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An Unlikely Hero

“Get the stretcher close to the bed, now. And watch the gap there!”

“Yes Ma’am,” Part-Time Partner says mildly. His smile is strained.

“And he has a catheter, too. Do you know how to deal with a catheter?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Now, you shouldn’t access his infusion port under any circumstances. Only the doctor. A few months ago, one of you ambulance drivers messed up his infusion port and he had to have it replaced. Spent a week in the hospital with an infection – “

Yes Ma’am, we’ll be careful,” PTP interrupts her. His smile is considerably more strained, and the words are just a little terse. I give him a warning glance and shake my head imperceptibly. PTP has a temper worse than mine.

Dragon Lady hovers nervously nearby as we maneuver the stretcher near the bed. The man lies motionless beneath the covers, his eyes hooded. He looks out of place in the room. Muted lighting highlights wall cases full of mementos. There are ferns, tasteful paintings. A massive desk adorned with a leather blotter, richly upholstered high-backed chair sitting empty behind it. Warm, rich colors. Next to an overstuffed chair sits a side table holding a pipe rack filled with Meerschaum pipes. Books, hundreds and hundreds of books. The room itself bespeaks brandy and cigars, intellectual conversations concerning politics and religion – the sanctum sanctorum of an academic. I can imagine a professor sitting here, relaxing with a pipe and a brandy snifter while he plans tomorrow’s lectures, jotting his notes in a leather bound journal as he smokes.

Which, I suppose, is an accurate image. Or was, I should say. Stanley Harkins was an economics professor at the local university for over thirty years. I had seen him around campus during my years there, a slight, unassuming man who favored tweed coats and a battered old leather satchel. He puttered about campus with an absentminded air, smoking that pipe and walking briskly about his business as if he were perpetually late for a class.

But looks were deceiving. Professor Harkins was neither absentminded, nor was he ever late for anything in his life. He was the professor you took pains to avoid when scheduling classes. Decent grades were easier to get from other professors who didn’t share Stanley Harkins‘ standards of student performance. For a physically unimposing man, he struck fear into the hearts of many a business or economics major.

And now here he lies in a rented hospital bed with a bedside commode sitting next to it. They look obscene in this place. They speak of decay and death, and this room, despite the lighting, does not.

So why is he here, instead of a bedroom? More room, better light. Why not let him die in his own bed?

My answer lies in the surroundings. When we entered this house, we negotiated a gauntlet of expensive, tasteful furnishings. Elaborate rugs over hardwood floors. Bright and cheery window treatments, elegantly upholstered chairs and divans. Monet reproductions on the walls. All very beautiful, and all very…feminine.

This room is not like the rest of the house. This room is anything but feminine, and then I begin to understand. This is His Place.

If I were dying, I’d want it to happen where I was most comfortable. I’d want to be surrounded by the things I loved. And apparently, Dragon Lady understands that.

And so I swallow my retort as Dragon Lady reminds us again to watch the furniture and tells us how to operate our stretcher and be careful of the Foley catheter and make sure the heel protectors are in place and wedge two pillows under his hips because he’s so frail and…

“…and mind his skin!” she snaps. “His skin is so fragile, and he’s allergic to that silk tape, and last time one of your ambulance drivers grabbed his arm and – “

“Actually Ma’am, we’re EMTs,” corrects Part Time Partner, just on the verge of nastiness. Dragon Lady stops abruptly, taken aback.

“So you’re EMTs,” she says condescendingly. “And what exactly does EMT stand for?” she asks with exaggerated courtesy.

Eggcrate Mattress Technician,” I say, deadpan. “That’s what makes us uniquely qualified to care for your husband.” Dragon Lady’s eyes widen and her mouth opens soundlessly as she tries to digest what I’ve just said. I can see her thinking, did he really just say that??

“Her bark is much worse than her bite,” comes a dry chuckle from the bed. “Although her bite can be pretty nasty, as some of your more unfortunate colleagues have discovered.”

He’s right about that. The crews don’t call her Dragon Lady for nothing.

“You’re new, but he’s not,” Stanley looks at me speculatively, and nods toward my partner. “Did you just start working here?”

“Actually, I’ve spent the last couple of years as our Education Director. We have a medic out with a back injury, so I’m filling in the odd shift here and there.”

Aaahhh, a fellow teacher as well as a practitioner of the healing arts!” he says, winking slyly. “A real Renaissance Man.

“Not really,” I allow, “But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.” He reacts with an outright guffaw. There is still plenty of life in Stanley Harkins‘ laughter, if nowhere else.

I steal a glance at the Dragon Lady, and she is smiling at her husband. Suddenly her face doesn’t seem so severe. The worry lines soften and she starts to resemble the bride in the wedding photo on the wall in the foyer, smiling adoringly at her groom.

Stanley sticks a bony hand from beneath the covers. “Stanley Harkins,” he says warmly. His grip is firm, belying the frailty of his body.

“Ambulance Driver,” I say in greeting. “Nice to meet you, Professor.”

The skin hangs from his arms in folds. Every rib stands out, and his abdo
men is horribly swollen with ascites. His skin is slack, yellowed with jaundice. Stanley Harkins is dying of hepatic cancer, the daily radiation treatments not keeping pace with each new outbreak of cancer cells. First his liver, then his intestines. Pancreas too. Who knows where else. There are blue ink markings over the upper right quadrant of his abdomen, a macabre set of crosshairs courtesy of the radiation lab.

Despite all this, his voice remains strong, and there is light in his eyes, yet we need look no further than the eyes of the Dragon Lady to see worry and despair. She has been married to this man for nearly forty years, but she’ll be a widow within a month. And she knows it. She meets my gaze as I pull the fitted sheet free of the mattress.

“Okay Mr. Harkins, brace yourself!” I say heartily as PTP and I bunch the sheet around him. “One, and two, and three!” On my count, we lift Stanley bodily and place him gently on the stretcher. The move looks much less coordinated than it is, and Dragon Lady’s hand flies to her mouth.

“Be careful!” she scolds. “You almost dropped him!”

“Don’t worry Ma’am,” I reassure her. “We have a strict company policy. We only drop patients on Mondays. Makes it easier to track the complaints.”

“I’ll bet it does!” Stanley chortles. “And what is today, I wonder?” he asks mischievously, already knowing the answer.

“Monday,” PTP answers solemnly, with a wink at Dragon Lady. She blinks a couple of times, looks at her husband, and starts giggling. Her shoulders shake with laughter, and he reaches out a trembling hand to brush back her hair. She closes her eyes and leans over, touching her forehead against his. He chuckles and plants a soft kiss on her forehead before she straightens up. Her eyes are moist.

“Mrs. Harkins,” I say softly as we move the stretcher away from the bed. She looks at me questioningly. “We’ll take good care of him, I promise.”

********

Thus went my introduction to Professor and the Dragon Lady. Just one patient among many, just one among many hundreds of boring transfers. You do enough ambulance calls, and names start to fade into diagnoses. The folks you treat become half-remembered, depersonalized chief complaints and memorable injuries – Dialysis Patients, Seizure Victims, Strokes, The Guy From The Rollover on Route 15. People like Stanley Harkins become The Terminal Cancer Guy. They all run together after a while.

Unless you take the time to talk to them.

Over the next month, Stanley Harkins and I did a lot of talking. My class schedule pretty much assured I’d be available for every one of his radiation treatments. We talked about his academic career, we talked about hunting, training dogs, EMS…whatever subject struck our fancy. I learned his wife’s name was Mirriam, and that they had married shortly after World War II. I learned his son’s names, where they lived and where their careers were headed. I explained the pharmacodynamics of the medicines he was taking, and he explained how the Fed sets interest rates, the stock market, hedge funds, whatever. I may have even grasped some of it.

And in our daily trips in and out of his house, I learned to call him Stan and her Mirriam. I learned that she wasn’t a Dragon Lady at all. In fact, she had a pretty raunchy, twisted sense of humor, as did Stan. When she laughed, it would start as a girlish giggle and grow into a snorting, belly-rolling drunken guffaw. I made it a point to make her laugh as often as possible. Trading lame jokes with the Harkins took some of the drudgery out of the transfer routine.

No EMT I know likes doing transfers. I said as much to Stan one day, not long after we met.

“Perfectly understandable,” he agreed. “You can’t have gotten into emergency care for…this.” He waves his hand toward his feet, gesturing at his frail body in what can only be described as disgust.

“No, definitely not,” I grin ruefully. “But it pays the bills, so I stay with it.”

Why?” he asks me with a piercing look. I can imagine him giving the same look to a hapless student who blurted out the first answer that came to mind. It’s a look that says, defend your position. I sigh and try to explain.

“Stan, they sell you on the idea of heroically saving lives on every other call, but the reality is calls like this. Or hemorrhoids at 3 am. Or people who have been sick for a week, but are too lazy to go see their own doctor. It’s draining.”

“You haven’t answered the question,” he chides. “Why do you stay in it, if it’s so draining?”

“Maybe because I’m a hopeless idealist at heart. Maybe because I still think that the chance to make a difference is just one call away. Maybe because even though I bitch and complain about how boring it is, the reality is, I like it. You call, we come. No uncertainty, no ambiguity. You call, we come.”

“And now we come to it,” he says knowingly. “You dislike ambiguity. You are a very direct person. There’s no subterfuge about you.”

“Oh, but there is,”I disagree, “when it suits my purpose. I’m a chameleon. I can be whatever it takes to treat my patient, get the history I need…whatever. Most of my patients and co-workers have no idea who I really am.”

“No, I wouldn’t say so,” he muses. “A perceptive person might gain a pretty good idea of exactly who you are.”

“I doubt it,” I snort. “I’m an amateur actor, professional interrogator and occasional crisis manager. But definitely not the hero I wanted to be when I took my first EMT class.”

“I don’t know,” he says cryptically, “I’ve found that heroes are often the most unlikely of people, found in the most unlikely of places.” He says nothing more, closing his eyes and dozing for the remainder of the trip.

I made seven more trips with Stan. Each day saw him get progressively weaker. He’d spend most of the trip dozing, his chest barely moving under the covers. I had to use the pediatric cuff to check his blood pressure. He woke only when we were moving him from one bed to another. We’d still joke with Mirriam, and she’d laugh politely, but there wasn’t much mirth in it.

On the morning of the last day I transported him, as I was rolling him out of the den, I noticed a shadowbox tucked into a niche between rows of bo
oks. In it was a picture of Stan as a young man, an army lieutenant with his arm slung across a buddy’s shoulders. His cap was perched at a jaunty angle on his head, and he wore a broad grin. The light of the devil danced in his eyes. A young soldier in the bloom of health, all full of piss and vinegar and the invincibility of youth.

I stopped rolling the stretcher as PTP and I examined his medals. Most of them were campaign medals, but there were a few in there we could recognize – Expert Rifleman’s badge, Purple Heart, Silver Star and Bronze Star. An Airborne patch and sergeant’s chevrons. PTP and I traded a look. Stan didn’t wake up during the trip to the cancer treatment center.

On the ride home, he was awake, but tired and listless. I sat at his side, checking his blood pressure. “Saw your service medals in the den, Stan,” I said mildly. “I never knew you were in the military.”

“You never asked,” he retorted. His voice is cracked and faint, and I have to lean close to hear him, but there is still the hint of that devilish grin hovering around his lips. “Started out as a buck private, went overseas as a sergeant, won a commission as a Second Lieutenant not long afterward.”

“Direct commission, like you earned the promotion on the battlefield, or you went to OCS?” I press. This is a story I’d like to hear, and Stan doesn’t have many stories left.

“Doesn’t matter,” he rasps. “The Army was good to me. Retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.”

“And a hero, Mr. Modest,” I remind him teasingly. “I saw your Silver Star and Bronze Star. Like you said, you meet heroes in the most unlikely places.”

Stan said something in reply, and I said nothing else for the remainder of the trip. I didn’t know what to say. We were told that evening that Stan and Mirriam had canceled further radiation appointments, and Stan had made arrangements for hospice care. He died maybe a week later. I didn’t go to the funeral.

But I remember what he rasped in my ear that afternoon on the way back to his home. I remind myself of it whenever I question what it is that I do, and why.

“No, you’re the hero,” he had told me. “My hero, at least.” I straightened up and looked at him questioningly, and he motioned me to lean back over.

“Because you make my wife laugh every time you come over. She hardly ever gets to laugh any more.”

Yeah, I’ll take that.

Comments - Add Yours

  • Joe Allen

    For some strange reason, my monitor got all blurry by the end of that story.Thanks for sharing these stories with us.Happy Easter to you and yours!Joe

  • Joe Allen

    For some strange reason, my monitor got all blurry by the end of that story.Thanks for sharing these stories with us.Happy Easter to you and yours!Joe

  • Tom Reynolds

    Damn right.And it’s job like that, and patients like that which you end up remembering – and it’s jobs and patients like that which is the reason why we do the job.

  • Tom Reynolds

    Damn right.And it’s job like that, and patients like that which you end up remembering – and it’s jobs and patients like that which is the reason why we do the job.

  • Loving

    That was a beautiful post… So moving… The transformation from Dragon Lady to Miriam — and you making her laugh… And Stanley, from young and vital to still alert and interesting and interested, to the end…I’ve volunteered at a Level One Trauma Center in a teachig hospital’s emergency room, and I see you guys a few times a week.Bless you for caring — even when it gets routine.Hope you are having a Good Easter Sunday.I’m glad I found your blog. Will be back to visit –

  • Loving

    That was a beautiful post… So moving… The transformation from Dragon Lady to Miriam — and you making her laugh… And Stanley, from young and vital to still alert and interesting and interested, to the end…I’ve volunteered at a Level One Trauma Center in a teachig hospital’s emergency room, and I see you guys a few times a week.Bless you for caring — even when it gets routine.Hope you are having a Good Easter Sunday.I’m glad I found your blog. Will be back to visit –

  • MedicMatthew

    Hmm, my monitor seemed to get blurry too. Bless you, AD, for being the paramedic that I aspire to be.

  • MedicMatthew

    Hmm, my monitor seemed to get blurry too. Bless you, AD, for being the paramedic that I aspire to be.

  • Ralphd00d

    AD, you have some of the most touching stories, and are great at being able to re-create them. I am glad to be able to enjoy what you share.

  • Ralphd00d

    AD, you have some of the most touching stories, and are great at being able to re-create them. I am glad to be able to enjoy what you share.

  • Bob

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story…quite a contrast from Ignorant Thicket! Stan was right…that is a wonderful gift you gave.. to bring up some laughter from Miriam’s troubled soul. And a very sweet thing for Stan to say to you.

  • Bob

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story…quite a contrast from Ignorant Thicket! Stan was right…that is a wonderful gift you gave.. to bring up some laughter from Miriam’s troubled soul. And a very sweet thing for Stan to say to you.

  • scope2776

    I wish maybe one day I will have experiences in EMS so rich and fulfilling as yours. Excellent story and thanks for sharing!

  • scope2776

    I wish maybe one day I will have experiences in EMS so rich and fulfilling as yours. Excellent story and thanks for sharing!

  • Bob

    Moving, AD, very moving. You discovered what he truly valued most.And alone worth the cost of your next book, whevever that will be. Get moving on it, will ya? I can’t haul my desktop into that little porcelain-equipped reading room of mine.

  • Bob

    Moving, AD, very moving. You discovered what he truly valued most.And alone worth the cost of your next book, whevever that will be. Get moving on it, will ya? I can’t haul my desktop into that little porcelain-equipped reading room of mine.

  • Anonymous

    Hey, AD … from north of the border.Well done, dude. Should be required reading by all newbies and medic wannabes. If you’re not in it for this, you’re in it for the wrong reasons … and fouling my chosen profession.I’ll try to drop a line direct tomorrow … up to my arse in alligators :Dwpgmedic

  • Anonymous

    Hey, AD … from north of the border.Well done, dude. Should be required reading by all newbies and medic wannabes. If you’re not in it for this, you’re in it for the wrong reasons … and fouling my chosen profession.I’ll try to drop a line direct tomorrow … up to my arse in alligators :Dwpgmedic

  • Dennis

    AD, you keep reminding me why I got into EMS and the truth about what I found in EMS. Not every call is going to be what is considered a good call by adrenaline junkies. What I keep getting reminded of is it is not what the call does for you but what you give the patient. I have to always remember that there is a person with a story on my cot and instead of sitting in the back writing my report in silence that I should try to connect with my patient some how. I fall into the rut of just getting what I need to get done, done. Thanks for the gentle prod in the other direction. I forgot about that.

  • Dennis

    AD, you keep reminding me why I got into EMS and the truth about what I found in EMS. Not every call is going to be what is considered a good call by adrenaline junkies. What I keep getting reminded of is it is not what the call does for you but what you give the patient. I have to always remember that there is a person with a story on my cot and instead of sitting in the back writing my report in silence that I should try to connect with my patient some how. I fall into the rut of just getting what I need to get done, done. Thanks for the gentle prod in the other direction. I forgot about that.

  • Ambulance Driver

    Hey wpgmedic,Glad to hear from you brother!

  • Ambulance Driver

    Hey wpgmedic,Glad to hear from you brother!

  • Babs RN

    Beautiful.

  • Babs RN

    Beautiful.

  • Bonnie

    That was fantastic. :-)

  • Bonnie

    That was fantastic. :-)

  • Johanna

    Your writing style is the most engaging I’ve read from another EMS provider. I can’t wait to read your book.I loved this post. Thanks!Johanna

  • Johanna

    Your writing style is the most engaging I’ve read from another EMS provider. I can’t wait to read your book.I loved this post. Thanks!Johanna

  • jrshirley

    Wow. I…thank you. I don’t know why you do it, but thank you.

  • jrshirley

    Wow. I…thank you. I don’t know why you do it, but thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Dang man. well if someone like that can call you thier hero ignor the next sumabitch that says different.Scott

  • Anonymous

    Dang man. well if someone like that can call you thier hero ignor the next sumabitch that says different.Scott

  • Kate

    Thank you for this story and the reminder of what makes a mostly thankless job become a blessing for both patient and caregiver.

  • Kate

    Thank you for this story and the reminder of what makes a mostly thankless job become a blessing for both patient and caregiver.

  • kingmagic

    Its what we do…A very sad story on the surface, but underneath beats the heart of a compassionate human being.

  • kingmagic

    Its what we do…A very sad story on the surface, but underneath beats the heart of a compassionate human being.

  • Two Wolves

    A very close friend of mine, and fellow medic, posted a link to your blog on hers – and I am glad she did.I was a practicing Paramedic for around two decades before injuries forced me to step aside, and, although I knew and worked with so many caring people, there were all those others to whom it was just a job.In fact, I thought – just knew – that the reasons I became a medic and why I stayed one despite all the pain and torture and poor hours and missed meals were shared by no one else, that I was, basically, an anomaly. I am so glad to at last find I was wrong.And I thank you for that. Methinks I’ll be visiting your blog often.The Auld Scot

  • Two Wolves

    A very close friend of mine, and fellow medic, posted a link to your blog on hers – and I am glad she did.I was a practicing Paramedic for around two decades before injuries forced me to step aside, and, although I knew and worked with so many caring people, there were all those others to whom it was just a job.In fact, I thought – just knew – that the reasons I became a medic and why I stayed one despite all the pain and torture and poor hours and missed meals were shared by no one else, that I was, basically, an anomaly. I am so glad to at last find I was wrong.And I thank you for that. Methinks I’ll be visiting your blog often.The Auld Scot

  • James

    Thank you, that was wonderful.

  • James

    Thank you, that was wonderful.

  • Wire

    I’ve been reading these stories for the past several hours. This one brought tears. Thank you.

  • Wire

    I’ve been reading these stories for the past several hours. This one brought tears. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Wow! If we could just bottle that mindset and compassion and feed to our 250 plus emt’s and medics. Just think of the impact it would have on our patients… Thanks you so much for sharing… I’ve been in EMS for 34 years, It takes alot to get a tear from me but I have a stream of them runnig down my face. I wonder if I could print this and use it in our newletter and / or post it at our stations? Steve slajohn@neo.rr.com

  • Anonymous

    Wow! If we could just bottle that mindset and compassion and feed to our 250 plus emt’s and medics. Just think of the impact it would have on our patients… Thanks you so much for sharing… I’ve been in EMS for 34 years, It takes alot to get a tear from me but I have a stream of them runnig down my face. I wonder if I could print this and use it in our newletter and / or post it at our stations? Steve slajohn@neo.rr.com

  • Anonymous

    Wow! If we could just bottle that mindset and compassion and feed to our 250 plus emt’s and medics. Just think of the impact it would have on our patients… Thanks you so much for sharing… I’ve been in EMS for 34 years, It takes alot to get a tear from me but I have a stream of them runnig down my face. I wonder if I could print this and use it in our newletter and / or post it at our stations? Steve slajohn@neo.rr.com

  • Anonymous

    Wow! If we could just bottle that mindset and compassion and feed to our 250 plus emt’s and medics. Just think of the impact it would have on our patients… Thanks you so much for sharing… I’ve been in EMS for 34 years, It takes alot to get a tear from me but I have a stream of them runnig down my face. I wonder if I could print this and use it in our newletter and / or post it at our stations? Steve slajohn@neo.rr.com

  • Manda Renee

    I so needed to read this today – specifically today. Thank you for showing me I’m not the only one. ~M

  • Manda Renee

    I so needed to read this today – specifically today. Thank you for showing me I’m not the only one. ~M

  • Manda Renee

    I so needed to read this today – specifically today. Thank you for showing me I’m not the only one. ~M

  • Manda Renee

    I so needed to read this today – specifically today. Thank you for showing me I’m not the only one. ~M

  • Anonymous

    After reading this I see why I am a paramedic and yes my monitor got all blurry too…dam computer virri!Scott McConnell, RN, NREMT-P, FP-CPhila., PA

  • Anonymous

    After reading this I see why I am a paramedic and yes my monitor got all blurry too…dam computer virri!Scott McConnell, RN, NREMT-P, FP-CPhila., PA

  • Anonymous

    After reading this I see why I am a paramedic and yes my monitor got all blurry too…dam computer virri!Scott McConnell, RN, NREMT-P, FP-CPhila., PA

  • Anonymous

    After reading this I see why I am a paramedic and yes my monitor got all blurry too…dam computer virri!Scott McConnell, RN, NREMT-P, FP-CPhila., PA

  • Pombagira

    gosh my monitor got all blurry by the end of that story to…*smiles*

  • Pombagira

    gosh my monitor got all blurry by the end of that story to…*smiles*

  • medikkev

    Wow. Been there too. You meet some of the most unlikely people in our work, sometimes turning the most mundane transfer into a myriad of discussions after you learn about your patient. In my 20 years as a medic, (starting my 21st) I have done this many many times. There are some interesting people out there, and not just the 3 am diahreah. You rock. Med

  • medikkev

    Wow. Been there too. You meet some of the most unlikely people in our work, sometimes turning the most mundane transfer into a myriad of discussions after you learn about your patient. In my 20 years as a medic, (starting my 21st) I have done this many many times. There are some interesting people out there, and not just the 3 am diahreah. You rock. Med

  • The Keeper Of Odd Knowledge (K

    Well you are like 5 for 5. I hope you are happy. 32 yr old Safety Engineer, general cynic, logical reasonable thinker. I have been told I am unemotional. Crying like a little girl. It is unseemly I tell you.

  • The Keeper Of Odd Knowledge (KOOK)

    Well you are like 5 for 5. I hope you are happy. 32 yr old Safety Engineer, general cynic, logical reasonable thinker. I have been told I am unemotional. Crying like a little girl. It is unseemly I tell you.

  • Transport Jockey

    I've read this post before and it never ceases to make me have a blurry monitor by the end of it.Calls like this are one of the reasons that I will never knock the time I spent doing IFT calls. I have felt like I made more of a difference in peoples lives doing that than 911 so far.

  • Transport Jockey

    I've read this post before and it never ceases to make me have a blurry monitor by the end of it.

    Calls like this are one of the reasons that I will never knock the time I spent doing IFT calls. I have felt like I made more of a difference in peoples lives doing that than 911 so far.

  • tbair

    The hero is very heartwarming. This is a very moving story.

  • Foretsz

    3 and a half years ago I backed into a parking post. You know the ones… metal tube filled with concrete. Seems I wasn't the first one, as the post already was at a 45 degree angle and hidden in a blind spot. Thing is, I mistook the accelerator for the brake pedal.
    2 weeks later I woke to find my left side completely numb, no feeling whatsoever. My family physician said that he'd see me in his office that day and to 'come on down!'. Unfortunately, a herniated L4, L5 isn't something you want to live through.
    The four EMS that came to pick me up (literally) must have been surprised to find that they needed to carry me down first.
    I don't know how anyone can do the job you do. To me, you are, every last one, heroes. My eyes were streaming with tears, I hadn't slept more than five minutes at a time for the past five days, couldn't stand myself being paralyzed from the waist down to my toes, couldn't see myself finishing the next portion of my life in a wheelchair and neither could I envision living in a house any longer. I was at probably the lowest point in my life.
    The four EMS that came are my heroes because they first asked me if I didn't mind them taking me away from a warm bed. That took me out of my misery for a moment to actually ask myself the same question. Before I knew it, they were lowering me down the carpeted, shallow steps of the steep staircase, around the tight corner and into the narrow hallway that I'd come to acknowledge some young, inexperienced architect who had probably had too many martinis had designed (and don't think I didn't hear the repressed groans of the four of them on that score when they tried to make themselves as thin as possible) before finally breaking free to breathe normally and to put me supine on their stretcher outside.
    I don't know if I could have survived the ride to the hospital if they hadn't been with me. They kept my mind busy on other subjects during the ride. And I tried to stay conzingnant enough to answer them in like. Not an easy task when pain shot from one end of my lower back to my head! One of them was a transfer student and he held my hand at one point in reassurance and told me that things could only go up from now on.
    Finally in the ER, Triage deemed it was too harsh to let me use a wheelchair, especially since the supervisor (I think), whose arms tucked me close to his smelly cigarette smoked chest invaded my nostrils, had caused me to start coughing and choking sending waves of agony everwhere! Finally everyone decided I'd be better off lying out flat under supervision. Back I went on the stretcher.
    When one crew left, another took over, keeping me from rolling off the narrow pad or catching some thingamabob that would collapse the stretcher to the floor!
    It's been 2 years now since surgery and I am back walking on my own two feet once more. I wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for their encouragement, caring and professionalism.
    To you all who tuck your emotions behind jovial facades, who smile when your mind and gut tell you that the vic you're transporting isn't going to live for another minute but do so to reassure him, who holds back his or her tears when you realize the baby in the back seat wasn't buckled in properly and died because of the driver being in too much of a hurry to check twice, who runs behind the rig to hide from his peers to let go of the tears bottled up inside…. to all of you, my heroes, I thank you.
    May your shifts bring you satisfaction of knowing that you are where you are meant to be;
    May you look to see that rainbow to cheer your saddened heart;
    May the sun shine once more knowing that there is someone who appreciates all you do and how you do it;
    And may you always know that there are kind people who thank you silently in their hearts because you've helped make their day easier to bear.

  • Foretsz

    3 and a half years ago I backed into a parking post. You know the ones… metal tube filled with concrete. Seems I wasn't the first one, as the post already was at a 45 degree angle and hidden in a blind spot. Thing is, I mistook the accelerator for the brake pedal.
    2 weeks later I woke to find my left side completely numb, no feeling whatsoever. My family physician said that he'd see me in his office that day and to 'come on down!'. Unfortunately, a herniated L4, L5 isn't something you want to live through.
    The four EMS that came to pick me up (literally) must have been surprised to find that they needed to carry me down first.
    I don't know how anyone can do the job you do. To me, you are, every last one, heroes. My eyes were streaming with tears, I hadn't slept more than five minutes at a time for the past five days, couldn't stand myself being paralyzed from the waist down to my toes, couldn't see myself finishing the next portion of my life in a wheelchair and neither could I envision living in a house any longer. I was at probably the lowest point in my life.
    The four EMS that came are my heroes because they first asked me if I didn't mind them taking me away from a warm bed. That took me out of my misery for a moment to actually ask myself the same question. Before I knew it, they were lowering me down the carpeted, shallow steps of the steep staircase, around the tight corner and into the narrow hallway that I'd come to acknowledge some young, inexperienced architect who had probably had too many martinis had designed (and don't think I didn't hear the repressed groans of the four of them on that score when they tried to make themselves as thin as possible) before finally breaking free to breathe normally and to put me supine on their stretcher outside.
    I don't know if I could have survived the ride to the hospital if they hadn't been with me. They kept my mind busy on other subjects during the ride. And I tried to stay conzingnant enough to answer them in like. Not an easy task when pain shot from one end of my lower back to my head! One of them was a transfer student and he held my hand at one point in reassurance and told me that things could only go up from now on.
    Finally in the ER, Triage deemed it was too harsh to let me use a wheelchair, especially since the supervisor (I think), whose arms tucked me close to his smelly cigarette smoked chest invaded my nostrils, had caused me to start coughing and choking sending waves of agony everwhere! Finally everyone decided I'd be better off lying out flat under supervision. Back I went on the stretcher.
    When one crew left, another took over, keeping me from rolling off the narrow pad or catching some thingamabob that would collapse the stretcher to the floor!
    It's been 2 years now since surgery and I am back walking on my own two feet once more. I wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for their encouragement, caring and professionalism.
    To you all who tuck your emotions behind jovial facades, who smile when your mind and gut tell you that the vic you're transporting isn't going to live for another minute but do so to reassure him, who holds back his or her tears when you realize the baby in the back seat wasn't buckled in properly and died because of the driver being in too much of a hurry to check twice, who runs behind the rig to hide from his peers to let go of the tears bottled up inside…. to all of you, my heroes, I thank you.
    May your shifts bring you satisfaction of knowing that you are where you are meant to be;
    May you look to see that rainbow to cheer your saddened heart;
    May the sun shine once more knowing that there is someone who appreciates all you do and how you do it;
    And may you always know that there are kind people who thank you silently in their hearts because you've helped make their day easier to bear.

  • Foretsz

    3 and a half years ago I backed into a parking post. You know the ones… metal tube filled with concrete. Seems I wasn't the first one, as the post already was at a 45 degree angle and hidden in a blind spot. Thing is, I mistook the accelerator for the brake pedal.
    2 weeks later I woke to find my left side completely numb, no feeling whatsoever. My family physician said that he'd see me in his office that day and to 'come on down!'. Unfortunately, a herniated L4, L5 isn't something you want to live through.
    The four EMS that came to pick me up (literally) must have been surprised to find that they needed to carry me down first.
    I don't know how anyone can do the job you do. To me, you are, every last one, heroes. My eyes were streaming with tears, I hadn't slept more than five minutes at a time for the past five days, couldn't stand myself being paralyzed from the waist down to my toes, couldn't see myself finishing the next portion of my life in a wheelchair and neither could I envision living in a house any longer. I was at probably the lowest point in my life.
    The four EMS that came are my heroes because they first asked me if I didn't mind them taking me away from a warm bed. That took me out of my misery for a moment to actually ask myself the same question. Before I knew it, they were lowering me down the carpeted, shallow steps of the steep staircase, around the tight corner and into the narrow hallway that I'd come to acknowledge some young, inexperienced architect who had probably had too many martinis had designed (and don't think I didn't hear the repressed groans of the four of them on that score when they tried to make themselves as thin as possible) before finally breaking free to breathe normally and to put me supine on their stretcher outside.
    I don't know if I could have survived the ride to the hospital if they hadn't been with me. They kept my mind busy on other subjects during the ride. And I tried to stay conzingnant enough to answer them in like. Not an easy task when pain shot from one end of my lower back to my head! One of them was a transfer student and he held my hand at one point in reassurance and told me that things could only go up from now on.
    Finally in the ER, Triage deemed it was too harsh to let me use a wheelchair, especially since the supervisor (I think), whose arms tucked me close to his smelly cigarette smoked chest invaded my nostrils, had caused me to start coughing and choking sending waves of agony everwhere! Finally everyone decided I'd be better off lying out flat under supervision. Back I went on the stretcher.
    When one crew left, another took over, keeping me from rolling off the narrow pad or catching some thingamabob that would collapse the stretcher to the floor!
    It's been 2 years now since surgery and I am back walking on my own two feet once more. I wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for their encouragement, caring and professionalism.
    To you all who tuck your emotions behind jovial facades, who smile when your mind and gut tell you that the vic you're transporting isn't going to live for another minute but do so to reassure him, who holds back his or her tears when you realize the baby in the back seat wasn't buckled in properly and died because of the driver being in too much of a hurry to check twice, who runs behind the rig to hide from his peers to let go of the tears bottled up inside…. to all of you, my heroes, I thank you.
    May your shifts bring you satisfaction of knowing that you are where you are meant to be;
    May you look to see that rainbow to cheer your saddened heart;
    May the sun shine once more knowing that there is someone who appreciates all you do and how you do it;
    And may you always know that there are kind people who thank you silently in their hearts because you've helped make their day easier to bear.

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  • Fireres6501

    NICE!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ThatOneEMT

    It’s funny how our ideas change. Over the (very) short time I have been involved in EMS I have observed many times where just talking and listening to patients was the best treatment. When you can make some old lonely lady laugh while transporting her after a fall is one of the most rewarding feelings I have come to know. Making somebodies day a little better, is why I love this job.