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Adam and K9 Sig

K-9 Sig

I grew up in the Fire and EMS world as my dad was a firefighter/paramedic. I loved going to the station, climbing all over the trucks and trying on the gear. During high school I decided that I wanted to join the military and focused on that, unfortunately for me I was unable to join due to a childhood asthma diagnosis. I was lost but then my mom suggested fire and EMS. I then jumped into it. I attended Inver Hills community college for the Paramedic program.
I graduated and started to work as a paramedic at 20 years old. It was a baptism under fire for sure. The next year I became a paid on call firefighter and fell in love with that aspect of public safety. I experienced many highs and a lot of lows. At that time nearly 20 years ago mental health was starting to get some attention with first responders, however looking back at some of the horrific events I responded to attending a CISD was not enough. The culture at that time was “ok, we checked the box get on the truck and go again”
I stuffed those calls down and kept going. I started to develop and hard, cold attitude to some significant calls. I became more distant, It all just became so analog. Someone lost their life in a crash, well bad things happen and I moved along.
A bit later I got married and started a family, this was the turning point for me. I had young kids and I started to put myself in the family’s shoes of the incidents that I responded to. It became much harder to just stuff it down.
Shortly after starting my family I achieved my dream job. I was a full time paramedic/firefighter. I was able to do many things, attend some awesome training and work with some of the best people out there. But looking back it was still the same job just a little different response model. People were still dying, hurting themselves or others and even assaulting us the responders who were there to help them.
I started drinking more, I developed anxiety, deep depression, I started having nightmares, flashbacks, getting sick driving to work, dreading what calls were going to come in on the shift. It got so back I would call in sick just to avoid going in that day, I would have to take longer routes into the station to avoid an intersection or park where I experienced a horrible call.
In the spring of 2023 I finally decided I needed help. I started getting therapy, and obtained some medications. This helped some but it didn’t fix everything, I needed to be done with this line of work. I couldn’t keep having the trauma happen over and over again. In June I was diagnosed with PTSD related to my work as a first responder.
I was pulled from duty and put on medical leave. I was lost, this is all I have known for nearing my entire adult life, this is who I was.
As time went on, I started to change, I started to get some rest, I was less and less anxious and angry. My therapist could tell and told me “it’s time” I knew it too but didn’t accept it right away. I finally had the courage to admit I couldn’t do it anymore and left the Fire and EMS. Today I am trying to reinvent myself, I’m spending much more quality time with my family, I’m looking for another career field to keep me busy.
In the end I would like to say that this career field will give you a lot but it can also cost you just as much. We are only human and can only take so much. It’s ok to say that “I’m not ok” get some help, talk to your family and friends and remember you’re not alone.

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