Someone said this to me the other day. Again, a few days later, the same thing was said with slightly different verbiage, but the message was the same.

I'm not cut out for EMS. I'm not the right "caliber" of person to do this job. I get "wonky" after bad calls. I'm not the one for the job.

Wait a second? Then what was up with that baby in 2009 who stopped breathing? Why was I able to walk into that house, take that small, precious child into my arms and without doing anything other than lifting his arm to feel for a brachial pulse before beginning CPR, have that baby let out a wail that deflated the tension out of the room. Did I cry after leaving that call? Yeah. Did I feel a little shaky for a little while after that call? Yeah. Is that normal. Yeah!

If I left the scenes of calls not feeling anything, you would be right. If I was calloused and unfeeling, I wouldn't be right for this "job". Every day there is a chance that you will see something that will change you forever. You go into EMS knowing that. You get it. It doesn't mean that it's easy when it happens. When someone in EMS breaks down or has emotions or even physical symptoms after a particularly tough call, they are having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. This isn't stuff that people see on a regular basis. This isn't stuff people WANT to see on a regular basis, and EMS people are included. We don't want people to get hurt. We don't want people to be sick. We don't want people to die...but we sure as hell want to be there to make all of those situations better if we can, and if we can't, we want to help the people left behind. We see death. We smell it. We feel it in our hearts. Someone who was a stranger moments earlier, becomes a part of our life quickly and when their time is up, that's not always okay with us. It's okay if we cry. It's okay if we react. It's normal. It's when we don't feel a pang of sadness or even anger that there is a problem.

If I wasn't cut out for EMS, I would know it. I wouldn't have hung around for the last 6 years going on calls, honing my skills, learning as much as I possibly can to make myself a better responder. I wouldn't become filled with adrenaline upon hearing sirens. I wouldn't perk up when I see an ambulance and say a silent prayer for the crew on it and whoever they are going to help. I wouldn't curse fate for not letting me be at a call that my brothers and sisters are struggling with.

I'm not the right caliber of person for this? I've rolled out of bed at 4am and I've calmed the wife of a man having a violent reaction due to a low blood sugar. And by calmed her, I mean I sat on the bathroom floor with the door shut next to her while she cried as the rest of the crew worked to elevate his sugar and get him into the ambulance. She was scared. He was violent and he's never been like that with her. The man she was married to for 40 years became a monster in a short time and it left her reeling. I might not have had much to do with patient care on that scene, but I know that I helped a person that early morning.  I've left my family at the dinner table on Christmas day to go administer high flow O2 to a COPD patient who I've been to many times and refused to ignore because it was Christmas.

If you think I'm not the right "caliber" for this job, then please, tell me what it takes to be considered the right caliber. If I have to be heartless, I guess you're right. If I have to have such a thick skin that nothing I see can penetrate, then you're right. What I do need is a good support system to help me through the hard calls that wake me up at night. I need someone I can talk to when I'm sad and rely on when I need a friend. Maybe you are the one who isn't quite the right "caliber" to be my friend. Maybe you aren't cut out to love someone who's heart belongs to EMS. Maybe you are where the problem lies.

As far as I'm concerned, when the tones drop, I'll be there. This is what I love. This is what I'm good at. You can have my pager back when you pry it out of my cold dead hands. So what do you think of that?

Views: 862

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of My Firefighter Nation to add comments!

Join My Firefighter Nation

Comment by Alvin Gonzalez on January 14, 2017 at 3:08pm
Glena, I understand that this an old post, but I sincerely hope that you are still on the job. What you are questioning yourself about, is something that we all go through, at some point or another. It's not so much about your abilities in your case, but about your being. What you have is empathy, which is about feeling what others are feeling. Not too many people have that characteristic. There is nothing wrong with that. If anything that is what I would want for my loved ones or myself, or for any of your patients if we needed medical attention. You simply really care about those under your care. Alot of the time, you might feel that what you do is thankless, but remember that you are doing good. You are having an encounter with someone when they aren't feeling at their best. You might not ever cross their path again, but believe me ,most of them really appreciate what you did for them. You will hear alot by those that care about you to not take it personal, that you will end up hurting yourself. What you do is difficult, and by now you know that you can't possibly save everyone, no matter how hard you tried. Like I said it's about your being, being that you are someone who cares. The day that you don't care anymore, is when you have reached burnout stage. That is the day that you need to step down and leave EMS. That is so that you don't hurt yourself or anyone else. Right now you have the abilities, the passion and empathy to do what you do and I praise you for that. Please continue doing the good work, which really isn't work when it's something that you love doing. As for the person, who said you aren't cut for it, they may or not have meant well. They could be or not looking out for you. You know that person, better than I. It could very well be that they have reached the burnout stage, that I was talking about. So it's not about you, it's they that aren't cut out for it anymore. They just stopped caring. The other thing is that they could be jealous that you are better at it than they are? Hopefully your dealings with this person have been resolved. Take care and stay safe!
Comment by Timothy John Dodson on August 5, 2014 at 7:16pm

Well-stated, Glena. I have no idea who accused you of not being cut out for EMS (nor do I want to know), but THEY are the ones who should take a look in the mirror and ask THEMSELVES that very same question. Because it appears that they have some serious personal issues that need to be resolved. 

FireRescue Magazine

Find Members Fast

Or Name, Dept, Keyword
Invite Your Friends
Not a Member? Join Now

© 2020   Created by Firefighter Nation WebChief.   Powered by

Badges  |  Contact Firefighter Nation  |  Terms of Service