The other night, I pulled onto the highway in the ambulance, headed home from a call. Ahead of me was an hour drive. Where we live, the nearest hospital for transport is half an hour away, the next is an hour. Depending on the nature of the call, or a patient’s preference- we could go to either one. On this particular night, we had headed off to the further of the two hospitals, and were headed back very late in the evening. I wouldn’t reach my front door until 1:30am.
As I drove back, nursing the largest cup of coffee that Dunkin Donuts had to offer, the two women with me, my EMT and the Paramedic went to sleep. Before she passed out, my EMT had asked if I was alright, if I wanted her to drove at all. I laughed at her and told her that she’d already done her job, and didn’t have to worry about me doing mine.
Not long after that, she was asleep.
The Paramedic in the back spent some time doing paperwork, then switched off the bay light and also went to sleep.
The EMT had once asked me why I had volunteered to drive for them on a regular basis. Originally, I was a fill-in driver. If someone needed to get out of their shifts, I would cover. It wasn’t long before I was given regular shift work. When asked, I shrugged it off and gave the short answer- “Someone has to do it.”
The real reason is a bit more complicated.
I’ve been a volunteer firefighter since 2005. In that time, I’ve seen the EMS people in our county do some amazing things. In 2007, my partner and I pulled a lady out of a house fire. At the time, I had figured that our doing so was completely academic. Based on the color of her face when we found her, I would have bet money that she had expired long before we got there.
The EMTs though….they had other ideas. They brought this woman back with a resurrection that was damn near biblical in nature. I’ve seen these people in all hours of the night, on all natures of calls deal with patients in a professional, personable, and expert manner- no matter what. Most of them have day jobs, or work on-call professionally for 12-24 hour shifts, and I’ve never seen them at anything less than their best. I would honestly put our county’s medical professionals up against any out there. They’re good. Very good.
And I don’t know how the hell they do it. I’m not sure how they can remain professional and do their jobs in the face of some of the worst calls you can imagine. Calls involving children, or people they know, or anything particularly horrific. But they do. All the freakin time.
So when I heard that the local organization was in need of drivers, I had no problem signing on. Because these people are literally the best, and there should be no reason at all that they couldn’t find someone willing to drive them to where they need to be to do their jobs.
I had a bit of experience with emergency vehicles. I’ve been certified on fire apparatus and patrol cars. I could drive, and I was local- Aside from weird hours of the night, I could see no reason NOT to try to help them out. So I signed on to help the people who HELP people.
So when my two companions went to sleep in the rig the other night, I got the sense that I must be doing something right. If the people who are entrusted with saving peoples’ lives trust ME enough to rest while I bring them home, it didn’t matter what time it was or how long the drive might be.