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    Tuesday's Thoughts From The Frontlines

    “I’ll be back.”
    Ah yes, that catchphrase made famous in the movie “The Terminator”. If you’ve been following the news, then you realize the phrase kind of fits with the reemergence of the pandemic. Then again, covid-19 never completely went away. And because it’s been lingering, it felt the need to deliver a gut punch to our department.
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    I’ve often been asked what it’s like to work in the emergency room or on the ambulance for that matter. I realize that people are really looking for those juicy stories; things like traumas or some odd happening. While these stories do exist, I start off telling people to throw away the things they’ve seen in the movies, because it’s Hollywood trying to make something entertaining and exciting.
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    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been in many strange situations and traumatic events over the course of my career. But, they only make up a small percentage of the things that actually occur in emergency medicine.
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    Like any job, it’s a grind; a grind that can easily chew you up and spit you out. I once read that the average lifespan of a paramedic is five years and I believe for an emergency nurse it was a few years longer. I’ve seen nurses come and go, almost as if the department was a revolving door. So what is it about the environment that causes such turnover?
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    The simple answer would be the effects of caring for patients involved in some kind of trauma, a cardiac arrest or the end result of some biological process that can’t be corrected with current medicine. While this has some merit, it doesn’t paint the full picture.
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    In the end, when you strip away all the layers of reasoning, I believe it simply comes down to people. Yes, people. People like you, me, friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances and the general public. If you’ve ever been employed in some form of customer service—be it retail, restaurant, sales, management or anything else you can think of—then you can begin to understand what I’m talking about.
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    Let me start by saying that all of my coworkers, including myself, are dedicated to helping patients and their families with their needs and concerns. However, it’s these very needs and concerns that create the grind.
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    More particularly it’s the persistent demands and the prevalence of self-importance among patients and their families. That belligerent patient whose drunk or hopped up on crystal meth that spits, belittles or tries to punch you. There’s the person who’s perfectly healthy but won’t do anything to help themselves and expects you to do it all for them. That patient who refuses to take their medications, becomes sick, looks to you to fix them only to leave and allow the process to start all over again. The mentally unstable who scream and want to start a fight. The list goes on and on and when these events occur every single shift, it’s easy to understand the mounting frustration.
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    So what makes us stay? To some degree it’s because we like the job and the things we do, but if you were to poll my colleagues the first answer they would give is, the people. And by people I mean our coworkers.
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    Because of everything we experience—the good, the bad, the aggravations, the outrageous, the happy and the sad—a unique bond is formed. It’s a relationship that quietly says we’re there to help each other through the busiest of times, the tensest of moments, through the rollercoaster of emotions and the times when you simply need someone to lean on.
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    This camaraderie has been likened to a family. And like a family I’ve seen bickering, gossiping, laughter, tears and resolution. Yet, when it’s needed the most, that family bond brings us together to complete the job to the best of our abilities.
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    Unfortunately, this past week many of those bonds were severed. Our department, like all the others within the hospital system was required to make budgetary cuts. And those cuts came swiftly when a large chunk of our emergency department techs were let go. Thirty-eight out of fifty to be exact or about seventy-five percent of that particular job category. It has rattled those who remain to our core and left a somber morale floating through the environment.
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    Not only are we trying to find ways to readjust to the changes in workflow, but somehow try to reestablish those bonds of trust and security that are now missing. Those holes will be difficult to fill because there were many good people who were let go and suddenly found themselves unemployed.
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    The emergency department in and of itself is a fluid environment that quickly adapts to change. However, the loss of such a large number of technicians will be felt for many months to come.
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    Sometime soon, deep in the night, I'm bound to find myself alone somewhere in the department. I know if I listen closely, I’ll be able to hear the echo of laughter, of camaraderie, of friendship seeping out from the very walls that support the unit. I know it will remind me of the bonds I have formed with some amazing people; I know it'll give me hope for those who were let go so they can find a new job with new and lasting relationships; and may it whisper of the connections I will form with those I have yet to meet.
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    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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    A GoFundMe page was created to support those techs who have recently lost their jobs. Not only am I giving to this cause, but I'm also donating a portion of the proceeds from my book sales.
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    Link to my books: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=tim+sabados&i=stripbooks&crid=UL6Q46CGQEBU&sprefix=tim+sabad%2Cstripbooks%2C190&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_9
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    GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/forever-our-u-of-m-emergency-heroes 

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