During EMS Week, we want to honor and celebrate our first responders who are always there to answer our patients’ calls for help.
Steve Tucker, EMT at Mercy Health – Life Flight Network LLC in Lima, OH, shares his first-hand thoughts on what it was like to be on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic and what EMS Week means to him.
“As the reality and seriousness of the pandemic set in, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.
At first, I honestly didn’t know what to think because it was all so new. The information we received was revised and changed so often that I didn’t know what would happen if I got sick.
In the beginning, there were times when a patient would cough on me and I’d get that phone call a few days later telling me I’d been exposed. I’d think to myself, well that’s it, I’ve got a couple days until I get sick. However, for whatever reason, it never happened; be it luck, my PPE did its job, or I did get it and I was asymptomatic.
As time went on, treating COVID-19 positive patients became the norm. The nervousness was gone and was replaced with determination to do what needed to be done.
One of the hardest things for me was simply that I was exhausted. With full PPE on, it would get very hot and sweaty carrying a 200 plus pound patient downstairs and out of their home. You couldn’t take off your PPE though; you’d keep it on throughout transport, performing all that needed to be done for that patient. After handing off care to the hospital, every nook and cranny of our equipment and squad needed to be sanitized. Once that was finished, you headed back out and did it all again, day after day.
All and all, I’ve grown not only as an EMT but as a person as a result of the past year. I was trained to handle infectious disease and have been educated on how viruses transmit from person to person. I know how to protect myself to the best of my ability using the means at my disposal. However, nothing other than actual real-world experience can teach you the reality of treating patients with these infectious, potentially deadly, diseases.
Our day-to-day mission never changed: respond to those calling for help and get patients to where they need to be in order to get the help they need. We start the day checking off our equipment, making certain we have everything we need and that it’s in proper working order. We clean and restock the station as needed. Then we wait for the call.
I love being the one who shows up when someone calls for help. The pandemic only made that need for help more prevalent. There are times in the EMS room you’d lock eyes with another first responder and no words are needed. The expression on our faces said it all. We are all tired; but with shared hardship comes strength.
Thank you to everyone from the dispatchers getting us the information we needed to the other crews stepping up when we needed it. Alone this would have been impossible.
EMS week is a time of recognition, and it’s always nice to be recognized. However, no one in EMS does this job for the thanks or the reward. Most of us do this job because it is who we are. We like answering the call for help; it’s the adrenaline and the satisfaction of making a difference. That being said, thank you for taking the time to recognize us. It’s truly appreciated. And thank you to everyone who has made work feel like a second home to me.
We get a lot of laughs and a lot of great stories working here. My dad often asks me, ‘why don’t you go work at Honda or Husky, you could make so much more money.’ I tell him it’s because I love what I do, and the people who work here are a huge part of that.”
Learn about emergency care services we provide at Mercy Health.