Volunteering to be an EMT
Since the world of work has changed so much since the pandemic, I, like so many others, have become a full time work from home employee. Like anything, there are pros and cons to this - I have lots of flexibility but I do tend to put in more hours. For me, this just compliments how I like to work - no big deal. However, I also realized that not everyday is full of meetings or work that requires my immediate attention and I could be doing other things. About the time I was thinking that, I came across an article about a shortage of EMTs. Right about that time, I also caught a Facebook post from our ambulance service looking for volunteers. You see, up here in rural Wisconsin, most EMS agencies are volunteer based.
In fact, most EMS services outside of major cities are volunteer based and the volunteer pool is extremely small. What’s further disheartening is to find out that EMS is not considered an essential service at the Federal level, and only a handful of States list EMS as an essential service. Just to clarify what an essential service is, it’s a guarantee that emergency responders will answer your call. So, if you have someone attempting to break in your house and you call 911, the police show up. If your house catches on fire, you call 911, the fire department shows up. Guaranteed. If your spouse or child has a medical emergency and you call 911, unless you live in one of the states where EMS is guaranteed, you are not guaranteed a response. Bet you didn’t know that….
Why did I do it?
While I’m not fond of sharing personal details publicly, I think something gets lost if I don’t share the motivation behind this seemingly random decision. First off, no I am not changing careers, I’m still very much happy in the IT world. Secondly, I have no illusions of being Ricky Rescue nor am I experiencing a mid life crisis. I have felt the desire to give back to the community, especially here where so many people have helped my wife’s family over the years and if you know me, you know I don’t have the social skills to run for office. In fact, trying to be a little more social is one of the reasons I decided to do this.
What a lot of people don’t know, is when I worked at Safeway in high school, one of the people I worked with was a paramedic for Denver General. We had long talks about it and he almost convinced to pursue it then, so there has always been an interest. And I won’t lie, there is a little boy inside of me that wants to be able to drive with the lights and sirens on - although that siren gets old real quick, never mind the reason for rolling emergent is never good, only a level of bad.
The greatest motivation has been from some of the people I have lost in my life, specifically two come to mind only because of the circumstances. In 2003 my wife’s step dad went to work not feeling well after having a cardiac stint put in, and he had fatal cardiac episode at work. His co-workers performed CPR for 45 minutes before the ambulance showed up. Practicing CPR for 10 minutes with the right equipment is hard, I don’t want to know what 45 minutes is like with just chest compressions and buddy breathing - those people are heroes for that effort. More recently, a HS friend that has always meant a great deal to me died in rollover accident. In each of those cases I wonder if more EMS personnel were available would the waits have been so long? I can’t change either of those two events and I’m under no illusions of my abilities, but if one more person with skills shows up on-scene could that be the difference for someone else?
I have finished and passed my class but I still have to finish my clinicals and pass my National Registry test in March, but in the mean time I can begin gaining experience with my service. Every person I have worked with so far has not only been so gracious with their time and sharing their knowledge, but welcoming. I can’t wait to learn more.