The first post of EMS in the New Decade went up on February 26th of this year. Now, 49 posts later, I’m finishing out 2010. I thought though, that I’d finish up the year with a story from the earlier part of my career.
December 18th, 1998 started out not unlike many of my EMS shifts. I was home from college and working a volunteer day shift at Toms River EMS. This was my winter break before I started medic school, so this break would be my last opportunity to have any sort of “freedom” before I spent the next year learning how to be a Paramedic.
We were dispatched across town for the female, possible CVA. I didn’t recognize the house when I pulled up and walked in, with the district’s police officer, the son of a family friend, right behind me. The woman sitting on the couch looked up at me, “Scott? Jeff?” I realized at that moment that this was a close friend both my parent’s and the parents of the officer. She had some increased generalized weakness and speech problems before calling 911. The symptoms had since resolved, much to her relief. Her BP was a little bit high, but everything out seemed to check out.
My partner and I packaged her up and we were off to the hospital. I rode in back with her having a generally pleasant conversation, spending time catching up since I hadn’t seen her since my high school graduation party almost a year and a half prior.
Once we turned over care, she thanked me for everything and gave me a big hug. I made sure to check back on her as much as I could during the rest of my shift just to make sure she was alright.
Fast forward now, to two and a half years later. I had just graduated from College was having a graduation party down at my parent’s place in New Jersey. My parent’s friend, the TIA patient from a few years prior, came with a wrapped present for me. I opened it up, and found a framed copy of the following:
A blood soaked hand reaches up from fathomless darkness.
Panic and Pain engulf the woman as consciousness returns, “Where am I?”
Suddenly, strong hands brace her head.
“You’ve been in a car accident. I’m a Paramedic, and I’m here to help you.”
The young man’s voice comforts her.
She feels safe now.
The old man’s strident breaths shatters the dead silence of the bedroom.
The old woman grips the young man’s arm. A tear travels a wrinkle in her face.
“I hate calling you again, but I’m scared! I can’t lose him! I can’t lose him!”
He covers her hand with his, “Its okay, Mrs. Jones, we’ll take care of him.”
She feels less alone now.
“Please help me. The baby’s coming! I can’t do it!”
The young man and his partner look at the woman.
The baby’s head is crowning.
He says, “Ma’am, we’ll help you.”
She manages a smile. She feels stronger now.
The woman is trying not to let fear take over.
But her left arm is dead. She knows it could be a stroke.
Then, the young paramedic enters her home.
She looks up, into his familiar smiling face – the son of dear friends.
She feels safer, stronger, and less alone now.
The First Responder. . .
There for the emergency call as well as the routine. . .
Being there. . . Sometimes just being there!
I was touched. I didn’t know what to say. “Turn it over.” She said. And I did. On the back of the frame, mounted on the back of the frame was the run form that I did that day when I transported her. “I picked up medical records from my doctor and found it. I had to write something to let you know how much I appreciated you that day.”
It was by far, one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received. Sometimes, it just takes a couple of simple words to remind us that we touch lives every day, and to remind us that sometimes “just being there” is enough to help someone through whatever they’re dealing with.
As I said, I couldn’t think of a better way to close out 2010 than to share this story. As we wait for the clock to strike midnight, and welcome in 2011, take a moment to think back and reflect on all of the lives you touched in the year prior, and throughout your career. Somewhere out there, someone might be thinking about you and saying, “Thank goodness, someone was there for me when I needed them.”