Digging deep for this one. How I found my way into emergency services. Not sure when the desire hit me. The first time I saw someone cut in half was when I was five. My father confirmed this and all the details of that memory. Could it be that was the influence? Or maybe it had to do with the dogs stitches coming out, seeing her intestines on the floor, my mother in a panic?
Also remember at a young age playing with military medical equipment, OD green I.V. poles, tent smelling folding stretchers, instruments, respiratory. Nothing sharp, things like towel clamps and scalpel blades were removed. There were boxes of it around.
Wow! This is a big surprise. As that last paragraph was written a memory came back. Some friends from the neighborhood would come over to my house. We would each pretend to be victims of car and helicopter crashes. Fallen down cliffs, gun shot wounds and other craziness. While the other ones in the group would be the medics. We would practice bandaging and trying to carry the others. That’s nuts.
My dad was infantry and not medical in any way. There were retired and active duty family friends in the medical fields. Boy Scout leaders were all former military guys. I must have expressed interest, one day medical “toys” started showing up in boxes with an education on each item. This would have been before I would have been allowed to explore the neighborhood on my own.
Those memories are from earlier times in my life. Moving into the more recent memory and series of events that lead me directly into the door of a rescue squad building and a dream come true. I must have been 13-14 years old. Able to walk the neighborhood by myself on foot or bicycle. Some cousins lived about 7 blocks away. Not far.
The street that leads to my cousins house crosses another at their home. When I get there I have to stop and check for traffic first, the house directly across the street. No traffic I start to cross the street and hear screaming coming from the direction I’m walking. I get scared as I get closer to the house because the screams are coming from there.
Hesitating at first I ran up the side of the house and listened. The windows were open. My cousins mom was yelling at my cousins about how bad they were. My cousins crying in pain begging for mercy. It was horrible. I didn’t know what to do so I ran back home.
There was no one home, no one to talk to. Wasn’t much into t.v., only made an effort to watch This Old House. Out of the ordinary, turned on the television. Wish I could remember what year it was and what episode was watched but I don’t. The good part was I had tuned in as the opening of the show was on so the scenes and siren sounds made me stop on the channel.
The show was Emergency! The t.v. show about the early days of paramedics in the U.S.A. People in the station, getting emergency calls. While watching that show something happened to me. Something changed. A sense of knowing of where you belong.
It felt like my brain was spinning inside my skull like symbols on a slot machine. After the show was over I couldn’t wait to tell my mom about it, then dad. It was a few weeks before I was able to get my dad to watch the show with me. There wasn’t much feedback from him on the topic. I seemed to be the only one enthusiast about it. I kept watching and talking about the show all the time.
Out of nowhere my dad picks me up and we head over to fire station 4 to meet a family friend. Captain gives me a station and engine tour. Not much time passes before I’m allowed to spend short periods of time at the station and sometimes ride to calls with the fire chief if he was over for dinner.
Not long after that I’m on base in station 2 with Engineer. Learning what a shift is really like. Due to the unique situation I was able to spend hours at this station. Experienced some of the most impressionable moments in my life there. Cannot believe how lucky I was then.
The guys liked to let me answer the phone when the dispatcher was calling so they could mess with them. “Station 2”. Silly fun. This continued until I was maybe 15. I had learned to read the old ticker-tape alarm system still connected to the station. Then word came down. World is changing. Transfer out or retire station 2 will be closing.
That’s what happened. The old wooden T-building hospital had been removed. Station 2 was close by in case it went up. The new hospital was a single structure of modern materials closer to station 1. Only thing missing was an aerial. That came after the new hospital opened.
Spending time around station 2 put me in contact with others in the department. Having expressed an interest in becoming a paramedic firefighter like the guys I’d seen on television I was introduced to Rescue. Rescue was a cool dude. He had an earring, talked cool and owned a restaurant. Was the only person I connected with after everyone else had left.
He like me because of my interested in the paramedic and rescue part of the fire department. Most of the people he worked with were not interested in it. I could not get enough. Things had changed so that I was not able to get to station 1 as much as I wanted when Rescue was working.
Rescue was getting near retirement and wanted to run his restaurant. I went to the station when he was on shift whenever I could until he retired. Learned as much as I could about rescue. It was a fantastic experience. It was time to go to high school.
In our high school we had an official smoking area. Students and teachers could go there and smoke cigarettes. I wonder what all the uptight people would think of that now days? Anyway, back to the memories. I did not smoke but would go out there with friends that did during breaks.
Following my friend into the smoking area she leans against a post. She’s smoking. We’re not speaking, both of us listening to the sound multiple voices make when talking at the same time. That restaurant chatter sound.
Behind me I hear a girl talking about something like a scene out of the Emergency T.V. show. Hearing bits and details I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the conversation. The girl speaking was telling an exciting story about a car accident she had been too and what they had done.
I interrupted the conversation and told her I was eavesdropping and wondered if she would tell me more. She did, introduced herself as president of the local rescue squad explorer scouts and invited me to a meeting. Local explorer scouts president had opened the door and invited me in. Turns out the rescue squad was as close as I could get to what I wanted at the time.
The rescue squad did everything but treat and transport patients. Extrication, firefighting, searches, dragging for persons suspected of drowning. Any kind of rescue. An amazing opportunity to experience first hand real emergencies. That is how I came to respond to that first emergency call. The door was opened and I kept showing up. -13