I’m 10 months through paramedic school. I jumped into EMS only 18 months ago and have been in school and field ride alongs with different departments constantly since then. I knew this would be challenging. I never thought it would push me to a point where I don’t recognize myself.
Yesterday I was talking to someone I had recently met at my gym. We were joking about random stuff and at some point in the conversation I said “I don’t really talk a lot.” He replied, “Ha! You never talk to anyone.” I’m not sure why, but that bothered me so I took time to think about it later.
It bothered me because I wish I talked to people like I used to before getting into EMS. I wish talking to people didn’t take so much energy from me. I wish I could explain to people that I really desire good friendships, but getting the conversation going is so hard. And at some point in the conversation the inevitable comes up: “Oh, paramedic? Cool!!! What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen??”
Here’s the thing guys. I’m not even a licensed paramedic yet. And I never worked as an EMT. I’ve been at this paramedic thing for 10 months and I already am so. insanely. tired. of being asked that question. Of being interrogated about EMS systems and hospitals. Tired of being the center of attention until you no longer have a “good” story to tell.
10 months ago I had all the EMS stuff I could find. Anything to strike up a conversation with anyone about the job I was so incredibly passionate about. Now I’ve started wearing less of my school shirts, less of my EMS/fire hats. Putting everything that could identify me as a first responder in my trunk instead of my back seat. All this leaves me to wonder: can I really do this job? I’m not even officially doing the job and I already have questioned my decision. Am I really mentally and emotionally capable of performing the skills I have been practicing and practicing for 18 months?
I know I can perform them, but after that can I move on? Can I accept the loss of a patient and take care of the next one like nothing happened? Or is that even how this is supposed to work? Is that really healthy for anyone? And if this is what it’s like for me now, how on earth will I last in this profession? I feel like I’m not allowed to have all these thoughts with only this short amount of time in the field.I’ll just end this like I do every conversation: with a smile and the hope that who I’m talking to never has to deal with the things I’ve chosen to handle as a first responder.
– Story written by a 20 year old paramedic student.