Monday, June 2, 2008

One More

On the way back from a run yesterday my partner and I were discussing the patient we had just treated. How crazy things got once backup arrived, how badly the hospital had treated us, how so many people refuse to get out of the way of an ambulance. The usual stuff. After a brief silence he asked me a profound question. "Why do we keep doing this to ourselves?" I answered his question with a question of my own. "What else are we going to do?" It was the only response I could fathom at the time. He raised a good question and I've been stewing over it for the past 24 hours or so and figured I'd write down some of my thoughts.

It has to start with why I got into the business in the first place. I wanted to help people. I wanted to make a difference. I realized fairly quickly that the reality of the profession was not the fantasy I had imagined. In fact, most patients require little more than a big white taxi with red lights. The few that require more are few and far between. In a normal twelve hour day, only thirty minutes or so are filled with the adrenaline pumping, life saving, fast driving, fantasy world I imagined when I started my training a few years ago. And most generally the patients you put the most work into will not live much longer than a few days.

Still there is that one patient, that one trip to the hospital, that one life saved that makes the years in between seem worth it. I think most people that do my job can say that they do this because of Jeffrey or Suzanne or Jack. That one life, in so many years, that came back and said thank you. I think if we ever have the conversation again, I will simply say, "Twenty eight more years is a long time. There's got to be at least one more."


April said...

My Dad is a formally trained EMT who once depended a crew of guys in one of your big white taxis to save his life one night. I'm his daughter, my brother is his son. I like to think WE are ones you do it for. Somewhere someone has a parent or loved one (even if for 3 days longer to say goodbye) because of what you guys do everyday. Just remember that.