Blog: Preparing for the Worst

My journey towards becoming a paramedic is not without its significant doubts.  I suppose I can take comfort in knowing that many people feel similar doubts when embarking into new career/life-paths.  Kevin Hazzard’s book “A Thousand Naked Strangers” opens with several chapters of how anxious he felt at the idea of being a medic and the responsibility it entails (book review forthcoming).

My fears are certainly not unique.  I have the typical worries around imposture syndrome, whether I can hack it physically, mentally, emotionally, and whether I’m good enough to get accepted into a very competitive program.  I also have spin-off worries concerning whether I will achieve a work-life balance with a future family, what toll my experiences will have on me, whether I can leave work “at the door” when I come home, whether I will be affected by mental health issues caused by work, etc.

Heck, I even worry that I won’t be able to stomach it because I’ve never seen anything graphically bad.  The three worst things I’ve seen are: 1.) a pedestrian struck by a car that I had to then treat; 2.) that time I broke my ankle with a hairline fracture; and 3.) that time I treated a guy who put his elbow through a window in rage.  In each of the cases, there was some blood (and bone from the window), but overall the outward injuries were fairly tame.

I’ve tried to mitigate this by following medical Instagram accounts that shows graphic medical procedures and injuries.  My hope is to desensitize myself from the shock of what I see so I can bypass those initial visceral reactions.  Likewise, I chose to read Hazzard’s book to learn more about what kind of horrible things I can expect to see.

But, there are some things you can’t prepare for.  Or, worse yet, there are things you didn’t anticipate being a problem.

I came across two blog posts recently  (written by the same author on two different sites) that discusses exactly this case.  I won’t spill too many of the details as I think it’s valuable to read the posts for yourself.  But the one I want to briefly mention here is where the author discusses the impact a ringing phone can have.

Imagine what it was like for the first responders at the recent Orlando mass shooting as they worked inside the club around all the deceased victims.  Keep in mind, there were 49 victims who died that night on scene.  49 people with families who likely heard about the tragedy on the television.  49 families who might have called to make sure their loved one was “ok.”  49 families who kept calling when no one picked up.  Imagine what kind of toll that might have on a person as they walk among the bodies.

It chills me just typing this.

There are things I might experience that I’ll never be prepared for.  These are things that worry me as I lay the groundwork to change careers.

Please, go read the blog posts for yourself.

The Sounds of Silence on The Happy Medic

The Worst Things I’ve Ever Felt As A Paramedic on Uniform Stories


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