There is no shame in admitting you’re human. The person I meet who openly admits they feel nothing after seeing another human in pain is a person that I will back away slowly from and then call for help.
The pictures above represent a reality in EMS, a reality that almost every shift will take something out of you – because, simply speaking, you are only human. Of course, how busy of a system you work in will affect how much you will see and whether or not you’ll get a break form it during the day, but over the course of years, there are things that will poor a little bit out of your cup… and eventually, everyone’s cup runs out.
You can, however, refill this cup, take back some of which you have given. In fact, I’d say you owe it to your patients that you do so. If you can, don’t pick up that overtime shift. Say yes to going out with everyone after work, take that vacation, even if you’re tired and all you want to do for your 4 days off is lay in bed – and if you need it, please, seek professional help.
And care. Please don’t stop caring about what you do. Please don’t lose value in what you do. In this field, the hours are rough, you’ll miss holidays with your family, pay isn’t always what it should be, you’re placed in harm’s way frequently, and of course, you’ll see horrific things that you’ll never forget. There isn’t much a reason to be in this field unless it’s what you love to do. What you do is important; and even if the patient who is upset about the wait doesn’t tell you it , they value you – because you are valuable.
“You’re going to be there when a lot of people are born, and when a lot of people die. In most every culture, such moments are regarded as sacred and private, made special by a divine presence. No one on Earth would be welcomed, but you’re personally invited. What an honor that is.” – Thom Dick
Expanding on this idea, please read the article, “Does it Hurt to Care More? Depression and Suicide in EMS,” which you can find here.