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Editors' Expressions: The Experience of a Lifetime

"Editors' Expressions" is a recurring feature in which the EMS World editorial staff ruminates on current news, noteworthy events and everyday happenings with relevance to healthcare and EMS delivery. Feel free to react in the comment box below or e-mail

My name is Jacob Sorensen, I am a rising junior at the University of Maryland, College Park. I am interning with EMS World this summer as an editorial assistant. Outside of school I volunteer as a firefighter/EMT with the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad in Bethesda, Md.

During this pandemic, volunteers across the country have been serving their cities as part of the response. Professionals in their own fields, students, and retirees all have stepped up to help.

There are always a million questions that come with volunteering as part of an emergency response organization. With everything going on recently, the question I and a lot of other have been getting increasingly has been “Why?” 

The question of what drives people to willingly sign up for risk higher than just your average Joe has been contested since people put fires out as part of a bucket brigade. Is it the adrenaline rush of the lights and sirens en route to a call? Is it the experience of being a part of something so few people get to see?

Personally, I find it to be the people I get to work alongside who make it worth it. People ranging in age from 16 to 60, people with such different life experience and operational experience. Every time I go in, I learn something new, but that's the side effect of being a part of this community. Between war stories or help with homework, EMS is a tight-knit family that is always there for you. 

Both career first responders and volunteers alike have been hit hard by the hours, the call volume, and the reality of our situation as a country with this pandemic. Still, people come in ready to help. I have never met a group of people more motivated to be where they are.

Sitting back and thinking about everything I’ve seen in the last four months, there has been lesson after lesson I could dwell on, but I choose to dwell on one: resiliency. The resiliency of the people who work in the field. The resiliency of the providers, the nurses and doctors—these professionals coming to work, smiles on their face, ready to face another day.

With the threat of a second wave and the continued rise in cases across the country, we as providers need to stay together. We need to brace for what’s to come, stand together, help each other, and be ready to help our communities once again. 

Jacob Sorensen is a rising junior at the University of Maryland and volunteer firefighter/EMT with the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad in Bethesda, Md. 

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