How Did you know EMS was your calling….?

So I saw a  “contest”  in an Emergency Medial  site that I follow  to  write your story about  when/how you knew  EMS was your calling…  that was an easy  one for me to answer so I thought I’d  go ahead and write a  short version of it  for that contest… I  I  sat down and wrote…. Well  problem… it had to be 500 words or less LOL  anyone who knows me,  knows that’s next to impossible…. Well, I did  submit a  500 word version, but I figured I’d share the  unedited version here for anyone that may be interested  as I’ve  had people mention that  they like my writing  (Probably just being nice) so I thought I’d share..

I’m a  Captain in  an    all-volunteer  fire department,  it’s the  last  all Volly  department in King County, WA (Seattle area). I’ve been  with the  department for  12 years now.  My Grandfather was a volunteer for   many, many years  in Missouri. Growing up, I’d watch him roll on  calls when his monitor went off,  he’d take me to the  Buck Creek  station with him  to help  wash rigs or just hang out.  But he never really shared the depth of what it meant to be an EMT/Firefighter and as a kid I didn’t  “get it”, it was just cool.  Later in life after I became an Firefighter and EMT I finally “got it” and my respect for my Grandfather, while  already  a hero to me,  grew even larger in  my  heart. I was able to  help him  at the end of his life using my EMT skills and I believe he passed being proud of me.  Anyway back to my youth…I grew up and  unknowingly followed in his footsteps as a Radioman in the Military, same as he was.  After I got out of the military after a few years we  moved out to  rural  southeast King County, WA.  I had no idea  that the Fire Department  was all volunteer or that  there even was such a thing anymore! Christmas Morning in  1999 a  Firetruck (Back then I still called engine’s firetrucks) drove  down our dirt road,  lights going, blaring  Christmas Carols with an actual  Santa  on the  tailboard! WOW  this was something cool, my kids were still little and were so thrilled to meet Santa  and get a stuffed animal and a candy cane!  Who were these awesome people? The next business day I contacted the  Department  and asked what it took to be a volunteer,  the answer was basically  8 to 80   blind, crippled or crazy, if you have a pulse,  clean record, lived in the district  and  had a driver’s license you got  some gear and a voice pager… well I certainly met those requirements and in January of  2000 I  became a  “trainee” ! When I went to the station for  the first time,   all the memories of my Grandfather came back to me  in a flash and it was akin to  “coming home”. But that doesn’t tell you the story of  how I knew  EMS was my calling…after about 18 months with the department as a trainee and then  a firefighter and only about 150 calls  or so I volunteered to go to EMT school. I flew through the school  and  passed with flying colors,  not because I was a good student, but because it was  FUN to me,  and  incredibly interesting, but I still  didn’t  realize it was my  “calling”….  yet…. In my “real life”  I  was a “phone guy”   and the company I was working for went  bankrupt.   I got laid  off. This is  about  2 weeks after I had graduated  EMT school and passed the state test.  On THE day that I got laid off from  my “real job”,  I was  driving home feeling sorry for myself, wondering what in the world I was going to do now… when out of the  blue, my voice pager goes off! It’s  about 10 in the morning and I’m nearly home, everyone else from the department  is off  working their real jobs… I had my gear in  the truck with me   so  I stopped by the station and  grabbed a radio ( I still wasn’t allowed to drive the rigs yet) and rolled POV to  the  location… UH OH ( not my  actual words…)  I’m the only one here,  I’m the  new guy  and I just got out of EMT school.  I  knew I didn’t really  “know” ANYTHING …just   practice stuff! I was shaking like a leaf!  The call you ask? It was for a 10 Year old  girl  in status seizure. HOLY  CRAP…. So  what’s that got to do with my “Calling” you’re still wondering,  well  I put on my “professional” face, I  said my Mantra ( that is still my mantra today on hard calls)  “this is not your emergency” , I think I learned it  from  the book “The Magic of 3 AM” by   the late, great James O. Page . So with the mantra  in  my head and  doing some of my  best “acting confident and sure” while  trying not to freak out, I  did what  my training told me to. I protected her head until the seizure stopped, and while she was postictal for a minute or two I  grabbed a set of vitals,  talked to the family,  prayed that someone else would show up,  called for ALS and forgot everything  else in the world except for that little girl and her family. No one else from the department  ever showed up and  about 30 minutes and  5 or 6 full on  seizures later ALS showed up, I gave them  ( in my mind  at least) a  very professional  short,  hand-off with her vitals that I had taken between each seizure, her history  and most importantly to me: her name,  see to me the names are important, it’s all  about them at that moment, the worst moments of their lives that we can help them.  It was in that  very moment when I was worried about myself that  I was blessed with the opportunity to  help that little girl  and her family when I realized that EMS was my calling she was all that mattered, and I could  make a difference even if  I didn’t  have a  “real job” anymore… I still mattered and SHE mattered and I could make a difference.  Since then,  I went on to  take the Instructors course and  have been   a CBT Instructor and an active  EMT in our Department for the past 10 years or so still as a volunteer,  I figure  that if I did it for a living I wouldn’t  be as passionate about it, and  I would eventually forget the names and they would just become patients..  I don’t want to  forget the names and I  want to  make sure that every patient I treat knows they are the only thing that matters to me in that short  period of time that  I get to  help them in their life, or in  their death if that is why I am there.

So thank you  “Lindsey” (name changed for HIPAA..of course)   for  changing my life that day  and being my  first name , on my own as an  EMT, you were my calling.

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