Words of Wisdom from Clive Cussler

On most Christmas mornings that I can remember, in his collection of books my dad usually had one from Clive Cussler.  If you’ve never heard of him, he is quite the author.  Most of his stories involve the main character, a guy named Dirk Pitt who is an Indiana Jones-type character: a treasure hunter who seems to wear many different hats.  For those of you in the younger generation, the movie Sahara starring Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Crews was based on Clive’s novel of the same name.

Excuse me while I shutter uncomfortably for a moment. . .

I’m sure you’re asking yourself: “What does Clive Cussler have to do with EMS?”  Well, I got an email from my mom the other day telling me the story about one of their friends who shared with them an excerpt from Clive’s 2006 novel called Skeleton Coast that they thought I might find interesting:

Sloane laughed.  “May I ask you a question?”

“Fire away.”

“If you weren’t captain of the Oregon what would you do?”

The question didn’t veer into any dangerous territory, so Juan gave her an honest answer.  “I think I’d be a paramedic.”

“Really?  Not a doctor?”

“Most doctors I know treat patients like a commodity – something they have to work on if they want to get paid before returning to the golf course.  And they’re backed by a huge staff of nurses and technicians and millions of dollars’ worth of equipment.  But paramedics are different.  They are out there working in pairs with just their wits and a minimum of gear.  They have to make the first critical assessments and often perform the first life saving acts.  They’re there to tell you everything is going to be all right and make damn sure it is.  And once you get the person to the hospital you simply fade away.  No glory, no God complex, no ‘gee, doc, you saved my life.’  You just do your job and go on to the next.”

“I like that,” Sloane said after a beat.  And you’re right.  My farther cut his leg really badly on a charter once and we had to radio for an ambulance and I had to take the boat back in.  I still remember it was Dr. Jankowski who stitched up the leg in the hospital, but I have no idea of the name of the guy who first dressed the wound on that dock.  Without him my dad would have probably led out.”

“Unsung heroes,” Juan remarked quietly. “Those are the ones I like.”

You know, aside from the comment about the God complex, I am hard pressed to find a better description of what we do, or a more subtle way of saying that we really are appreciated.

Thanks, Clive.  I could not have said it better myself.

  • FDMedic

    Many people have asked why I want to become a paramedic rather than a doctor (no lack of academic ability here) and my answer is almost identical. I’ve read much of his work (but not this one!) and it’s amazing to see that Cussler truly gets it.