This week is National EMS Appreciation Week. Our EMTs, and all EMS professionals deserve our respect and appreciation for all the hard work and dedication they give to the community. While no two EMTs experiences are the same, this is a peek inside the real world of one of our EMTs, Sal F..
"For any person who wants to get into the EMS field I just want to say that this job is not a 9-5 white collar job, but it's a 24/7 365 commitment and a calling that until you join this field you will never be able to understand. Never stop learning and look at every patient with an open mind."
Why did you become an EMT? I wanted to become an EMT since I was 6 years old. Watching the horrific events of the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001, as a child left me sitting at home feeling helpless. From that moment on, my dream was to become an EMT and help others and serve my community. Growing up with my grandma who had epilepsy gave me a kick-start in learning how to take care of someone and become a caregiver. There have been some scary moments with her that made me want to get my certification and additional training so I would be prepared in an emergency situation.
What is the most common misconception you feel the public has about EMTs? The most common misconception as an Emergency Medical Technician has is that we just sit in our ambulances all day and eat food and sleep.
Is there a specific moment in your career that shaped who you are? A situation in my career that shaped who I am was when I had a cardiac patient who's stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest right in front of me in the ambulance. After performing CPR and defibrillating his heart to restart it, the patient lived. Two weeks after that, I was at his family block party with his entire family and the only reason the patient was alive was because of my quick actions.
What are you most proud of? I am the most proud of my family because they make so many sacrifices due to my line of work. Leaving in the middle of the night because a stranger needs help, or working long hours and holidays being away from your family and loved ones is not easy. They are my support system after having a bad call or being exhausted after a long shift.
When was the first time you realized that your job has an impact on other peoples lives? The moment I realized I was making a difference was when I was a brand new EMT and I went on an overdose in an attempt to commit suicide call. After we administered naloxone to reverse the overdose I spoke to the patient who was a Military Veteran like myself and after we spoke for 20 minutes the patient was in better spirits and thanking me for saving him because he didn't have anyone to just talk to and vent out his feelings.
What is the most challenging moment you had in your entire career as an EMT? My most challenging experience was when I responded to a call of a motorcycle accident with a rushed response on the ambulance. Upon arrival on the scene during a patient assessment, I discovered it was one of my friends that I attended high school with. Having to visualize an individual that I shared a friendship with, deceased on the asphalt with a very severe head trauma was something I will never be able to forget or get out of my head or out of my dreams at night.
How has that experience shaped you as a person? Being an EMT I have learned to cherish life and all that it offers for every single person. Everyone has a purpose and to not judge people because of their beliefs or personality.
Why do you continue to do what you do every day? I continue to work as an EMT because it is my passion. I can't wake up without thinking “who am I going to be able to help today?” The satisfaction of comforting a scared patient or sympathizing with a grieving family, and that I am blessed enough to be that person in a traumatic experience, pushes me forward.
What advice do you have for someone interested in becoming an EMT? For any person who wants to get into the EMS field I just want to say that this job is not a 9-5 white collar job, but it's a 24/7 365 commitment and a calling that until you join this field you will never be able to understand. Never stop learning and look at every patient with an open mind.