This month marks nine years in emergency services for me. I started nine years ago as a volunteer firefighter with Seaside. I still remember my first call—a drunk outside one of the bars downtown. It was the same night I’d first been issued my gear. My dad drove the rescue to the scene, me in one of the rear seats, feeling very out of place.
I remember a lot about that first year: structure fires, cardiac arrests, and car wrecks. I joined the department to fulfill my Senior community service project (called a “Pacifica Project) and didn’t have much intention of sticking with it long term. Nevertheless, I started the First Responder class a few months before graduation. Within a year, I knew where I wanted to go with my life.
A couple of weeks ago, I had to do the ambulance stand-by at the home high school football game. I watched the crowd just as much as I did the game: young men with the faces painted in red and columbia blue, young women with glittered ribbons tied into the hair. Parents were wrapped up into their kids’ letterman jackets, fathers in red Seaside ball caps, mothers in red Seaside hoodies. The Friday night lights were bright, shining onto the white-striped field. The band played fight songs and the cheerleaders lead the crowd in chants of “LET'S GET FIRED UP!” It was a beautiful slice of Americana—and it made me feel a sense of sickly nostalgia.
When I think that I’ve been out of high school for nine years, my 10-year reunion coming up next year, I have the undesired feeling of being old… or perhaps just older. But when I think of nine years in emergency services, I have a feeling that my career is just getting started and that I’m starting to develop the kind of experience that will make me an experienced and respected care provider.
It makes me wonder why I have such contradictory feelings about the passage of nine years. My wife likes to tell me that sometimes I’m still stuck in high school, and maybe there’s some truth in that. I miss a lot of the friendships, the experience, of being in the crowd, instead of functioning on the sidelines. But I’m excited about where I’m going, that I’m married, own a home, have a career, and a stable lifestyle.
Sometimes nine years can feel like a like time and sometimes like no time at all.