It’s really, really hard to explain those words to someone who isn’t involved with emergency services. I don’t just say EMS, or fire, or police because while we all do different jobs, we all do it for the same reason. It’s not just a job, it’s not some career, but it’s a niche. It’s a calling (I think that was in Rescue Me). It’s something that you can’t really explain to people on the outside. Most people (sane people?) work in an office, or somewhere relatively normal. We don’t get that. We get one static area, our station, which is essentially where we can recuperate. Outside of that, it’s our “scenes” or “jobs” if you’re from downstate. The scenes change, every single day, every single call, every single time the tones drop. Some of us know the area, others rely on GPS. Those of us with no sense of direction (hi!) use both.
Let’s go through a “normal” call. “Ambulance 0 on the air for an emergency” goes over the PA. You have a grand total of 2 minutes to get from wherever you were to your ambulance, and be ready for the call information. You get in, put on your jacket and sunglasses, tell dispatch you’re ready for info and hold your breath. You get your response code. Priority 1 is lights and siren, that’s when you “go hot.” You get called priority 1 to a chest pain call. Off you go then, zooming through traffic and cursing at the bad drivers. You get on scene. Your patient is on the second floor, laying in a bed in a back bedroom. You have to note EVERYTHING. Situational awareness is key. How wide are the doorways, what’s in your way, what’s the best route to get the patient out? Can’t answer that? Get a new job. Great, your patient is in terrible shape and you need to go – 5 minutes ago. You have to get them from wherever they are to where you want them to be. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. How do you do it? Backboard? Stair chair? Yeah, think of these things. Ok now you’re in the ambulance and it’s deemed a priority 1 transport. Off you go again, wee-woo wee-woo. Now, as the driver, you have a shitfuckton of responsiblity. You are not only responsible for the safety of your ambulance, but the crew working in the back, and your patient. Who would EVER want to drive?! Ok you’re at the ER. Did you call ahead with a radio report to them? You better hope so, or you’re gonna have a pissed off MD’s loafer so far up your ass. Great, you’re in the ER! All done! Wait, no, not yet. Give a full report. Go through all of your acronyms (SAMPLE, OPQRRRSTI) and then tell them everything you saw or did. Seriously. Now, put it all into a paper report for your supervisors to scrutinize and look down their noses at.
Ok, so that was one call. Yay! You’re like the best EMT ever now! But, say it was a bad call. Going back to the original thought, a bad day is one that you walk out of feeling crushed. Today, for example. You and your 3 coworkers charge up the stairs. Your faces are masks of courage, you have ice in your veins, and you are ready to go to work. You work quickly, efficiently, coldly. Still… she ends up being number 4. There is nothing to say. You sweated like you were stoking the furnaces of hell, you might have felt bad breaking ribs doing CPR, but she did not feel it. She won’t feel anything, ever again.