Journal

In My Boots – Life As A Paramedic

Written by Krystal Kleidon

I’m not one of those people who you talk to who says they ‘always knew’ what they wanted to do in life. I don’t have any inspirational stories as to why I became a Paramedic. To be honest, I saw an advertisement for the job as part of a recruitment campaign and thought ‘yeah, I could do that.’  I never imagined that 6 years later I would be sitting here talking with you about what life is like as a Paramedic.

I’ve heard people say time and time again ‘oh I could never do your job.’  And I get it. Some days even I wonder how I could face another patient in cardiac arrest or another car accident. But I do. Because I hope so much that at the end of the day I can make some sort of difference.

My job isn’t like others. I don’t get to predict what my day will look like. I can’t make lunch plans with friends because some days I don’t get to stop for lunch. Others I’ll prepare a delicious sandwich, take my first bite and a call will come in. Some days I’m trying to eat while on my way to a job because I don’t know when my next chance to eat will be.

I don’t know what my next job will be. And I don’t know, as I put my boots on and kiss my son goodbye as I head to work, if today will be the day that breaks me.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that people are so quick to judge us. They have this expectation of what we should look like, how we should act and how we deal with situations.

I’ve had people call to complain about seeing me smile on my way to an emergency job. They complained that if I was going somewhere with lights and sirens on I shouldn’t be smiling.

I want to make this clear, in the nicest way possible. You do not have the right to judge me. You do not have the right to judge how I respond to situations. You do not have the right to tell me when I can or cannot smile. You have no idea what I have seen.

I have been to the most horrific of scenes that no one should ever see. I’ve seen elderly women take their last breath as their doting husband watches on, begging me to bring them back. I’ve seen children taken from this world in the most unfair ways. I’ve seen families torn apart, I’ve seen the consequences of bad choices and I’ve worked myself into the ground to keep going, to keep doing my job, to be there for my patients.

That little moment of happiness, that smile, that laugh – no matter what caused it, is mine. You have no idea what I am about to see and that little smile might be just what I need to get me through.

We have this ability as Paramedics to switch our emotions off during our jobs. And trust me – that is a quality you want. If I didn’t do that, if I let my emotions take hold, then my judgement could be impaired. I have studied for years and I am so very proud of what I do. And during the call – in those moments when I am making life saving decisions, I am not emotionally involved. But when I go home, I carry those jobs with me.

In my 6 years as a Paramedic I can still tell you the names of patients that have stayed with me. I drive around my local town and I don’t see places anymore, I see jobs I’ve been to and patients I’ve seen. Some days it gets me down, but most of the time it makes me strive to be better and strive to do better.

So the next time you see a Paramedic smiling, laughing or joking about something remember this. Remember that you don’t know what they’ve seen, you have no idea of what they are about to see, and let them have that smile – because God knows they’ve earned it.

Welcome to all our new readers!  Click here to give us a “like” on Facebook.  Thanks for reading and supporting our fantastic group of writers from across the globe!

Photo Credit: Tim Watkins Photography

About the author

Krystal Kleidon

My name is Krystal and I am a first time mum. I’m a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend (sometimes neglectful) and a paramedic. I live in a small country town in Queensland Australia and am the first Australian contributor to Her View From Home – something I am very proud and excited about. I love my Australian culture and lifestyle and you’ll have to promise to cut me a little slack when you see me writing things like ‘mum’ instead of ‘mom’.

I’m the creator and editor at Project Hot Mess, a site dedicated to empowering women and encouraging them to embrace who they are in their own perfect way. Even if that means running late with a cold cup of coffee in hand and not brushing your hair for 3 days (that’s what dry shampoo is for right..?). 

8 Comments

  • I love this Krystal! My mom was a nurse for many years and in many different types of medicine (ER, Labor and Delivery, ENT, Ophthalmology among others). She said many of the same things you did. That you must turn off your emotions and how adrenalin and focus of helping the person takes over. She said labor and delivery was really hard because when it goes well and “normal” it a joyous miracle, but when something goes wrong it is heartbreaking.
    Stay safe and prayers for you each day you head off to work!

    • Deliveries are what scare me most – usually when we are called to one it is because something has gone wrong. I’ve been to two on road and that’s too many!! They are amazing miracles when they go well but are so scary and unknown – we work in pairs and after a delivery we have two patients – sometimes both requiring immediate attention. It’s full on. Thank you so much for sharing about your mum – it’s nice to know there are others that ‘get it’.

  • As an ex-cop from many, many moons ago I can empathize with all of the above. I’m sure we didn’t see the blood and guts that you guys have to deal with and probably on a daily basis but we had to learn real quick how to deal with our emotions or you simply wouldn’t get the job done. I can remember many times either going to a bad accident or a sudden death, the Adrenalin would take over, you’d do your job and then go back to the nick and throw up severely. I can also remember very heated debates with my Mother and Fiance at the time as they thought the lack of emotion dealing with dead bodies and other grizzly scenes was totally disrespectful. I could never make them understand that the odd smile or making light of a bad situation was very often the only way we could get the job done properly and professionally. You keep smiling girl, you do a wonderful job and you have my total respect.

    • A cop… now that’s a job I could never do 🙂 My mum was mortified at the ‘black humour’ when I first started as a Paramedic, now she realises that it’s just part of the job. My brother and fiance are both Paramedics too (with another brother studying to become one) so it’s commonplace in our house. It’s not disrespectful – it’s how we cope. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience – I love so much that so many people can relate to this post.

  • I have been an Advanced Life Support Paramedic for the best part of the last 30 years. My job involves being there in the thick of human tragedy and suffering, but it is my job. I choose to be there. Nobody forces me to endure what I choose to endure, and nobody forces me to see what I see. The worst things I have ever endured have been the ways in which my Peter-Principle, uneducated, unqualified front-line supervisors and management pedantically deal with what they see as adversity. Bullying staff to the brink of suicide, habitually eschewing the role of employee advocate, and exerting facile and obtuse influence over matters that needed only their advocacy and support. NM, PS and SF, you are the most despicable and deplorable human beings to ever supervise another human being. If there is a tragedy to be pitied within the ranks of EMS, it is the fools they appoint to run it.

    • I am so sorry that this is your experience with the system. I am fortunate enough to work in Australia where our Emergency Services are run by the state and heavily regulated. It’s reassuring that after almost 30 years in the job, you still choose to be there. Which tells me that despite all the issues with management, you still love your job enough to show up time and time again and care for your patients. Almost 30 years of service is amazing – thank you.