I could patronize you all with another apology for being gone so long…but I won’t do that to you all. You don’t need another platitude from another stranger in your life haha. It’s been a busy few weeks. Between learning pharmacology, first skills training labs, and my first few ALS ride alongs, it’s been a mad house for me. The school I attend expects us not only to learn the National Registry standards for paramedics but I also have to keep up with the San Diego County protocols that tend to be different fro NR in a lot of ways…fun. But school is school. Drugs are a bear to learn, which I believe is the experience of pretty much every medic student who’s ever existed. IVs are cool but I felt like a complete asshole when I blew through my friend’s vein on my second attempt. Batting .500…like Barry Bonds with a drug box but significantly less cool and significantly less paid. All in all, I’ve found a rhythm for school that I think will take me through to the end of it…or so I hope.
The main thing I wanted to talk about today though is the real world experience and how important I think it is for people to find someone they can talk to about the crap we see. Now for the sake of HIPPA, I won’t be going into the details of any of the calls I’ve run (please don’t QI me SD County), but I will give you some take aways from them. The Fire Departments I’ve been running with have been amazing at integrating me, teaching me, and giving me the chance to grow out of my BLS shell by starting to run calls. I can’t say enough how grateful I am to my fire medic preceptors and the other firefighters who are vesting their time in me becoming a good medic. In these last three weeks, I’ve seen a good majority of the gambit from sepsis to seizures, to trauma and to psych patients. People are interesting and it’s an honor to be invited in to do my best to make a crappy situation better. I think that’s something we have to remember, no matter how tired or beat down you are, we are there to make things better. Sometimes that’s the whole gambit of drugs, tubes, and IVs…and sometimes that’s just holding a hand, giving a smile, and talking to people like you give a damn about what’s going on with them. Sometimes all that little old lady needs is someone to talk to them because their family doesn’t anymore. Sometimes that homeless guy just wants someone to not treat them like a piece of garbage. Sometimes that demented 90-year old wants someone to not just write them off as a piece of meat on death’s door. Sometimes people just want you to be nice….I don’t ever want to forget that.
Equally important to me now is the need to be able to offload the things you are feeling somewhere. We work in a high-stress world where you are expected to be professional, to put your personal feelings on the back burner and be strong for your patients. All of that is right and good; wouldn’t do anyone good if the medic on scene broke down and cried when someone’s life/livelihood is on the line. But we can’t just keep it all bottled in. I’ve come to understand that you need to take care of yourself in order to help others. That means taking the day off away from the books and the drugs and the charts. That means exercising, eating right, and keeping it to one beer. That mean’s finding someone you can talk to and cry to if you need it. It means when all the tubes and monitors are put away and you take off your gloves to walk away from the CPR you just did on young woman who shouldn’t have been hanging in her garage in the first place that you recognize that these things don’t go away. Talk to somebody. It’s not weakness to recognize that these things affect you. You are only human after all. Life is fragile and death is only a step away from us at all times. It’s a sobering thought but for me it also is a motivating factor. It makes me want to be the best medic I can be in order to give everyone I’m called to care for the best fighting chance they can have to cling to life and crawl back to us. I recognize that not all people are going to be saved…but if it’s my skills that will make the difference, then I will be damned if I won’t be ready for it. For them…WE are here for them.
And for any of my fellow EMTs/Medic Students/Medics out there ever need to talk…feel free to message me through here. If not me, please reach out to the folks at the Code Green campaign, they will always be there for you.
Till next time…be safe out there everyone.