I’m continually amazed at how surprised my Uber passengers are when I tell them I volunteer. At first, I can tell they feel safer knowing that their driver also drives an ambulance. Then comes the disbelief: “Why do you do it? Don’t you want to get paid? Is it worth it?”
They just don’t get why I would help others for free.
Maybe they haven’t been as lucky as me, growing up where I live now, with so many connections to my community. I’m a small-town girl. I like walking into the North Sea Deli and seeing four or five people I know. I like knowing all the kids on my kids’ teams, cheering at their games with other parents. I like being with them for the full ride as they grow up.
Even better, I like responding to ambulance calls. After 18 years, I’m continually amazed at how calm and collected we all stay, even as an ordinary alert morphs into a prolonged life-or-death operation. Comforted, not petrified, as a patient’s well-being hangs in the balance of our coordinated skills and teamwork. Amazed, as together, we accomplish the seemingly impossible, and someone gets to live another day because their neighbors care and rally.
Like last week, when a 60-foot-high tree decided to fall onto Noyac Road, and an ordinary guy on his way to work got trapped under tons of wood that fell with a crushing velocity. Talk about shock and awe! This man’s life was spared by an inch.
I had just run a call and was doing paperwork for our new building when a “car vs. tree” call toned out. Normally, we would expect that a car collided with a tree — not that a tree had fallen upon a vehicle. No one expected the magnitude of the emergency.
I’m extremely proud of our entire crew and of our medic, Phil Cammann, whose extraordinary scene leadership, in the face of significant hardship, coordinated a multiple-agency effort that would rival the choreography of a world-class ballet.
We needed the Town Highway Department from its North Sea, Noyac and Bridgehampton barns to come in with a payloader to carefully cut branches so that, together with the North Sea Fire Department, we could surgically clear access to our patient. We closed the road for an hour in order to extract the patient, during which time our EMTs had to reach through debris to stanch the bleeding and maintain his stability.
Despite these odds, and because all these agencies coordinated so cleanly, this patient has a chance at life.
Why do I volunteer? It’s simple: I’ve never felt so proud or so fulfilled. You can’t put a price tag on this feeling.
Kreymborg is chairwoman of the board of directors of Southampton Viounteer Ambulanc — Ed.
One fine body…