Pa. paramedic finds ‘touches of humanity’ at fatal crash scene
Cumberland Goodwill EMS paramedic Taylor Shearer shared a personal lesson from a fatal incident
By Maddie Seiler
CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. — It’s no secret that the job of a first responder is anything but easy.
Taking calls can mean long hours, time away from family and PTSD. But every day hundreds of men and women in Cumberland County answer those calls.
Every week, The Sentinel’s Sirens for Service feature will aim to show the faces of these people and share their stories.
The series focuses on why they became a first responder and highlights a specific call from their service that influenced them and reminds them of why they do what they do.
Agency: Cumberland Goodwill EMS
Title: Paramedic, field training officer
Time with company: 3 years
Q: Why did you become a first responder?
A: I got my EMT while I was in college. Health care is something I’ve always been very interested in, and I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do long-term with it. The university that I was going to offered an EMT class, and I thought it was really interesting. When I started the class, I was like, ‘This is what I love.’ I ended up following suit and going through and actually getting my degree in emergency medicine, so I got my paramedic that way, and once I got on a truck, I really just didn’t want to get off. So I got to be involved in health care in kind of a very different aspect than the other realms and fields that they offer, but I just really enjoyed it once I got on.
Q: Can you describe a call that has influenced you? What did that call look like and why did it impact you?
A: A call that really influenced me was a few years back. I was a brand new medic, I was still part-time. There was a pretty serious crash in our first-due area, and there was unfortunately a child killed in the accident. We had a bunch of surrounding companies come in, and we had just three or four different ambulance services there, as well as three or four fire departments, a bunch of police officers and that kind of thing. So we kind of had a bunch of people from the community all coming together to kind of work, and obviously it was a very tragic incident, but there was a bunch of other people injured in the situation.
It was after that call, obviously as a brand new medic, I was very overwhelmed. I had no idea what to do, I had never seen a situation like this, I hadn’t been exposed to a lot of bad crashes at that point. So afterwards I was kind of thinking back and I was thinking of all the people that came together and all of the different surrounding companies that came together to really make something happen here and make the best outcome of the situation we were handed.
I read a quote one time that actually really resonated with me after this that we’re humans doing a very inhuman job. I think it’s very hard to kind of keep in touch with your humanity while also compartmentalizing things so that you’re not impacted by what we do. And I think when you see those little parts of humanity kind of creep in and you see people who don’t know each other but they jump on an ambulance together and they make it work, or you see firefighters who have never worked before doing all that they can to make the situation really the best outcome that we can provide.
Those little touches of humanity really keep me coming back, and they kind of really make the job enjoyable even if we have a bad outcome.