After a crazy-busy Saturday, lying in bed late at night watching Big Brother was a welcomed retreat while browsing Twitter on my iPad. A peaceful, relaxing night until suddenly, a daze fell over me almost leaving me feeling like I couldn't breathe with sharp pains traveling through my chest, clammy skin and an immense amount of dizziness. I'd never felt like this before. After a few steps out of my bed, I found myself lying on the ground holding my chest trying to remedy the excruciating sharp pains. I couldn't move, breathe, talk. It hurt too much. Everything hurt.
Minutes later with the unbearable pain not subsiding, I look up to see two paramedics and three firefighters running up my stairs towards me. "Patrick, can you tell me what's wrong?" queried one paramedic. Sharp pain still ran through my chest, sweat still pouring off me like I had just run a marathon, my head pounding. Next thing I know, both paramedics had me sitting up with ECG leads placed on me from head to toe. "This is going to make you feel better," said one paramedic as he placed an oxygen mask over my mouth.
Wrapped up in blankets in the back of the ambulance, the paramedic with me in the back chatted about The Sopranos and other random topics in an effort to keep me calm while I was connected to an array of cords and monitors. While he continued to reassure me that everything would be OK, it hit me; when the paramedics were dispatched to my call, they had no idea what they were going to deal with. They didn't know me -- I was a complete stranger to them. Yet they treated me like I was a close family member.
Simply put, how can someone care so much for someone they don't even know? While so many try to avoid trauma, paramedics put themselves into harms way to help those in need and at the end of each call, they may never know what happens to the patient. Tasked with saving the patient's life, it's no easy fete. They work feverishly for the crucial moments they are with the patient, before doctors and nurses can intervene.
Lying on the stretcher in the hospital, I didn't notice the two paramedics who worked so hard making sure I was OK, slip out. I didn't get to thank them for helping me when I was in such pain -- for making sure I didn't feel anymore frightened than I had to be and for being there when I needed them. Although I didn't get to thank them, they didn't want to be thanked -- me being fine was thanks enough.
To all the paramedics and emergency responders who risk their lives, miss family gatherings, work long hours and experience such trauma with every call, thank you. You truly are the people who run in when everyone is running out when seconds count. You dedicate your lives to helping people when they are at their lowest, and you work every shift saving lives.
So to the two paramedics from Durham Region, Ontario who treated me like their own child and who whispered to each other when I was in a groggy daze, "I was worried for him" -- thank you. Thank you for being there and thank you for caring. Thank you for making such a scary experience that much easier.
It's when seconds count that it all matters.