I identified early within my paramedic career that my greatest reward and job satisfaction came from knowing I made a difference for others. Knowing that I had forever positively impacted someone’s life, as well as their loved ones, was one of the driving forces behind wanting to continue as a paramedic.
However over time I also learned the darker side of the equation. The immensely long hours and incredible focus required caring for really sick people, the strenuous work conditions, and the frequent exposure to great tragedy started to take its toll - often clouding my ability to see and feel the worth of my contribution.
I also found myself, on occasions, carrying those stresses and experiences into my own family unit.
While I can only speak for myself, I feel confident in saying that many other emergency service workers, across all disciplines, either felt or still feel the same. These burdens can potentially lead to deep-seated cynicism and resignation, along with the loss of hope and enjoyment for what was once a life passion and purpose.
Yet it was always within my experiences of receiving a simple ‘thank you’ that my pride and sense of contribution began to return and reinvigorate my spirit – providing me with a renewed sense of enthusiasm to keep on doing great things for others.
I believe that this power, the force behind saying ‘thank you’, has a positive influence through all emergency service workers. It is also well-known that saying ‘thank you’ can have positive, life-changing effects on the ‘thanker’ as well – often providing closure on significant or traumatic life experiences.
Embracing this concept, I found myself engaged in literally hundreds of conversations with colleagues, throughout all emergency services about being thanked, and how it makes them feel.
However, I realised the reality was far from ideal.
Many emergency service workers have gone a lifetime without receiving any meaningful thanks at all. Similarly, many of those who have been saved by emergency service workers never got the chance to say thank you, certainly not in a way that was equal to the impact the emergency workers have had on their life!
I’ve also heard many stories from patients or recipients wanting to actually meet the person or people who saved them, and authentically say thank you, from the bottom of their heart. Others wanted the chance to say thank you on behalf of their son, their daughter, their parent or friend, for saving their life, their house, essentially saving their livelihood and well-being – and to be able to express their gratitude in a way that had real meaning to it.
It was here where I felt compelled to do something to improve the collective sense of gratitude received by all emergency service workers. It was something I needed to do.
However, I wanted to create something that translated to meaningful and authentic connections.... and often, when we speak of the immense positive impact that emergency service workers have on communities after saving lives and livelihood, a sausage sizzle just doesn’t cut the mustard.
I wanted to create real pathways that allow the public to acknowledge, say thank you, or express their gratitude toward these emergency service personnel and organisations in a way that had real meaning, equal to the gravity of the work and life changing impact our emergency service workers have on our lives - such that they would be touched, moved and inspired to continue with their chosen careers and sense of purpose.
Because we’re proud of them.
The only way to do this was to personally connect the ‘thanker’ with the ‘thankee’. This is our ideal, our 'best case' - capturing the purest essence of emotions and real intention within the exchange.
And so The Thank You Event was born.