Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 52 seconds
I am used to running towards tragedies that most would run away from. I can’t think of many professions that encourage this type of behavior. When the tones of the pager go off I spring into action, anxious to jump in and make sense out of chaos.
As a kid, everyone wanted to be a fireman, policeman, or army man. I was no different. My Troop Six Boy Scout experience and religious affiliation reinforced my sense of community and selflessness toward mankind.
Boy scout magazine always featured a colorized story about a scout that did something heroic, I always wanted to be that guy. Johnny and Roy sunk the nail with the TV show EMERGENCY. I knew that I wanted to be like those guys.
Once as a teenager, I have a vivid memory of my dad forcing himself upon a wheelchair bound person to help them cross busy Telegraph Avenue. He made me feel guilty that as an Eagle Scout, I did not jump in and set a good example.
The disabled person did not want the assistance, was not appreciative or thankful at all. In fact, they were a little bit angry. I just chalked it up to my dad awkwardly trying to do the right thing. I discovered that what he was trying to do was not an easy thing to master. It took time learning by watching others do it well. I slowly developed a natural knack for easily connecting with people that needed help at a human level that was indescribably powerful.
I became a Paramedic in ’79 after being an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) in Oakland California for two years. I was pushed and mentored by a wily veteran named Doug Jay who although semi retired now, still teaches and takes a shift from time to time. I have been molded and formed by so many experiences and coworkers that I am now a member of an elite handful of Flight Paramedics in the world. For 37 years, I have learned how to put myself in a position to be ready to assist folks that need a hand on their worst day. I can honestly say that my cup runs over because like any good investment, I consistently get back more than I give.
Who is a hero?
The term “Hero” to me describes a ordinary citizen who in an instant, unexpectedly steps up and does the right thing, performs a selfless act, or exhibits deep compassion, despite risk to his or her wellbeing to save a life or something magical like that for no monetary compensation.
I am not that person, as I have dedicated a big part of my professional life to being paid to rush to emergencies. Although I have truly saved lives and have relieved all sorts of pain and anxiety, I like to think of myself as a “good deed doer” I get to put my signature on my own style of empathy and lead by example.
Perhaps that is why I remain addicted to the profession and I relate to the Tin Man in the wizard of Oz. Even the Tin Man needs a little oil in the joints occasionally. A simple hug and a heartfelt thank you is my precious reward. Although critically important to the community, I do not consider myself a hero or any other paid professional law enforcement officer or paid fireman friends who responds to a crisis on duty. Off duty is another story.
Volunteers are heroes
People who volunteer here in Idaho and all over the country for EMS, Law enforcement or Fire are a different breed. They are the real heroes. My hat is off to you and your families who support you. We understand what you are made of and that you have a higher calling when the pager goes off. The countless hours of continuing education, meetings, and just being “On Call” are enough to give you angelic status in my eyes. Keep up the great work, pay no attention to the idle chatter of those that don’t get it, set a good example and encourage others to follow your refreshing embodiment of selflessness.
At Levco, I have devised several ways to offer opportunities for folks to become real heroes. It evolves around volunteering time and talent for those that we select as deserving. We also extend the offer to our friends and families to join us. Read more about our pay it forward program.