Meditation on Paramedics
by Veronica Errington
Even in ‘normal’ times paramedics launch themselves into the most demanding situations. They are not so much the healers of the medical profession, but the rescuers . They arrive to the sound of sirens, working under conditions of stress with the need to make split-second decisions by which a life can be saved – or lost; whether on a busy motorway, a city street, or the quiet domestic midnight scene, their work is accompanied by panic and grief.
Pope Francis once described the Church of our times as a field hospital. This image has become more vivid to me as a result of the pandemic and the role of those who serve on the very front of that front line. Paramedics are masters of damage limitation; they deal with the immediate need and trust the process of healing to others.
We are in the grip of emergency. For many there has been no time to properly mourn the death of a friend of family member. Perhaps Macbeth’s words on the death of his wife resonate:
“She should have died hereafter/ There would have been a time for such a word.”
Thank God for paramedics! They work on the edge of what is possible, risking their own lives and risking failure in order to save whomsoever they can. They also point to something beyond: Jesus, the supreme paramedic, who raised Jairus’ daughter, and restored a son to the widow of Nain. They point to the powerful help of saints such as St Jude, that helper in time of failing hope.
Paramedics also remind me of two things about my faith: I am both in need of spiritual first aid and at the same time called to help to others. On the one hand I can pray the words of the Anima Christi:
“Blood of Christ fill all my veins/ Water from Christ’s side wash out my stains”.
And yet, at the same time , acting out of that same ‘sickness’, I can try and reach out to those in my path, using the comfort we have received to comfort others.
Veronica is married and lives in West Lancashire. She is a member of the Third Order of Carmel, and is currently its national secretary.