One Shoe On, One Shoe Off – Reflections of an EMT

One Shoe On, One Shoe Off,

An infant sized BVM attached to an oxygen pump. (illustrative)

An infant sized BVM attached to an oxygen pump. (illustrative)

Come back from a long day at the office. Three social events on the same night.  A friend’s 50th birthday, a Bar Mitzvah, and an engagement party. From the early morning, I’ve not seen my house.

Night time. Midnight. Home. I walk in. I say hello to my daughter who is still up. I sit down and begin to get organized for a shower.

I have one shoe on and one shoe off. My radio goes off. “Street #####. Unconscious Child”. My right hand grabs my motorcycle helmet. “One-year-old” My jacket appears in my left hand. “Responder 50 en route!” My daughter hasn’t been surprised by these calls for a long time now. She closes the door behind me softly.

My ambucycle and I are en route. The voices in my helmet headset spring to life. “5220 en route!” “3370 en route!” “3379 en route!” The dispatch center asks: “3321 en route?” The answer…. “Nu, what do you think?!” Each and every one of them has left the warmth of their houses, perhaps even their beds. We are all en route.

With one shoe on and one shoe off, I arrive at the address. CPR! A tiny baby has turned a color that would terrify any living person. So small. Within three minutes he is surrounded by five volunteer EMS personnel. Everything is working on autopilot in quick rapid succession… “Begin compressions”… “Connecting defibrillator”… “Who is helping me with intubating?”… One is prepping adrenaline, while another is preparing the oxygen mask.  

Five minutes pass. We are in the fight…. for a life. The last responder to arrive delicately ushers the worried parents into a bedroom. We are all here for one purpose. To save a life. To return home. For all of us to return home. After the call, after the transport, after the hospital stay… to return home, and to make sure that no one will be left behind.  

One shoe on and one shoe off, I get back on my ambucycle to return home. The weeping heavens open themselves up and water me with renewal while I drive home.

Behind me, everything worked like a well-oiled machine. How much heart and how much feeling went into those actions that were undertaken as if on autopilot. The dispatch center has been notified. 9400 contacts me on the radio and the psychotrauma and crisis response team takes over and begins helping the family.    

One shoe on and one shoe off, I kiss my youngest girl even though she is sleeping soundly in her bed.

One shoe on and one shoe off even an hour later. I am sprawled out on my bed and I cannot manage to fall asleep.

Until now, this has been a bad night.

From this point on, may it be a good one.   

-Moshe Sa’adon – Volunteer 50

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