As I wrote on Facebook today, I have no idea how people make life-changing decisions on a whim. I know people who have decided one day they wanted to move across the country, and by the next week they were on their way. I’ve never been an impulsive decision maker. I like things planned out and controlled, and I want to think through each of the possible scenarios well before I’m ready to make a decision, especially if it could have a great impact on my life.
So when I walked into that office on that Friday afternoon, it took every ounce of courage and bravery I had. It was an even tougher road to actually write my resignation letter, and I took a good 15 minutes to press the send button on my email.
But I took that 20 seconds, I made that decision, and there is something great coming of it. This path has been a trail of 20 second incremements of crazy decision-making, but there truly is something amazing and wonderful coming out of it – and that’s new experiences, new career path and new challenges.
I’ve been in news in one way or another since I was 15. My English projects in high school were always newspapers, and in college my name was synonymous with the Brockport newspaper. I’ve lived and breathed news for many, many years. At 24, I would like to think that I’ve been successful in my news journey, albeit very rough at times. I love news. I love writing, and sharing people’s stories. I love getting a glimpse into someone’s life, and then being trusted to share that glimpse with the world, be it an audience of two or 2,000.
There’s no doubt that working in news has made me the adult that I’ve become. In my few years in the business, I’ve learned more about the world and the people in it than most people would learn in 20. I’ve absorbed every story I’ve worked on, learned from every person I’ve met and appreciated every opportunity I’ve been afforded.
But there’s nothing in the life rule book that says you can’t have two dreams, and that you can’t put one dream on hold to pursue another.
Working in EMS is a dream that I never knew existed. Honestly, I knew I was good at news and that I could have a successful career in the industry … so that’s what I focused on. I never really branched out. I never experienced other jobs.
But once my newspaper closed last year – and I thought I saw my news career ending, not on my terms – good sources suggested I give EMS a try. Those good sources have become best friends and colleagues who have taught me so much about the EMS field. They fueled my desire to be a part of this.
When I shadowed them last year, well before I became a member of their community, I wrote how EMS is a labor of love. It’s not for the faint-of-heart, or for the heartless. Just for someone who wants to walk into a situation and help change the outcome.
I always believed that’s what I was doing working in news – Changing the outcome. In many ways, it does. Watchdog journalism has done a lot for many of our communities. But in the emergency scene, news isn’t going to change the outcome. People are still going to die, fires are still going to roar, suspects are still going to get away. It’s the way it goes. Adding a news camera to the mix is not going to change how any of that works, or operates. But I think for now, it’s my time to help change that outcome. We will not be able to change every outcome. Realistically, we all know that. But to know that when I show up at a scene, that I am assisting anyone – be it the patient, my partner, a family member, law or fire – and working toward a common goal … that’s what’s important, and that’s what I’ve decided to focus on for now.
Lt. Mike Chiapperini at his swearing-in ceremony, where he was promoted from a sergeant to a lieutenant for the Webster Police Department in 2010. .
A lot of this decision was fueled by the unthinkable West Webster tragedy on Christmas Eve. Lt. Michael Chiapperini was a friend of mine, a person who I worked with very closely in Webster as a reporter. For a week after his death, I couldn’t turn on the news. I admittedly had a very hard time dealing with his death. I was constantly consumed by the stories of his death, but I couldn’t help to think how his family felt. I couldn’t help but think how his coworkers at Webster Police and in the West Webster Fire Department were dealing with the barrage of news cameras or interview requests. I couldn’t help but think it wasn’t fair to make their grief our story. This was their story, not the news’. Their grief belonged to them, and we, as media, had no place to try to take an ownership of it.
So it’s time for me to take this path, and to pursue this dream. I have no idea how this is going to work out, and that’s maybe what’s most scary – but also wonderful – about it. It’s an entirely new life experience. And I can’t wait.