EMRs: Always on the job
VOLUNTEERING Jon Paul Jones, left, and Earl Liedtke are two emergency medical responders who don't mind being on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to answer to any kind of emergency. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Nov. 26, 2000
Like most emergency medical responders, Jan Goss doesn't know why she volunteers for a job that takes her away from home at 3 a.m., sometimes into the cold and rain, to witness what most people can't imagine.
After 10 years on the job, Goss can't imagine not responding.
Howard Conaway of Toomsuba VFD became an EMR in the late 1980s. At 72, he is still wondering what drives him in the job.
Conaway said he doesn't have trouble leaving tragedies at the front door of his home, "I don't carry them to bed." But for others, even the self-described "detached" volunteers, forgetting could be the hardest part of the job.
When the pager goes off, most volunteers only know they're going to a wreck. They don't know what's involved, if people have been killed, if cars are on fire or overturned or who is involved, Arnsdorff said.
Earl Liedtke became an EMR in 1992 after a one-year stint as a volunteer firefighter with the Clarkdale VFD.
Liedtke said volunteers will cope most any way they can, but especially by talking among themselves or with professional therapists or preachers.
Arnsdorff said passersby might often get the wrong impression from EMRs who are smiling despite the tragedy. Smiles and laughs are a way of coping for both the EMR and the patient, he said.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.