Massachusetts First Responders Responding to Traumas on the Job
‘You can’t come to work with emotions’
South Coast Today Wesley Sykes August 12, 2017
“You can’t come to work with any emotions. You just can’t. It’s different. You may break down after the call, but in the moment it’s like you’re pumping with adrenaline.”Megan Robitaille
Mike Thomas, right, checks with first responders Megan Robitaille and Shain Ramos at St. Lukes Hospital Emergency Room dock after responding to a drug overdose call at Buttonwood Park in New Bedford. David W. OIliveira Standard Times Special SCMG
Life as an EMT, whether it be in city of 100,000 people or a small town of 10,000, can bring many hats to wear. From life-saver to therapist, often there are moments that any amount of training won’t prepare an EMT for.
Some EMTs will tell you that there’s a very vulnerable period that happens in the back of an ambulance. There are moments of clarity that offer a new lease on life. Instances of denial are masked in cockiness or arrogance that can turn into belligerence. Those feelings may give way to tears of remorse or sorrow.
In a four-foot by eight-foot box traveling at speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour, the ambulance is, for some, a confessional on wheels. The paramedics, in a race against time, double as priests hearing what might be a patient’s final words as they come to grips with the grave reality that the EMT may be the last person they ever see on Earth.
“When you get someone to truly open up, or they open up on their own, you hear that they’re a brother, a son, a mother or daughter,” Acushnet Fire and EMS Chief Kevin Gallagher said.
The unsung heroes, Donohoe said, are the wives and husbands at home who make it all work. Families stop by during down hours to check in, bring food and get quality family time when they can.“They put up with our god-awful hours,” Donohoe said. More than the hours, families deal with any residual effects from a traumatic call.