How old would you be, if you had no idea how old you really were?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pushing My Comfort Level

From the time I was 12 years old until I was 65 I had a job. Sometimes two jobs. Started with paper routes, ended teaching special ed and science in a high school on the Texas/Mexico border. In between I had social work jobs, teaching jobs, consultant jobs. I spent 9 years teaching people skills to young family practice resident doctors. Mostly, I was good at what I did. Sometimes better than others.

So here I am retired, seventy-two years old, operating with a some spare parts, a new heart valve, a below the knee prosthesis, and a pacemaker and one day I offer to join our local volunteer fire department. Even more surprising, they take me on, outfit me with turnouts and a helmet, and a radio and begin training me to assist on fire and medical calls. My mentor is a nineteen year old fireman, who is also an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician).

Seventy percent of emergency calls to our department are medical calls. My wife a retired middle school principal, is a paramedic who also works for the department. I saw no reason why I shouldn't follow that same path and now I am going to school at the local community college to learn to be an EMT. We started in January and will finish in May. My study partner is a 22 year old fireman. In the class we operate pretty much as peers. Our grades so far are in the nineties.

In spite of the decent grades I often find myself way out of my comfort zone. Most of my life I've made my living, talking. I've been a social worker and an educator. That was comfortable for me. But an EMT has to do much more than talk. An EMT spends most of his time on his knees working on someone who is on the ground or the floor. An EMT has to touch people and make on-the-spot decisions that are often a matter of life and death.

So I'm way out of my comfort zone. But it's OK. Probably good for me. Sure is exciting. Never considered myself an adrenalin junkie, but am enjoying the rush and excitement that is part of answering emergency calls.

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