On Sports Radio this morning they were talking about the decline of three sports legends – Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant. The radio host, a retired athlete himself, was saying how no one who hadn’t played professional sports could possibly understand what these three were going through. He said they dedicated their lives and heart to a sport. They were the center of everyone’s attention. And now their bodies were betraying them. They could no longer perform at the level they were accustomed to performing. They couldn’t be the hero anymore. It was like they were suddenly staring into a void, left with nothing.

I love sports, but seriously…

I thought today of all the paramedics past I have known, men and women, who stood tall, who were the center of attention, who performed at the height of their abilities when human life and death were on the line, when people were sick or injured and in need of someone special to walk through their doors and make things better, and these men and women did. EMS was their life and their identity, and then the day came when their powers started to fade. They grew old or got hurt and they could no longer do the job they loved. They were no longer the center of attention; they no longer had the power to heal.

I think of all the medics I saw over the years, who instead of riding the ambulance, were consigned to the light-duty chairs, consigned to paper work, washing ambulances, or delivering supplies. I think of the others who went out on injury and never came back.

They might not have been known to the world as Tiger, Peyton or Kobe, but they were known to those who worked with them, and to those they took care of.

You don’t have to be a professional athlete to understand what age does to people or to yourself.

We all one day vanish.


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Mortal Men: Paramedics on the Streets of Hartford