Friday, January 3, 2014

Up Close and Personal: Providing Heart Care for Emergency Medical Personnel

I grew up watching Johnny and Roy respond to all kinds of crises in Squad 51.  Dr. Brackett always prescribed Ringer’s Lactate and D5W. The patient was to be transported to Rampart Emergency immediately!  As a 10 year old boy in 1972, I was impressed. Watching  the television show “Emergency” was a weekly ritual.

I have worked with emergency medical personnel for 24 years now as a law enforcement chaplain.  But unfortunately the relationship has always been characterized by distance.  By the time an officer calls me to a scene, they have already cleared.  In many of the situations I am involved in, there has been a death. They have already done everything they could do.

Over the past year, I have been thrown in with the medics that serve Hood County. I have actually been privileged to get to know them better and serve with them in several situations. Most recently one of the paramedics invited me to join them on a shift, so I did over the holidays.  My eyes were opened.  I have officially been exposed to a new dimension of emergency services.  

Here are a few things I learned over the past year and particularly during my ride along last month.

  • EMS gets up close and personal with people in distress.  The rest of us on a scene can keep some form of distance.  But medics have to touch, feel, poke and prod.  That presents its own challenges.
  • EMS must perform well in all sorts of settings. They don’t have the luxury of a sterile examining room.  In fact, they end up having to treat patients in environments that are unpleasant, unsanitary, and either frigid or hot.
  • EMS cares for patients in life and death situations.  Meanwhile family members are hovering nearby in a state of absolute emotional distress.  I don't know how they perform their job.
  • EMS cares for all kinds of people:  elderly stroke victims, individuals that have attempted to take their lives, victims of trauma, and very sick children. 
  • EMS personnel keep trying even when all medical possibilities have been exhausted.  Consequently people die in their care.

The most important thing I have learned over the past year was confirmed during my recent ride along.  EMS servants have huge hearts. They are not in the field to accumulate mass amounts of wealth. They chose the profession because they want to help people.

What do servants with huge hearts do after they change a blood stained uniform?  What do they do once “A” shift is over and the “B” shift comes on to take their place?  They see more traumas in a 24 hour period than most people do in a lifetime.

There are no meds on the ambulance that can cure wounded hearts.  A faith that is real enters the picture in a profound way. The expression of Christian compassion in a way that is genuine is of utmost importance.  A confidential ear coupled with prayer that is meaningful should not be factored out. 

Wow…those are areas where I get to serve.  I am privileged.  I get to care for those big hearts. I am called to get up close and personal too…just in a different way.  I look forward to future ride along experiences with my medics.  I keep wondering when they are going to get out the Ringers Lactate or the D5W?  Who would know better than  Dr. Brackett?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow (an exclamation and acronym for words of wisdom) Thank you!