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In honor of this year’s EMS Week (May 19th to the 25th) I  asked others to share EMS-related events that had a profound impact on their life. Below is what my friends and colleagues chose to share. Mine is already posted here.

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I remember responding to a call on rt 280 a car crossed over the center striking a camero killing a young lady driver instantly. A guy was notably upset found out later it was her husband who was following her home they had just bought the camaro. A call that went in slow motion.

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So many thoughts, so little time. I will say the majority of my memories are of my fellow EMS personal I worked side by side with. The look in their eyes, the touch of their hand, the knowledge we were all on the same wave length as we worked to aid the ill and injured…stamp out death, dying, and disease…and stop the grim reaper. As I can still see some of the patients I cared for, remember the smells of their homes, and even feel the heat/cold of the ambient temperatures of the area we cared for them in. My most vivid memories are of the people who have dedicated their lives and time to care for people they never met. Congratulations to all of you and thank you for all you did, do, and continue doing.

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The car accident with Ronnie Sansone. A night with Jen I will never ever forget.

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First CPR save.

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My mutual aid infant code at Rutgers when I wasn’t even working, just visiting . I can still see the wispy hair on his head.

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Joan Marie

Sitting down to a holiday dinner and having all three sons have to leave to take a call (more than once). 

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The night of the South Orange Rescue Squad fire and feeling helpless watching it burn! But we were back in service the next day, Thanks to Maplewood Fist Aid Squad, And St. Barnabas loaning us ambulances to use and a local business giving us space to work out of. 

August 23, 1989 at 11:30 pm South Orange Police Officer John Monsees was shot in the line of duty while responding to a burglary in progress, If having a friend shot is not bad enough, his wife was on on dut with us that night. John recovered from his wounds.

Responding and transporting patients brought over by boats to Liberty State Park on 9/11.  

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New to Brick City

At the age of 19, I got my first EMS job in the city of Newark at UMDNJ.  I had arrived.  I rode around that city day in and day out on that ambulance and learned some very valuable life lessons.  I was as green as they come but I learned quickly.

The most important lesson I learned early on was while riding with my partner through south Newark.  We came upon what appeared to be an abandoned building and I said to him that it was a shame that all the windows were broken out because if they weren’t, then people could live there.  He then replied, “Oh people live there.”   I was appalled and shocked and had a difficult time hiding it.  I then said to him, “It is terrible that people have to live that way.”  He then said, “Oh, they’re used to it.”  I was quiet for a moment and then I replied, “That doesn’t make it right.”

It was on that day that I really realized that we are all human beings.  No matter where we live, or how we grow up, how we dress, or behave.  Everyone comes from somewhere, and each one of us is someone’s something; mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, or friend. We all deserve to be treated well regardless of who we are or where we live.  I have carried that lesson with me throughout my life and it has served me well.

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The first time I did CPR was on a young, previously healthy woman in her 30s who aspirated while eating lunch and went unresponsive. I was 16, a brand new EMT.

The medics pronounced on scene, but even after we stopped I couldn’t take my eyes off her sneakers – white, laced up, brand new – I can still see them today. It made me think that when she left the house that morning, and put those sneakers on, she never planned for this to happen.

My late partner, Tony (who must have noticed me staring), read my mind, then said out loud, “No one ever sees this coming. That’s why we do what we do. Not so we can save everybody- because we won’t- but to be ready to act when bad things happen, and so that the loved ones of each of our patients know that everything possible has been done for them.”

I never forgot his words, or that day. Ironically, a few days after that, her sister wrote a letter to our squad thanking us for trying to save her sister’s life, and the efforts we made that day. EMS is not just about making a save- it’s about touching lives and providing comfort and compassion when it’s needed most. In the scuffle of day-to-day, too often, we lose track of this.