Monthly Archives: January, 2015

An incredibly rare but fantastic experience

Today I had an experience that just doesn’t happen enough, (at least not in the big city)…..I ran into a patient…..

Close to 25 years ago he suffered a massive heart attack and was lucky to survive. Today he is incredibly happy and very healthy. Loving retirement, riding his Harley, and preparing for an extensive RV trip through Canada this summer. (Full disclosure: He was a friend before his “incident” – otherwise, I’m pretty sure I would not have recognized him. I did see him a few times shortly after his heart attack, but I’m sure it has been well over 20 years.)

The gratitude and appreciation he still shows today is truly overwhelming. (Again, full disclosure: I was not the attending that day. In fact, I was not yet a paramedic. I was working for a small private ambulance company as an EMT-Basic. I am still in contact with my partner from that day. He was very happy to hear that I saw him). He knows the difference and knows what my roll was – but still sees his “save” as a team effort and gives both my partner and I credit. Truly humbling.

I hope everyone working in EMS gets to experience this amazing feeling at some point. It is truly special.

I’m sure those of you who work in small towns get to experience this on occasion. For those of us who work(ed) in large metro areas, it NEVER happens. It just doesn’t.

I think I saw a patient in the grocery store once. This guy actually arrested on us. (And I was attending). I did not talk to him in the store because I just wasn’t sure it was him. The guy in the store was really tall – like probably 6’5″ or so…..The guy that arrested in my ambulance was horizontal……

I did run into a guy I treated for a severe reaction to a bee sting. Not quite as impressive, but still kind of cool.

Seeing my old friend today was great. Knowing that my partner and I made a difference in this mans life, and he is still around enjoying it so many years later, is….well……amazing.

Perhaps my best “follow-up” experience though, was not a face to face encounter. It was a simple Thank You card with a picture. A picture of a third grade girl……

She was playing in her driveway behind the family car. Mom put her younger brother in the running car and ran back into the house for something. TheĀ brother managed to shift the car into reverse, (or neutral). The young girl was dragged across the street before becoming pinned between the back tire and the curb on the other side of the street. She was critically injured and I honestly did not know if she would survive.

At that time, there was virtually no communication from the hospital back to the medics about patient outcomes. So, a few months later when I received a Thank You card from Mom…..with a new school picture showing a beautiful, smiling, little face….. WOW.

I still have that card in a file somewhere. Maybe I’ll go dig it out….Wonder if she is on Facebook?

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Article: First-responders pay a price for saving lives

I found this to be a rather interesting article. It mostly discusses how a specific fire crew, at a specific fire department, deals with the emotional toll of the job – especially when it comes to kids. It also touches on what the fire department is doing to help the guys on the front lines.

Essentially, it seems this crew and department have a very good and productive attitude about how calls can affect the responders. According to the article, they are open and willing to talk about their feelings and emotions after a horrific call. If this is truly the case, I applaud everyone involved.

Forgive me if I seem skeptical, but this was not my experience. I was never involved in an emotional conversation after a call. It just didn’t happen. Sure, each and every crew I worked with was a very close-knit groupĀ (well, with one glaring exception – but I won’t get into that). I have no doubt in my mind that everyone on my crew would drop everything to help me – with things like moving furniture, building a fence, fixing my car……But I would have never brought up how I was feeling after a call…..

Yes, I definitely hold most of the responsibility for never asking for help. But, it was the culture. I am absolutely convinced that a big part of that culture was (and still is), lack of education. Even towards the end of my career, when I was really struggling, no one noticed. Not even me. In hind-sight, I see it clear as day, but at the time I had no idea what was happening. And neither did my crew. Or, if they did, they were afraid to say anything.

This is what needs to change. Every crew needs to be like the one depicted in this article. Talking about every aspect of a call is crucial for growth. Reviewing the technical aspects will help you do your job better. Reviewing the emotional aspects will help you do your job longer……

http://tbo.com/news/breaking-news/first-responders-pay-a-price-for-saving-lives-20140802/

 

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