Since it is EMS week, I decided to take some time and look back over my career. This is my nineteenth EMS week which is a staggering statistic for me. I knew from day one that I loved this field, but there was a part of me that always doubted that I would stick with it as long as I have.
I have picked up a lot of hobbies and side projects over the years but nothing has stuck with me the way that EMS has. From the first day that I was eligible to get on ambulance that has been where I have wanted to be. It is hard for me to pin point one reason as my motivation has changed as I have evolved and progressed in my career. On that first call I think that it was the adrenalin rush. It was being involved in that emergency and stepping up and seeing it through to the end. I remember watching the paramedics working out of Community Medical Center and thinking of them almost as gods. I was always amazed at what they were able to do. They were larger than life to me, and I could never imagine myself being in their shoes.
Once I got my paramedic card in the mail, I was motivated by all of the new things that I would be able to try, but I was also terrified. I remember sitting in my car getting ready to head into work for my first shift as a cleared paramedic, dry heaving in the parking lot because I was so nervous. I saw great opportunity in what I was doing, but I also saw great responsibility, and having that responsibility was very scary for me, and I feel like that showed through in my medicine for the first year or two that I was a practicing paramedic. I could be quite high strung and on edge at times.
As I got more comfortable though I feel like I progressed into a pretty decent paramedic. I was not the strongest by far, but when I was unsure of something, I was always quick to ask. I knew my limits, and although I might have occasionally bit off more than I could chew, I always took responsibility for my actions.
Since 2005, I have been a supervisor with my service. The day that I was offered the position was very exciting for me. My motivation shifted towards being a leader. I struggled at times because I had this group of people who had become my peers who I was now going to have to be responsible for. I was going to have to check their egos when I needed to, all the while remembering to check my own. Things were challenging for me, not only as a leader, but also because of some friendships that I unfortunately lost due to my position. Ultimately though, the decision to move up the “food chain” was the right one for me, and almost seven years later, I still love my job.
Now, my motivation has shifted yet again. While I still try to do my best for the employees assigned to me every day, I also feel that I have a greater responsibility to the EMS community as a whole. Social media, blogging, the First Responders Network has opened my eyes to a world outside of Springfield Massachusetts. I feel like I have a better understanding of the struggles that we ALL face.
My Monday blog post talked about how we must take advantage of the opportunities that EMS Week gives us, and that is true. Most of that was sparked by a couple of blogs that I have read over the last week that questioned the sustainability of EMS as a career positing the good old question: “is EMS a career or just a job?” While I think that there is much work to be done to make EMS into a more appealing career, the real answer to this question lies within each of us.
I love what I do. I have since that first call on Montgomery St in April of 1993. I knew very quickly that this was the thing for me. I went out, I got a degree, and I made myself more marketable, and thus far, it has paid off. Now, each and every one of you needs to ask yourself the same question. You need to decide on what your end point will be. Do you want to be a PA? A doctor? A nurse? Do you want to go on to a fire department, or maybe come a police officer? Is EMS a means for you to pay the bills until something greater comes along, or are you here for the long haul to make EMS that great thing. None of those answers are wrong. In actuality, each of them is the right answer. They are correct because they came from you. You need to do what you are passionate about. If you don’t think a job is the thing for you, then move on, find something else, or find someplace else to do what you are doing. But when you find that one thing that is your calling, hold onto it. Find a way to make it as great as you can not only for you but for as many people as possible.
As EMS week winds to a close, I am faced with the fact that in just eleven months I will mark my twentieth anniversary in EMS. I am happy to say that the first ambulance that I went flying through Toms River, New Jersey in is still in service. Well, it has been remounted, but you get the drift.
The bottom line is whatever you decide to do with your lives, make it great. If your calling does not involve lights, sirens, and the intensity of EMS, then that is fine. Let us know what the rest of us can do to help you get to where you need to be. For the rest of you, those chosen and slightly deranged few, hop on board. Let’s make this one hell of a ride.
Happy EMS Week, everyone.