EMT David Deland Jr., pulls the stretcher out of an ambulance during a call for cardiac problems in Leesburg, Fla. (Brett LeBlanc / Daily Commercial)

by Livi Stanford | Staff Writer for the Daily Commercial

Severely injured in a motorcycle accident, the young man became combative as he labored to breathe. His condition progressively got worse.

Ashley Lawrence, paramedic with Lake Emergency Medical Services, has keen memories of that patient she lost several years ago when she worked in Orange County. Sitting in the back of the ambulance, as the sirens wailed, she did everything she could to help him. But, she knew there was only so much she could do when she could no longer feel his pulse minutes before arriving at the hospital. “This was a young kid,” she said. “He had his whole life ahead of him. Death is hard, no matter what age.”

Paramedic Ashley Lawrence walks back to her ambulance after responding to a vehicle accident call in Lady Lake, Fla. (Brett LeBlanc / Daily Commercial)

There are days when Lawrence said she goes home and cries; and others when she can hold it together until something irrelevant is said, touching off a nerve. “You keep going over the call,” she said.”What could I have done better? Something will pop in my head. Maybe I could have done this.”

The fragility of life comes in full view on a regular basis for Lawrence and David Deland Jr., an Emergency Medical Technician with Lake EMS. Working 13- and 24-hour shifts is part of the norm for a paramedic and EMT. Sometimes, the Lake EMS crew can move from call to call but other times it is less chaotic.

EMS field workers said they have had to deal with unruly patients who throw up on them, and with physical attacks. They handle calls, from the most bizarre to the most traumatic. EMS field workers said they offer more than medical care at times, providing “psychological first aid” for those in need.

[Read the full article at Daily Commercial]