To my fellow EMS providers: if you’ve ever walked into a station wondering if you were going to make it home, or crawled into a car thinking this might be your last call, this is for you. More importantly, this is also to the men and women who have lost their lives in the line of duty while upholding “first, do no harm."
To those not in EMS reading this: EMS providers take a sacred oath to protect and aid the public. Sometimes this asks more of us than we can pay. This is to those that gave it all.
To my partner,
“He’s pre-arrest, get back here!” “I need you to pull over, now!” “Start a medic assist, tell them to expedite!” “Get police here, now!” “Stay behind me.” “Medic down!” “I’ve got your six.” Who says these things? Through clenched teeth, static-filled radios, and pounding pulses, who has the courage to help the helpers? When I, an EMT, need help, who’s there? The answer: you are, my partner. I see your car when I walk in the station door. I ask how the kids are, when the wife’s due, and if your mom ever had that surgery she needed. I joke about you putting on a few pounds while I toss donuts on the table and think about lunch before I’ve even made coffee. I grab my coat, and yours, and I put it in the cramped, overloaded and overworked truck we call home. I put your coat the way you prefer it, on the floor, not on the seat, because it’s “harder to reach that way.” Why? Because I know you. We not only work together, but we talk, we kid, we cry, mourn, and question our calls together. You are my partner.
Sometimes you’re my partner-in-crime, sometimes you’re my frank wisdom. For 24 long, grueling, punishing hours, we will be together in this truck, thrown out into the dark and vile place we call our service area. Anything that can happen, will happen. And if Murphy’s Law is true, it will get a hell of a lot worse. At the end of the day, for this day, you are all I have. Through damp alleys, dark hallways, moldy structures, mangled cars, below-freezing waters, and bustling malls, we will work side by side. You are my partner.
We hold a line, sketched by an oath, “first, do no harm”. That line can not waiver, it cannot fail. For if it fails, if we fail, the consequences are permeant. That’s why I’ve got your back. That’s why I am your second set of eyes. That’s why I promise to protect you, at any cost. For 24 arduous hours, you are my dad/sister/brother/mother/loved one. You are my family. And as I put on my badge, and my stethoscope settles on my neck, I acknowledge that we are a team, and your family has trusted me with the privilege of making sure you make it home to them. So that you may see your daughter’s next birthday, watch your brother hit his career winning hit, hear your mother sing. You are my partner.
I promise to lift you up when you’re down, challenge you when you’re wrong, teach you when you do not understand, and to protect you from a world that wishes you harm. Call out, and I will be there. Together, and only as one, do we hold back death, disease, injury, and suffering from a public that neither cares nor acknowledges the sacrifices we make. Yet in the night, when the lights are flashing, the siren is wailing, the tones are dropping, and my heart is racing, you will be the most important thing to me. And when it all stops, when the lights fade, the sirens quiet, the last call drops and I carry you up marble steps with 5 others, I will be there. Because I am your partner. I can’t always succeed, and if I could change that, I would. If there was a way I could have known the scene wasn’t safe, that the car was leaking fuel, that your heart was being deprived of oxygen while you slept in the next room, I would have prevented them all. For you, I’d die because we hold the line. You are my partner.