by Robert lanz LCSW

(This one’s for all my friends at the Pasadena Fire Department:)

Maybe its the inconsistent hours or maybe its the years of carrying the beeper or maybe I’m just one of those forty million people who can’t get the quality and quantity of sleep they need.  Everyone I know says the same thing. It’s hard to get down into the healthy REM sleep zone when you might get sledgehammered out of it at any time.  Ask any firefighter or paramedic and they will say the same.

And like me, they are always in awe of the homeless guys they bring in who are placed close to the outer doors because of the stink factor-its too high to put them in an enclosed space, like a patient care room. I’m talking eye-watering stink.

Although there is some improvement in the ventilation next to the ambulance bay doors, it is the last place anyone would go to for relaxation and sleep. The doors hiss open and cold air comes in. The lights are bright. The cops come in the same doors. The cops see the paramedics and they start telling funny stories so loudly that if it wasn’t a hospital some safety agency would probably make us wear ear plugs for protection.

And the whole time, the whole effing time, the jobless, homeless stinker is getting eight hours of solid sleep.  Right through the noise and the banging gurneys and the whipping winds, that dude is peeing in his pants and snoring.

Everyone has the same emotional reaction-not disgust or anger, we’re way past that.  Jealousy. If only I could sleep like that just one night a week I’m sure I’d be fine and healthy….

Dividing line


About robertjlanz

Author and health care professional.
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