Thursday, July 21, 2011

The End

My boots hit the hot tarmac one last time as I walked away from my Paramedic station. I couldn't help but turn my head and look back one last time as about a million thoughts went racing through my mind. I did not go home that day and the sweltering summer breeze accompanied me as I went for a long walk. I was by myself and just needed some time to reflect. It was all over. 1 year in Saudi Arabia, almost 18 months of keeping this blog and over 21 months since I applied to the SRCA in 2009.

Here is just a taste of how to sum up this adventure. Imagine you had just fallen asleep 15 minutes ago after being awake for 24 hours then suddenly the radio explodes with a request for help, seconds later your inside a car going over 200k an hour with lights and sirens, blowing red lights, going the wrong way down a one way street and just moments later you arrive to world war 3. There are bodies, blood, smoke, and twisted metal everywhere. You hear screams for help all over, no one speaks English and its up to YOU to sort this whole mess out.
A Paramedic's job is to turn Pandamonium in to order, to control your own fears, sadness, adrenaline, and focus on fixing a problem when everyone else around you can not or will not. Then when its all over you return to your station and do the same thing all night, all day, everyday. This has been my life and for every one story I shared with you on here hundreds more went untold.
 How do I wrap it up in 1 simple blog entry? What started as a small personal  blog for a couple close friends and family members quickly spread to many friends, associates and actually paramedics from all over the world. Thank you for all who have followed my blog, emailed, messaged and spoke with me during this amazing adventure. In addition to this also the local citizens of Saudi Arabia who have also sent me messages comments and emails of support and gratitude.

 I learned a lot and I mean A LOT about myself both professionally and personally during this entire experience.  I have no regrets about coming to Saudi Arabia and working as a Paramedic. It was a good time in my life and I needed a change. I saved some money, gained amazing work experience, the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, and it forced me interact with new and different people I would have normally never met. I lost 30 pounds while here and I am feeling healthier than I have in years. I got to travel and see a new part of the world while I was on this side of the earth including 7 new countries I had never been to. I also feel extremely calm, professional, and proficient in highly stressful and dangerous situations that require critical thinking and decision making as a result of my colossal exposure to insanity here.

With that said it was not all lolly pop lanes, rainbows, fairy tales and gum drops. It was a major sacrifice for me both at a professional and personal level.
Personal sacrifice: including the freedoms we often take for granted in most of the western world. It really made me appreciate the USA and freedoms I miss like wearing whatever I want, saying whatever I want, my hobbies, the live music I enjoy, pubs, places and activities I normally frequent, bicycling around the city, mingling (its segregated and different here), also having friends that are like minded and have the same interest as myself.
Professional: It was also challenging at work when I was running critical cases back to back on day and night shift suffering from severe sleep deprivation. In addition to this the lack of properly trained medical personal available, my life being in jeopardy to some degree everyday mostly from responding to accidents and other traffic related incidents in this country but also from violent and armed patients, lack of police support or back up, hazardous materials, fires, explosions, and things Paramedics would normally wait to be "secured and safe" before entering in the U.S. but not here. I have been punched, kicked, attacked with a knife, had a gun pulled on me, I have been stuck with dirty needles, Ive been knocked back by an explosion, I have been in 3 separate motor vehicle accidents while responding to emergency's on duty. 

There where days I woke up and hated everything, I just wanted to go home, then there where the days I woke up smiling and really making a difference for people who needed it. I remember being so proud the first time I cardioverted someone by myself, and also feeling so low looking into a fathers eyes as I held his dead 8 year old boy and having to tell him there was nothing I could do to bring him back.  I don't remember all there faces but I will always relish the asthma attacks I made it to in time to reverse, the hearts I restarted, The people I brought back from unconsciousness or death, The ones I risked my own safety for in order to rescue them from entrapment, The broken bones I splinted and the medication I gave to ease there pain and suffering. I will also remember staring into some of there eyes as they literally died in front of me and I was the last thing they saw.

It was an amazing test for myself mentally. I have experienced the highest of high's and lowist of low's while here. I have experienced the absolute extreme's of every emotion possible during  this 1 journey than I have in my entire life. 1 simple blog is not nearly enough for me to really express to you this entire experience, merely a glimpse inside of it.
The amazing amount of trauma and call volume I have had here is unlike anything except maybe war. In the year I have spent here (most of which at what was once the busist ALS station in Riyadh) I have probably racked up 5 years worth of experience.

This is my 2nd time working in the middle east and will probably not be my last.Will miss all my Saudi partners who I am proud to call my friends. I have cycled through four of them in a year.  Also thank you to the many other people I have met from Saudi Arabia who have made this a truly humbling experience I wont forget for the rest of my life. It has been an honor and a privilege serving the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I hope I was able to save some lives or improve the outcomes of some who may not have had an opportunity otherwise. I typed this out while in a coffee shop in London  where I am taking some much needed time off. I will be taking a break and starting some college classes soon in writing in hopes to improve my writing for my next writing project. Then its off to my next Paramedic adventure somewhere in the world. 


  1. Mike, I remember reading your first ever post saying that it's been a couple of weeks that you feel like you're being paid doing nothing as you have not yet hit the ground running. Thereafter, all your subsequent posts tell of gruesome scenarios so graphic even to anyone's imagination. It's been a journey indeed, a humbling experience as you would like to call it. Wishing you the best of everything. KSA is sad to lose the best paramedic that has served on its soil. God bless Mike.

  2. I guess your journey is coming to an end!I truly enjoyed reading your blog! Thanks for serving the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia!We need more people like you on both sides to have a better understanding between cultures! All the best of luck to you as you embark on a new adventure!

  3. its a pleasure reading all these informative things.
    Janine Zargar