A couple of weeks ago, my friend Ray asked me if I am glad I returned to EMS? We had just finished a long breakfast chat and he needed to get back on the road, we had already stood by our table and my mind was already drifting off to my next task. His question caught me flat-footed, and I stumbled in my reply. I’m going to take another stab at it here.
Ray has a lot of reasons for asking this questions. Not only have we been friends since high school, but as roommates in college, we were on the volunteer fire department together and we used to run ambulance calls together. We both have a long history in emergency services and healthcare. Then last year, Ray was the messenger that inspired me to get back into EMS – even paying some of the costs of that process!
When I left emergency services in 1995, I didn’t think I’d ever go back. I didn’t want to leave, I loved my job, and I was enjoying the opportunities to make a difference. However, like Abraham, I felt led to leave my career, my extended family and friends, sell my house, and return to school to complete my degree. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.
Fifteen years later, I have several experiences and fond memories. I’ve lived in five different states, completed my Bachelor’s Degree, am halfway towards a Master’s Degree, I have a beautiful wife, and two wonderful kids. I’ve been an IT manager, a property manager, an accountant, an administrator, a student body president, and a church planter. In addition, last year, I found myself unemployed and on the verge of losing our house. We lived off unemployment, Medicaid, and food stamps. Like most of the last 15 years, it’s been an adventure.
As I drove home from our breakfast, I called the Oregon Health Division and inquired about the process.
In 1995 I let my EMS certifications expire. It was a difficult decision, because I figured the only way to ever reacquire them would be to return to an accredited paramedic school for two years. I knew that would never happen. But when I lost my job last year, there wasn’t a great market for mid-level managers, and I really didn’t have the energy, or passion, to start a consulting business. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. That’s when Ray showed up and urged me to become re-certified as a paramedic again.
As I drove home from our breakfast, I called the Oregon Health Division and inquired about the process. It turns out that I wouldn’t have to return to school, all I’d have to do is get some certifications and take the National Registry exam. And so, with no hesitation, I dove into the process. It took nine-months, but only because of scheduling and bureaucratic hick-ups. I became Nationally Registered in May of this year, and Oregon Certified in June. I started working for my current employer the day after my certifications arrived.
The first couple of months were tough
The first couple of months were tough. Not only was their much to learn about company policies and procedures, but there were a ton of numbers to remember. Employee numbers, gate codes, locker numbers, computer passwords, login procedures, radio codes, etc, etc! Then, all the protocols I learned for the NREMT-P exam, I had to unlearn and learn local protocols. And the job wasn’t easy either – it was 90-100 degrees through most of July and August, I was working 12 hour shifts and driving 2 1/2 hours a day – leaving me less than nine hours to spend with my family, sleep, and take care of personal issues.
However, by the end of September, things began to slow down a bit. Call volume tapered off, I was starting to develop a rhythm (I’ve got a ways to go still), and I was not feeling the pressure quite so much. In addition, I completed the Field Training and Evaluation Program – that proved to be a welcome relief.
It was about this time that I began to see my calling in EMS. More than just a way to pay the mortgage, I began to see a real need for solid leadership and compassionate patient care. In fact, I now have the freedom to do real people-oriented service, where my previous job wouldn’t allow me to. I can truly be of service and minister to the needs of the broken, in ways my pastoral role would not allow.
In fact, I’m beginning to think this whole Abrahamic, Mosaic experience over the past 15 years, was just to prepare me to be a better field paramedic to the people who have no other resources. Indeed, both The Wife and I are thrilled to be released from what we experienced over the first two years in a pastoral role here in Oregon. It was a horrible experience for our family and we’re glad we’re out.
So, yes Ray, I’m thrilled to be back! Thanks for your support!