How does one figure out they want a career in EMS? I came from a family of career firefighters but had no inclination of wanting to ever do it. I grew up at the station watching the guys(and gals) washing the blood off their hands or cleaning soot off their faces and gear. Laughing about the one they saved or the last practical joke they pulled. I learned to cuss, shoot pool, and even helped my parents teach CPR/First Aid all at a very young age. As I got older I dropped out of highschool and started partying, working dead end, minimum wage jobs and drifting from town to town, girlfriend to girlfriend. One day when I was 19 I was tired of that life and told my dad I would join the fire dept as a volunteer, he laughed and told me I'd have to cut off my waist long hair and quit smoking, so I did. I went to drill, met with the chief and started training. I then got cleared to go on calls as an observer. I was still unsure at this point but being bored and having no job it seemed like a good way to pass the time.
Then I went on my first call.
My volunteer pager went off and the call was way out in the woods, near where I lived. My dad said "Well, you'd better go."
So I threw on my bunker gear and drove to the end of the road while listening to the short.
"County Fire, level 3 response, 1111 Deep Boondock Lane, 19 year old female unresponsive, history of drug abuse. Patient was last seen talking about an hour ago and now RP cannot rouse her, unable to determine if breathing."
The medic unit careened around the corner and saw me waving my yellow fire helmet. They skidded to a stop and I hopped in. After a short drive we arrived at a tar paper shack in the middle of no where. The medic and fire lieutenant hopped out grabbing gear I was only vagluely aware of the use of. And ran inside. I followed.
Inside the "house" reeked of cigerettes, booze and garbage. 3 or 4 people stood around, not seeming to care about the girl on the floor. My eyes were huge and my heart pounding. All I could think was that she was dead(I only had first aid/CPR training at this point).
She lay sprawled on the floor, head to the side. Her eyes were open and glazed, and her face was purple. She was not breathing. The Lt. handed me a BVM and hooked it up to oxygen, reminding me of my training to open the airway and ventilate the patient. Her skin felt so cold as I pushed air into her and watched her chest rise. Everything was happening so fast. The medic popped an IV into her arm and gave some medicine.
"2mg Narcan on board at 21:47." said the medic.
She suddenly gasped, her color improving. Her eyelids flickered then she looked right at me, fear and alarm flashing across her face. She screamed a primal scream and launched herself in to the air, throwing me over and the fight was on. She rounded on the Lt trying to pummel him and he jumped back, falling over a chair to dodge her wild swings. The medic jumped on her, grabbing her from behind and trying to talk to her. They went down in a heap, landing next to me, kicking, biting, screaming, empty booze bottles flying. I was frozen, this was beyond anything I had ever dealt with and had no idea how to help. Then she started vomitting, and vomitting, and vomitting. Throwing up took the fight out of her and we were able to get her to the rig and transport her 45 minutes to the nearest hospital with out further incident other then her whining about ruining her high. And the medic had to start a new IV since she pulled hers in the fight.
Back at the station the medic asked me "So what did you think?"
My response..."Holy S---! I want to be a medic!"
It's been 12 years and some since that day and I have never regretted the path that was chosen for me.