Our department recently offered an early retirement buy-out option.  I understand a half-dozen or so people took it. So next month, 6 or so of my colleagues will run their last call and close the door on their career. Six people will write the final chapter and be done.

It makes me wonder. I wonder what that’s like, to hear the tones go off and say, “Yup, this is probably it, the last call of my career.”

What will people say about your EMS career when you’re all done? For many of the readers here at the spot, retirement is a long way away. It’s hard to imagine what is will one day be like to not be in EMS anymore. Yet, it’s worth considering, because you never really know when your last call will be.

Consider Elizabeth Ann Mitchell.

Elizabeth was 24 years old and a newly minted EMT when she ran her last call on April 3rd 2010. She helped supervise a controlled burn, talked with co-workers about her young son’s upcoming birthday and returned home. Five days later, an inattentive driver crossed the center line and struck Elizabeth’s vehicle. She died at the scene.

Elizabeth’s last call came far too soon. In the tragedy of her death and the short life of her EMS career, there is a lesson for all of us. Until that last day, when we decide to hang it up and walk away for good, none of us can say with any certainty which call will be our last.

For those of us who love this job, those of us who feel it in our bones, we become like Cinderella. We dance and we dance and before we know it, the clock strikes midnight.

When your career is over, what will we say about you and your contribution to this art?


  1. Davey was more then 10 years younger then me in age but had more then 10 years moe experience then me in EMS. We were complete opposites when it came to demeanor but we shared a common passion for EMS and for our patients. He became a mentor, a friend, and a calming force in my life. Davey’s last call came on an icey road in February 2007. He wasn’t even on call but came because a newer EMT had confided in him that the only call he was worried he couldn’t handle was delivering a baby. So when the tones dropped for a maternity, Davey went to help, to be there for a fellow provider. In the middle of the night, during an ice storm, for that is who Davey was. In all sense of the word a truly gentle man.
    I carry a picture of him in my run book and I carry him with me everyday in my heart and hopefully in my actions. So what I say of him is that he is with me. I can only hope after my career is said and done, that I will be worthy of the same thoughts from someone I helped along the way.

  2. Thank you for keeping the memory of Elizabeth, I never had the opportunity to meet her, but remember when our post at Johnston Ambulance told us the news and the loss of one of our own was palpable. May we always remember our brothers and sisters, and cherish them while they are here and when they’re gone.

  3. After ninteen years, thousands of calls and dozens of injuries I can honestly say that every call could be my last. I know that two years is an optimistic expectation, months left more likely, but you just never know.

    So far I’ve done a good job, but I never forget how you are remembered mostly by your final act. I just hope I walk out of here with some dignity left.


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