(insert inspirational quote here)

I’m active at my firehouse again.  I took some time off while we were putting PhillyGamers online.  No, that’s a lie.  I had some inner demons to deal with.  Truth be told I was scared to get on the truck for a while.  There was a run there where it seemed like every time I turned around someone else in this are was getting hurt or killed in the line.

Then when my grandfather passed away I had this battle with myself where I was convinced that every day I went to sleep I wasn’t going to get up.  Now, I had problems sleeping before, so all that made for a cute little concotion of “Paul Be Crazy”.

But a few days ago I put a fresh battery in my pager and started waiting for calls.  Today, I got my first run since February.  Came across as an EMS assist, which usually means there’s a large person that EMS can’t move by themselves.  I didn’t make the truck for this one.  But it sounds like a pretty hairy call.  The patient started to code en route and had two EMT’s and a paramedic working on him while one of the guys from my crew drove lights and sirens to the hospital.  I couldn’t be an EMT.  It’s way too personal a job.

I was reading some of my roommate’s manuals.  There’s actually a chapter in one of his books about how to deal with someone who’s “actively dying”.  That’s a real term, “actively dying”.  It’s the point at which the body basically says, “Fuck you, I’m done” and starts to shut down.  It’s the place at which there is a 0% survival rate.  That’s a heady responsibility knowing that you are the last person someone will see before they go to the Great Wherever.  I don’t want that kind of responsibility.  I couldn’t handle it knowing that mine was the last face someone ever saw.  And what do you say to someone’s family?  Where do you draw the line being protecting them from the brutal truth of the dying process, and sharing with them their loved one’s last moments?

Fuck, man.  And most EMT’s are volunteers working for around $10 an hour.  Sometimes I think that all of u are crazy; cops, firemen, EMT’s, all of us lock stock and barrel.  But then I see these guys working to help someone.  For most of my 30 years I’ve seen people attack the weak and the helpless.  But without hesitation, these guys risk life and limb to save the weak.  And everytime I wonder what in the christ I think I’m doing dressing up and playing fireman, I think about Chase Frost and Danny Brees.  They showed up for a row-home fire.  As soon as they hit the front door the second floor came down on top of them.  A dozen or more men, some from my fire house, worked to get them out.  And when they were pulled out one guy, one huge, freakishly strong guy yanked a post lamp out of the ground to make way for the stretcher to get these two brothers (in the fraternal definition) into the ambulance.

It’s not second nature for me yet.  But if and when it is, I think I’ll have reached that final stage of enlightenment.  That zen center that eastern religions are trying to find.  I’ll have achieved that goal of becoming the man I want to be.

Better late then never, I guess.

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