By Lindsey Burnworth, Alex Koscevic, Anthony Pellegrino
Paramedic Ray Wolfe and her coworker Aaron Cutright often work long shifts together – usually 12 hours, and sometimes 24. All the time they spend together has helped them create a unique bond.
“She’s like the sister I’ve never had in Morgantown. Literally, she’s probably one of the closest people to me,” Cutright said. “Especially this past year, we’ve went through a lot.”
Paramedics witness tragedy on a regular basis. Their job is to face traumatic events head on, while most of the world is running in the other direction. The job can sometimes be overwhelming, but employees at Monongalia County EMS said they rely on each other to get through their long days.
Wolfe and Cutright were both hired at Mon EMS at around the same time, and the two have witnessed the ups and downs of the job side-by-side.
“We’ve been riding this rodeo together basically,” Cutright said.
There’s no surprise that the two have become so close. According to Dr. Brigette Balasko, a psychologist at Chestnut Ridge Hospital, difficult events, like the ones paramedic’s often face, bring people together.
“It’s important to help each other cope,” said Dr. Balasko, “Experiencing traumatic events creates a common bond, and it directly relates people together.”
The bond between the paramedics extends to more than just Wolfe and Cutright. Wolfe said all Mon EMS employees try to go out to dinner once a week – not just as a group of friends, but also a family.
“You’re with some of the closest people, and you trust them with your life, and you can talk about those kind of things. It makes it nice,” Wolfe said.
One call in particular was difficult for her. Wolfe and Cutright were both called to a scene in which a woman didn’t realize she was pregnant, and had her baby prematurely in her home. The baby didn’t survive.
“That was really the turning point in my career,” Wolfe said. “I had to take a few days off; I had to go talk to a couple of people, and that was really the turning point in my career.”
Although the memory of the scene still haunts her to this day, she said having Aaron by her side made coping easier.
“A lot of people don’t have to deal with that ever. Me and Aaron are such overachievers that we dealt with it in like the first four months of being hired,” Wolfe said.
Both paramedics agreed that the job never gets easier, but they try to keep positive attitudes. Wolfe said that even after a stressful situation, they try to end their day with smiles on their faces.
“You gotta laugh. You gotta be able to come back, and after we have those bad calls, that’s what I like to do,” Wolfe said. “I come back to station and just start messing with somebody, or me and Aaron, we start – We fight all the time, but I don’t think we’re ever actually fighting; we just like to yell at each other because it’s fun.”
Cutright said when he gets home, the weight of what he’s seen is sometimes too much to describe to his family. That’s when he calls Wolfe.
“There’s been multiple days when Ray and I called each other after we work, and it’s like, ‘Can you believe this?’ Or we just talk about it, because the more you talk about it, the less it will affect you,” Cutright said.