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How to respond when your spouse tells you to be safe at work

Each morning I roll out of bed, still mostly asleep, and get dressed in the dark and wife will wake up just enough to notice I’m leaving.  Somewhere in the back of her mind is the remote chance this is the last time we’ll speak to one another, but in the front of her mind is the hope that I’ll reset the coffee maker before I leave.

 

She has always offered some kind of goodbye usually including the natural “I love you” which was, is and always will be followed by an immediate reply, but I noticed a few years ago my response to her next sentence has changed.

“I love you. Be safe,” is what her sleepy lips send my way and I used to respond “I love you, I will.”

No more.

 

I can’t remember when I stopped telling my wife I would be safe at work, but for the last few years I just haven’t.  It has been replaced with “I’ll do my best.”

Maybe it was the few times I was nearly hit responding to a call, while wrestling a combative patient or arranging for quarantine for a known communicable disease from overseas, but it changed.

No one will come to my funeral and tell the wife “You know he told you he’d be safe, he lied!” but it just no longer feels right to tell her I’ll be safe.  The best I can do is remind her that I’ll be thinking of my family first as I go through my day of dealing with the unknown and should something happen, I did my best.

 

Do you have a ritual goodbye before your shift?  Has it changed over the years?

 

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3 Comments

  1. James Rosse June 1, 2017 11:54 am

    Yes. “Get up, the miniter is going off. We’ve got a call.”

    18 years of this.

    • Justin Schorr June 1, 2017 7:53 pm

      Chuckle snort.

  2. Brian Trotta June 16, 2017 4:48 am

    My response to the “Be safe,” imperative is “Always.”

    Because even when you’re wrestling with the 6’2”, 300-pound woman crazy high on PCP, or pushing past the well-armed drug dealers to go into a building for someone with three-week-old back pain you do it in as safe a manner as you can.

    Sure, wrestling with a patient isn’t safe, but you do it in as safe a manner as possible. When you’re wrestling, you’re calling for PD and back up, evaluating whether you have the advantage, looking for “alternative means” to defend yourself (Where’s that damn spare O2 cylinder when you need it?), and always making sure you have a way out.

    I’ll joke with the dealers and tell THEM to be careful, or ask them about their wounds from the last time I picked one of them up. It seems to work, they don’t give me the “hard” act any more. And maybe, just maybe, they won’t shoot at my ambulance when I’m going to pick up one of their victims.

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