Sunglass Warehouse is a brand for people who live life to the fullest. Our customers are just normal people, but they know how to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, and turn everyday experiences into great adventures. SW: Profiles is an interview blog series that shares these unique stories about our customers. From a tattoo shop owner directing horror films, to a young tech professional searching for his Jewish roots, these seemingly different people share a common thread that we’ll uncover together.
It’s true that not all heroes wear capes–Bryn Arnold is proof of that. Bryn works on the busiest ambulance in Indianapolis, and won the 2016 Paramedic of the Year Award for her constant willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty. As you read Bryn’s story one of the first things you’ll notice is her contagious passion for what she does, and how it fuels the way she approaches her everyday.
It’s safe to say, that everyday for Bryn truly is an adventure. Checkout our interview with Bryn as we dive into the importance of loving what you do, how to keep your cool in high pressure situations, and how Bryn came to pursue a career as a paramedic.
Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m not sure there’s enough room to tell you all about myself! All joking aside, my name is Bryn. I grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana. I currently live in Greenwood with my semi-good dog Kingsley and terrible cat Lylah. They keep my life interesting for sure. I recently got engaged and am loving that life! My fiance, Kara, lives in Knoxville, TN at the moment, and we are planning her move up here “sometime soon”. I have an amazing family. We are probably closer than most families around. I have 3 sisters and a brother. My sisters are all married to great guys and have given me 4 nephews who I absolutely adore. On top of all of that I have the greatest group of friends a girl could ask for. When I’m not out and about you can usually find me with a Harry Potter book in my hand. I run a borderline obsession with all things Harry Potter–I’m not ashamed to admit that, though!
What inspired you to become a paramedic?
This is one of those crazy stories when I say “I never really wanted to be a paramedic”. Growing up I wanted to be a marine biologist. The end of my sophomore year of high school my guidance counselor suggested I take the EMT course that was offered through a partnership with the school and the fire department. I said “sure, why not”. Once I started EMT school I fell in love. During my junior year of high school I took both the EMT class through school and a Firefighter I/II class outside of school. I turned 18 the July before my senior year of high school and received both of my certifications. I immediately started working for a small fire department in Morgan County. From there my love for fire and EMS grew, and I started Paramedic school in 2006. I seriously owe that guidance counselor a thank you.
How do you keep your cool in high pressure situations?
There’s no other way to describe it besides saying, “you just have to”. My whole thought process on staying calm in tough situations is this: People are calling me on the worst day of their life. They are already stressed out and scared. They need someone there to help them calm down and be reassured that the situation is okay. What good am I going to do if I am worked up as well causing them to be even more worked up? If I keep a cool, calm, and collected attitude it helps to relax people and feel better about the situation. It’s not always easy, trust me. There have been plenty of times where I have also been stressed to the max, or emotional, or upset but have had to hide all of that for the sake of the people around me. It can be one of the hardest parts of the job.
You work on the busiest ambulance in the city of Indianapolis. What does a typical day look like for you?
Busy, busy, busy! Depending on the day, we can do anywhere from 12-20 calls in a 12 hour shift. I work close to the city and close to many hospitals so the runs we are on can be very quick (30 minutes to 1 hour total time). In between runs my partner and I can usually be found socializing. Whether that be with the nurses at the hospital or other trucks in the area we like to make sure we see as many people as we can. We are pretty much always on the go and very rarely sit or have down time.
Paramedics often run long shifts. How do you stay motivated/energized?
Where I work we only work 12 hours shifts with the opportunity to work 18 hours maximum with overtime. For my truck it’s not too hard to stay motivated and energized because we are so busy. It’s hard to be tired when we are always on the go. If I do find myself feeling down or not motivated I will either try to get out and about doing something, or trying to find some educational opportunities online to keep up with.
What do you like most about being a paramedic?
Without a doubt being able to say that I made a difference in someone’s life. That doesn’t always mean that I “saved a life”. Sometimes it’s just talking with someone and making them feel better about the situation they’re in, or being able to educate them on something they didn’t know. Other times it is more in depth. Being able to recognize that someone has a serious life threatening emergency and knowing what to do for it and then being able to watch your interventions work is pretty incredible. What makes it even better is that “thank you” at the end. There are so many things you see and do as a paramedic and I love every piece of it.
What was it like to win the 2016 Paramedic of the Year, not just for Indiana, but for the country?
This will probably always be the highlight of my career. I had absolutely no idea I was being nominated for this award and when I found out I had won I was in shock. It’s incredibly humbling. I put so much hard work into doing what I love and being recognized for that is pretty amazing.
What is the hardest part of your job?
There are plenty of hard parts of this job. We see people at their worst. We see and experience things others can’t imagine. We see death, trauma, abuse, neglect….just to name a few. On top of all of that you add children to the mix. I think I speak for most when I saw pediatric runs can be some of the hardest. There are so many dark parts of this job that people don’t realize. But we all as providers have to remember all of the good runs and the positive impacts we’ve made on people to help us get through those hard ones.
Are there any life lessons you’ve learned through your work as a paramedic?
Be nice and don’t judge. You truly never know what someone is going through or what people have gone through in their past. That was a very hard thing for me to come to terms with when I first started. I had a hard time understanding people of different walks of life. This job has opened my eyes to so many things. I love talking with people and getting to know people, even if it’s just for 10-15 minutes. You’d be surprised how many people just need an ear sometimes.
Any advice you would give to an aspiring paramedic?
Do it and love it. Love, love, love it. This is not a job you get into for the money. This is a job you get into because you are passionate about EMS. Keep an open mind and always continue to learn. The day you stop learning is the day you get out of EMS. Remain passionate about your job and the people you care for and you’ll never “work” a day in your life.