I would often sit in the back of the ambulance when a job was done and simply let things settle. Tension takes time to leave a space where a life and death struggle has happened, and the confined space of an ALS vehicle doesn’t have a lot of room for the air to clear.
Much like the body and mind slowly relaxes after a stressful experience, so too does the air surrounding us need a chance to deflate.
With the smell of blood still thick in the air, not yet cleared out by the exhaust fans, and the floor littered with debris; catheters, plastic bags that moments before held oxygen masks and tubes, sweat, saline and empty medication vials I would close my eyes and let it all go.
Sometimes the house 02 that somebody forgot to turn off would fill the space with hissing, sometimes just silence surrounded me, and I would take time to think of the person who just left us.
At times a connection could be felt, and somewhere deep in my soul I would feel a thank you coming from somewhere other than my mind’s own manifestation.
These were private moments between me and the departed, and without taking the time to acknowledge life and loss, and to let things settle I could never have been able to key the mic and say, “Rescue 1, back in service.”