Saturday, April 26, 2008

Did you ever wonder what your obituary would say?

Now if that doesn't get your attention, nothing will.

In my EMS news today I found an article/obit from Whidbey Island in Washington State telling of a memorial service for Charles F. "Curly" Charleton.

I didn't know the man but had the honor to know many who I imagine were like him. Vietnam vet, pillar of the community, police officer, firefighter, EMT, lifelong learner. Someone who made a difference. It seems the world is a better place having Mr. Charleton here for almost 70 years.

An obituary says a lot about how a person lived. Steven Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (wiki) uses this obituary concept as an exercise to encourage people to make big picture, principled decisions rather than chasing minutiae without direction.

In EMS our influence is both large and small. It is large in the commitment we make, the impact on our communities and the good we do for people. It is also seemingly small, but important in scale when we help an individual or comfort the family member of a sick or injured person.

Yet when the tables are turned and the relative of the sick or injured person looks at what we did for them; a kind word, action or simply providing comfort, it will be regarded as one of the largest and most important things we could possibly do. To be there for someone in a time of need.

When the obituary of an EMS provider is written it won't (and maybe shouldn't) contain things like "Stanley had the highest success rate for IVs and intubation of anyone in the county." or "Felicia worked more overtime than anyone in recorded history." That misses the point.

Those who stay and thrive in EMS realize that the words, "...proudly served his community helping others as an EMT." is just right. Because once the obituary is written our time here is through. The people who are left behind to read this will have the memories of the dedicated service you provided. The memories of the pride and passion you displayed. And the gratitude of the people you served.

When I look backward and forward to envision my obituary, I am proud that it will contain my years in EMS. I also realize that I have much more to do before that obituary is written.

And so do you.

No comments: