I have been in the Ambulance Service for 12 years now. Having done a stint on a normal front line ambulance for a few years attending emergency calls, I now work on my own on a rapid response car. This brings with it obvious stresses and strains. I have been sworn at and attacked by drunk people, I have told people their relative has passed away and I have been covered in body fluids, fighting to save someone’s life in dangerous places.
There are many rewards that come from my job though, as you might expect. Now is not the place to talk about specifics and individual calls as they are private between me and my patients. However there are general needs that I have that are fulfilled by my choice of job. One of those needs is a need to nurture, care for others and be useful to people. The most effective Paramedics of course need sharp skills. Just as, or if not more important is kindness and compassion. If you can listen to someone, reassure them, just with a touch on the arm or by giving them your full attention then you have achieved much to be thankful for. Making a cup of tea, finding out that an elderly person played a valuable role in the war and acknowledging their contribution to society and their family is what it is all about. Having a chat with a lonely person or a joke and a laugh, cheering up a sick child and making someone comfortable is a privilege that I have on a daily basis. This makes me feel enormously fulfilled.
When I chose this career I had resigned myself to not not having children and this had a direct impact on the role I wanted. I recognised the need in myself to care for others and wanted an outlet for this part of me so I could feel happy.
One of the most rewarding parts of my job is working as a team. Sometimes you go through things that only the people who were there can truly understand. A great sense of camaraderie exists between crews and other emergency services. A certain black sense of humour helps us get through, otherwise you would go mad. Coupled with that is a husband who does the same job. We do not go on and on about work at home as that would not be a good idea but I do have someone who understands and when I need to talk about a distressing event I have someone who can picture what I am talking about. I also have someone who gets it when I am shattered after a 14 hour shift or I have to work on Christmas Day. Demands on me are less, as I am with someone who knows what it is like. I think you will agree that we all need to feel part of a team. Whether that is husband and wife, a group of friends, a family or group of neighbours, we often feel better with the support of others.
This last two years I have been training a student Paramedic. She has gone from being a scared, nervous wreck to a calm, competent and extremely kind Paramedic mainly due to her own hard work but I hope in some small part due to my teaching and example. I watch her now and feel happy that I enabled this transition and I am pleased for the years of service she will now give and the difference to people she will now make.
So, to all you drunks, doubters and moaners who have had a go at me at work over the years while I try to do my job you can never take away the good I have hopefully done. I am always learning and can always do better. As I get older and more jaded my tolerance is at risk of reducing and I have to keep myself in check. I still feel lucky though to have the opportunity to do my job and I am grateful for that. I do not have children but hopefully I still make a valuable contribution in a way that enables me to feel happy.