I’ve been a paramedic for about 19 months. Not very long, really. My first year was spent working for two teeny tiny services with teeny tiny call volumes. The last seven months with a service that runs right around 10,000 calls a year with 3 trucks covering. Needless to say, I have experienced a lot more in the last 7 months than I did in the year prior to this.
I have been a father for just under a year. 11 months and 7 days, to be exact. As a father I know I will be learning what to do for the rest of my life. My son is amazing and if I didn’t have the amazing wife that I do–well, there isn’t a shot in hell I could do this on my own.
What I didn’t expect was for the lessons EMS would teach me about being a father. The skills I’ve learned since becoming a father are less about medical procedure and more about communication, lessons, and reality.
Reality is the hardest part. Shit happens. Inevitably Asher will get hurt. Inevitably Asher will get sick. Inevitably Asher will make us mad, and I’ll be forced to discipline him. Some how, working in EMS has taught me some skills to be better prepared(or so I am hoping!).
The most surprising skill tune up I’ve gotten while working on the streets came in the form of communication. My communication skills suck. I bottle things up, take them out on those I love, and then don’t understand when they get mad about it. I can be hot tempered, ill mannered, and down right inappropriate. Dealing with frustrating, rude, and down right worthless patients over the last 19 months has taught me that sometimes despite what you think and feel about someone, you have to be able to do your job with self restraint.
Self Restraint. Compassion. Patience. Even now when Asher is so young and innocent, these qualities are getting more fine tuned. After a long night at work, coming home to a screaming baby isn’t easy. Then again, Mrs. MedicThree was home alone with him all night–I don’t imagine me coming home and ignoring them helps her get out the door much either. Before being a medic, father, and husband it was all about me. Now, it rarely is.
Being a medic has taught me how to diffuse situations that could otherwise end badly. Calming a psych patient down, giving stern advice to someone abusing the system, and making sure I am doing so within the bounds of being a Paramedic–and not a judge–is more than a challenge at times. When I first started doing this, I would jump down someones throat for “wasting my time”. Now I understand that sometimes it is easier and better to spend a minute or two trying to figure out(and make the patient) what the hell is going on.
When it comes to life at home, it is more logical to take a breath and treat my family with the respect they deserve. Does this mean I am always cool and calm? Nope. I get stressed. But I like to think that when big things come up I can handle myself–this is something that prior to EMS I’m not sure I could do.
The most unexpected part about being an EMS dad is how being a dad has changed being a medic. Pediatric calls give me a different chill I couldn’t imagine pre-fatherhood. The way I communicate with patients and families has evolved greatly since being married and becoming a father. I spend a little more time trying to make my patients feel better than I did before–most of the time this is done by talking. Sometimes I am a little stern–call it honest–but sometimes that is exactly what the patient needs, and sometimes it is what they want.
Trying to pick and choose the parts of EMS I bring home to my family is the hardest part. Learning how to cope with the realities of my job and the challenges of being a husband and father will continue to be the hardest thing I encounter on a daily basis–but I’m excited for the challenge.
In this line of work it is easy to try and separate your personal and professional lives completely–but it is impossible to succeed. Finding a way to allow them to compliment each other is the key to survival.