I was not popular in High School. (No shock to those of you who may read this and actually attended school with me). I wouldn’t say I was glaringly unpopular; I just never was in the inner circle of any one group. Only 80 people comprised the 9th-12th grades at our school. That meant there were not many large groups. I hung out with a variety of people (the athletes during track and basketball season, other friends at other times). I got along with various groups, but was never really “in” any of them. As an adolescent, this frankly sucked. I got along with most people, but didn’t feel like I truly belonged in any of their groups. In my adult life, the ability to get along with lots of different people seems to serve me well. (If only I had known then when I know now).
Now, as an adult, I have the opportunity to be a member of two amazing teams of people (actually more than two if you want to be technical, but two for the purpose of simplicity). The first is my healthcare team- those I work with on a daily basis, and more recently those on Maryland-1, our state DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team). A DMAT is a group sponsored by the Federal Government, activated in much the same way as the military reserves, but for domestic disasters. Many of the states have them, and they have been integral medical support for disasters such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, as well as planned events such as the inauguration, air shows, etc. The Maryland Team formed this year, and as I write this I am on a plane returning from MAC (Mobile Acute Care) Training at Brooks Air Force Base in Texas. Six of our team members attended this training, preparing for work as a strike team evacuating critically ill patients from hospitals (via air force transport) in advance of a hurricane.
I am also fortunate to work on a daily basis with an amazing team of healthcare providers….our team isn’t just doctors and nurses, it is unit secretaries, facilities management, registration and medical records staff, pharmacists, security, cafeteria staff, and so many more who make our hospital function the way it does. There is nothing more rewarding then the care providers coming together, pooling their talents to save a patient. Each brings a piece of the puzzle….working in tandem to achieve the desired result. When it works, we potentially save a life. When it doesn’t, we try to learn and grow and support each other.
The second team of people I am fortunate to interact with are my triathlon team(s). I am a member of the Mid Maryland Triathlon Club, which is comprised of literally hundreds of triathlon enthusiasts from all professions. We have one of the most supportive clubs, and the best tent support at all of our local races (I think we get lots of new member registrations after each of our local races when they see just how awesome our tent and food spread are). This year, I was blessed to become a part of Team Trakkers. This group of triathletes is spread literally across the country (and Hawaii), and encompasses the spectrum of abilities. Many of us have never met in person, but we have already formed an amazingly supportive network. They are my teammates, and I would gladly do anything for them. I don’t mean to sound cheesy, but this is totally true. I have come to know them through their blogs, tweets, and team emails. At Rev3 Quassy (and I’m sure at Cedar Point next month) the Trakkers love was flying.
Occasionally, these worlds intersect. I met several triathletes during my disaster training this week (and one of my DMAT teammates is in charge of EMS for Irongirl). On the flip side, if a disaster hits in September (when my team is on call) and we are called up, it may impact my tri season. There is no question where my priorities will be, but it would be a bummer.
Recently I reflected on these two “worlds” that I feel very lucky to be a member of. While one is my profession and one is a hobby (because I am DEFINITELY not fast enough to make it my profession), there are a lot of similarities.
1. I have met amazing people through both. People who are supportive and talented and often fun. These individuals are also generally gracious and humble, despite their ability or position. Some of the most talented triathletes I know are the most willing to lend advice. This week’s DMAT training involved 80 DMAT personnel from all over the country…paramedics, RNs, NPs, MDs…. Looking around the room, you didn’t know what job a person does in their “real life”. Since our team is new, everyone was extremely helpful and gracious.
2. Preparation is key. You must be well-trained for upcoming events. Otherwise, when the big moment comes, you bonk. Bonking during a triathlon sucks, but it just means a bad race. Bonking at work means someone freezes during a critical situation….not such a good thing. Hence why we train incessantly for a tri, and recertify in critical courses such as Advanced Cardiac Life Support at work.
3. The key to a successful race/ day at work/ DMAT deployment???? To quote the DMAT members of Tennesse-1, “The CAC Factor” (CAC = “Common A-- Courtesy”). Their theory? Stop looking out for yourself and look out for your teammates….then there will be 34 other people looking out for you. It applies to everyday life, courtesy on the tri course, etc. Not a challenging concept.
The place where these two worlds diverge is the recovery phase. After a race, I can have a big glass of chocolate milk, put on my compression socks, and recover. After a critical patient at work, or a busy day, you don’t know what is coming next. With the DMAT, a deployment means 12+ hour days in unpredictable conditions (possibly a tent hospital, sleeping on cots), with an unknown number of patients. Somehow, working with a great team makes it all bearable….just like seeing a friendly face handing out water on the run course or hearing a cowbell as you ride by makes a race that much more enjoyable.
A team makes the tough moments a little easier, and the victories that much sweeter.