Ever since a recent Monday night football game in Cincinnati when Damar Hamlin collapsed and went into cardiac arrest, we’ve been seeing news segments of the team of first responders, doctors and nurses who worked a miracle to keep a 24-year-old from dying on the field.
That’s all good and well. They absolutely deserve recognition because of life saving measures. This isn’t something easy like buttering toast or taking out the trash. Saving a life is a difficult and often traumatic experience, primarily because the survival rate isn’t 100 percent.
So yes, congratulations to Cincinnati first responders, but in my opinion, there are first responders, nurses, doctors, law enforcement and fire fighters all over this nation who do this every day. They too deserve to be recognized for their work.
I think being a first responder is similar to being a teacher. They don’t get paid enough for what they do because of the importance of their work. It’s really none of my business what they do receive in their paycheck, but it’s not enough for saving someone’s life or educating the lot of us.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase in the past, there’s no amount of money worth someone’s life?
But here they are, performing medical miracles more often than we rotate the tires on our car.
Some of us witness this in indirect ways. The farmers’ market that I belong to is held on Trinity Hospital property in Minot. And there isn’t a Saturday that goes by during the season that we don’t see ambulances, fire trucks and/or life support helicopters taking off.
It’s not just us, the vendors, at this market. It’s the customers too. There have been times we’ve seen the life support helicopter take off from atop the hospital building and land three times during our three-hour farmers’ market.
They are responding to heart attacks, farm accidents or car wrecks. Imagine jumping in that helicopter not knowing exactly what you are going to see when you get to the scene of a farm accident? An arm ripped off in a baler, a leg caught in a power take off, getting burned in a combine fire? Or, in one situation several years ago in Ransom County, a man’s entire body was sucked into his combine, killing him.
First responders see this all the time. Could you handle it? In 2006, I was involved in a combat lifesaver course at Fort McCoy, Wis. We spent more than a week in that class and we saw some gory details of what can happen on the battlefield.
None of us in my detachment had to deal with that during our 15-month mobilization, but many Soldiers do and it’s very similar to the mental trauma that nurses and paramedics deal with, especially if they know who the victims are like many do here in North Dakota.
I think it’s safe to assume that most of us would have difficulty dealing it. But, there are people who thrive on this activity, believe it or not.
Our oldest daughter earned a nursing degree from South Dakota State University and went into practice. Shortly after she left the college campus, she found a job in the Williston hospital during the peak of the oil boom.
Heidi has seen a lot of what I mentioned in her young life. And even though she prepared for it in a classroom environment, it’s never the same in the actual situation.
She told us one time that she became a nurse to treat the elderly and bring new babies into the world, not treat gunshot wounds. But that’s what she did for a short time in her career… treat gunshot victims.
Again, is that something that you could handle? Most of us can’t really answer that question until we are thrust upon it.
What I can tell you is that Heidi’s salary as a registered nurse doesn’t warrant what she and the tens of thousands of other nurses in this country receive in compensation.
Unfortunately, that’s probably not going to change. What can change is that we give these people the recognition they deserve. Let a nurse, doctor, paramedic, firefighter, cop or even helicopter pilot or ambulance driver know that they are always appreciated for the difficult work they do.