Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 44 seconds
As I transition into my new life era without EMS, I have changed a small symbolic thing that makes it real. As I ponder what I have given up, I acknowledge that things will never be the same. What made me last so long in a profession where “burn-out” is so prevalent?
Remodeling has been in the family all my life. I set my sights on being a successful remodeling contractor nearly a decade ago, as the business grew, it became obvious I was being torn apart and distracted.
It gradually became clear that I could not get to where I needed to be without letting go of what I was tightly clutching.
I had not considered that remodeling might take me away from EMS so soon. My passion slowly shifted from medicine to business.
I am comfortable with who I am and proud of what I have accomplished, retirement is the reward for being selfless and “on duty” for all those years. I was a pioneer at times doing cutting-edge frontier emergency medicine. I loved it when someone would say “I could never do what you do” because I secretly knew it was true.
Every call of my carrier was
I was in love with my EMS job and career from my first terrified EMT shift, in my pressed white smock in West Oakland at Acme Western Ambulance in 1977 with my partner Doug Jay. I lived with a tremendous amount of responsibility; I became an expert in my field as the profession and technology evolved. As I gained more knowledge, my responsibilities and certifications began to pile up. It was like slipping into a comfortable set of slippers after doing EMS for 37 years.
- Every call was a chance to meet someone under dire circumstances who needed my help.
- Every call was a chance to work with partners like a well-oiled machine.
- Every call was a new opportunity to overcome challenges.
- Every call was a chance to make a difference in someone’s life.
- Every call was a test.
That is what I anticipated and what I was hungry for, I eagerly signed up for this, and looked forward to every shift. Fueled by the occasional miraculous save, or heartfelt thank you and a hug, I could always be counted upon to pick up an extra shift.
- Who am I going to give myself to unconditionally now?
- When will I drop everything, become focused like a rock climber or tightrope walker for a few hours in an effort to retrieve and revive someone who is in distress?
- Who am I going to hug when it hurts so much that all the medicine in the world can’t take away?
- Will I miss being alerted by tones from a radio directing me to another human catastrophe?
What I am giving up?
- I am never going to need to take charge by performing some life-saving maneuver, technique or administering any number of powerful medications.
- No one is going to get the benefit of my years of experience, my intuition, my focused inner clinician interpreting signs and symptoms that can easily confuse.
- No one will get to hear me say calmly that it is going to be OK in my most convincing voice that leaves no doubt.
- I will no longer take a strangers trust in an instant in the thing they hold most precious, life itself.
- I no longer get to participate and bond with my team or partners practicing the art of emergency medicine.
- I will never get to share in the multi-disciplinary teamwork of an extrication or plucking someone out of the wilderness.
- I will not get to earn another holiday card for saving a loved one’s life.
- I will likely never deliver another baby.
- I will never be the best part of anyone’s worst day.
- I will not get to mentor new Nurses in the ways of Flight work and the field that I thrived in.
- I won’t be able to share myself unconditionally with my patients or their loved ones.
- I will not have the satisfaction of knowing that I have relieved pain, taken someone to safety or saved another person’s life.
- I will not get to build my treasure trove of memories of great calls.
I survived my somewhat dangerous career choice, and I am blessed. I will find my equilibrium, I still have plenty left to give and share, I will find an outlet.
In the meantime, the silly little thing I have changed is I no longer sleep in tight white t-shirts, and I take my watch off without the fear of leaving it behind.
By this simple conscious act, I have separated myself from my old profession.
- I will no longer be chronically sleep-deprived,
- I will no longer dwell on tragedy or the intensity of injured or ill human beings off shift.
- I will no longer think about the ramifications of accidents that, like a pebble in a pond, creates a ripple effect on so many other people’s lives.
- I will no longer have to deal with suffering, pain, air hunger, senseless trauma, and end-of-life issues.
- I will not be bringing patients back to consciousness, making sense out of chaos 24-7 in every climatic condition or terrain imaginable.
- I will no longer be fighting my lifelong evil nemesis, “MORBIDITY & MORTALITY”.
I would not have changed a thing. I smile an omniscient little grin whenever I hear or see a medical aircraft slipping through the sky, or ambulance going code 3; I pause for a moment, wonder if I know who the crew is, and will forever say a little prayer.
My new reality
I do not have to check my schedule to see if I am working to determine if I can attend some function. There are no more meetings to attend, continuing education to do, or hospital rotations to sign up for. I will never have to re-certify in dozens of specialty areas again or prove myself incessantly to my physician directors.
Now, I am my own boss. I get to put in a full week of focused work, I don’t work weekends or holidays unless I choose to, or forgo my family life. I am focused on being a better husband, friend, and dad. Best of all, I lay my head down each night to sleep in my own bed.
To every administrator or secretary who ever supported a program, I worked for. To every dispatcher who sent me into the wild blue yonder. To every mechanic who touched a rig, I was working in. To every partner, I have ever had, and every pilot who flew me.
To anyone and everyone considering getting involved or that participates in the EMS world no matter the level of training or certification or participation.
I tip my hat to you and understand your motivation, drive, and the huge sacrifices you make in your life to be available to respond at a moment’s notice. A part of me is responding to you on every call.
To the community at large I say, go about your business just like any other day. There is a cadre of EMS folks and a vibrant system in this community, and many others across the country that share my vision of the best job ever, and are “standing by” or “on duty” right now for the tones to go off…Just in case.
Your comments are welcome. To ask questions or get more information about remodeling, click here to email me directly, or call 208-947-7261
If you or someone you know is considering remodeling or just wants to speak to a trustworthy remodeling contractor, please contact me. You’ll be glad you did.