Monday, June 7, 2010

my job

~ - ~

Recently, I was at  Ambulance HQ for some further training. I had my uniform on, whilst getting out the car a fellow got out of his car next to me. "You guys do an excellent job!" he stated, adding a few more compliments to the monologue. All I could stammer was "Ah, its an easygoing job, cheers, good fun, nice to meet you, thanks, good bye". Talk about an inadequate answer….

I felt silly after that. There he was, Joe Blow, thanking me, Yours Truly. Saying thanks on behalf of the public to my profession. And i wipe it away, play it down as if it were some kind of game, not worthy of mentioning.


Not long ago, a colleague unfortunately had the 'pleasure' of seeing the other side of the Emergency Department - as a patient. During treatment and assessment, the doctor walked up to my colleague and stated "I couldn't do your job".

Sure, our workspace may be a little volatile at times, strewn with uncertainty. Sometimes outnumbered, sometimes running out of hands. There we stand, in front of whoever called us for whatever reason. We stand in their world, but have to tell them that they now have to play by our rules. Need a hand? Call another crew, wait 5-50 minutes. Patient lying awkwardly in the bathroom? It might be awkward getting him or her out. Hasn't flushed the toilet? Might be a little smelly. Didn't quite hit the toilet bowl? Makes extrication easier, as the floor is already slippery.

But it beats having to go to work five out of seven days to an office, seeing the same people again and again, and sitting on yer bum staring at a screen.

Chances are, I couldn't do your job either.


"You must see some horrible things"

"Yes, and I'm looking at one right now"

In all honesty, most situations are abstracted for treatment (and survival). Patients become dehumanised, are a bundle of symptoms just waiting to be treated; and if they can talk, you try out a bad joke to test their sense of humour (and you can then reenter the real world again). Most situations are horrible for the people involved - mostly because people panic and common sense (if they ever had any) flies out of the window; or in a minor amount of cases, because someone is quite sick or even dead.

But it is the patients emergency. At the end of the day I don't know them. Their pain is visible to me, I can usually imagine that If it were me in the same situation I would be equally sad/distraught/griefstricken. But I'm not. I walk out of that job and that's that job emotionally done. The only memories are professional ones.


"Thank You"

"Your Welcome". No other reply necessary. Sweet, Sincere and Simple.


"You boys are heroes"

No we're not.

"Arm das Land das Helden noetig hat - Unlucky the nation that needs heroes"
(Galilei, in B. Brechts "Das Leben des Galileo).