The first steps are the hardest: 3 lessons learned on a BLS truck

"With every role we take during our career, in a way, we are auditioning for the next"


For the last call of our 12-hour shift, my partner and I were dispatched to the hospital to transport a 96-year-old female back to her home to die – the exact opposite of what I had been trained to do during EMT school.

This was years before I worked for the fire department, back before I had finished my first semester of paramedic school, when I was still the new guy assigned to a basic life support (BLS) truck for a private ambulance company.

Up to that point, my transport experience consisted of taking dialysis patients to and from their appointments. Those patients had been chronically ill, but this patient was actively dying. I had never seen that before.

The nurse handing over the paperwork sensed my unease. “Just drive fast,” she said. After we loaded the patient into the truck, we got stuck in rush hour traffic.

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