Before moving here eight years ago, Gabe worked in inner-city Indianapolis. One of the major differences he has observed in the change of setting is the level of cooperation among various public-safety organizations.
As a prime example, he named the Pitkin County Incident Management Team, an inter-agency group that plans for a coordinated response to large-scale emergencies, such as a bus crash or wildfire.
"I can honestly tell you that I have never seen a community that has such strong relationships between all of its public-safety agencies as Aspen has," Gabe said. "The fire department, EMS, law enforcement, mountain rescue, ski patrol — how they all come together to deal with an emergency is amazing. You don't see that kind of cooperation everywhere."
You wouldn't know it from watching popular medical shows on TV, but the life of a paramedic can also be...well, a little boring at times.
"Believe it or not, even paramedics have downtime now and then," explained Gabe. "We use that time to conduct ongoing training, maintain our equipment, check our supplies — they don't show you that part of it on TV, but it's also very important."
Whether treating a heart attack patient en route to AVH, transferring a skier with head trauma to Denver, taking part in ongoing training or working with peers on disaster planning, paramedics have to be quick to respond to whatever need is at hand. They are the ultimate generalist. "There's no such thing as a specialist in our field," Gabe explained. "It requires a jack-of-all-trades, prepared to deal with all types of medical conditions."
"The thing I've always loved about being a paramedic is that every day is different and unpredictable," Gabe said. "No matter what you're doing — sleeping, eating, watching a training video — when a call comes in, you have only seconds to respond. Then you head out down the road, not knowing what you're going to find."