The EMS Spouse’s Perspective


I think of going to work the same way I think of going to the gym: I usually don’t want to go, but I’m always happy when I get there. My husband has always had a much better attitude about both.

I met my husband on Christmas Eve, and when I asked him what he was doing for the holiday, he said, “I’m going to work.” I don’t think I said anything for a second, nor did I know what to think. “Who goes to work on Christmas?” I asked myself.

“I’m a paramedic” he explained. Boy, did I feel self-centered. At twenty-five, I thought I should’ve known better. First responders don’t work nine to five, and don’t get holidays off the way I did. My embarrassment quickly moved to admiration, especially when he told me his family was ten hours away and he wouldn’t see them until late the next day.

Almost nine years later, I am that paramedic’s wife and mother of his son. Each January, we check the calendar to see if his two-two-four schedule falls on any of the major holidays that year. Almost every time, he works at least part of one, so when most people are travelling to visit their families, we aren’t. When we got a big snowstorm last winter, our neighbor shoveled the driveway because I was pregnant and Bob was working. We wait nervously to see if he’ll get called in to work during a forecasted hurricane. We wait with bated breath at the end of each shift, to see if he’s going to get out on time so he can kiss our son goodnight.

So I used to feel that we had plenty of reason to complain (and on occasion, I would). Until I realized that the person who should be complaining about working on Christmas isn’t complaining at all. I began to see how passionate he is about his work, how important it is to our community, and how much he cares about providing quality patient care. Moreover, about how our sacrifices are worth it for him to be happy, and for the profession to have someone like him who is always striving to improve his skills and education. I realized that complaining about not having him home would be complaining about the very things that made me want to marry him in the first place.

Once, I asked him what he would do if he weren’t a paramedic, or if he ever wanted another career, or could see himself working in any other capacity.

He thought about it and discussed other things he might like, but then just said, “Not yet. Right now, I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing.”

That’s all I need to know.

Shauna Sullivan

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