Tuesday's Thoughts From The Frontlines

    Tuesday's Thoughts From The Frontlines - Tim Sabados“Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.”

    This is a long overdue shout out to my paramedic family, my comrades, my homies, my longtime friends. As you may have guessed from the above Oscar Wilde quote, this week’s thoughts are about experience.

    Why experience you ask? Well, first off it’s EMS week. Secondly, it sprang into my mind the other day while working on the ambulance. I found myself reflecting on the unusual situations I’ve been in, the changes that have taken place over the years and, most notably, my inexperience when I first started this part time gig nearly twenty-one years ago. Basically, I was greener than the grass is green after a mid-spring rain.

    If you can get one of us frontline workers to reminisce about our first months on the job, you’re bound to get a great story and a good laugh over the not so bright things we may or may not have done. Things like, never turn a patient toward you when they’re about to vomit. Make sure you have all your equipment when you leave a scene or the cot when you take off from the hospital. If a person is talking to you while they’re having a seizure, then there really not having one. Two milligrams of Morphine is definitely not enough pain relief for the person screaming with a broken femur.
    Then there’s all those unfounded axioms of paramedic life. You eat when you’re not hungry and pee when you don’t have to. Never use the word quiet or the phrase, “I can’t believe how slow it is.” When they tell you they’ve only had one beer, it really means they’ve downed eight to ten. The more steps you climb in a building, the heavier the patient will be and the less likely they’re willing to assist you in getting them down. Never plan an event following your shift, it’s a sure fire way to get held over and miss it all together.

    It takes time to learn the nuances of emergency medicine and as the days turn to months and the months into years, knowledge takes root and grows. So does the ability to effectively handle a situation and efficiently provide medical care. Experience is only as good as we allow it to teach us and also our ability to retain the lessons it provides. No amount of it guarantees someone will become a good doctor, nurse or paramedic.

    I often hear parents say that they want their children to grow up to be respectful and productive members of society. I don’t think there’s a parent out there, at least I hope not, that truly wants their children to become a dead beat or a drain on society. Unfortunately, a new born doesn’t come with an owner’s manual, instruction booklet or a playbook. In essence every parent is flying blind and drawing on their own experiences to raise a child. However, no matter how much experience you may have, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll be a good parent (ask anyone raising a teenager).

    And the same holds true for adulthood. Just because you reach a certain age doesn’t automatically grant you free passage to the land of maturity. How is it that we expect our children to become respectable members of society, when we as adults refuse to project any form of decency and respectability?

    From the obscenities that were yelled at the workers of an ice cream shop because the line was too long, to the objections and fights over being asked to wear a mask to the marches on state capitals because those few believe their rights are being violated when asked to stay home. The shelter in place orders were established for the benefit of everyone in our community. Last I looked there were no tanks rolling down the streets, military helicopters flying overhead or troops marching door-to-door. We’ve always been able to go for walks, drive to the grocery store or gas station, buy beer, wine or liquor, order take out from a restaurant even though some leg work may have been needed to find one that was open and watch endless hours of propaganda free television while clicking through a nearly endless number of channels and streaming services.

    This pandemic has definitely carved its niche in history. How we live through it and what we do during it defines us as human beings as well as exemplifies the integrity of our society. Human decency will only help us all get through these challenging times. As a paramedic you rely on your partner to have your back in any given situation and in doing so strong bonds of friendship and trust are developed. Maybe the public can learn from this, pull together and leave individual expectations at the door so we can all benefit and overcome the pandemic.

    Happy EMS week. Go hug a medic! And don't forget to show some love to the MFRs, Basics and Specialists too. And last but not least a special thanks to the mechanics and all the support staff.

    I still believe that most of us want to be in this together, let’s not be too close together while we’re all in it.


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