Paramedic's viral post is an excellent PSA

A heartfelt image, viewed and shared by millions, informs civilians about the consequences of gun violence and that all lives matter to EMS providers

A post by an EMS provider on Imgur, decrying the senselessness of the recent shootings in Minnesota, Louisiana and Texas has gone viral, and with good reason. His heartfelt message is accompanied by a graphic photo of an ambulance's patient care compartment after a bloody shooting.

Based on the reader comments, I suspect that many have not witnessed the aftermath of gun violence. In movies, shootings are often clean, almost comically. In video games the blood that splatters appears for only a brief moment and rapidly recedes into the background as the game action continues.

Most of us know better.

We have spent long periods of time decontaminating our units — mopping blood, tissue, vomit, feces, urine and other bodily fluids off the floor. We have washed and washed some more waiting for the mop to wring clear in the wash bucket. Getting blood off of straps, benches, walls and medical equipment is difficult and just as time consuming.

The cleaning can be a form of catharsis. It is an act of making our workspace ready for the next patient.

But do this enough times and it can become more difficult to remember that what we scrub and wipe away is the stuff of life itself. That life was someone's son, daughter, father, mother, friend, co-worker or even a complete stranger, but is nevertheless human.

Of course, EMS folks are also human. We value the lives we love more than the ones we don’t. But that doesn’t mean that those other lives are of any less value.

When we go to work, the demand to treat all lives with dignity and respect is one of the drivers that allow us to remain professional and keep us from going crazy.

This Imgur post has been seen over 5 million times. I hope that this EMS provider’s words and image will cause a few readers to pause and think about the consequences of gun violence.

While the mechanism itself may last but a brief microsecond, the pain and suffering that is endured by the patient, family and friends goes on long afterwards. If that thought keeps a few folks safe, then it’s an excellent public safety announcement from EMS.

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