After having lived with an EMT and seeing the home life he lived on his days on I finally got to see what his job entails and it opened my eyes to what the life of ambulance personnel is truly like.
While living with my friend I would often come home in the evening to a half cooked supper sitting on the stove, burners off, because he had to run out to a call on the ambulance. More than once I heard the tones of the radio at all hours of the night and all throughout the day as well. I quickly learned that on his days on, that radio was his life.
I then chose to spend a day with him on the job and saw first hand what it means to serve the public in a job that is a lot less than glamorous. The day started quiet but my friend and his partner were what is called the “Bravo” team, meaning they were second up and the other two employees were the first.
Calls came in for the other team and away they went, leaving my friend, his partner and myself back at the hall waiting to see what might come our way.
Mid-afternoon the radio finally brought some life to the three of us.
Watching my friend work was like seeing an entirely different side of him. He treated the patient with care, respect and dignity and didn’t once question what they had to say to him. I had only ever actually been inside an ambulance once before, but I sat in the front seat while my boyfriend at the time was treated in the back. Ironically enough this is how I met my friend that I lived with years later.
I remember how calm my friend always was when I listened to him from the front treating my then boyfriend who was in poor condition. I also remember thinking there was no way I could do that job.
After my ride-along in the ambulance my friend, his partner and myself sat down and talked about the things that their job entails as well as the kind of strain it puts on a home life or any kind of social life while on their days on.
As I said, the job is far from glamorous. Both men spoke highly of the things they love about their jobs, but they also pointed out that it is not a job that just anyone could do.
The job is demanding, both physically and mentally, and often draining when a 12-hour shift is worked. These shifts are often not nearly as quiet as the day I spent with them and end up leaving the men feeling worn out.
Remarkably, both of these men say they wouldn’t change it and that they enjoy a good call. My friend actually said he enjoys speaking with the patients and learning about whatever it is that brought the ambulance to them.
With drug shortages in the province, it has left many ambulances under-stocked for vital drugs that could be life-saving. This is a burden and a stress that my friend, and any other like him, has to carry and understand the limitations of.
Simple things like not having enough of one drug and needing to know what can be used to supplement that or treat the same condition that the first drug of choice would have treated are things that most people in the public wouldn’t know.
After spending my day with my friend in the ambulance I have a new admiration for the job that these men, and many women as well, do.
The calls are not fun or easy, but they do them for the love of helping the public.
They get calls for everything from a simple patient transfer from one hospital to another facility, to car pile-ups on the highway where they may face any type of injury from broken bones to lost limbs.
So now, every time I pass an ambulance I wonder where they are going to or coming from and it makes me wonder how many hours the team has been working and whether they have supper half-cooked on the stove.