Working for the emergency medical services (EMS) you never really do stop. It is not a job you can walk away from at the end of your taxing twelve hour shift. It is often when I get home, absolutely exhausted having dreamt of my bed for the past four hours at work that I suddenly start to think about work. The irony is exhausting.
Sometimes this is good, sometimes it is bad.
I think work/life balance isn’t something you can really strive for when you work for the emergency services. The ‘job’ often is your life, and you’re life slowly becomes the job. You have a life set aside from the job and I think this is something precious you must look after, but work is a massive part of your life. You’re colleagues become your friends, your support network. Many EMS providers spend more times with their ‘work wife’s’ or husbands than they do with their real family.
When times are hard, I find it difficult to know who to turn to. A rough job can knock you for six. You got into this job to help people and you expect to deal with some hardships but you just don’t know how to until you get there.
Do you talk to the people at work, who have been there themselves or may have even been there on the day? Risk upsetting them with their memories or similar jobs?
Do you go home, and tell your closest family, your friends what you have been through that day while they’ve been upset because their hoover has stopped working?
I often feel duty bound not to. I often feel it was bad enough for all the people involved, all the people there. I feel like I don’t need to share this horror story with anyone else.
I find myself sayings things like ‘I don’t really want to talk about it’. I don’t even want to think about it half the time.
So when people ask how my day was, or what jobs I’ve been to lately. I found myself stuttering and struggling for words as I mutter the same usual white lies. I feel like people don’t need to know about some of these things. I feel often that ignorance can really be a bliss.
The only people that understand are the people that have been there. For us, its a reality. Ignorance isn’t really an option. You cannot ‘unsee’ the things you have seen.
And that’s where the segregation comes, that’s where the small part of your life that is separate from work is hidden and protected. The world where you don’t talk about work. That is my safety. Healthy or unhealthy, I do not know.