Add to Your Tool Box

The 2020 TEMSEA Conference is just a few weeks away. Register for the provider or instructor conference here. In the meantime, enjoy this piece written by TEMSEA board member Jason Fox.

By: Jason Fox

As both a paramedic and educator, I am often asked how I deal with death and dying. While it has not always been easy, I try to remind myself of a speech that I was honored to give as part of my paramedic class graduation.

Back then as an inexperienced paramedic, and even still today, I think of myself as a tool in God’s toolbox. As a healthcare provider, I do not decide who lives and who dies. A much higher power makes that determination, as it is all part of a greater plan.

If I, as a provider, want to be a part of the critical saves, I must prepare myself. I must prevent myself from becoming rusty, bent, or broken. I must be that bright shiny tool in God’s toolbox. While I may never know if my comparison is true, I think of God being much like a local mechanic.

When a tough task or difficult repair is at hand, the mechanic will often utilize his best tools. The likelihood of the mechanic selecting a rusty, broken, or bent tool to complete his important task is slim. Knowing the importance of his job, he is far more likely to select the bright shiny tool.

As a paramedic and educator, I must keep my education current and constantly learn new things as medicine is ever changing. If I keep my education and skills current, then maybe, just maybe I can be that bright shiny tool that God decides to use when dealing with tough tasks. It is then, and only then, can I as a paramedic be a small part of something so grand— the saving of a human life.

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If a life cannot be saved, I believe that God chose to use a different tool from his toolbox. While disappointed with that outcome, all is not lost. I use that experience as motivation to work even harder to ensure that I am the brightest tool in God’s toolbox.

From this day forward, if you will commit 110% of yourself to being the best provider possible, you will not only help yourself become the brightest tool possible, you will gain the ability to better process the emotions when you are not chosen for the task as at hand.

As a paramedic, I had one of the few calls that every paramedic prays never happens. I performed CPR on my own mother for almost an hour. Despite our most valiant efforts, a positive outcome was not meant to be. Naturally, the loss of my mother was devastating, by far the worst pain and disappointment I have ever experienced. As I laid awake night after night and tried to cry myself to sleep without success, I was full of emotions, many that I had never experienced. During the darkest time of my life, my saving grace in it all was my training.

I knew that from the first day of what was then called first responder school, I had given my all. I knew my instructors were some of the best. I knew I was fortunate to have so many experienced providers invest their time and effort in me as a young provider. Despite my strongest wishes, I knew God chose not to use me. Not that I was rusty, bent or broken, but that he had a greater plan. So, in spite of my indescribable heartache, I knew that everyone involved gave my mother the best chance of survival, but it just was not meant to be.