NW-3008_BannerHey Woody!

I’m an emergency medical services worker (EMS) who’s just about had it with the gay drug culture. EMS workers hate “OD” calls (Overdose) because it’s always potentially a life-or-death run. Sort of like an “MI” call (Myocardial Infarction, a.k.a. heart attack), only worse because at least the heart attack victims didn’t bring it on themselves.

Privately, many EMS workers call the gay overdosing “attempted suicides.” My compassion for these people is ebbing. I’m risking my life for people who are trashing theirs. Imagine if we had to send helicopters to rescue people because they fell off a cliff. Now picture sending helicopters to rescue people who throw themselves off a cliff, over and over. How many times can we keep sending the helicopter before you say, “Look, these people obviously want to die, let them.”

Where do I go to get my compassion back?

— Tired of it

Dear Tired:

I cannot believe the homophobic crap you just laid on my living room floor.

Straight overdose cases are worth turning the TV off and hopping on your ambulance but gay ones aren’t, right? I mean, everyone knows when straight people OD it’s an accident and when gay people OD it’s an act of suicide.

Let me ask you something: Are the overdose calls less dangerous when the victims are straight?

No? Then shut the f–k up about gay people overdosing and talk about ALL people who overdose.

How dare you imply that some people are worth saving and some are not? Your job isn’t to sit in judgment; it’s to save lives.

Apparently intention is part of your equation when deciding who “deserves” to have their life saved. If somebody who never does drugs OD’s because someone “slipped” something into their drink —does that buy them enough points to get saved?

And how would you decide who gets to live if you can’t tell whether the OD case is a victim of his own excess or a victim of someone’s spite until you get there?

According to you, a depressed person who throws himself off a balcony is worth trying to save. But not if he tried to kill himself with drugs. Then it wouldn’t be worth getting off your a– and doing your job.

Flawless logic.

I see two options for you: Talk to someone in your EAP (Employment Assistance Program) and ask for help. Believe me, you’re not the first emergency worker calling because they’re burned out.

Or, if you truly feel like you can’t do the OD runs anymore, ask to be transferred to a different county or simply put in for a change of shifts. I suspect you won’t see too many overdose cases on Wednesday mornings.

You have two responsibilities: One, to human beings needing emergency care, and two, to yourself. Both require a high level of compassion and it’s your responsibility to generate it within yourself, either through therapy, a change in shifts or a change in jobs.

I don’t want to minimize the danger (or the heartbreak) of drug overdoses. Yes, it’s a shame. Yes, it’s preventable. But you know what? So are gun shot wounds, and you didn’t write in complaining about that.

Your frustration is understandable –I share it– but it’s the profession you chose. Saving lives is so much nobler than judging them.

Be nobler.