*TRIGGER WARNING FOR CHILD ABUSE*
“You know bud, a lil bit of me dies every time I put on this uniform.” I said to the off going crew, and I wasn’t kidding.
I have been in EMS since I was 17, yes it is against the law for a minor to hold an EMS license.
“A small town with a volunteer fire dept doesn’t have the luxury to wait until you passed your MFR.” That is what my chief told me when asked about how I could go on a medical run at 17 years old. I was 17 when I ran on my first dead body. A woman in a local diner blew an esophageal varices and bled all over the diner in her panicked attempt to stop her sudden death. We emptied the diner and let the ME do his thing, we didn’t even try to work her.
It was there that I realized life was fragile and best to be enjoyed. Here I was, a 17 year old kid holding A sheet and staring at the body, wondering who she was, what she did, who would miss her. “JANE IS DEAD!!!!” screamed her meal-mate into her phone, it jolted me just as much as it did the person on the other end of the phone.
I went home and stayed up all night. I stopped at my dad’s the next day and talked about what happened and what I had seen. He opened up in a way that I had never seen before. He told me about his time in the army and how his best friend was pancaked by a tank right beside him, leaving his friend as a “goey puddle of person” as my dad explained. My dad began to cry and I just sat and listened, he went on to tell me how he hadn’t told that story to anybody in 2 years. He explained to me that if i was to continue my career in EMS that such sights would become regular, boy was he right.
I eventually became a paramedic and left the small town for the big city. I left corn fields for crack-houses. I left cows and found packs of dogs.
I held a toddler’s hand as my partner inspected her brain cavity, she was a victim of her dad’s enterprise, drug dealing. The gunman had aimed for him, but shot her in the head with an AK. Her head was cracked open like a watermelon, but she was still conscious and reaching for her dad, but he was too afraid to reach for it, citing that blood made him sick. We took her to the ER crying, and alone, holding her hand the entire way.
When we got to the ER we saw more family. I was doing my paperwork when I overheard one family member say to another “I hope she is ok, her mom can’t go without that assistance check.” Is that what these people thought of? was this girl with pigtails reduced to a dollar sign? A check in the mail was all she was worth to this family? I left the ER and went home after my paperwork. I sat and realized that the area I serve didn’t have the same values and morals that I did and that the best thing for me to do was to leave it. I became calloused, racist, and my reaction towards the citizens of the city was not positive.
I got burnout and asked to be assigned to a transfer wagon. Going from A to B sounded ok to me, less stress and less dead people. I eventually got a partner as burned out as I was and we became best friends, partners in slime.
I later got fired from that company and hired at a new private, assigned to a cushy rural town (AKA the vacation station) but it didn’t get better, just less frequent.
We had a guy try to kill himself by driving his car off the road. His face broke and his eyeball popped out like the Halloween toy glasses with the eyeballs on a spring, held on only by the nerve. We quickly extricated him and got him to the truck. During the ride to the trauma center I was at his head, I looked at his one pupil, and then grabbed his eye and tilted it towards me to look at it
We got to the ER and his girlfriend came up to us and thanked us with tears in her eyes. I tried to comfort her and got her a cup of tea from the ER.
He later died and I went about the rest of my day. I went home and hugged my girlfriend and my dogs.
I get depressed when I think about that call. I still see it in my dreams and my daydreams. I frequently have nights without sleep, staying up thinking about the horrible things I have seen, but those 2 calls stick out all the time.
I found a friend that I can talk with about this, she is a medic too. She knows the things we see and how they will haunt us forever.
I hope to get out of EMS soon (a year or less) I have a side job that is taking off and needs more of my time. I love doing it and it rewards me for my hustle. I get paid more for doing less and I enjoy the people I meet. I now am a bail bondsman.
I had a revelation when I was counting money one day, I got paid more to get a criminal out in 3 hours than I did all week in EMS. I figure i have served my time, done good for an ungrateful community. I can walk away from EMS knowing that I did make a difference in some lives.
I found my niche and I hope it grows, because a lil bit of me dies every time i put the uniform on. I just hope I have enough of me left when I take it off for good.