Sunday, July 22, 2007

This is only a job.

I slide my new black shoes onto my warm, damp feet. The cotton from my socks stick to my sweaty feet and makes it even more difficult to easily slide them into the steel-toed shoes. I'm already wearing my blue cargo pants and a blue, cotton tee. My black belt already interlaced between the small loops encircling my waistband and supporting two leather items; a holster for my flashlight and a mechanical metal and leather contraption created to hold my portable radio. That is all that is on my waist. I am no superhero with a hidden identity setting out to save the world from deranged villains. I am just a paramedic.

The hot sun is already unbearable this morning. It shines through the tinted window of my elevated rear lift gate, canopied open so as to protect me from the elements as I finish putting my uniform on. In the back, in a bag, are the tools needed to successfully manage my ten-hour shift. Tools only. Enhancers allowing me to more easily do my job. A stethoscope, tangled in a knot from my previous shift. A pager, allowing me to recall where we need to go and giving me pertinent billing information. And a little green book. My diary of drugs and drug names.

Finally, before putting on my white work uniform shirt, I secure over my thorax a bulletproof vest. Again, not because I am there to heroically protect a damsel in distress as a speeding bullet courses it's way towards it's objective, but because I am scared. Scared I may be the one who gets hurt. Scared that someone more powerful, much meaner, and with a lot less to loose might take out his life frustrations on me. I am just a paramedic. This is only a job.

I shut the gate and push the green button on my remote to lock the doors. The yellow lights flash and I turn to cross the street.

I walk into the moderately climate-controlled garage and swipe my badge. I clock-in. It's a blue-collar job guised by white shirts and bright lights. I am going to sweat, lift, poke, carry, and physically work my way through this ten hour, hourly-waged day. There is nothing intoxicating or mysterious about that.

Orange handles of trauma sheers are tucked in the waistbands of others. Trauma sheers not placed there for their physical purpose to later cut and expose, but for their mental support and reassurance. Their tactical belts securing their tactical BDU's full of tactical toys. Hundred dollar flashlights, the size of an index finger, originally created for gun-yielding SWAT members, are showcased around the waists next to the little black pouches, multiple pagers, cell phones and other trinkets not to be used for the remainder of the day.

I exit into the bright light of the sun's heat and quickly begin my day.

I'm sent to my destiny at the discretion of the dispatchers. I am just a bleep on the computer screen, a hypothetical tool on their arsenal around their waist.

Thoughout the day I encounter multiple paramedics with multiple agencies. Some wearing only T-shirts with stenciled white lettering, some in blue, button-up polyester shirts, and some more formally dressed with a badge on their breast.

All of them, though, tell misguided stories of mishap that float suffocatingly in the air. The feelings of the true hero that recently lay on their bed ignored. Memories of familial and patient respect are quickly treaded upon as the ego-stroking stories are swapped between staggering paramedics. One story always better, and one more unbelievable than the next. Like roosters in a pen, tail feathers plume wildly.

And all the while, the elderly one who called, and is slowly loosing his battle, sits quietly on the bed. Another notch on their belts and another story to exaggerate, he sits respectfully and honorably.

He has stories to tell, but doesn't. He remembers storming a beach, or jumping from a plane, or being shot, or working two jobs twelve hours a day, or standing in line for food, or having to walk -not ride. He, the quiet one before them, to me, is the truly better man, for he doesn't reminisce or tell tall fables, he just lives his life, honestly.

So, I am no hero. Don't call me a hero or even think that I may be. I am not better than you and my job does not elevate my standing in this world. I am no superhero and have no intention of being one. Just because I wear a uniform and drive around the city with flashing lights does not make me better, or truer, or more deserved than you. I whine and cry and am scared of things to come.

And although I may wear that white collared uniform that others stain with grandeur, I realize that it’s only a blue collared world we live in. And all the tall tales, large egos, and staggered gait doesn't change that fact.

I am better than no one.


Epijunky said...

If it's okay with you, I would like to print this out and share it with some friends in my Medic class.

Thanks for posting it, I enjoyed the read.

Rocky Mountain Medic said...

sure. thanks for the encouragement.

MonkeyGirl said...

And this is why you're the best. Nobody can say it like you do.

Someday...Nurse said...

Just remember we all decompress in different ways. Heroes or not, telling our stories helps us all deal with the stress. Not everyone has the talent to write about their experiences. I'm sure your fellow paramedics carry the same compassion for their patients that you do. Try to be gentle with those that are less stoic than you; they, too, are getting the job done.


fiznat said...

Nice entry.

I've been feeling some of the same things lately. The constant one-upmanship gets tiring sometimes, often to the point where I don't want to tell my own stories anymore either. Ego gets in the way too often, its a pity we cant shed it from time to time so we can genuinely learn from eachother. Despite the overinflated stories, there are lessons there, too.

Mary said...

Your humility is something I admire. The true heroes don't seem to need to brag. I love your writing.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter who your daddy is..When he stops lovin you, I'll keep on keepin on lovin you....Cause yer MY hero, baby.
Welcome to a different pick list. You earned it.

Fried Pie.

BillyBob said...

The two who whisked my precious wife to the ER at Aurora last month while she was having post-op complications after brain surgery were just like you. Humble. Quick, efficient(started an IV no problem doing 65 on I-225 with it's textured concrete surface). Certainly heroes in our eyes. Or... maybe it was you.

Anonymous said...

I know it's only a job, but you must also remember you have TWO jobs now: The first is being a paramedic for our fair City and County. You've been doing that job just fine. The second is keeping us all entertained with this blog. Get your blogging bootie back to work.


Fried Pie.

Parameddan said...

Very well written post.It is unfortunate but very true that our profession attracts those who wish to inflate their own ego even to the loss of others.

Anonymous said...

Missing your updates!!

Sarah said...