I began the life of a first responder at 16 years old when I joined a volunteer fire department. I didn’t deal with too much that first year and I quickly fell in love with everything I was doing and the friends I was making. One of those friends invited me for a ride along for the local EMS, I was never too interested, but I obliged.
Only got one call that night and it was just taking an old gentlemen in from a nursing home. I was star struck hearing his first hand stories of his time in the Army during WW2, needless to say, it only took that one call that one night and I was hooked. I loved it. I quickly enrolled in an EMT class and started volunteering very regularly almost every day after school and every weekend. But it didn’t take long before I got the call that changed my career forever.
I was now 17 years old, sitting at home and we got dispatched to a very serious car accident. It was just down the street from me so I responded POV. I was the first emergency responder on scene of the 4 car, 9 patient accident. 5 of which were DOA. I honestly don’t remember much more of that accident then the initial shock when I looked in the vehicle on its side and say the bodies of children stacked.
It messed with me. Bad.
I went through the debriefs and talked with other responders that were there and almost everyone shared the same sentiments. After a few weeks I started feeling better. I was sleeping and eating normally. I wasn’t having nightmares as much. Life was getting back to normal. I started focusing more on finishing high school so I could start EMT school. Life went on.
Now, a few years later, I’m no longer in EMS, I went about 10 months without responding to a call. Joined the military and started a new career, kinda to get away from the “first love” because I saw what it was doing to me. My humor became dark and I grew distant from everything I used to be. I joined to change careers but recently everything I had seen or dealt with before bad wrecks, overdoses, suicides, homicides, etc. are all coming back. Vividly.
I’ve reached out to some coworkers of mine kinda indirectly, by just talking about what I used to do thinking maybe that would help. But I quickly realized, the only way I can keep suppressing the things I saw is to keep helping others, to keep trying to change the story for somebody else. I’m volunteering again. I love it. I’m going into the medical field in the military, excited about that.
I’d like to say I’m “back to normal” I realized the only medicine that works for me… is to just press on and make a better story rewrite the script per say. And just remember why I started. To make a difference.
– Story written by a 20 year old EMT-B, 4 years in EMS.