• Monica Smit

2nd May - Press conferences and ambulance ride-alongs

Updated: May 6, 2019

When you tell someone you're an Aussie girl road-tripping in a van across America, the last place they’d expect to see you is in a conference room at City Hall talking about the Opioid Epidemic. It’s the last place I expected to see myself too…but here I am.

My friends probably think I spend my days sunbathing, hiking and eating…but lately I feel like I’m a full-time worker and my ‘vacation’ has been put aside. It sounds negative in a way but it’s not...I’m doing what I want to be doing. I’m using my skills to try and make the world a better place. Will it work? I don’t know. Is it worth trying? Heck yes!!!

Many of my decisions are made using this simple tool, I ask myself, ‘Monica, will you regret spending time on this?’. If my answer is no, then I do it. Even if it doesn’t necessarily encourage any outcome for me, if I don’t regret it then it’s never a bad choice.

People often ponder on what they could do to change the world, it's kind of overwhelming to consider where to start, so they just forget about it and move on with their life. I get that feeling constantly too, and consider going home, but then I remember the ‘ripple affect’ theory. You may never see the ‘fruits of your labours’ straight away, but down the track, the ripple-effect may change something significant. So basically, just do what your heart tells you to do, regardless of the visible outcomes. Easier said than done I know…

The thing is, you’ll never regret trying…ever! You may regret wasting time on something that didn’t pan-out, but you’ll never fully regret it because you’ll learn something.

Currently, I don’t know where this project will take me. Yeah, I’d love to make a bit of money, I’d love some recognition, I’d love this to help my career in journalism and videography but am I doing it solely for that? No.

With everything I do, I try my best to always have the humanitarian aspect at the forefront or at least close to it. I’ve done business commercials which aren’t directly humanitarian, but the businesses were good, family-run businesses that I like to support. I’ve done a few travel videos that promote places I think people should go. I’ve had ideas for videos that I suspect would get lots of views but when I ponder on the 'ripple-effect' of the video, there really isn't a positive reason…just a selfish one.

It’s a constant battle to steer away from projects that are purely for selfish gain. Will the line blur over time? Probably :-) However, I’ll try my best.

This week I did 3 ride-alongs with an ambulance crew…wow what an experience. Part of me really feels sorry for the things they have to see every day, but I also appreciate that they can, and want to do it. Emotionally, these workers have to be somewhat complacent to death and injury. Sometimes their remarks seem insensitive and sometimes disturbing, but I can appreciate that they’ve had to form a sort of barrier against emotions when dealing with their job. I do wonder how these emotional-blocks would play out in their personal lives; I can imagine it would be quite difficult.

In saying all that, we need people like this who can do the job they do. They seem to have almost split personalities. When we are sitting in the lounge area having a jovial conversation, they are normal people like you and me. As soon as that siren goes off and they run to their trucks, they change immediately into the professional, calm and collected person they need to be. They seem to work so well together, like an octopus, they could be one person with 10 arms. They know exactly what their role is and they are very efficient. You see 5 grown adults in a tiny ambulance truck all working on the same patient…they don’t get in each other’s way, they know where everything is and they concentrate on the patient in front of them.

It really is magical to watch. Luckily I haven’t seen anything bloody or particularly messy. Part of me wanted to see something shocking, but I’m also releaved I didn’t. Perhaps my soul couldn’t have handled something traumatic.

Later that same week, I attended a press-conference with everyone involved in the Project I’m documenting. I was really ‘out of my league’ but once again, I pretended my way through it…I think. I felt very honoured to be surrounded with people who are all working together to help save lives in their city. You could feel the integrity in the room like a blanket of security surrounding you. There were heads of police, emergency, hospitals and the City, along with concerned citizens and media personnel.

I got taken-aback when Councilman Gulliford announced my project to the entire room and made me stand up. I don’t mind that he did that, but I really didn’t expect it and immediately got red in the face.

I met one of the heads of police at this meeting and arranged an interview with him. When I got there, he had a colleague with him and suggested we do an interview with both of them. I’d never done an interview with 2 people, so it put me ‘off-guard’ and I was pretty nervous but I think it turned out ok, we'll see.

Finally, I finished my first video for this project. This video is designed for professionals to watch. It’s meant to show them the possibility of starting this project in their own city or state. I tried to keep the emotions and ‘fluff’ to a minimal and just report of the hard facts about the Project. I’m hoping it helps spread the word a bit.

I'll be doing a documentary about this as well, which will be for everyday people like us.

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