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  • Stressed-out Probie needs some advice...

    I'm in need of some advice because I need to make a difficult decision. I'm a volunteer at a very nice fire department that has offered an in-house EMT-II class that is free of charge to all members. (I'm currently an EMT-I which = EMT-B in the "lower 48. EMT-II is like EMT-Intermediate.) My department is in dire need of "Lead Medics" and EMT-II's and I feel that they are kinda counting on all of us B's to fill in the gaps. And we are more then willing! I've signed up for the course and the department has made plans to pay for (or already have paid for) my attendance. I totally want to be an EMT-II and I've been waiting for ages for this class to be made available. I love firefighting and EMS and I have big dreams of being a Paramedic some day. (Becoming a Paramedic when you live in Alaska is next to impossible!)
    Here's the problem:

    I've lost two deputy fire chiefs LOD - both of whom where not only great friends, but mentors as well. (One in March, the other in July) In May I was badly injured and I've been busting my hump at physical therapy which is nothing short of pure agony since everything hurts like crazy. (The injuries hurt and the treatments hurt!!!) I'm glad to say that I'm healing but it sure is slow as heck and I'm about as frustrated and stressed out as a person can get. Well...I guess my problems really aren't THAT bad but I'm suffering terribly inside and outside. I'm on non-response status so I dno't even have the joy of going on calls to soothe everything. I'm having a difficult time with college since I'm still stressed out and so far I've totally screwed up my classes. My emotional pain is improving every day but I'm still hurting and this is causing me to be ... lethargic in some areas like studying and sitting in class.

    The EMT-II class takes place during Christmas Break and even though I want to attend I can't help but think that I want to go home and see my mom and dad. I keep thinking, "It would feel so good to go home and spend a month with my family and have them all around me...Mom, Dad, Step-Mom, Step-Dad, little sisters...their crazy cat..." I don't have a husband or a boyfriend to turn to right now and so I keep thinking that a month of relaxing with Mom and my family would be the perfect thing to help me de-stress and get back on track.

    Would it be wrong of me to ditch my fire department, ditch the EMT-II class and just be like, "Sorry - I'm heading to Massachsuetts for the next month. See ya!" ?

    Well...sorry for babbling on and on about this. I'll quit typing before I post a book.
    Probie Name: HurryUpMichelle!!

  • #2

    I think you already know the answer to your question. You need to take care of yourself in order to be able to help your dept. and the public you serve.

    Take a few weeks to get yourself straight.

    Your dept. will be there when you return.

    Good luck,



    • #3

      I agree with AVF&R452. To function at the best of your ability in the EMS field, you need to learn all you can in these classes. If you're that stressed out, you won't have the time or mental stregnth to devote to learn that you need to. Then, you aren't as effective in the field. That doesn't do anybody any good. Take some time, chill out, get some rest, remove yourself (and judging by all the posts you have on this site, this is gonna be the hardest part) from this field entirely for a little while. You don't wanna get burned out before you even start. Good luck with everything. Remember, EMS and the fire service is always about "looking out for #1.
      Life is only temporary, but freedom goes on forever. God bless those who gave all.


      • #4

        Jim is right, take a break and worry about taking the course once your back in action.

        Lt. Chris Shields
        NFPA 1001 Firefighter
        New York State EMT-D
        Onondaga County
        Syracuse, New York

        [ 11-18-2001: Message edited by: SIGNAL99.COM ]

        [ 11-18-2001: Message edited by: SIGNAL99.COM ]
        Chris Shields
        Lieutenant / EMT
        Haz-Mat Technician
        East Syracuse Fire Dept
        Onondaga County, NY


        • #5
          yeah...I'm on injury leave anyway. I guess my department wouldn't exactly be short-handed if I went home for a month. I just feel so guilty for saying I'd take this EMT-II course and then just up and leaving.

          I see what your saying about the class and how I wouldn't be doing well in it. I'm having difficulties with my college classes and EMT stuff is always more intense...

          I'm not all weird and stuff because I'm stressing out over these small things am I? I mean...it's not like I was at Ground Zero or anything. I hope I'm not some kind of wussy.

          [ 11-18-2001: Message edited by: Michelle Ann ]
          Probie Name: HurryUpMichelle!!


          • #6

            Hang in there...You will make it. I had some problems a few years back with regards to my personal life {Just plain Stupidity} and it took me having to give up the Fire Department in NJ for over a year and moving to Nevada with my parents to get my life back on track. ~ Once I did what I needed to do I returned to NJ and I'm glad to report I got married, Have an adorable 21 Month Old Son and now and excellant Job as well as belonging to a great Volunteer Fire Dept. I say this to you because I kind of know how you feel....Although I wasn't injuried Physically I was an emotional mess. But I came through it as I know you will too. Like others have said....Take care of your-self first and than worry about the department.....Good Luck
            ***The Opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect those of the Department to which I am a Member ! ***

            Stratford Fire Co. # 1.."Any Job ~ Any Place ~ Any Time"

            Check us Out www.stratfordfire.com


            • #7
              What's your hurry? You have a lifetime ahead of you and it sounds like you are trying to cram it all at once.
              I've seen the "brightest flames" burn out very quickly. We had a guy that only lasted six weeks one time.
              You can't be effective, if your head isn't right. Spending time with your family is a great idea. I don't have either parent left and I cherish the time that I was able to spend with them. I have no regrets, because I was able to see alot of them while they were on this Earth. They always helped me find "center" again and especially after a "bad one". Like the time I lost a 9 month old. I was an EMT and we helped this little guy fight for his life and when we got to the hospital, we all felt so good because he was alive when we got there and thought he would pull through. I read the next day that he had died. I called my mom, bawling and told her about it and she talked me through it. I didn't need a CISD team; I had Mom and Dad.
              There was a time when I was a firefighter, an EMT, a village board member, working 70 hours a week at my regular job, trying to be a father and a husband. I finally had to make some hard decisions because if I wasn't taking care of myself, it would be tough to take care of others. The fire department became my focus after my family. I am pleased to say that I have been at it for 21 years now and have been chief for 15 years. And my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year. There is a song by Cat Stevens that goes: "take your time, think alot, think of everything you've got, for you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not." I believe that he was saying that life is harder if you try to ignore your problems.
              In regards to your PT; it hurts to feel good!
              I have had my knees reconstructed 11 times. I am looking forward to having them replaced. You have to have good mental health in order to get the most out of your therapy. We hurt every day, but the worst thing we can do is give up. Sometimes, we have to lighten our load. Then with new energy, we can come back and start working on our goals again. Take a leave of absence. There is nothing wrong with that. It's better than quitting and with a leave, everyone will know that you are coming back; better than ever. You have to do what's best for you. That may mean giving less to others.
              Once you re-prioritize, your stress will become more manageable. And things will start to make sense again.
              If Arizona can win the World Series, there's hope for the rest of us.
              Visit www.iacoj.com
              Remember Bradley Golden (9/25/01)
              RIP HOF Robert J. Compton(ENG6511)


              • #8
                Michelle -

                Hey, you're young, you're enthusiastic, you're a go-getter. You have plenty of time to pursue your studies and training. I think someone else said it best - you won't be able to help anyone until and unless you help yourself first.

                Take care of yourself, mentally and physically, and you can come back strong as ever, and be a real credit and asset to your department and a blessing to the people you'll help.

                Take the time. You won't regret it.

                Take care, and stay safe!
                "Let's roll." - Todd Beamer, one of a group of American soldiers who handed the terrorists their first defeat.

                Joe Black

                The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone (but you can borrow them )and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated (but then again, they just may not be thinking clearly).


                • #9
                  From what I've read of your posts, Michelle, you're nothing if not enthusiastic about your chosen calling. Taking a couple of weeks off to be with your family will not cause you to rethink being a ff/emt. If anything, it'll make you all that more enthusiastic to get back into it once you've recuped. I remember what they taught us in t&i classes: take care of YOURSELF first. Otherwise you can't help anybody else. Your department will understand.

                  Take the time off and have an enjoyable holiday with you loved ones. There will be other classes, and ALWAYS more runs. Things will sort themselves out.
                  I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine.

                  --Kurt Vonnegut


                  • #10
                    Michelle...take the time off that you need and go home to visit your family. After all, Massachusetts in November has got to be warmer than Alaska (it was 58 degrees here today!)
                    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
                    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY


                    • #11
                      Michelle, You don't say how old you are but I get the impression you are fairly young, and you don't go into what happened to your friends, the circumstances of their passing. You also don't go into how you were injured. If you don't feel comfortable letting the board know why that is fine, but I wonder if maybe your feelings now have anything to do with some CIS or post traumatic stress? Many of the symptoms you are describing are very similar to those experienced with CIS or PTS. If this is indeed the case, then take the time you need, but if you need to find someone you feel comfortable with and deal with the other issues that may be rearing their ugly head right now. Don't ever be ashamed to ask for help, I'd hate to see a young promising career snuffed out because of it.

                      If you are just plumb worn out, which is also a possibility, the darn it girl, get some rest and relax. It will all be there when you feel yourself again.

                      Take care


                      • #12
                        Michelle -

                        What is the first lesson one learns in emergency first response? To make sure the scene is safe BECAUSE you are no good to anyone if you are injuried yourself. I believe that also includes the person, not just the scene they are responding to.

                        I know you will be great at what you do. The lessons we learn and remember are the ones that helps us be the rescuers we are. It is also the dynamics that make us who we are as individuals. Please, listen to your heart and your gut - we all can give you advice...but the ultimate decision is yours to make. The fire department will still be there whatever you choose to do.

                        What I heard from you was you love firefighting and want to be a paramedic....a delay will not change that passion. I believe in you. I have been around firefighting ALL my life and all I am able to focus on is that you must be okay first to do your job well. Like I said - I believe in you!! There is a lot going on for you and taking care of yourself is VERY, VERY important. The rest doesn't matter if you are not in your best skin.

                        I send tons of hugs. I welcome an email at [email protected] to let me know how you are and to stay in touch. We may be separated by distance but we share a common passion. I will support you in whatever you decide to do.

                        Keep Safe.
                        "Dance as though no one is watching you, Love as though you have never been hurt before, Sing as though no one can hear you, Live as though heaven is on earth."
                        - Unknown


                        • #13
                          Oops, looks like I might be on the other side of the fence here...

                          Did you commit to either?

                          (hint, your answer is "yes"- I've signed up for the course and the department has made plans to pay for (or already have paid for) my attendance.)

                          In the fire service, your word is your bond.

                          I understand that you are a volunteer, but you made a committment and now it is up to you to keep your word. Especially if they have already paid for it.

                          Skip out on this and here's how it goes next time you want to get some special training.

                          "Didn't she ask us to go to something and then back out after we both agreed she could go and we would pay for it?"


                          "What happened?"

                          "She changed her mind"

                          "OK, no."

                          But then again, you are doing this for free.

                          Just remember future credibility rides on todays decisions.

                          [ 11-18-2001: Message edited by: mongofire_99 ]
                          It's only my opinion. I do not speak for any group or organization I belong to or associate with or people I know - especially my employer. If you like it, we can share it, you don't have to give me credit. If you don't, we are allowed to disagree too (but be ready to be challenged, you may be on to something I'm not). That's what makes America great!


                          • #14

                            While you do make a valid point...let me add this thought, if her heart and mind aren't in taking the class at this time what is the point? She will not be a good student in the class and will not effectively learn what is necessary.

                            Michelle Ann,

                            Stress is a killer, both physically and emotionally. Take the time off that you need and heal your body and your mind and your spirit. I believe that your enthusiasm has shown through many times on the forums. That leads me to believe you only want to give your best. And I think that you believe you are unable to do that now for that emt-II class.

                            I have been stressed and burned out myself...paying attention to yourself and doing what you need to do to be able to come back stronger than ever is the single most important thing right now.

                            Take care and let us know how you are,

                            Crazy, but that's how it goes
                            Millions of people living as foes
                            Maybe it's not too late
                            To learn how to love, and forget how to hate


                            • #15
                              Family, work, vol. That is the way it always been for me, grant it my family knows that sometimes I have to make sacrifices for the other two to flow smoothly. But family is always first. As for already making a commitment, you kinda got yourself in a hard place but no matter how good people can work under pressure and that is what a lot of public saftey personal do, I don't know a whole lot that learn all that well under pressure. Finaly not to sound like a pesimest or a person who worries too much there is always another class somewhere sometime but there may not always be another time to spend with your loved ones, I think that reality has set in to everyone. But despite my ramblings and the others you are the one who has to live with whatever you decide.
                              the truth never hides for long


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