I take for granted the things I do that make up most days; starting IV's, administering aspirin and nitro, assessing vital signs, stopping blood from leaving peoples bodies et al, but one of those mundane tasks I'll never think of as business as usual again.
Last night, while talking with a group of friends, a meeting if you will, one of the members of the group, who struggles with addiction spoke of his recent overdose, and subsequent revival and spiritual awakening.
"I know how much I can do, and how much I can't," he explained. "Trust me, people who OD don't do so by accident."
He is recovering, and has a chance to recover because some EMT somewhere did his or her job, didn't panic, got the right drugs administered and gave this man, a successful contractor by the way, a second chance. By doing so, ten people remain employed, three kids have a father and a group of like minded people have their friend.
I have revived hundreds of overdose victims. They are not "scum bags, shit heads, morons, idiots or junkies." They are people who have been given a second chance at life. For some, that life is relentlessly squandered, and will end by needle point, but most battle their addiction, are sick and suffering and deserve a chance.
I've been known to say some pretty dumb things, "A monkey could have pushed the narcan that saved that guy," being among them. But if saving somebody's life is monkey's work, then give me a banana and a tree and let me sit on a branch and be happy.
I've never been one of those medics who chastises people when the narcan takes the opiates out their system, rather I'm just happy I got the person back. We all hear stories of the addicts who rip IV's from their arms, or puke, or fight when revived, and I have had one or two of those over the years, but the vast majority, when welcomed back with kindness and understanding, and a dose of genuinely delivered advice rather than jokes, degradation and arrogance respond with gratitude.
Perhaps they even have a spiritual awakening along with their second, or third, or fourth chance.
Sure a monkey can push narcan, but it takes a special kind of monkey to follow through, and do the work that leads a person to the road to recovery.
After all of this time an an ALS ambulance you would think that I would have seen that it's not the drug that saves the lives, the drugs are simply the tool used to bring a person back from the brink. The true life saving happens from the moment the person rejoins the rest of us, and sees that people actually do care.
I'm still learning that I have a lot to learn. Thanks Bill W., for teaching me something last night. Yeah, I'm a work in progress alright, but it is most definitely one satisfying journey.