Wednesday, October 27, 2010

That Call...

When I first got into the EMS field I heard stories; stories of close calls that became saves, calls that turned out to be stranger than fiction, and even calls that turned out to be nothing  Every EMT has them. Every EMT loves telling them. However when asked one simple question you get a completely opposite reaction. "What's the worst call you've ever been on?" Most people's face expressions become stoic, the moment they remember the call that continues to haunt their thoughts every so often, the one that still comes to them in their dreams.

It would randomly be brought up from time to time, some able to share that call that got to them, others just dismissing it by changing the subject. Others would blow off their own recollections with suggestions as what was to come for us new EMT folk. Most of the EMS people I talked to were curious as to how I would handle my first truly bad call. I have to be honest I wondered that myself, the thought coming up at least once every time I was paged to a call. Would it cause me to lose sleep like it does most? Would I freeze up being completely useless during the call? Was I cut out to be there in someone else's worst moment?

Well having that call is inevitable. Sooner or later it is going to happen. The best I can do is do what I have been trained to and do it to the best of my abilities. So I was told, and what I told myself.

Well I was hoping to finish this rambling with a quip about me still having yet to experience this call and how I think I can handle it. The truth is, Last Friday night, October 22nd I experienced that call. ATV crash with a patient who was DOA. I won't go into details on it as I would rather not like to think about it, but forever will the patient's face, body, everything be burned into my mind, forever will the screams of hysteria and the patient's significant other clutching me haunt my thoughts. I did my job and did what I was supposed to, but I didn't sleep the rest of that night. I'm still waking up every so often with my mind going to that night. Yeah these calls will become easier in time and yeah I am going to see a lot of these calls in my career.

I've been told that I need to not take my work home with me, and I am getting a stronger stomach in taking these calls but having people tell me that I will get to a point where they won't affect me at all. In all honesty I'm hoping I never reach that point. I have to learn to not let these calls take a hold of my life and strangle it and I need to learn to accept that call for what it is and move in but it won't. That call, my first bad call, will forever be with me. I hope to learn to let it not affect me so deeply but to not let it affect me at all in my opinion causes us to lose the very thing that made us want to lose sleep in the first place, to see people at their worst and help them. Without that empathy, without that sense of what those people are feeling and a longing to make that go away we become complacent. We lose our urge to do our best and we lose a chance to make a difference.

I end on the fact that I will probably continue to lose sleep thanks to my career choice and what I have/will see. I am learning how to handle these calls. Most importantly I am learning how to be empathetic without letting these calls eat me from the inside. It will take time, it will take struggle, but in the end, that's what makes it worth it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Facing Your Fears... Or Those Things That Make You Question Your Sanity

Hello everyone. Here it is, another blog post. I know, I know, it has been a bit since my past post. Well I have been busy. Cranking out three tests a week, volunteering at more than one place and work just seems to fill up my entire life. So here we go.

For our Rescue class I believe I mentioned the fact that I was going to be going repelling off of a 200ft cliff face. Well I did and it was a hoot. Moving on. Ha not really here we are. We go up to an area called Blue Cloud which for those of you who don't know where that is, it is by Baxendale Fire Department on the way to Missoula. The road was bumpy and it took some off-roading to get to, plus a half mile hike up the mountain and there you are. We had a stokes basket with 300lbs worth of gear to carry up too. Needless to say we got a workout before we even hit the actual cliff face. Once we got up there two facts were quite evident. One, the view was amazing, two, the view was amazing because we were really high up. The second fact playing a lot into what I am about to write.

We set up all our stuff and got it ready so that we could repel down the cliff face. Anchoring to a tree, getting our helmets and harnesses on, and strapping in. So we went one at a time and I spent most of the day taking pictures for the programs Fire and Rescue Facebook page. I was second to go over the cliff face. So I get strapped in and after triple checking my harness and rope I start making towards the point of no return. I get there. Staring down I see our belay guy staring up at me. Two thoughts are going through my mind, man are we high up, and this really gorgeous view isn't going to mean anything if this rope snaps. Words of encouragement are shouted, prayers to the powers that be are muttered and look out below. I was scared out of my mind but I proceeded cautiously. You know that feeling of panic you get when you're doing something that causes the voice in the back of your head to shout "WHAT THE HECK HAVE YOU BEEN SMOKING!?", the same feeling you get when you look at that first downward path of a rollercoaster? Well yeah that feeling was very much present. I very cautiously started leaning myself back until my legs were perpendicular to the rock face. The only thing between me and a very fast approaching ground being the grip of my left hand on the rope. I found that as I inched further down the feeling of dread went away and as I got more comfortable The repel came quicker and more comfortable. Once I hit the ground and shouted "Belay off!" I looked up. The wall had been conquered. My sanity had been questioned. My heart was still racing.

We spent a few more hours repelling and getting over our immediate fears of height. As the day progressed so did  the wind and we decided to call it a day.

Unrelated Notes

On an unrelated note or two, my sweetie passed her first responder practicals. All she has left between her and her license is the National Registry test but as we all know she will pass with flying colors. We volunteered at the Boulder Rodeo and there were no injuries short of the minor breaks and usual dislocations.

Other than that, that's about it. So stay tuned. I'd make a mention of promises to update this more frequently but who knows when. So stay tuned. There will be updates. Sometime in the near future.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You!

Stay tuned for a new blog post tomorrow, complete with pictures!