The Call of Duty

Last week I wrote a blog post about my good friend Sahaj Singh who was attacked and seriously injured by a person attempting to steal his wife’s car (while she and her kids were inside the care)…all the while right in their garage at home. I just read the below story written by my other friend Guru Dham Singh who works with Sahej Singh at the Espanola Emergency Medical Service and it remind me of similar feelings that I have felt when viewing violence on TV or hearing about things. 

In our lives it is common for most of us to create "our own world" of which we don’t think can be affected by things from the outside. When we watch TV and hear of violence, murders and other bad things we consciously or unconsciously thing that this would never happen to us. It’s like we can’t relate to it in "our world".  This is one of those situations that is a clear reminder that we must always be prepared and aware. It’s not that we should be fearfull or afraid, but it is more about awareness and not being naive to think that we are immune from violence such as this.

Here is the story by GuruDham Singh Khalsa of his recount of the day:

When Matt Earls and I received the call from our dispatch, it was just like any other call, on any other day.  For the past seven years of working on the Ambulance, my mind went through the same procedure.  I started doing my usual systematic approach of pre-arrival questions; do we need more help on scene?  Have the police secured the scene?  How bad are the patient’s injuries?  Do we need a helicopter, etc?  These are some of the many questions in my mind, on nearly every call that I respond to.   As we got closer to the scene, the dispatcher rerouted us from our original call, to Valley Drive.  As we drove up to the address, we noticed that the call was at Sahaj’s house.   As we approached the house, I expected Sahaj to come out, and give us a full report of what was going on with the patient.  Instead, we found Sahaj.  This time, HE was the patient, and it was very serious!!!   Everything in my body froze.   Confusion, followed by anger, all came pouring in…  I had to compose myself, and get to work.  His injuries were very serious, and I knew it was my responsibility to give him the best possible treatment.   Looking back, it was definitely the quickest we have ever loaded a patient into the truck.  From there, we began stabilizing him and treating his wounds. 

It was now time to explain everything to his wife.  This was the hardest thing I have ever done in my 7 years of working on the ambulance.   Before I even said a word, Sat Shabad said to me “GuruDham please don’t lie to me.  How is he doing?”  I told her everything I knew about his injuries.  I told her that his injuries were very serious, but that he was still alert, talking, and stable.  I let her know that we had called the helicopter to take Sahaj to the Trauma Center in Albuquerque.   I wasn’t sure I would be able to keep it all together at this point, but I did.

Once we arrived at the ER, it happened to be shift change, so there were 7 nurses, 2 doctors, and another 6 paramedics all ready to focus on giving ‘one of their own’, the best care possible.  We are very fortunate to have such dedicated and skilled emergency medical personnel serving our community.  Once he was stabilized, I decided to step out of the room and sit at the nurses’ station and take a moment to reflect on what just happened.  This was when his parents from Virginia called.  I could see the look on the secretary’s face as she took the call and said “you’re his parents?”   I offered to take the call and explain the situation to them.   As a parent myself, I would want to know every little bit of information, so I went through the whole event of what, and how, it happened, what his injuries were, and what we had done to treat them.  As well, I let them know that Sahaj was going to be flown by helicopter to the trauma center in Albuquerque.   This was another very difficult conversation for me to have; to repeat all of the details over again.  Still, I was able to I hold it together.  All the staff worked as a team, treated his injuries, and got him prepared for the helicopter ride to Albuquerque.

When exposed to violence as a Paramedic, I have never associated it as something that would happen to me or someone I love.  I have always looked at all the experiences and situations in my job as another world.  There is the violent, drug infested world, and then, there is the world I come home to.  My world is filled with my family, community, and friends who all care and love for each other. I have always told myself that something so violent would never happen to me or someone I care for dearly. The reality is, this could happen to anyone of us.

The next day I went home to my loving family and felt the wonderful support that was a remedy to the events of the night before.  Having the Guru Ram Das chanting at our home that night, gave me the opportunity to direct my energy towards hosting a space for the community.  It was my intention to have everyone come together and send healing energy towards Sahaj’s family.

Since changing my personal image, Sikhism still remains in my heart, and is a focal point for how I treat others.  I am grateful for the sisterly and brotherly bonds that were created growing up in this community and in India, and I am clear that these bonds will never be broken.  The nature of working at the Ambulance, further enforces that brotherly bond with many more people and is embodied in how we always look out for each other, whether on, or off duty.

I am very appreciative of my family, the community, and my close friends, and the loving support that we have in this world. Sometimes I just need to take a minute out of my day and think of that.  I know that it sure puts a smile on my face."

4 Responses to “The Call of Duty”

  1. Darshan Singh says:

    This is Sahaj’s father in Virginia, and I wanted to reply to GuruDham’s account.  For me, the events of that night are pretty confused.  And one thing I can tell you is that the distance between New Mexico and Virginia never seemed quite so daunting before.  I do know there was a flurry of phone calls with a variety of information conveyed.   But before reading the above account, I would have sworn that GuruDham called us.

    But one thing is very clear about that night.   GuruDham Singh got on the phone and laid out the facts very clearly.   It was very helpful to have the facts – in detail.  But what was even more important was how calmly he conveyed everything.   Slowly and carefully, he laid it all out.   And for me at least, that was a real turning point in the night.  Yes, Sahaj was hurt, and badly, but he was in good hands, and it looked as if things were going to work out okay.  It was an immense relief to hear that.

    So GuruDham, I’ve been looking forward to the chance to thank you.  This will do for a start.  You made a huge difference that night to my wife and I, and we will be forever grateful.  Please know that your responses in these situations make a big difference.

  2. Manjit Singh says:

    Thanks for sharing!  It hurts when I hear stories of innocent people getting hurt, and it hurts even more when he or she is one of our own Sikh brothers and sisters.  How is he doing now?  Hope things are okay with him and family. Please post updates.  Thanks!

  3. Boffo Singh says:

    I hope Sahaj recovers soon! God Bless him! I pray for his early recovery! Waheguru Bless you!
    With Love Everything is Possible! …Ik Ardaas Bhat Keerat Ki Gur Ram Daas Rakho Sarnai..!

  4. Adarsh Kaur says:

    A truly beautiful story of how our sangat takes care of each other.  Thank you, Guru Dham, for sharing this story.  I am glad that you are one of my brothers.  Blessings, Adarsh