The Harsh Reality of Emergency Work...
I've been involved in one way or another for the last 14 years in emergency ambulance work; from volunteer, casual, student Paramedic right through to Paramedic. I've had the privilege of helping people when they are at their most vulnerable, invited into people's homes and their personal world, becoming a part of their life story even for just a little while. Being with a complete stranger during the worst moments of their lives, having to apologise that there is nothing more we can do for their loved one, is tough.
It is a privilege to be the one that is there to help, to be the very difference between life and death, to be a part of a team that provides calming reassurance in times of stress and pain. To have the skills and experience to coordinate and manage an entire disaster scene that unfolds before your very eyes. To be the one that is there to help bring new life into the world, to watch that very first life breath for a brand new little human being. To share those special once in a lifetime moments with others.
Those are the absolute wonderful moments of my career, the saves, the reassurance and comfort in times of heartache that we are able to provide. Sometimes the very sight of our green uniform walking calmly into the scene is enough to make everyone breath a sigh of relief. Those are the reasons that I keep doing my job, why I put myself at risk day after day, night after night racing at high speed toward imminent danger and unknown emergencies. To make a difference, to help others, to be rewarded in more ways than money could ever compensate.
Unfortunately, the harsh reality of emergency work can also mean that we too are exposed to the world at our most vulnerable, working amongst environmental and physical dangers. More and more our work environment is evolving into dangerous and highly emotive scenes, we are dealing with people who are under the influence of drugs, alcohol, mental health issues and caught amongst the unpredictability of violent behaviours. I have had the personal misfortune, as many of my colleagues have, more times than I care to remember of being under personal threat and caught amongst violent scenes. Usually managing to escape physically unscathed at the very least.
Now I can add to my long list of near misses and war stories, that only colleagues can truly understand, a sad tale of when I was caught by surprise and struck to the face in the line of duty. This is not the reason I joined the ambulance service, to be put in personal danger. I don't expect that when I am helping another who is under their own stress and pain to be lashed out at and injured myself. Injured in more ways than a simple physical blow can ever reveal.
Today on this day of remembrance 11th November at 11am I too will remember all those that have lost their lives in war and fought for their countries. I will hang my head low and remember and silently wish that we could all change and learn to stop fighting each other, as fighting and hatred does not just exist in times of war. It exists whenever we allow it. Lest we forget....