The smoky plume had relentlessly grown with vehemence during the previous five days—culminating in a 65 mile-per-hour-wind-driven fire storm that had consumed 346 homes and taken two lives in less than just an hour one day earlier. My mountain community lies just 10 miles west of the Colorado Springs devastation, and although we shared with our front-range neighbors the collective loss of property, life and scenic beauty, I admit I felt a sense of selfish relief and guilt that the winds had chosen an easterly path away from my domesticated habitat.
“Achoo!” Ah, the sneeze—a reflexive response initiated from the grid of the trigeminal nerve secondary to histamine release triggered by foreign particles or other external stimulants breaching the adenoidal void. Or is it a methodically calculated means by our patients to expose and contaminate prehospital care providers with all manner of pestilence? Or … could it simply be an extrication mechanism for exorcising evil spirits hell-bent on residing within our demonic nasal mucosa?
When I asked to cut my firstborn’s umbilical cord, I vowed not only to be the coolest dad ever but also to shelter my son—and my future daughter—from any EMS public safety paranoia spillover that might try to creep its way into my personal family life at the end of each shift. As noble as my intentions were at the time, I didn’t realize it would be hard enough just trying to be a good parent, much less behaving like a normal human being after working in a 9-1-1 environment that I now believe human beings were never meant to be in for extended periods of time.
‘Life is truly a ride. We’re all strapped in, and no one can stop it. ... I think the most you can hope for at the end of life is that your hair’s messed, you’re out of breath and you didn’t throw up.’ —Jerry Seinfield
Have you ever showed up for your shift with the feeling that this particular day was going to be the day of the Big One—the call of all calls for which death and mayhem would rule the day—and then it actually happened? Me neither. Talk about your epi let down.