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.”