You’re five hours into your shift and you’ve already had 4 calls: a man who kind of reminded you of your dad had a heart attack; a woman complaining of neck pain after getting rear-ended in rush hour traffic; two kids fell into a swimming pool and were pulled out by their babysitter; a convenient store clerk who was stabbed during a robbery. The woman will probably be okay and the kids were more scared than anything. The clerk who was stabbed is in rough shape but he’ll pull through – who stabs someone over a case of beer? But that man who had the heart attack, his face stays with you. You should call your pops when you finish your shift.
Or maybe you don’t serve a metropolitan area and are in a small town. Every call you get is someone you know: Paula, the cashier at the grocery store, cut her hand while making dinner; Ted who always sits in the pew behind you on Sundays slipped getting into the shower; Matthew, the mayor’s kid, fell out of the tree in their front yard. Paula is a trooper but those stitches will hurt. Ted’s eighty-something, in rough shape, and doesn’t have any family in town. Matthew decided before you’d even left the driveway that he wanted a green cast.
Perhaps you’re a 911 dispatcher. All you can do is talk someone through a traumatic event while they wait for the help you’ve sent to arrive. A woman hiding in the closet, doing everything she can to protect herself from her drunk, abusive boyfriend. A panicked child who doesn’t understand why Grandma isn’t breathing. A man watching a total stranger stand on the edge of a bridge. A young husband trying to deliver the couple’s first baby in the backseat of the car in an abandoned parking lot.
You are an Emergency Medical Service provider. You see it all: the good, the bad, the ugly, the cooperative, the hostile, the drunk, the stoned, the overdosed, the helpless. You see people at their most vulnerable. Some of the things you see don’t want to leave you alone: the faces, the carnage, the fear. Some of the things you see give you hope: strangers helping strangers, relieving someone’s pain, new life coming into the world.
You see it all, and we see you. Thank you for all you do.