The winner of the EMS Newbie Essay Contest is Mary Caitlin Kelly:
Social Media and an EMS Newbie: A Whacker’s Love Story
Whacker. Green. Sparky. However you say it, I am the textbook “probie.” My pager is always on, even when I’m not on duty. I struggle to maintain a nonchalant expression when we are toned out to even the most mundane calls. I grovel when someone grants me the “privilege” of doing a truck check. I have a year’s experience as a First Responder, and a freshly minted EMT-B license. And like anyone new to the profession, I can’t get enough of EMS.
It all began in the summer of 2010, at the start of my First Responder class – and it remains even today. When I’m not at the station, I’m reading books written by weathered medics. I’m catching up on the latest EMS blogs. I’m downloading the latest episode of Confessions Of An EMS Newbie. Initially, all of this exposure was simply an attempt to feed my insatiable hunger for all things EMS. Now, I’m starting to realize it’s resulting in a bigger, positive impact on my career.
There are so many ways in which social media has helped me in my profession; everything from studying YouTube videos of a passing practical station, to expanding my brotherhood to include EMT’s throughout the country. But I am choosing to write about the strongest way social media has affected me: how it helped spark and maintain my adoration for emergency medicine.
EMS social media has allowed me to fall in love with the entire profession. It’s not all brilliant and daring rescues. It’s not all snatching people back from death’s grasp. It’s not all racing at top speed, lights flashing and sirens blaring. It’s not all suavely flipping sodium bicarbonate caps alá John Gauge. Before I started going on calls regularly, blogs revealed the truth about the field. It’s more about compassion; willingness to help your fellow man. It’s more hand holding than chest compressions.
Despite all of the rewarding experiences in the field, there remains a darker side of EMS that, prior to blogging, was seldom discussed or explored: burn out. The binding protocols that discourage thinking, and the constant system abuse in a thankless job can wear a person down. While being allowed into a patient’s most trying times can be humbling, it also allows for a troubling and heart wrenching view of the injustices and pain in society. It can tear at the soul. I would have remained ignorant of this side of EMS, had I not been exposed to the accounts and warnings posted in blogs, podcasts, books, and the like.
The field isn’t for everyone. But social media has prepared me for what to expect. I was able to develop a passion for emergency medicine, and not just for its glamour. I fell in love with the entire field: the adrenaline, compassion, struggle, and brotherhood. Beyond the war stories and shared tricks (another beneficial aspect of social media in our profession), there was the raw, naked truth of EMS; the good and the bad, the glorified and the shameful, the exhilarating and the dull, the triumphant and the heartbreaking.
So, call me what you will; whatever your local tongue dictates. Yes, I’m addicted to everything EMS. Yes, I will continue to regularly check my favorite blogs. Yes, I will still stay up at night, downloading podcasts. It’s making my education a more complete, worldly collage, and my adoration a deeper, stronger affection. So, label me as Sparky. Green. Whacker. I’ll wear my newbie label with pride.
Mary Caitlin wins the all-expenses-paid trip to EMS World Expo in Las Vegas, as well as the opportunity to shadow Dr. Bryan Bledsoe for a shift at UMC Emergency Department – a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a 18-year-old newbie!
Congratulations, Mary Caitlin, on a fine essay, and we look forward to having you on the show at EMS Expo!