My EMS career has been just over 12 years.
It has been a fantastic time and has changed me in ways that I would never have thought possible.
And it all ends in a little over 9 hours time.
Justin has kindly offered to let me have some space on his blog so that I can say my farewell to EMS and share why I feel so privileged to have spent time in this most amazing of careers.
It seems a fitting place to say my goodbyes. Justin and Ted Setla have been a constant part of my life for the past few years and the opportunity that presents itself to me, that allows me to take my future in a different direction can be traced back to Justins and my ‘Project’ which later became the Chronicles of EMS after Ted found us and brought his vision to the screen.
One person who was watching along was Mathias Duschl, a paramedic from Switzerland who also shared our vision of trying to make EMS better for all of those that we care for. Just over a year ago, Matt and I met in Newcastle, where he showed me this rather cool medical device called the RhinoChill. I was hooked, and our relationship developed until he invited me to become part of the Benechill family. That has led to now, and my new career in research across Europe.
Im not quite done for with EMS yet though, I have this last shift left.
One shift left to enjoy the feeling of being an operational paramedic…
One shift left to maybe make a difference….
One shift left to try not to show my frustration with some of the people who will be calling 999…..
One shift left to avoid the one job on my ‘tick list’ that I still haven’t had to deal with and one that I don’t ever want to see.
But most importantly, one shift left to work with my wife!
We haven’t worked together for about 6 years. It didn’t seem to work once we were well into our relationship and on the way to getting married. I am her boss at work….She is my boss 24hrs a day! I think you can see the conflict.
Tonight will be different, because this is the last chance we will get to work together for a very long time, maybe forever. Tonight is going to be great.
I think that my leaving the ambulance service is harder for her than me at the moment. EMS has been ‘our thing’. We met over a decapitated head (only a medic would find that amusing!), and most of our conversations revolve around the job and the patients that we meet.
She needn’t worry though, she is now my insight into paramedicine on the front line. I will live through her and the stories that she tells me when she gets home.
Whatever control, or the world wants to throw at us, we will enjoy working together and seeing out my last shift at North East Ambulance Service.
But, what about me?
Sandra (my wife) keeps asking me if I am upset to be leaving and I keep saying, no not really. I am excited about the prospects ahead and the work that I can do and contribute to, that may well go on to save thousands of lives around the world. But then I am here, sitting alone in my response car and I realize that I am upset to be leaving. This is who I am.
That’s a simple sentence to write. Five words.
This is who I am.
I am a paramedic.
I am incredibly proud of that title. It is who I am.
The situations that I have experienced, the patients I have cared for, the good times and the bad.
The memories that I have, both happy and sad.
The pieces of my soul that have taken on indelible imprints of people I will never ever forget and who still touch my heart to this day…..
I see them all now, I hear the cries and screams; the blood and the devastation.
The lifeless baby and the hanging body. The man whose hand I held while he looked me in the eye to tell me that he was going to die, and he didn’t want to, he wasn’t ready yet. The grief and the despair.
Its all there….and it wont go.
There is also the joy, satisfaction and happy times.
Laughing so hard with Dominic, that I had to sneak out of patient’s houses so that they wouldn’t see my hysterical laughter.
The caressed hand that brought so much comfort.
The sound of a baby’s first cry and the thank you from the grateful parents.
The visits to the intensive care units to see those that we have saved on their way back to their families.
The times when you come home so tired that its difficult to keep your eyes open, but you know you have made a difference.
The first time I worked with Sandra, when I knew…..she was the one.
There is so much that I could write, but I guess that’s what the 450,000 words were about from my blog.
EMS is not just a job. It cant possibly be. It changes who you are and how you view the world. It can make you hard, but it can also reduce you to tears when you least expect it.
I have been in the ambulance service 12 years. That may not be long to some of you, but it has seemed like a lifetime to me. I can’t imagine that I was ever happy doing anything else.
In my very first year, a paramedic came up to me and said
“ if they were to cut you in half, you would have green and white checks through the middle of you “ (they were our service colours at the time)
I feel the same now.
I may be leaving the ambulance service tomorrow, but it will never, ever leave me.
-Mark Glencorse, Paramedic