EMS: The experience of a lifetime

Every second of a 25-year career of mundane calls, sleepless nights and nightmares was worth it

There comes a time when you have already done more than you are yet to do. When that time comes, I hope you can look back and remember how good it was to make a difference in countless lives because you were there.

Few of us will spend our entire lives in EMS, but the time we spend immersed in the field will stay with us always. Magic and grace are in abundance when one person is responsible for the care of another and the person hurting is comforted by the person healing. The two bond as only people in those circumstances can.

I am truly blessed to have been the person doing the comforting.

Of all the health care professionals practicing medicine, EMS personnel do far more relative to their training and education than the rest. Nobody in the chain of treating sudden illness or accident victims does more with less.

EMS personnel do not have the luxury of support staff or somebody watching over who knows more than they do or has more experience. During the time spent on scene and during transport there is only the patient and the provider.

And for me, I have a higher power who keeps me calm, letting what I have learned about the human body, mind and spirit flow. Sometimes I like to believe this keeps the poor soul dying on my stretcher breathing for a little while longer than he would have without me.

It's heady stuff when I stop and think about it. Now that I have more time behind me than ahead, I have a lot of time to think about it.

The best part of looking back is that all the frustration, sadness and pain dissipates like morning mist when the sun breaks through. The memories, without fail, remind me that because of what I did as an EMT, my life has meaning and purpose.

Taking all that I learned about myself, my partners and everybody I got to know during my time in uniform with me into the next part of my life has made leaving the profession painless. I will never be without the camaraderie of the firefighters I worked with, cutting people out of cars, dragging them out of burned out buildings or carrying them down their stairs.

The nurses, doctors and so many others in the city’s emergency room are part of me now. We shared far too many traumatic moments for those times to be forgotten. The cops, the bouncers, the security guards and an entire city full of people that I encountered are all part of the experience of a lifetime.

EMS will survive without me, but I will not have to survive without EMS. It’s in my blood, in my memories and is an enormous part of who I am. I do not know where my life will lead now that I have left the daily grind of being on the ambulance behind, but I do know this; it was a dramatic 25 years.

Although I didn’t realize that while it was happening, I see it clearly now, and can honestly say that every mundane call, every sleepless night and even the nightmares were worth every second.

If I could do it all over, I wouldn’t change a thing. 

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