Time to Thank Those EMS Providers
Ever have those moments, those days, when you feel unsupported in your chosen profession? Yesterday was the day for me. I love what I do with such passion, that it angers me when others taint my profession with lack of knowledge of what goes into teaching. Believe me, the five hours a day of delivering the lesson is the cake. There’s a lot that happens to get those hours accomplished and even more that has to happen after they’ve transpired. But not everyone gets that or cares to listen.
Upon seeing my frustration, my husband reached out to me trying to help me understand the conversation may not have been a personal attack, then told me not to take it so personally. But how could I not? Never have I been in a workplace, and teaching’s the 2nd career choice for me, where the principal, CEO, manager, whoever had to get up in front of their employees to tell them they are making a difference, keep going strong, don’t listen to the negativity out there.
And then my husband paused. “I have,” he said. I barely heard him. I was feeling badly, unsupported, and this purging of what is and what isn’t was needed. “I have,” he said a bit louder.
I didn’t believe him at first, and started to tell him that. He’s a paramedic, a Captain, one of the good guys out there, right? I mean when I think of paramedics I think of the people who do all the gross stuff. If I’m hurt and I call 911, they’re the ones that are going to show up. I’ve heard the stories. I know what he does. “Yeah, but when is there negative publicity about your profession out there?” I asked, still rather naïve about the situation.
“When is there publicity, period?” he questioned. And I thought about it, and he’s right. Why aren’t we thanking our EMS providers, the ones that are in private sectors? We group them all together with the “First Responder” title, but then separate the police force and the firemen. Where’s the separate accolade for our EMS providers?
Forty-three EMS providers perished in 911, but I didn’t know that until I looked it up…today. I couldn’t stop there. I started reading research articles, and was astounded at the risk our EMS providers put themselves in. And do so rather selflessly—there’s no EMS provider calendar to pose for (or is there one out there somewhere?), no news camera capturing their heroics, no headline stories about them. One research article I read that was put out in the November 2011 issue of PEC, stated the EMS fatality rate is 7.0 per 100,000 FTEs—the average for workers is 4.0; the average for firemen is 6.1. I was shocked to say the least, and ignorant of what my husband really does.
And I thought about why these numbers for EMS providers are so high. I thought about the ambulances rushing through traffic, trying to save a life or a limb or whatever needs saving and the people that fail to yield to the blaring lights and sounding siren. The number of crashes and EMS providers killed or injured due to such neglect are the biggest source of these high rates. I have the luxury of snow days; my husband does not. Regardless of the weather, when an emergency arises that ambulance will make its way on scene. And it does.
And I thought about the way these men and women have to lift, maneuver, carry these folks of every size and the injuries they can ascertain. And I don’t know about you, but if a person looks a bit pale, maybe coughs a bit, I’m outta there. Our EMS providers are exposed to many diseases, illnesses, and just yucky stuff all the time. That in itself deserves a medal in my book… And I can’t even imagine seeing the things that they see all day long without having those images haunting me at night. For my husband, it’s attending to kids that have been abused, injured, or killed that stay with him. His eyes change when he talks about those patients, and how could they not?
“But you’re seen as a hero in the community,” I insisted to my husband. “I’ve always thought so anyway.”
And his response made me take a step back, made me have to write this article, and do a bit of research on EMS providers.
“When have you ever thought about paramedics until you met me?”
I didn’t want to admit that he was right, but he is. When my kids were little, every year I brought cookies and sweets to the firehouse and they climbed all over the fire trucks, trying on the gear. I’ve invited countless police officers into my classroom during my unit on crime. But never have I included the EMS provider in that category. And I felt really bad because they’re the ones who responded first at my school for students on more than one occasion. They’re the ones who I think of first whenever an injury occurs at one of my children’s sporting events. They’re the ones I want attending to me, should an accident ever occur. They’re the ones we forget to celebrate, to honor, to merely say thank you to.
Today I plan on giving my husband a little extra squeeze when he gets home. To thank him and his co-workers for the amazing job they do every single day—and not only for our city, but the surrounding cities when needed. Thank you all for getting in the trenches doing the work that only a special someone can truly do right. For running into disasters, when everyone else is running out. For not picking and choosing who and when you’re going to treat. For calming the nerves of the parent who sees their child hurt, or calming the crying child who sees their parent hurt. For treating people in vulnerable states with professionalism and kindness. For simply not being afraid. Thank you.
My husband is passionate about his chosen profession, as am I. I’ve learned through him that being the step-child of “First Responders” feels much the same as being scrutinized. Bottom line is both my husband and I are in our careers because we care, we want to make a difference, and every now and again we need someone to appreciate all that we do—I think everyone needs this…
I encourage all of you to thank an EMS provider today, tomorrow, and always. Lord knows, they deserve it.
Meredith is a mom, sister, wife, friend, teacher, critic, Starbucks junkie, writer, coach, and a million other things. She enjoys writing about the good, scary, funny, sad, exciting and all those other truths that too many people are afraid to write about. You can find her blog at http://merelovesthepack.blogspot.com or on Twitter: @FmTheSidelines.