This job can take its toll

Keeping sane in an insane situation is crucial to mental health

The stereotype of the coffee guzzling, energy drinking adrenalin junkie EMS provider who performs heroic actions every shift is constantly reinforced by fictitional television shows ad nauseum.

It hides the fact that our folks are just like everyone else in the community — hard working, dedicated and wanting to help out when duty calls. It also diminishes the personal toll we can take when performing our jobs.

It truly is the minutia of everyday details that can wreck us personally. These feelings can take us off guard and surprise us with their intensity. Most of us manage the effects, through counsel of close friends and family, or through CISM.

That we feel sorrow might surprise members of our community. And I'm okay with that.

We are, after all, human. And when someone loses a life in a tragic event through no fault of their own, it would almost seem bizarre to not feel sadness.

It reminds us to be more empathetic, more caring about the patients we help, and the survivors left behind. In the process, we might feel better about ourselves, too.

About the author

Art Hsieh, MA, NRP teaches in Northern California at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. An EMS provider since 1982, Art has served as a line medic, supervisor and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook writer, author of "EMT Exam for Dummies," has presented at conferences nationwide and continues to provide direct patient care regularly. Art is a member of the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board. Contact Art at and connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

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