Saturday, June 6, 2009

In the Field

It's been over a week since I graduated from recruit class. in that timeframe, I've run more calls than I expected to get my first month. So what has it taught me? A few things. For one, people really seem to like scheduling their emergencies for the middle of the night. that means I'm going to have to become accustomed to awaking around 2 AM, but that's actually okay for me because it means that there's less interference with my work or social life. A more important thing I've discovered, though, is that actual emergencies are nothing like recruit class. There are no coaches looking over my shoulder, making sure I don't screw up; the dummies we practiced on for medical care are now replaced with live human beings who are hurting and scared.

The rush of emotions that come with all these new experiences can be confusing in its variety. When driving to a call, I'm excited. It's all I can do to control my heart rate and the speed of my vehicle. When walking on to an emergency scene, I'm focused. What needs to be done? Who needs help? When actually performing my duties, I'm scared to hell. What if somebody realizes that I'm brand-new to this? What if a patient looks up at me and sees the uncertainty of someone who hasn't handled that many emergencies before? It can almost be overwhelming.

But I'm sure that will go away. Some day, maybe a year from now, I'll look back on these first calls as the building blocks of what will then be a confident and competent firefighter. For now, they are mostly notches in my belt; first-time experiences that will give me more knowledge and experience for next time.

In the last week, I've responded to emergencies of a surprising variety for such a short time span. The very first night I had my pager by my bed, a car went off a bridge in a rural area during early hours of the morning. The next night, a neighborhood women nearly gave birth in the middle of her driveway. A fall victim, a vehicle fire, respiratory distress, a flooded home, and most recently a head-on collision where one of the drivers needed to be extricated from her crumpled vehicle.

In a way it's exciting; I never know what's going to happen next or when it's going to happen. But the unpredictability can be intimidating. What if I'm the first one to show up at a major incident? Or any incident, really? Will I know what to do? Or will I freeze up?

I guess this post is kind of scattered, but that's how my mind is: half stoked, half freaked. Excited and frightened. That's the honest truth. But if anyone asks, just tell them I'm fine. Appearances are half the battle. And someday soon (I hope) my mind's state will match the confidence on my face when I go rushing in to help.

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