It’s been a year and a half since the little boy died, since my crew and I did everything in power to save him and couldn’t. Since then I’ve lost my 20+ year career as a paramedic. I was a few years away from retirement and doing okay but it’s gone now. At first, I suffered from nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, and debilitating fear that kept me from working for months. I barely left the house at first. I cried, a lot. I’m working again, not in EMS, but I’m having a hard time adjusting. Most days are good, but some days are really bad. I’ve gone through six jobs in the last 18 months for various reasons.
I’ve worked for very large, well-known companies and very small ones. I’ve liked the people and the work, but something always happens. I know part of the reason is me. I feel like EMS ruined me for the normal world. The nightmares and flashbacks have stopped, but I still get anxiety and panic attacks, and my mind freezes sometimes. Me, the medic who was the first one in and last one out, the one with a genius IQ, the one who was once told by a supervisor, ‘You did the same thing I would’ve done, only faster’, the one several doctors told, ‘If you say you have a bad feeling about a patient, we believe you’.
Now, sometimes, I’m afraid to make decisions, especially if too much happens too fast. I have to slow down. I have to remember. I feel broken. I feel like I need to be forgiven for not saving that little boy that was already dead when we got there. I know it isn’t my fault, but that doesn’t matter because EMS is supposed to save everyone but ourselves. I’m trying to save myself, and I’m getting help but some days it just isn’t enough and I have to shut the world out and be quiet.
– Story written by a paramedic with 20 years in EMS.