In the second of our interviews with professionals from around the world, I spoke to paramedic Jeramiah Bush, a paramedic from California about the stresses and strains of his job.
As I switch on my computer and activate the Skype icon I have to confess I get a funny feeling in my stomach. I mean this is what I signed up to be a journalist for! Talking to people I would never normally meet. This guy comes from California, you can’t get further away and more exotic than that. Skype eventually switches on, I wait. The guy is late and I start to become a little impatient and I get more and more worried that the interview won’t happen. Eventually I hear a beep and an apologetic message from Jeramiah Bush about his teaching running late. I realise afterwards that he is teaching others how to save lives and I feel guilty for even getting annoyed. His voice and face finally appear. Jeramiah is young, younger than I expected. Tall, skinny and black hair we say hello and I look longingly at the beautiful sunshine also coming through across Skype ( it is wet and cold in England). As I moan about English weather he laughs and we begin to talk…
What is your most powerful positive experience of being a paramedic?
I think my first cardiac arrest save. It was like you were dead when I got to the scene and by the time I got to the hospital you were alive again. There have been a lot since then and hopefully many more but the first one always stays with you.
What is the most difficult thing about being a paramedic?
For me its mostly a sleep thing, you work 12 hour shifts. When you’re working at the station there are beds set up so you can catch some sleep you know if the city doesn’t need you or anything but it gets difficult because you don’t live an ordinary life.
What’s the most satisfying thing about your job?
I think its one of the few jobs where you can feel like you have really achieved something. You actually saved someone’s life, its not just a repetitive task .
Do you ever manage to switch off from your job?
Initially when you’re first in training you can’t because you bury your head in your studies and that’s all you think about or you just itching for a chance use your skills. But when you’ve got a few years under your belt, you learn how to switch off.
Having said that you do start to recognise certain medical conditions or signs of them, I’ll be walking along thinking that person looks like a diabetic or that person has good veins, they would be an easy IV.
As he as utters the words IV a loud set of barks come across the speakers and I cringe. Jeramiah apologises saying its the dogs , I smile thinking clearly these guys want to get in on the interview. After much shooing away from Jeramiah continues on
Have you ever had to help in a medical situation outside of work?
Sometimes, I’ve found that I’ve stopped at road accidents sometimes not so much because I’ve wanted to help but because they were blocking the road. I’ve tended to find that I can’t actually be much help outside of work because I think ‘I haven’t got any of my equipment with me and so I can only do a really limited amount’. You also find that you get to know certain areas and you think oh its fine, Jeff is on the way and she or he will be ok.
The dog’s evidently agreed profusely with Jeramiah at this point judging from how loudly they were barking!
Do you have a life outside of work?
I do actually manage to have a life outside of work but I know some of my colleagues have problems with it. It’s hard purely on a practical level because they ( other paramedics) are sometimes the ones who happen to be around or awake!
There was one where we called out to a young woman who was on a highway and when we pulled up to her she was dressed in her nightgown and wasn’t obviously hurt but insistently told us that she was walking to New York, not only was she walking the wrong way down the highway but looked she had some serious problems. Anyway we ended up staying with her until the police came.
My last question is an awkward one but something I feel like I have to ask.
What is your worst call?
I remember there was a stabbing of some teenagers. What had happened was these fourteen year old boys were walking home from a baseball game I think and a random guy tries to attack one of them and another kid jumps in front of him and got killed. It sticks in my brain because they were so young, two ambulances turned up and I went with the kid who had fairly minor injuries and he kept asking me is my friend ok? Is he ok? I answered him saying he’ll be fine… but I knew that he had died and I had to keep lying to him…that sticks with me….
There is a silence as he tells me about the teenagers. But luckily it does not last too long. Jeramiah says I hope that helps and I thank him for his time and we say goodbye. My last words to him are something along the lines of enjoy the lovely California weather and then it is over.
Source of Featured Image : Photo by Jeramiah Bush, , used with the permission of Jeramiah Bush