My last day

Being one of the low guys on the totem pole, I do not have a permanent assignment in my Department, but am assigned to a Vacation Relief status. This means what it sounds, that I float around covering open spots. That is how I get such a wide variety of odd 911 calls to tell you about.

I got word this afternoon that my assignment will be on the medic unit tomorrow.

One of the last 2 medic units. Based on the way they do the rotations this will be my last ambulance shift. Possibly ever.

In the past I was conflicted on how to feel, always assuming there would be one more day and deal with it then. Time to deal, I guess.

When I graduated from college I began testing in places that were building strong fire based EMS systems that I could become a part of and learn the ins and outs, the practical applications of all my schooling. I chose my current position carefully, choosing only systems who transported within the fire model.
This job was considered my brass ring. I really wanted it. The night before the physical exam I crashed on the floor in my sister in law’s flat because we couldn’t afford the plane and a hotel. I was proud to accept the offer and did my best in the academy.
We hit the streets and things went well for about a year.

Then the changes didn’t happen. The ALS engine program began to stagnate and morale began to drop. What we had been told was not true. Those who told us quit and moved on to other Departments. Having come from a small Department by anyone’s standards, I was just happy to have more than 2 people in a station and a nice steady pay check.

I began to doubt if I had made the right decision. The Department I worked for no longer had the system I was told it had and had researched prior to testing.

Skip ahead a few years and the transport element that was so important to me is gone. Tomorrow will possibly be my last day to ensure that what I saw when I first arrived on scene is relayed to the ER staff. Tomorrow I will be sad.

A dispatcher I met at a recent community event, upon finding out I was a Paramedic, asked me “Aren’t you glad to finally get off that stupid ambulance?” She meant it well enough. Those rigs got pounded because the system forgot to adjust to their existence and adapt. I smiled at her and said, “That was part of the job when I took this job. I like it.”
Just then a man and his toddler walked up to see the ALS engine I was assigned to for the day. The father saw my Paramedic patch and said to his son, “This man is a Paramedic, he rides in the ambulance.” When I tried to explain the ALS/BLS tiers to him in the simplest way I could he asked if there was a “just firefighter” that could show them the engine.

This job is no longer what it was. If they were hiring today I’m not sure I would apply. But I’m not leaving now, that’s just what they want. No, I’m staying because this is now my home and I want to make sure it can provide the best level of service, regardless of the administrative difficulties, budget cuts, or public perception issues.

I am a Firefighter/Paramedic and worked damn hard to get here and I’m going to keep working hard.

I just won’t be working on that little red box with the big white stripe.

But hey, me being Happy and all, at least I’ll still get to jump on to take in major traumas and cardiac arrests.

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