad people or they’ve done anything wrong. Innocent drivers don’t get killed by drunk drivers because they wanted to buy groceries. In EMS, it’s our job to make scenes and create calm, direct patient care, and try to make a bad situation slightly better than how we found it. Continue reading “A Bad Day in EMS”