Ultimately, a lot of what we’re doing in EMS is ferrying people towards their deaths.
In the literally-true-but-irrelevant sense, we’re all dying. But that’s not what I mean. Pre-hospital and Emergency workers spend a lot of time around people in their final hours and days, even though we don’t always think about it.
It’s easy to get fixated on the “glory job”, the case where our care may be able to prevent the death of a young and healthy person. But those cases are relatively uncommon.
Most of our time is spent with the very old and terminally ill. It takes a lot less to kill these people and a lot more to “save them”. And they’re not glamorous.
It’s not the car crash, it’s the third pneumonia in a year. It’s not the knife wound, it’s the complications from surgery for a broken hip. Some people have the smell of death on them.
Most of the time we can’t prevent death, we can only ease the suffering.
We can treat the patient with dignity.
We can leave a coin for the ferryman.