You have completed 80 to 100 hours a week for the past 6 months. Spring is rapidly approaching and you can taste the trout that you will catch along your favorite fishing hole. Your wife and children await with anxious wrist watches waiting on that final end of shift report to be completed and your vehicle to pull up in the driveway. And then… VACATION!!!

Remember the days with no cell phones? These were days when we actually had home phones and we used them. These were days when no caller ID was available to see if it was the office calling. These were the days when we actually used time clocks instead of all the modern up to date equipment, such as a telephone, to clock in and out. A blackberry was something we ate and canned for preserves, not something we talked on and typed on. Email was non-existent, unless you were extremely wealthy and could afford a $2,000 deck of cards to play solitaire with.

Vacation is defined through the dictionary as, “a.) a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended; b.) a period of exemption from work granted to an employee; c.) a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation.” Wow, what happened to this?

PTO as some know it today is defined as “Paid Time Off.”  Most of us know it as “Pretend Time Off.” It’s there, it is just not used for what it should be used for.

Today, we take this time off for granted. We schedule it, then we attach ourselves to our cell phones, emails or any other means of modern day communications, and we forget to actually enjoy this time away from work. We forget to allow ourselves the ability to refresh our minds and bodies to be prepared for the next call.

EMS professionals are all dominating, enduring and excitable individuals, waiting for something to happen. We know from past experiences that we can go from being sound asleep to 80 miles per hour down a long highway, and never even think that this is not normal. Trust me when I say that this is far from the normal everyday citizen in America.

As we begin a new year in EMS, we need to be more alert to our personal needs and desires away from our daily routines in EMS. I know we all love what we do, yet we cannot do it to the best of our abilities if we don’t take a break every once in a while. Speaking from experience, our bodies cannot take the continual beatings that we give them in this business. The alcohol, tobacco and convenience store foods, along with fast foods, take a toll on our bodies.  Without a break from this, we can suffer major issues with our health, both mentally and physically.

So, in the year 2009, use what you have earned! Make a pact with yourself to leave modern day conveniences behind and take a break from your very important job. Grab up a fishing pole and a friend and find a creek! It is amazing what a bobber and a glass of sweet tea can do for a person.

I, personally, want to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone involved with Arkansas EMS. Whether you are a first responder, billing clerk, fire fighter, dispatcher, EMT-Basic, EMT-Ambulance, EMT-Intermediate, EMT-Paramedic, Flight Nurse, Operations Manager, Owner/Operator or a Medical Director, you play a very vital role in the success of saving a life. It is you that goes from zero to 80 at the blink of an eye and does make that difference in someone’s life. Always remember, the call you are working on is the patient’s worst moment of their life, and they want you to make that difference.

I hope and pray that you, my coworker in EMS, have a very prosperous, joyful and wonderful 2009. Give me a shout if you here the trout are biting!

Keith Edmonds, EMT-A
Vice President
Arkansas EMT Association