Tired, Stressed, Angry, Sad, Frustrated, Underappreciated, Lost, Broken. All these feelings are at eating away at my soul. I’ve been in EMS for 17 almost 18 years; I used to love my job, I would be so excited to go into work that I could hardly sleep the night before my shift, now, I dread it. Our shifts are 24-72s, we are pretty busy for the size of our county running about 14 calls a shift per truck and we do out of town trips with the closest being about an hour one way.
When you’ve been busy all day with minimal down time, then have to go out of town at 4 AM for a patient that needs an MRI, but won’t be getting it until probably close to afternoon that day… Well, it makes me just want to SCREAM. But that’s not really why I feel so broken… I’ve seen a lot, a lot of death, a lot of trauma/gruesome scenes, I know death is a part of life; and I can “deal” with the elderly and the overdoses and the suicides of other manners by telling myself “It’s a part of life, at least they lived” or “they planned their death” or “they were asking for it”.
I’ve been to way more scenes of dead children than I want to remember, some neglect, some abuse, some are truly accidents. My first call as a Paramedic intern was an abuse case and I still think about it, but it has not affected me like the call about about to talk about. This call wasn’t the death of a child, he was 34 years old, a young man who woke up with his whole life in front of him, a young man who got up and got ready for work just like any other day. My partner and I were called for a fall emergency response, PT unresponsive and not breathing, CPR in progress.
On arrival to the scene, the patient is inside a factory laying on the concrete floor, blood around his head but no other obvious injuries at first. As I did the trauma assessment I couldn’t find any sign of an open head wound or large hematomas on his head. I did see bleeding from his nose and mouth. My partner was a Basic so I had him put in a King tube so I could get IVs and treat any wounds I could find, the patient’s pelvis was a little unstable so I splinted the pelvis and continued with my assessment.
Finding nothing else, I continued with trauma protocol. Bystanders on scene were telling us that the patient had been working on the roof when he fell through landing on his head, falling approx. 20 feet. Finally, our first responders arrived to help us get the patient moved onto our stretcher and got him to the ambulance. Once there I did a secondary assessment and we finally had a pulse and blood pressure. We met the flight crew at the Helo pad and turned over care. We get an update a couple hours later to find out that my patient had coded several more times throughout the 20 minute flight and ultimately succumbed to his injuries.
We worked our butts off on this call, doing everything I could think of to keep this man alive and it wasn’t good enough. I have been over this call multiple times with myself, my shift captain and our Major, all saying “You did everything you could have for him”, and you know what? It’s not good enough, It doesn’t feel good enough any more to do everything I could have and a young life is still gone from this world forever. I have tried to talk to someone about this call and about how bothered I am about it but I got the same response… “You did everything you could have”, “if you can’t get past this, maybe you should find another career”.
No one called me or thought to ask if I was ok because this patient wasn’t a child, and typically it’s the death of a child that gets the most support. It may be a culmination of this call, being burnt out and everything else that goes with the job, but, I have never felt so low, so broken. I’ve given up everything to try and lessen the burden, I haven’t tried to get a sergeant’s position, I gave up my position as an FTO, I no longer help teach the paramedic classes, and I no longer help with community teaching.
I’m just done, I’m emotional all the time, I cry for no reason which pisses me off even more because I am not a person who cries. I don’t know where to go, or who to talk to when the support system I’m supposed to tell me that I should just find another job.
– Story written by an anonymous first responder