When I quit the ambulance, I felt like I had returned to civilian life.
I felt like I had been at war.
Everyone thinks warfare is something that doesn’t happen here…in the United States…despite the watered down tales of terror shared by the news.
I always found the news so trivial. For the most part I stopped watching it. It was a frustration, in wondering why they chose to tell the stories they did, instead of what was REALLY taking place during the night while everyone slept and remained oblivious to the reality of what I saw. Instead of warning the public of the gang rapists and violence, I saw them covering “the fall’s latest fashion trends.” One night I picked up something like 4 different people (while coworkers I’m sure picked up others) after a specific group in a white vehicle was driving around and assaulting anyone they saw out by themselves with a baseball bat. Something you think would make the news, if not just for tips on catching the assailants, but to warn the community not to venture out alone….but apparently capri’s were in style…and rather than cover news that may be helpful, I suppose the power’s that be would rather share news that perpetuates our consumerism.
I was on the news several times. Once for a bus crash, I saw an aerial view of myself pulling a patient out of the wreckage. A few times I was on the news with airlift calls. I’m aware of one newspaper article that highlighted a picture of me and my partner Tanya carting off the teenage driver of a vehicle that sailed into the Puget Sound after it soared off the road at high speed in West Seattle. I’ll never forget that call. I remember when they were dragging out the bodies of other teenagers from the water, limp and lifeless, that were not able to escape the sinking suburban. Some things you aren’t meant to forget. I remember trying to get him to sit back, and not look….Somehow he had managed to escape through a broken window. I remember the way his voice sounded….that cracking, screaming sob as he shouted out the names of his friends…a good night turned wrong and now forever imprinted into tragedy.
It was the call with Josiah…where I realized I didn’t want to do EMS anymore.
It wasn’t just the call itself. The calls were starting to collect on my shoulders in a way I couldn’t shake off. My personal life had become violent. I saw violence at work. And then I would come home and I couldn’t keep myself safe, much less protect my husband from himself, or my son, or my dog….I couldn’t keep my dog safe. He tried to kill her…in fact he told me he strangled her until she pissed and pooped herself and lay lifeless…and he left her body there for me to find, so I would find out what it was like to lose something I loved.
I couldn’t talk about the domestic violence that had taken over the living room, because after getting cornered by a knife, or being choked till I passed out, while he told me everything I loved would never be safe….or having my head bounced off the floor by fists…and on and on. Getting raped by the person that you thought was there to protect you and be your partner, not your executioner… (marital rape exists. JUST CAUSE YOU ARE MARRIED DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE A UTENSIL.) When someone tells you before you leave the house, “You better not tell anyone you thought I was going to kill you this morning.” And then I would go work, and pick up rape victims and assault victims of domestic violence, and I stopped being able to separate my personal life from the warfare taking place in my community.
When someone says that….”Don’t tell anyone you thought I was gonna kill you this morning…” you do not reach out. Not right away. Violence everywhere. My job let me see the war taking place in our backyards, and then I came home to violence. And I couldn’t do any of it anymore.
That is when I quit my career.