Yoga and Emergencies

Sometimes people have difficulty processing that I am both a Paramedic and a Yoga Teacher. To me, it’s the most natural thing in the world. The yoga actually allows me to be who I need to be on duty, and like anyone else, my life gives heft to my yoga practice.

In an emergency, you really don’t want the person who is wrapped up in it all with you, who is afraid of offending the power structure, who feels your pain. You want someone who knows what to do, when to do it, and remembers their authority comes with power and is calm enough to use it wisely while treating you with dignity.

What is an emergency anyway? I remember when I rented a lovely little house down in the valley from a wonderful woman who took care of the place herself and the sewer backed up. Not just backed up – two inches of sewer water on the lovely brick floor. When she came over to see what was to be done and I wasn’t screeching like a barn owl, she thanked me for remaining so calm, because so many people would react differently to an emergency. Emergency? I asked… no, this isn’t an emergency. It’s a problem, but the steps for remedy are clear – not pleasant, but clear.

Does this even apply to life and death situations, or even life and limb? Of course. Even more so. If another medic on scene is about to screw up a code or give the wrong medication, give or withhold the correct amount of electricity, abdication of my knowledge and authority, of a certain amount of reason and calm will never make me more of a Paramedic. Responsibility comes with power; courage is something we cultivate and choose. Getting wrapped up in the emergency designation is always, from what I’ve observed, a way to cope with lack of knowledge or self-possession. It’s an ego trip.

I guess the thing is that we all have situations to handle. Sure, some have weightier consequences, are more or less pleasant. But what yoga helps me remember is that “emergency” is contextual. If you have a plan and the power to change a situation, then if you have the courage to execute, it’s never your emergency.

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