Most families experience a life-pivoting event that changes everything for them. As a paramedic firefighter I’m often present at the very moment of these major life-altering detours. People often tell us there’s no way they could do our jobs and say they don’t know how we do it. This job is incredibly rewarding but there are many times I wish I could just run for the hills instead of dealing with certain situations. A call I attended about 5 years ago is the motivation behind this image; it was one of those times I wish I could just walk away instead of doing what I needed to do.
A man died in his bedroom and we did everything we could but like so many other cardiac arrests in the field he did not survive. I had to inform his pregnant wife and 2 other teenage children that he had died. The look in their eyes as I approached was one of hope and desperation. So many families think we’re going to save the day when we arrive but the reality is very few people survive cardiac arrests out of hospital. I told the family their husband and father had died. His wife began sobbing uncontrollably, the son also started crying but also tried to comfort his mother. His daughter began yelling “Daddy! No! Who’s going to walk me down the isle??” It was pretty tough.
Emergency workers are often present at the very worst moment of people’s lives. Sometimes we can alter this event and when we can it’s the best feeling in the world, even if it’s only to keep them alive long enough to say their good byes.
From Emergency Response Portraits