Judging by how I felt this morning when I got up at 06:43 for a seizure victim after getting to bed at 03:30ish beforehand, I would say that I’ve been doing this for a while. I’m not as young as I used to be and I certainly am not the same person I was when I first got behind the wheel of an ambulance and flipped on the flashing lights.
I’ll never forget that first time I ever drove an ambulance lights and sirens. I was so excited. When I was younger I had always wanted to be an EMT and I viewed my first emergency driving experience as the time when I’d really “made it”. I was working as a security guard in a hospital where our security department ran an ambulance service that existed solely to transport patients from a free-standing ER attached to an outpatient facility to our larger flagship hospital with inpatient beds. Mostly we did tech work in the ER and transported every admission to the larger facility. Occasionally we got to “knock the cobwebs outta the siren” and run the ten minute trip “hot”. That was my first time driving in an emergency fashion… it may have not been a clean win since it wasn’t a 911 call… but it was still my first.
However, I digress. This post isn’t about my youth and exuberance that I didn’t know I was in the midst of when I first pinned on an EMS badge. This post is about the person I am today. I’m a paramedic now and I will say that I am proud of my son, my wife, my family, and my skills as a paramedic. I try not to brag on much, but I have put so much effort into all of the above that I am proud of the way they’re turning out. As a paramedic I have put in years of continuous effort to become the provider that I am today and even if nobody else ever cares about how good I was when I retire one sad day in the future, I will, and that’s enough for me to drive on.
I will never have the ability to give back to EMS all of the positive gifts that it has given me. Growing as a paramedic and as a healthcare provider is directly related to my growth as a person. I entitled this blog “Life Under the Lights” because I feel that I’ve lived a significant portion of my own life “Under the lights” of an ambulance. We all share a lot of the same experiences on our journey as EMS providers and we’re only starting to realize our true potential as a profession.
So here are a few things that I am thankful for that I’ve gotten back from my career as a paramedic so far:
- Thank you EMS for allowing me to see the power and passion in people going through the worst times in their lives… and in some cases the best ones.
- Thank you EMS for allowing me to have conversations with fascinating individuals I’ve met as I’ve taken care of them. I love hearing the stories my patients tell me… it’s got to be one of the best parts of the job. I’ve learned so much from my patients.
- Thank you EMS for taking me on a journey through my own emotions and allowing me to feel the highest peaks and lowest valleys of my own psyche as I’ve lived out the world through facing emergencies. I may have never known such things about my own capacity for feeling.
- Thank you EMS for teaching me that I always have it in me to go on fighting when the stakes are high… Without having to fight through the pain, exhaustion, and other discomforts that you’ve thrown at me I wouldn’t know nearly how much I could take.
- Thank you EMS for allowing me to meet my wife. I love her more than I love you.
- Thank you EMS for allowing me to meet my coworkers, some of them have become my closest friends. Maybe I’ve had better parties while on the clock than I have had off-duty. Being at work is just such a blast sometimes.
- Thank you EMS for showing me that no matter what struggles I’ve been facing in my personal life, that there is always someone out there struggling harder than I am.
- Thank you EMS for shaping my personality. I used to be a shy introverted person. Now I can almost always come up with something close to the right thing to say by thinking on my feet.
- Thank you EMS for giving me the opportunity to Drive Fast and Break Things occasionally, it’s the manliest thing I do most weeks.
- Thank you EMS for making my life exciting. I love the feeling I get when the stakes are extremely high and the adrenaline is pumping… it has to be better than any drug.
- And finally, Thank you EMS for more than I can thank you for. I (quite geekishly, actually) can relate most things to something I have done or might do in the field. That’s very cool in my book.
Without my starting point in EMS more than a decade ago, you wouldn’t be here reading this right now. I would be some guy doing something somewhere else. My life is shaped because of what I do and who I’ve become from pounding the streets every day. Thanks for making me “somebody”. Thanks for giving me something to write about. Thanks for being as cool as you are.