Thursday, September 09, 2010

Labour, if you can call it that

All of my adult life I wanted to be a paramedic. When I was twenty three, my best friend's mom was a paramedic chief, and I used to be fascinated by her stories, and the way she would make a sudden departure every time she was summoned from home to go attend to someone in distress. I was hooked, and desperately wanted to become a paramedic. It was not to be though. I had to wait many years for the opportunity I considered to be my dream job. I had children to raise; I could not be running off to who knows where every time the pager called. I became a fitness trainer instead, bought a gym, and even got into bodybuilding. (Yes, I know now, it's all vain-glory). That career lasted for ten years; I stopped the bodybuilding much sooner.

One day, on a summer afternoon in 2001, a frantic woman knocked on my door. When I answered it, she told me to call 911, as her friend was drowning in the river close by. I made the call and went down to the river to see if I could help. I searched the riverbanks with my good friend Coleen, calling the man`s name, hoping for a response, but we saw nothing and were unable to save this man's life.

A short time later Search & Rescue pulled up and began to organize their rescue and recovery efforts. I was fascinated when they put the boat in the water with the search dog on board. They paddled a few feet to where the man had been sucked down by an undercurrent. I watched, amazed, as the search dog barked frantically at the whirlpool, leaning over the boat as if to convey the presence of the unfortunate man. When the boat travelled elsewhere, the dog was calm, and sat down in the centre of the boat.

I got the nerve up to ask if I could become a member of their team. To my delight and surprise, they told me to start coming to their weekly training sessions. I took six months of training, and then became one of their initial response members. That was when I started working (as a volunteer) side by side with the Ambulance Service. I had almost forgotten about the career I had put on hold so many years ago, but I still remembered the ten years I spent desperately wanting to be a paramedic. As a SAR volunteer, I would harness up and go over the bank to bring the patient up to the waiting paramedics; I would assist in cutting cars apart with the Jaws of Life so that the ambulance could rush the patient to the hospital. I flew in helicopters, searching for missing people, and tracked the lost in the mountains. I loved it!

After two years of this, I applied to the ambulance service and was hired! I knew I could not stretch myself thin, and chose the Ambulance Service over the SAR team. It was, after all, what I had always wanted to do. When I first donned my uniform, I couldn't belive I was getting paid to do something I would gladly do for free for the rest of my life. It has been eight years now, and I still love my job as much as I did then. I love helping the patients and putting them at ease. The diagnostic process is so interesting, with each patient exhibiting different symptoms, that no two calls are alike. I feel blessed to be in a career I feel so passionately about. And apparently it shows. One of my co-workers told me yesterday that she absolutely loves working with me because of the passion I have for my job. This wonderful lady told me that she feels energized when she is my partner; that my love of the job has given her a new purpose to learn as much as possible, and be as good at her job as she can possibly be. I must confess, I blushed when she gushed about my apparent on-the job enthusiasm.

The thing that came immediately to my mind, though, was the prayer to Saint Joseph that I have posted on my sidebar. I try to pray it every day, at least every day that I open my blog. I believe that even those who are trapped in a job they hate, will learn to labour with love if they only would pray like this every day before leaving for work. Here is the prayer that I consider to be one of the best aids for the working man or woman:

Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in a spirit of penance for the expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my inclinations; to work with gratitude and joy, considering it an honor to employ and develop, by means of labor, the gifts received from God; to work with order, peace, moderation and patience, without ever recoiling before weariness or difficulties; to work, above all, with purity of intention, and with detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account which I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all after your example, O Patriarch Joseph. Such shall be my watchword in life and in death. Amen.


Adoro said...

Thank you so much for writing this!

You've read of my own yearnings from the past to to the same job, although I am not called to it as you are.

If I did ever pursue it, I would hope and pray to work with someone like you, and not because of the passion for your work, but for the FAITH you bring to it.

One of the things that is so amazing about EMS, the world over, is the camaraderie and support from those who love the work, but when Faith is involved, it is even greater.

You are indeed, very very blessed.

Myself, I'm glad for having had the chance to train and the experience I gained through a few different venues, and I'm grateful for the EMT's and Paramedics I knew. Long story. You understand.

Thanks for doing what you do, and without arrogance. (I know you know what I mean about that, too!)
ugh. Seriously, there is little more annoying than an arrogant paramedic!


paramedicgirl said...

Adoro, I forgot to mention that this lady stopped taking God's name in vain after I told her it offended me. She was so gracious about it, too.

And, Oh yes, I know soooo many arrogant paramedics; it is a Type A personality job, and at times I think it attracts all those who were school bullies to the profession.

Anita Moore said...

Thank you for this prayer. I'm going to print it out and put it up next to my desk. My job is loaded with penances and mortifications, and I am apt to complain.

The legal profession is also full of type A personalities, bullies and arrogant jerks (of which the worst are women). They could all use a good smack.

Tom in Vegas said...

Interesting story. Body building (wow!); flying in helicopters and harnessing up. Sounds to me like you give the men who work with you a run for their money!

And it's nice to see that you fulfilled your childhood's desire of becoming a paramedic. It must be rewarding not just for you, but for those who are blessed to be treated by a paramedic who not only addresses their physical wounds, but who would pray for them in their darkest hours.