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Tales of a Hay Hauler: End of an era

Brad Nelson for Progressive Forage Grower Published on 28 April 2016

I think it was about 15 years ago. I was minding my own business, getting a few groceries on my way home. The total fit into two or three plastic bags. The young teenage girl bagging groceries asked me if I needed help out with my purchase.

I smiled, and said, “No, thank you.” I went home and looked in the mirror. I didn’t look like someone who needed help out with two small bags of food.

A few days later, as I left a store, this very cute young lady came running out after me, calling out to me. “Wow!” I thought. “I must still have it if the young girls still chase after me.”

I had left one of my bags on the counter.

My wife has been involved in emergency medicine since 1978. When we moved to Washington state in 1992, for the first time in my life my schedule was such that I could take the class and join her as an emergency medical technician (EMT).

I don’t think I ever saved anyone’s life. I have no idea how many ambulance calls I was a part of. Most were mundane. Some were horrible. Some were really interesting.

One call involved a truck which was struck from behind as it made a right turn. The car, with the injured party still inside, was wedged under the trailer of the truck and was overhanging a fairly large irrigation ditch.

I was able to stand with my feet on the ditch bank and hold onto the frame of the trailer so that the other EMTs could use my shoulders as a platform on which to stand as they placed the backboard on the seat of the car and pulled the injured driver onto it and then out of the car.

On one call, the injured party was inside the ambulance on the gurney, and I heard a loud commotion from inside. It sounded like my teammates were being verbally abused and possibly threatened. I stepped my 6-foot-4-inch and about 250-pound carcass into the back of the ambulance and asked, “Is there a problem back here?”

The large, bearded and somewhat intoxicated patient looked at me and said, “There’s no problem. You ladies just do what you think you need to do.” Some days it’s too easy to be a hero.

Some days it’s not possible to be a hero. Those are the calls that, by the time we arrive, there is nothing anyone on this earth can do to bring back someone’s loved one. Weeks after one of these, an almost huge young man approached me. He thanked me profusely for what I said to him the night one of his family members left mortality.

On that dark night, he was trying to stifle tears. I put my hand on his shoulder and told him that tears were healing. I told him to find a private place and cry his eyes out – that he’d feel better. He did, and it worked for him.

One of the former EMTs, Mike, shared an event with me. At that time, the jumpsuits worn by the ambulance staff were bright orange. Halfway to the hospital, the patient started to regain consciousness. He had lost control of his car and crashed, most likely due to not having enough blood in his alcohol.

As his eyes took in the scene, he seemed in awe of his surroundings. After several attempts at speaking, he finally asked a question.

“Am I in Heaven?”

Mike gently assured him that he was not in Heaven.

The patient then studied his surroundings, where everything seemed to be bright orange.

He then wailed, “No! Not the other place?”

Mike assured him that no, he was not in the other place, either.

Sometimes the cause of a car crash seems to be that none of the occupants was driving. Other times, that two or three people inside were actually driving.

Our fire district is taxpayer-funded and must renew its maintenance levy every so often. I was able to write up a “volunteer spotlight” piece on most of the volunteers of our district prior to our latest two levy elections. These ran one at a time in the local paper.

There was concern about the levy passing, since the school district had failed more than a couple of attempts to fund the schools. I’m not sure I helped, but our EMT levy passed by greater than 80 percent. Seems that the voting taxpayers appreciated having an appropriate ambulance with trained EMTs in the community.

Last week, the fire department called and asked me to come in to the station to visit. In as kind of words as are possible in the English language, I was informed by the chief that I was now too old and decrepit to continue functioning as an EMT. I understand. Perhaps I’d feel better if I had chosen to stand down before the effects of arthritic and artificial joints became so obvious. Maybe not.

Be useful and helpful while you can. It must be hell to get old and sit around and have nothing of substance to reminisce about.  end mark