Be assured on any given day in EMS, a dedicated army of quiet volunteers stands ready to honor the call to save lives. We have chosen to help people for a living. Always in Service: EMS Strong implies an unrelenting responsibility to others, oftentimes in dire circumstances that ultimately can carry a heavy toll on our psyche.
We have chronic exposure to huge traumas and are stirred by some very cryptic memories. Pretty normal days may become surreal in an instant. Called to action, we show up in our adrenalin-infused under armor, always ready to step into crisis and provide quality pre-hospital care for our patients. Initially, we work in the anesthetizing fog of the Golden Hour, diligently following our ABCs and protocols while always cognizant of the time sensitivity of our mission. It’s when we return to base that we face all of the hurt square on. Here, we have time for our replay buttons to go into overdrive on our mental big-screen TVs.
So if our daily grind repeatedly exposes us to tough stuff, how can we find our emotional reset buttons? How can we not let the bad things define us?
Here are a few things we can do to feel mended and restored. And there’s no prescription required!
- Talk to your co-workers. This kind of unloading is good to regain perspective.
- Utilize formal Critical Incidence Stress Debriefing (CISD). Know that others are experiencing similar feelings.
- Try a little self-caring. Employ some self-compassion instead of self-criticism.
- Embrace the unlikely teacher of grief. Sometimes pain is the great healer. Cross the impasse of pain by actually feeling it instead of staying frozen in grief and despair.
- Invest in your physical and cognitive health. Get out in nature and do something — exercise, find an easy-read book, etc. “Just do it.”
- Relationships are a “funny” thing. Seek out positive people and daily doses of humor in your day.
- Presence helps. Be there for others for as long as it takes.
- Consciously work to shift your outlook. There is always hope. Embrace it!
At one point or another, we will all be knocked down by the tough stuff. Our resiliency to thrive depends on our ability to face and work through our emotions. Sometimes there is no good to be found in a bad situation. We must remain flexible to grow and recover, rather than letting it limit our lives. Helping people is our driving force. It never gets old. We choose to do this. We must also choose to help each other to continue to bounce back and be ready for the next call. Always in Service: EMS Strong!