The holidays are upon us. All is calm; all is bright. But not in your local Emergency Room. Or at your community’s fire station. For providers of health care and EMS services, the holidays can feel even more stressful than any other time in their busy work lives. In addition to the usual stress they encounter as part of their job descriptions, they are burdened with being away from family and loved ones, making their shifts even harder.Nurses, firefighters, physicians, paramedics and other health care workers enter their professions knowing their jobs require a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year commitment. But, as a holiday approaches and the realization hits that they will be working instead of going to a family dinner on Christmas, or eating at a friend’s barbecue and watching fireworks on the Fourth of July or ringing in the New Year with loved ones, sadness and dread may set in. Some folks become creative and cunning. Convincing your kids that Santa will be making a special return trip to deliver gifts to them the day AFTER Christmas allows the family to celebrate together instead of a parent missing out on the fun of present opening while they are at work.
Health care workers are often providing care to patients and their families on the worst day of their lives. Instead of sitting down to a Christmas dinner, a family may suddenly find themselves faced with critical decision making in the face of serious and even fatal health problems or accidents. Emotions may be intensified by the surrounding sense of injustice that a family member is ill or has died on a holiday. In addition to being away from their own families, health care workers then become tasked with supporting families through their own emotional struggles.
It is incumbent upon all of us that we take time to remember and give thanks to the men and women who are working to keep us safe and healthy during the holidays. We never know when we may find ourselves requiring their care on a holiday like Christmas or New Year's Eve. We should also give thanks to their families who are sacrificing time and attention on our behalf. So this holiday season, please take time to thank and wish your favorite nurse, paramedic, firefighter or physician peace, love and joy!