EMS poem: 'Down so long it feels like up'
After holding it in for 20 years, a paramedic begins to talk and realizes the cycle of strife can be broken
Editor's Note: Fire chief and paramedic Michael Roxbury writes poetry as a means to understand the stress he has experienced as a paramedic for more than two decades. Chief Roxbury's hope is that others don't ignore the warning signs of PTSD, as he did for far too long, and seek out help or resources they may need.
By Michael Roxbury
Down so long it feels like up
So there I sat, like many days
Thinking of the obvious ways
I would once again derail my life
The clear result of years of strife
And the ideas just kept coming
This is a cycle I’ve done before
What’s one more time, be it less or more
Twenty years I’ve played this game
The end result always the same
I don’t know why I do it
So I resolve one day to see a man
“Clean this up,” he says we can
I chuckle with a bemused smile
He doesn’t know it's been awhile
Since I heard a taller tale
Oh, he has a pretty papered wall
Certificates and diplomas all
And he doesn’t lack an easy style
A joke, a story, a casual smile
But can he really fix me?
Well back I go, week after week
The answer we’re supposed to seek
I take my girl, and this is new
I play the game, and she does too
But we don’t know where it’s going
And then one day we’re sitting there
He drops a quote from who knows where
I drink it down, straight from his cup
As he says, “You’ve been down so long, it feels like up”
And I know I’ve found the guy!
About the Author
Michael Roxbury has served as the Fire Chief and Paramedic for the Umatilla Rural Fire Protection District since 1997. In his 18 years as Chief of District he has served as the only Paramedic for that population and has instructed many EMT students. With a career spanning over 25 years Chief Roxbury is intimately familiar with the challenges of rural EMS delivery with a volunteer force. He lives in Umatilla, Oregon with his girlfriend and has two adult children.