My Job

The Maytag Repairman Syndrome is common in EMS. You are a paramedic to save lives, but you cannot save lives if no one’s life is in jeopardy. As an EMS writer, I need interesting calls to write about, because I cannot write stories if my day is boring. One of the reasons I write about my day is to help look and find what is interesting in the day that I might not have otherwise seen if I wasn’t looking carefully. A newspaper reporter assigned to an ambulance for a day can usually write pretty good copy even if the calls are not interesting because they are seeing the work with a fresh eye. A person who rides only one day on an ambulance will remember all the calls vividly while a veteran EMT may not remember what they did that morning.

Each person, each patient is a story waiting to be told, yet for the last many days when I have sat down to write in my daily blog, I have found little to inspire me. Maybe it is time for a vacation. I have already, for various reasons, canceled three planned adventures for this year – days taken off where I ended up working anyway. My trip to Jamaica has been delayed until June, My Atlantic City poker excursion I opted out of, my trip to Florida to see the World Baseball Classic I also opted out of, as I will opt out of going to San Diego to see the finals of the Classic. I am thinking about going to Baltimore for the EMS Conference, but haven’t decided yet. My Hollywood Adventure also didn’t pan out, not really for reasons in my control.

I have just been working. The calls are just turning into a blur. I am hesitant to say nothing interesting has happened or to use the Q word for fear of tempting the gods who will throw a shit storm my way, and as much as I like challenging calls, I do not wish the collateral damage on the patients. I’ve been doing a lot of old people, a lot of nursing home calls, a lot of pneumonias. Basically I’ve been doing the bread and butter of EMS – the routine. Sometimes for better or for worse it is what the work is about.

I think of what I would be doing if I had gone to California. Sitting around a table with a bunch of TV writers sketching out scenes, multiple car MVAs, shootings, stabbings, babies being born, cardiac arrest saves, daring rescues… Throw in some sex and other high-jinks on the job. Add a great soundtrack: Guns and Roses doing Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” And Billy Joel’s “In the Middle of the Night” which was on the radio years ago when I was doing my first ride time in a big city at night.

Instead I’m sitting here waiting for the nursing home to call to say Mr. Henry fell and has a skin tear or the visiting nurse to say Mrs. Roosevelt’s feet are swollen or the Doctor’s office to call and say Mrs. Brown has a touch of pneumonia or the PD to call to say there is a minor MVA with a driver complaining of neck pain.

And then I off. I will try to be professional, try to do my job well, try to make a difference in someone’s day. To quote a great country song by the late Conway Twitty “That’s My Job, That’s What I do.”


  • LuvSeals Soaps says:

    even the mundane can sound interesting. you make being an EMT a poetic and noble thing. don’t ever change that.I on the other hand, make soaps. that’s boring enough in itself, but my customers like my stuff, I suppose.

  • Merys says:

    I know what you mean. I go out as an observer with an ambulance station in the UK. When I first started I could tell you each and every single job we’d been to, and now I have to write them down because I’ve seen too much.

  • Kal says:

    Invoking the Q word is something that my opinion’s changed on. I used to sit on duties and fizz, waiting for that next big shout. I’d say to people “You know, I could really do with something scary, an RTA, or a suspended or something.”But I’ve invoked Q too many times and now I’m superstitious, too scared to say these things; not because I fear I couldn’t deal with them, but because I don’t want to think that my superstitious foibles led to people getting hurt.

  • Snoop says:

    A friend of mine was once talking to me about the upsides and downsides of his job. He’s a teacher – not very glamorous and, like just about all public sector jobs in Britain, relatively badly paid. One of the items in his “for” column was the fact that his is an honourable job. An old-fashioned notion, I guess. But being able to live with yourself is no small feat.

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