To my paramedic colleagues in Melbourne, Australia and around the world – Keep up the incredible work. You do an amazing job. Stay safe and keep caring.

LEAVING PARAMEDICS

Why quitting my job in ambulance was so hard.

MY HARDEST DECISION

All the stories I have read of people who leave their homes to travel around the world for years seem to begin with an immense dissatisfaction with their jobs. They are sick of the ‘9 to 5’, the traffic, the desk-job. I however, am not one of these people. I had one of the best jobs in the world, and I had to leave it behind.

Being a paramedic is amazing. I worked right in the heart of the city of Melbourne, looking after drunks, drugs, mental health and the occasional trauma. I got to drive around in an expensive Mercedes all day, getting coffee, eating out and helping people. I wasn’t trapped in doors. Every day was different.

There were, of course, the stresses. For me, the biggest one of these was shift work. I do not handle night shift well. Especially when it is 14hours. Once every 8 days I would have to work 5pm-7am and I dreaded it. I prided myself on being a professional and clinically competent paramedic, yet after 3am, having already worked 10hours straight with little rest, I was useless. That always scared me. Ofcourse, I took every precaution to be at my best – sleeping the day before, exercising regularly, strategic caffeine intake – yet I always hated the night shift haze that turned me into an irritable zombie after 3am.

Very little of my job was attending heavy trauma, high-speed car accidents or gruesome injuries. And when these did happen, you were so amped full of adrenaline that the gory scenes didn’t bother you – this is part of why paramedics love their job, its weird, I know. 

Motorcycle squad working out of Melbourne City. Perhaps an option for career progression if I ever return

Nightshifts with Britt, a work colleague at City Branch

I found instead that it was the mental health patients, the suicides and the persistent social problems we attended most fatiguing. At the time you don’t realise it, however after a number of years, speaking to angry, helpless or intensely depressed people every day, it started to get to me. Perhaps in the sanitary and safe environment of the hospital it would have been ok – but in the patients environment, in their cluttered home or street corner, witnessing the very real challenges that these people lived every day began to take a toll on me.

Despite these stresses however, I truly believe that being a paramedic is one of the best jobs in the world. Every day is different. Every day you get to meet new people and help them. I have been privileged to witness what humans are truly capable of – the good and the bad, the selflessness and the intense selfishness of human nature. Leaving my job was hard, but I hope that I can continue to help people through Grassroots Collective.

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