Dying to Live

days spent around death

encourages one to live

day by day we die

until we choose to live

life is not lost by dying

life is lost by not living

time never runs out

challenge each day to live

choose to live

with intent

facing life with hope

each day is a new life

each day the butterfly emerges

allow it to flap its wings

to create change

changing the smallest details

completely changes the outcome

grasp the live by the throat

demand to live

live each day to the fullest

until we are absolutely assured

that life will escape us

demand that your life

demonstrates this principle

understanding our limited existence

shout out that each day must be taken

living every day as if it were your last

for one day you're sure to be right


© 2016 Michael D Emmerich

EMS – You Can Never Leave

Last thing I remember I was running for the door

I had to find the passage back to the place I was before

“Relax,” said the night man, “We are programmed to receive

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave”

EAGLES – Hotel California

EMS is like the Hotel California: “You can check out anytime you like… but you can never leave” the memories, faces, successes and failures will always be with us. They dim at times over the years, but they are always there. I read a thought provoking and honest analysis on being a paramedic a few months back and have been mulling over her post, digging through ramblings from my field journals and the skeleton of a story I have been working on for about 2 years… these all prompted me to ramble further…

The blog post that triggered this article is: Unless you’ve been there, you wouldn’t understand: A Paramedics farewell to the job. Posted on February 10, 2015 by Di McMath


One of the key issues for me is the ability/or lack thereof to detach from what we are doing and seeing; this drags one into the massively dehumanising temptation of EMS. I do feel that this dehumanisation is both inexorable and dangerous – as practitioners we need to know how to halt or slow it down. After 30 years of emergency medicine practise; I am still not entirely sure if we can entirely halt the process, which is why we can never fully check-out.

Being a fan of the poetry of Wilfred Owen, and as I reread his poems on a regular basis, I was drawn back to his poems during this thought process and found some further insight on reading “Insensibility”:

And some cease feeling

Even themselves or for themselves

Dullness best solves

The tease and doubt

The poem plays along the interesting juxtaposed lines of detached versus involved, and the varied degrees of these mindsets. Those of us in the profession have over the years dabbled with both approaches, the trick is for each individual to find his/her own balance. That is all part of the process of slowing down the dehumanising process. Finding this balance is key, if we do not, then we are doomed to keep repeating the mistakes of our past (mistakes as regards emotions and those of a clinical nature).

Emergency Medicine has the ability to dehumanise and diminish or renew and expand our powers of feeling. It is our choice to decide which path to follow. We realise soon on in our profession that this is one of the many choices that we have to make. How we deal with this choice determines how we deal with another key critical decision we as practitioners in the field are confronted with at numerous times in our career. Who lives or dies, or why do some people die despite our best efforts; and the pain of admitting defeat and saying okay, we need to stop now, the patient is deceased.

It is on these crucial scenarios, that I have to agree with the title of Di’s blogpost:

Unless you have been there you wouldn’t understand – Its sounds trite, but it is so true.

Trying to explain this process of immediate Triage, that at times needs to be done in very short time frames, less than a minute, is very difficult. Those are some of the choices we can never walk away from, and even when we do make them we cannot stop thinking about “What If?” the curse and bane of every paramedic. The cursed ability to second guess yourself long after the fact on an ongoing basis. It is here where we as emergency medicine practitioners are faced with the dehumanising and diminishing or the renewing and expanding of mental and medical health.

The goal of our profession should be a living force in the quest for and prevention of human suffering, but that sometimes comes at the cost of our own mental health. As we enter, continue in and exit this amazing profession, lets consider the cost to those we have served and continue to serve. All we can do as practitioners is warn, and that is why the practitioner needs to be truthful.


Read these 2 poems I wrote on the cost of service:



The Ven of Life

Over the past few days a good friend of mine passed away, and upon his passing, and it has dragged me along to think of death, the fragile state of our existence and how quickly and unexpectedly the candle can be snuffed out. It made me remember something my dad said before he died: that its a sad day when you get to the stage of your live when your friends start to die around you … having lost a few friends of late, all in their mid 50’s, I have had cause to gaze introspectively at my navel, and just contemplate life.. and all its joys, friends, family and time spent with them, recollections of past events/encounters, and all the pleasure that these interactions have brought.

For those who know me, they would say that it is an irony that I get so closely caught up in death, with all its pain and emotion, seeing as though I have seen so much of it in my career, in so many places and caused by so many different events. All that prevents me from getting dragged into the quagmire of death; is my ability to insulate myself, build a wall…although that has also been to my own detriment, and I have, of late become more immersed in the death and pain which I encounter in my daily walk.

All these thoughts, emotions and reflections have moved me to pen this poem:

The Ven of Life

all that we are and have is our emotions

interactions and experiences

all that we have is the ven of our lifes

as we journey through life we cross paths with strangers

friends, family and loved ones

it is these paths that cross

intersect which drag us into the ven

the bigger the interaction the greater the ven

the more we interact the more we ven

we cannot exist without interacting

the extent of our interactions increases our circle

the more we interact the more we overlap

seeking to be apart of the greater universal circle

the commonality of our existence increases our ven

the more walls we break down the more we interact

the more expose ourselves to risk and become more fragile

this fragility increases our ven

which then enriches our lives

only through the ven of life
can we fully enjoy and appreciate

all that life has to offer

so ven on!

© 2015 Michael D Emmerich