This episode of Our Voices introduces us to the adrenaline-fuelled life of Rob: a paramedic who is now in his 20th year of service having started as a volunteer with St John’s Ambulance at the age of 13.
Rob is someone who was clearly born to work in the healthcare profession. He describes having always wanted to “help people” and “be part of a community”. In his words: “very few things in life give you the return that helping somebody does”.
Despite clearly loving his job, the challenges of the pandemic have made his experiences more difficult. Rob talks about the fact that he’s had to work longer hours than he’s ever previously experienced, he also says that there have been more demands placed on healthcare workers and healthcare services than he’s ever known. As a result, he’s not had the time he normally would to take a break and get away from work. However, he takes solace in the fact that he has support around him: “We’re all in this together, how we manage is different but the experience is the same.”
He also derives motivation from how impactful his work is. He describes knowing how much of an important role he plays as being “immensely rewarding” and as giving him the motivation to “go and see that next patient despite how hard the situation is sometimes.” The most exciting part of his job seems to be receiving that 999 call: “straight away it gives you a burst of adrenaline”. Switching on those blue lights and racing to the required destination is something Rob describes as being at “the top of the roller-coaster”.
There are moments in the job which are extremely difficult to deal with, however. There are patients Rob and his colleagues are not able to save and this is something which impacts him profoundly: “every single patient touches my heart… it’s hard not to show those feelings.” Yet knowing that he did all he could to provide his patients with the best chance of survival does provide consolation.
So used to focusing on his ability to save the vulnerable, it’s only since the pandemic that Rob has begun to reflect on his own vulnerability. He describes experiencing a new sense of nervousness from “knowing that through a simple cough or issues breathing, I may be infected”. Yet, despite these risks, Rob has continued to perform his job with bravery and enthusiasm. The roller coaster ride of taking his patients from the brink of death to the realms of safety would seem to be more than worth the risk. In Rob’s own words: “the benefit of being part of a community and helping people is so rewarding… how it can help your own wellbeing is something that we don’t give enough credit to.” The lesson from Rob’s experiences would seem to be this: the best way we can help ourselves in these challenging times is to work out how it is that we can best help others.
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