My dad has a saying that often comes up whenever life is going well for me. I’ll call him up and talk about how happy I am with the way things are going. He’ll listen and we’ll laugh and then he’ll say, “Well, you make your own luck.” I’d like to think he’s right; that my success is entirely a function of all the effort I put into the things I do. But I know better. Sometimes you make your own luck, and sometimes you just get lucky.
Having said that, I don’t believe in luck. I believe in opportunities taken, and endeavors pursued. The trick, perhaps the very thing we all strive to learn how to do throughout our lives, is identifying those opportunities and chasing after them. Thus, this month I find myself very lucky, even in what I have lost.
This past month I finally received my EMT I certification in the mail and passed the qualifications at ChenaGoldstream Fire and Rescue. I am officially responding to medical calls as an EMT I medic, rather than just CPR certified. It feels empowering to be able to take care of someone, to offer them qualified comfort and help. I find myself completely addicted to the fire service (my shortened phrase for both fire and emergency medicine). I spend every third night at the fire station (almost) with baited breath, just waited for the tones to drop (sirens to go off) so I might jump in the ambulance and race to the call. I love the challenge of puzzling out what is happening inside a patient; of what care is most appropriate; of anticipating the patient’s and lead medic’s needs and beating them to every punch. I’m not always right, and rarely can I foresee everything that needs to happen. But, every call I go on, I feel more confident and more prepared. It’s a rush, and a challenge, and every call sinks me deeper into the addiction of the service.
I find myself caring a mask and first-aid kit in my car (not a bad idea for everyone, really) and slowing down whenever I pass a car on the side of the road to see if help is needed. I want to sign up for everything the fire department offers, to get every training, to drive every apparatus. Most of these things are a long way off – after all, I have school and a job and other obligations to attend to. And yet, the lure is nearly irresistible. I’m taking a EMT I-A class in a couple of weeks which will allow me to expand my skill set and preform a few more procedures. I’m excited to learn more, and keep pursuing higher skill levels as a medic.
On a final note (I promise!) regarding the medical field, I’ve discovered the generally unspoken world of EMT complacency. Volunteering at the station and my general interest in fire/medicine means that many of my friends are also in the field. While driving the other day, my friend and I saw a car down in a ditch, with several other cars already stopped and assessing the situation. My friend is a much more experience medic/fireman than I am, but didn’t stop the car as we drove by. I asked him if we shouldn’t stop and help, and he simply said, “I’m not on duty.” Now, before you find my friend to be calloused or cold (in reality he is neither), note that I am a volunteer, and he is a paid fire/medic. He explained to me that when he was a brand new volunteer, he too wanted to stop at every fender-bender and use his skills. Every call he went on was a dire emergency in his mind. Every moment of every shift, a moment for a potential call. He said to me, “When you’re new, it’s all so exciting. Once you’ve been doing it a while, you’re going to drive by stuff just like this because you’ll realize that not every emergency is YOUR emergency.”
We drove on in silence while I pondered his thoughts. In EMT class, they taught us to always enter a scene safely and to never run into an unknown situation; after all, it isn’t YOUR emergency that you’re responding to. Not two days later, another friend with nearly a decade of fire/medical experience said the same thing; not every call is serious. Even if the patient thinks it’s a huge emergency, they aren’t necessarily right. After some thought on the subject, I’ve come to several conclusions:
1. My friends are right: sometimes people call 9-1-1 for very non-emergency situations. However, as long as I have the energy to do so, I think it’s important that when I get a call, I still respond as a trained, calm, and professional EMT with a job to do.
2. I refuse to let myself be jaded by folks who have been at it longer than me. I love being an EMT, I love responding, and I’m not going to lessen my experience by buying into anyone else’s exhaustion. I’m going to do it to the fullest, and I’m going to be as good at it as I possibly can.
3. Expect nothing but the utmost professionalism and courtesy from an EMT/firefighter, and in turn, give them the same. Nothing more, nothing less.
Thanks again to all my readers. I enjoy writing for you! More soon!