Newman | The Positive Paramedic Project #118 | Night Time

I’m a day time guy. 

In my latest EMS existence in Shefford, I work the day shift. Six am to six pm. Granted, in the middle of February, daylight begins just after 7 am and ends just after 5 pm but I still get to operate in the day time. 

I wasn’t always a day time guy. 

There was a time when Di went to sleep listening on a scanner as I would sign-on for my night time shifts on Urgences-Sante (Montreal EMS). I can’t remember the exact number of my rig however we know the number three was involved. With my strong bloke-o-phone accent, trying to pronounce ‘trois’ has always been a challenge. Of course, that inability to properly enunciate ‘trois’ allowed Di to readily identify my voice amid a flurry of sign-ons, sign-offs, and calls being dispatched.  

Night time is a different world. It’s not just the immersive darkness. It’s the different rhythms. It’s a battle with your body’s internal clock. It’s trying to feel energized when you want to be getting cozy in bed. It’s eating ‘lunch’ just after the bars close and the overnight rush of alcohol-related calls begin to fade. It’s the amplified flash of the emergency lights without the usual cacophony of sirens necessary during daylight hours. It’s working in the shadows and wearing your own light source while trying to provide lifesaving assistance. It’s trying to make out the address or the cross-street or the vehicle in the ditch in the dark. 

It’s the lights in the ER entrance as you bring a patient in from the night. It’s coffee and a snack shared with other emergency services providers at an extended scene. It’s steam rising from your turnout gear while trying to ward off the chill that comes after the fire is extinguished. It’s climbing up ladders and working on rooftops in the glare of floodlights mounted atop firetrucks. 

It’s trying to find a way into a wrecked vehicle on its roof in the snow or in a field or in a swamp or on a street where the scene is lit by headlights and highway flares. It’s comforting a crying child awakened from sleep by the sheer terror of a fire burning in the livingroom. 

It’s the restless anxiety that comes with a glimpse of dawn and knowing you only have an hour or so before the end of your shift – and hoping you don’t catch a last-minute run that will carry you past the witching hour where it’s still possible to fall asleep easily when you get home.  

And then, your shift ends as the day begins. 

Now that I’m a day time guy, I start my shift by looking at the calls the night time crew worked. And I remember my time on nights with a mix of respect and appreciation. 

Thanks for your consideration.

Be well. Practice big medicine.

Hal

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