As usual, I approach the holiday season with much trepidation. I’ve had the fun of doing CPR under a Christmas tree, and of responding to horrifying New Year’s Eve trauma. For most EMS responders, the holidays will have times when we can be with family, and other times when we must fulfill our duty to work a shift and take care of sick people. There will be tragedies over the holiday season; there always are. Losses seem greater at this time of year. This year my thoughts have turned once again to being thankful for what we have.
I got a Christmas list from my 9-year-old nephew that said “Pokemon cards or just give my Christmas present to some poor kid.” It warmed my heart to see a child growing up aware that acquiring increasingly more material possessions isn’t what life is all about. I don’t need any more things, or want any more things at this point in my life. Having friends and family share my dinner table is all the gift I need.
Ten years ago, my husband had a near-death experience that put him on a ventilator for six weeks and left him with brain damage, ending his career as an emergency physician. I still enjoy waking up in the morning and listening to him breathe, thinking how wonderful it is that he is able to do so. Not a day passes when I am not thankful to have him here with me. Then I go outside and see the sun coming up over the mountains and mesas, and again think about how fortunate I am just to have the view.
In EMS we will see sorrow and tragedy over the holiday season. Somehow, the emotional side of our practice is magnified. The losses seem more severe because the season is supposed to be filled with joy. We will see some of those joyful times turned into pain and misery by illness and injury. Over the holiday season, we must remain strong, help those who need our assistance, and perform our duties with a special sense of gratefulness for what we have.
The ability to do what we do in EMS is a gift in itself. So few people have jobs they find fulfilling — we’re fortunate our profession places us in a position to help people in their time of need. Look for a child’s smile or a touch on the shoulder from an elder, and find in that the satisfaction we can achieve in EMS. Shed a tear for the loss of a loved one, make a difference for a patient on your next shift and come home safe and warm to your family.