Well it happened.
I found out about it on March 19th.
All the drama, lawsuits, state fines, and problems from the last few years have finally come to an end…
My rescue squad has been shut down. We close our doors at 5 am on May 9th.
I’ve spent the last four and a half years there as a volunteer… every Thursday night and rotating weekends. Its where I meet great friends who I can consider almost family… where I learned how to really use all the skills I gained in EMT class… where I learned that I’m better in high stress situations like CPR and trauma calls than stay-and-play medical calls. Its where I learned how to drive an ambulance… and torture newbies that didnt have their ‘ambo legs’. Its my EMS home… and now its gone.
Well it will be in May…
I’ve been so upset about the news that I haven’t been able to write about it until now. I didn’t have words that could actually be written. I’ve been attending meetings with the rest of the department trying to figure out a way to fight it, or to decide if its worth taking the department into a new direction (paramedicine).
We were the first rescue service in the state of Illinois. Operating since 1940 purely as a volunteer non-for-profit service. Paramedic license #1 was one of our founding members… a gentleman whom I have had the pleasure of meeting. A man who still believes in the department he helped establish all those years ago.
I know my department hit a rough patch back in 2012, and since its been a fight to regain our reputation and trust from the town and people we served. I’m not going to waste energy by getting into all that happened… but we have fought and persevered, made changes and turned into a stronger, more respectable department.
Everyone still wearing the uniform and showing up to shift knowing we have less than 40 days left, has dealt with the criticism and taboo of being associated with the department, innocent victims in the political gunfire of the issues that ultimately brought us down. We stand strong together, all vowing to stick together until the very end… which we have done, and is approaching fast.
My time there has been short in comparison to the time the average career EMT/Paramedic will last at other departments. Four and a half years at my squad makes me a veteran. Its rare for a person to stay a volunteer as long as I have without the love, respect, and passion I hold in my heart for this career. After so long, my department was no longer a stepping stone in my EMS career… it was my home. It was a place I planned on stayed for as long as I live in this area.
Now I feel like I’ve experienced the death of a loved one. I feel a part of my heart broken and raw, filled with anger and hatred for certain people and certain politicians, people who I never want to see face-to-face after the department closes its doors…
I understand my career is not over by any means… I have already been applying to local private ambulance companies and may have an offer from a different volunteer department just 20 minutes away, but I am losing my home… my EMS home.
I know the day I don my uniform for the last time is going to be difficult and bittersweet. I’m doing my best to keep it from dragging me down, but it not easy. I am trying to keep my head up and a positive attitude. It’s the only real way to handle the situation.
The next 30 days will go by fast. I have 50 more hours of shift time to look forward to, and im going to do just that.