This month celebrates my tenth year in EMS, first as an EMT and now as a paramedic. (This doesn’t count for the several years I spent as an untrained observer annoying the living daylights out of Lubbock EMS and Austin/Travis County EMS. Nor does it account for the several years annoying the EMS groups on Yahoo Groups.)
I’m an anomaly. I’ve passed the average career duration in EMS for most providers. However, I’m not sure that’s truly the case as my EMS career has been primarily as a “weekend warrior,” doing EMS on the weekends when I’m not practicing law. So, I probably really haven’t really reached burnout level yet. Think how bitter, cynical, sarcastic, and jaded I’ll be by then.
I owe EMS a lot. It’s given me a useful outlet to unwind when I’m not practicing law. It’s given me knowledge that I’ve used for the benefit of family and friends. It’s given me the confidence to walk into the unknown and care for someone who I’ve never met before and take care of them in the most important moment of that day for them. I’ve watched someone die in the back of my ambulance. I’ve hugged family members. I’ve cried more than once. Fortunately, I’ve laughed more than I’ve cried.
I’ve learned a great deal as well. I’ve kept up with the science. I’ve kept up with evidence-based medicine. I’ve watched our methods, our treatments, our medications, and our paradigms changed. There remains one constant, though. This is the practice of medicine, not merely the science of medicine. Current treatments matter. What matters even more is how you treat your patient.
Most importantly, I’ve made some incredible friendships in this field. I count several prominent EMS “celebrities” as friends. I’ve had dinner with Randy Mantooth and Bryan Bledsoe at the same time. (The statute of limitations prevents me from saying any more on that topic.) I’m also friends with a lot of the “rest of us” as well. I cannot even begin to measure how my life has improved from having EMS in my life and from having so many of us in the public safety and healthcare worlds in my life.
What I do know is that, when this is no longer fun, I’ll hang the stethoscope and duty belt. Despite some changes in my EMS affiliations and activities, it continues to be fun and I hope that I have many years left.
I always say that I’m the medic I am because I’m also a lawyer and that I’m the lawyer I am because I’m also a medic.
Thanks for letting me into your world. I hope I’ve been — and remain — a worthy visitor.