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?