We get into this field hungry for the chance to save people. We live for the emergency alert tones that bring us our next chance to cheat Death. But many of us resent doing routine transports, particularly early in our careers. I too used terms in my youth disrespectful of the elderly who are most often our non-emergency clients. But over time I learned to enjoy my time in the back with these patients, once I realized what a unique opportunity it presented me.
It gave me a chance to learn a lot, from cooking recipes to forgotten history. The elderly were once treated in many cultures as our best source of wisdom. They have had life experiences we can often only barely imagine. They went through wars, deaths, loss and sacrifice. They raised children, supported and nurtured their families when times were a lot tougher. Rather than being barely tolerable inconveniences, these transports offer us the chance to show respect and learn something
I learned to make the very best Guacamole from a nice Mexican-American lady. I asked what her favorite recipe was, and she told me how to do it in great detail. I took careful notes on a 4 x 4, and I still use her recipe now many years after her passing. I learned about just how tough our forefathers had to be to get through the Great Depression. I learned the horrible price paid by those that were on the front lines fighting for the Civil Rights we now tend to take for granted. I have learned a lot by showing these often-unappreciated people the respect they deserve. They are not baggage; they are human beings with a past.
In so many cases, the sacrifices they made paved the way for the comforts we now enjoy. The simple fact is that many of our ambulance runs are not emergencies, and that the elderly are our most frequent customers. The care and transportation of these individuals is very much part of our job. We can fight this reality, or come to appreciate the potential value these calls offer us. Take a few minutes to really talk with them, and learn to listen. What these wonderful patients can tell you during a 20-minute trip can have a big impact on your life. They watched history happen that you only read about. Their personal stories will often surprise and amaze you. A long routine transport is made much shorter by the conversation.
It will bring upon you honor to show them the respect they have earned. These patients are not an inconvenience; they are the living repositories of our history and best values. To provide them compassionate service is our great privilege. Learn to see it that way and you will improve the quality of your care, the pleasure of your work, and the quality of your life.