Emergency Medicine? Sure, why not?

I'm not participating in national novel-writing month this year, but I do enjoy writing, so I figured I'd settle for writing a little about why I chose to switch from a career in computer programing to emergency medical service.

When I was little, as my mother can attest, I fell down. A lot. It seemed like we would have to go clothes shopping once a month because I would wear out the knees of my jeans, and she had a huge stock of square bandages for when the pants didn't provide enough protection against scrapes. Learning about how to patch myself up took away some of the sting of the injuries. I also got the usual childhood illnesses and spent many a late night in a waiting room, so I was pretty used to dealing with doctors and nurses.

As I got older, I loved to read. I began reading through my father's old Boy Scout manuals and found the first aid chapters fascinating. I would read through them, digesting the words and diagrams, imagining scenarios when I might need to perform some of the skills while on a hike or camping trip. From there I began reading field medicine guides for the Army and books from the Red Cross. I took a CPR class and learned a little about being a lifeguard.

I continued to study field medicine informally on my own off and on as a hobby, but chose mostly to focus on my computer studies. In my last year of college getting my CS degree at Georgia Tech, I decided that I wanted to join the Marine Corps, and as part of my preparation for Office Candidate School I once again dove into that subject. The Corps didn't work out, but I continued my firearms training and figured I knew enough to control bleeding if someone got shot until the ambulance arrived.

I moved to California and back, and after a year or so the company I was working for went under, and I found myself with some time on my hands. I had written code to make international phone calls cheaper for people. Some of my code runs in car fuel injectors, some in microwave ovens, some in medical equipment. Some of it runs on Google's web servers. Thousands of my programs have been downloaded and used on iPhones by people around the world. I've built websites and servers and all kinds of computery things, touching millions of people in a tiny way. I thought, hey, I've done a lot of stuff with computers, I wonder if I'd be as good at something else?

I went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, and while we were there two of the kids sustained injuries, and I was on the front lines treating them with the knowledge I'd built up over the years. I loved the adrenaline, the feeling of helping someone in particular in a big way, rather than many people in a small one. I loved the connection.

When I got back, I found an EMT program and signed up. Since then, I've learned a huge amount about myself, the human body and how to fix people when they break. I'm certified in CPR by the American Heart Association, I'm making the highest grades in my class, and I'm loving every minute of it. I've been to class 28 days, covered 22 of the 45 chapters in our text book, and lead several study groups.

I don't know what I'm going to do with my certification when I get it in March, but until then, I'm going to try to make the most of this opportunity to learn and practice.
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