Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Old Paramedics Don't Die.

So a few weeks ago I get a phone call from an old friend of mine, he is a Paramedic for the local ambulance provider in my city, American Medical Response http://www.amr.net/Locations/Operations/Colorado/Colorado-Springs-El-Paso-County.aspx. At the time of my retirement he had 32 years on the streets to my 31 years, needless to say we had seen and done a lot together, so it was nice to get a call out of the blue.

Casey, yeah same name as mine, asked me if I’d like to come to their annual awards banquet and if he sent me an invitation would I RSVP? I thought about it for a moment. Why in the world would the local ambulance service ask me to their awards ceremony? Especially since I had been retired for almost five years now.

“Why in the world would you guys want me to come to your awards?” I asked.
“Well, we miss you dude. A lot of people really enjoyed working with you over the years and I thought if anyone from the FD would come it would be you. It’s a free dinner if nothing else.” Casey answered.
“Free is good. Yeah sure I’ll come why not?” I said.

A few days later an invitation came in the mail. The awards were being held at a very swanky hotel in Colorado Springs so I knew the food would be good. Then the “and one” box was open. I could bring a date if I wanted. I quickly went through my mental Rolodex of potential dates. After burning all of three seconds I realized that there were no potential dates.

For two reasons the only women I really know well enough to ask are in AA and I wouldn’t want to put an alcoholic in a situation where the booze might be freely flowing. You might ask why I wasn’t worried about myself in that situation and the answer to that is this.

AA teaches us that if we are in fit spiritual conditions we can go anywhere without worry and I was in fit spiritual condition. I also can take a drug called Disulfram that cause a near death experience when mixed with alcohol. I am serious I tried it once years ago and I thought I was going to die.

Over the years I have also picked some methods for avoiding potential danger zones. One is to always arrive at the very end of happy hour. This avoids a lot of social interaction with active drinkers that want to buy you a drink. There are still a few people in the world that don’t know I’m an alcoholic and offer.

Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against normal drinkers, in fact I wish I were one but I’m not and I’m not at risk, and I’m not embarrassed to admit I don’t drink, it is just best to get there late and not have to deal with anything.

Back to the second reason I decided not to take a date, for anyone who has never been in the company of a bunch of EMS workers, especially EMS workers that are having fun and partying it can be quite shocking. I don’t mean to imply that my friends are dangerous or inappropriate, it’s not that. It’s just the topics of conversation right before a meal can be very off putting and appetite suppressing for the average person.

Any group of professionals regardless of the occupation when gathered together can’t help themselves; shop talk is bound to surface. This is okay if you are a cubical worker talking about your latest power point presentation or fabulous new computer program. But that isn’t what Paramedics and EMTs talk about.

We tend to talk about gruesome stuff, horrible stuff, we talk about our job it doesn’t bother us, it’s what we do. But for the innocent, the neophyte, the non-indoctrinated, it can be nauseating. So why risk it, besides I don’t really date anymore anyway.

So the day of the event I was talking to my mother about the upcoming dinner and told her I was a bit confused as to why I was invited. Now my mother is an intuit of the highest order there is no hiding anything from her or even trying to. So mom says.
“They are going to recognize for something my son.” She said.
“No way mom, why would they do that? I’ve been retired for almost five years, why would the local ambulance company recognize me for anything?” I said.
“I don’t know my son, but that’s what they are going to do.” She said.
I hung up and considered the possibility. I went back through my life. I worked off and on for the ambulance service for years as an easy way to make some extra cash but I hadn’t done that in many years. I always tried to be kind and understanding of the people I considered co-workers to some degree.

I mean after all weren’t we all in the same occupation of saving lives? So I think a lot of the Medics and EMTs for AMR respected me a little. There can be a lot of animosity between fire departments and ambulance workers I understand that. The fire service has its share of dud employees as does the ambulance service and some of us tend to judge entire organizations by the duds, I don’t.

For the life of me I couldn’t come up with a reason, but that didn’t stop me from going. I arrived late as my method demands and found Casey and his wife Tracy (she is a great Paramedic as well) and asked where I should I sit. He said that I should I probably sit at one of the reserved tables down in front. So mom was right she always is. I was deeply humbled and honored that a private enterprise would so many years following my retirement invite me and thank me for doing a good job for a long time.

Thanks for thinking of me of me Casey.