Sunday, December 16, 2007

just passin' it on, folks...

i've posted about my friend Anne several times before. (on nov. 27 and dec. 2, for two.) she's an EMT in georgia and a Captain in the Fire Department there. as i've also mentioned before, most of her blog is side-splitting-funny, but she also has a serious side that blows me away.
[if the "too old for a thong" moniker (a link to her blog on this blog's sidebar) has put you off before, get over it, friends. anne's the cream of the crop in my book.]

this post is for one reason only: to pass on her plea for help. i don't really know how to help so i'm throwin' her story out for you to read after the cut just in case any of y'all know anyone with influence. as most of my readers are caregivers, i'm thinking this is as good a place as any for me to start.

it's really scary to think about it, but what if *you* weren't there for your loved ones? who would care for them when they needed it most? an EMT? hopefully, yes.

another blogger friend, Flintysooner, has wisely suggested that "being trumps doing." i agree with that on a very personal level and in the context of his observation. in another context, i think about those who are "doing" for others by their choice of profession rather than from familial love...oftentimes for total strangers, always by the cold whim of chance...

knowing Anne, i realize she is also "being" with them in the sense that Flinty speaks of, and i'm pretty sure that 'being' and 'doing,' when coupled,...trump either by itself.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Humor is not here this day

Listen. Do you hear it? Ah, neither do I. No tones going off, no sirens blaring in my ear, and most of all, the sounds of screaming have died down to only an echo in my thoughts. It has been a horrendous shift today, and I'm trying to find that spot to which I travel after a day like today. My happy place as most people like to call it. I've washed off the vomit and blood and the touch of death with a hot shower, but the remnants of it still remain and those are harder to make go away with just a simple cathartic like water.

I've grown old. No longer immune to the cries that I hear in my sleep sometimes. I fear my days in this profession are nearly over. It has sustained me when my personal life was unbearable and given me a purpose most human beings will never know. My true family has been forged by all those people who proudly wear a badge and who have stood behind or beside me when things were most uncertain. It has never failed me. Never left me behind and wondering where I may have screwed up again. I've embraced its sorrows as well as its joys throughout these 27 years and if I had the chance to do anything over again, it would to be young and able to relive every single moment.

I attended a senate committee hearing this week in an appeal to prevent our field from dying. A plea to the political arena as this is the only avenue we have left to preserve what is near and dear to many of us. The average age of a paramedic in this state alone is over 40. There are few of us left with the love of what we do. Practicality has won out at last and the young ones are turning not to a career that asks so much of them, but to professions that pay the best. This one is not it. Over two years of intense education to become a paramedic for a mere $35K a year. The sacrifices of self and family cost much more. With less training, they are turning to nursing and other healthcare careers that pay twice as much.

We are dinosaurs in a world that demands so much, but gives back so little. My friends and colleagues who are also facing the end of their careers, painted a picture which would scare the average person if they only knew. As a collective whole, we wondered who would be left to take up the gauntlet when we are gone and have resorted to begging if only to keep this dream alive. Who will pick me up in the middle of the night and hold my hand when the end is near? Who will listen to my cries when the body is finally broken?

I am not a politician. I am merely a woman who has been driven all of my life to serve those who are in need. As are those I see around me every day. Even the very people in this field are not aware of the frightening state of affairs and the inevitable demise of our world as we know it if things do not change. There isn't a band-aid big enough to cure what ails us, my friends. The Golden Hour is upon us and it is no longer acceptable to continue hiding your heads in the sand. I beg of you to get involved before it is too late. Don't let the muffled cries you hear in your own thoughts be endured in vain. Refuse to be a lemming and stand proudly at the pinnacle of your own mountains you have climbed. For those of you not in this field, I beg of you to support us and give back what we have so freely given to you.*

The hope that death will not claim us.

*(emphasis, mine)


*(¯`·¸*Chris*¸·´¯)* said...

Thanks Rick for posting this and to Anne for writing her portion. I am also an EMT (10 years in the business) although not with a dept right now. Anne is sadly correct in all respects. EMS is not looked at as a profession in the government's eyes nor the some of the public's. I could write volumes but I will save the rant.

Presently, I am trying to hook back up with a Paramedic class because I had to drop out last year after 1 semester. Reason I am having trouble is because the class is not filling up and keeps getting canceled. This has been going on for a year and I am hoping I will be able to get back in this spring.

For a woman to be in EMS and then to be a captain in her fire dept is a boon for us ladies. In the town where I live, the fire dept is together with EMS and only hires males (yet another story in itself). I have no hopes of getting on the dept here because of my gender. Yes folks, EMS is still in the dark ages, as well as Fire.

Anne, I praise you and admire you. God bless you and stay safe out there.

cornbread hell said...

you're welcome, chris. it struck me as important when i read it. still does.

i know nothing of the profession other than what i hear from anne. her stories always move me. because of her sense of humor, it's usually to tears of laughter, but the importance of the work and the care for others is always obvious and i'm sometimes moved to shed the other kinds of tears.

i'm sorry to hear of the gender issues, as well. that's just crazy.

i hope you can get back into that kind of work if that's what you want.

~Betsy said...

My dad was a volunteer firefighter for 32 years. He was forced to step down from active firefighting (read jumping on the back of the truck in the middle of the night) after heart surgery. He remained an active member, just didn't make the runs.

My mother hated his involvement. I never did understand that. She referred to it as "the God forsaken fire department". A few years before his death, he was inducted as a lifetime member. His license plate is still proudly displayed on the car my son drives. I have his badge and hat displayed in my family room.

When Daddy died, the members of his department were there with dignity and honor for one of their own. They draped black on their trucks. They displayed their ladder truck to guide his funeral procession into church. They saluted him as we drove past. I am moved to tears when I remember the day.

After his death, the chief contacted me. Apparently a life member had life insurance benefits. He wanted to know where to send the check. If it hadn't been for the "God forsaken fire department", my mom would never have had some of her bills paid.

I don't know what the world is thinking to let such an honorable profession as an EMT go by the wayside. Who do we need to contact?

cornbread hell said...

betsy, i asked anne about who to contact. she said she'll give us an answer soon.