I was a college freshman, just starting out as a rookie EMT with the local rescue squad. In the squad building, located near a strip mall in our suburban New Jersey town, my fellow volunteers and I joined the staff supervisors to spend days or nights on call.
On a rescue squad, I quickly learned, patience is key. If you visited the building, you’d see seasoned EMTs lounging around as if they had nothing better to do. They had developed a subdued alertness that let them relax while also being ready to leap into action. Unfortunately, I had yet to cultivate this quality; I sat in silence, jittering apprehensively.