I recently returned home from a month-long Wilderness First Responder and Emergency Medical Technician course in Leavenworth, Washington.
The course content was invaluable, but the icing on the cake was the people I interacted with daily. Having served in the military I have crossed paths with many folks who dedicate their lives to the service of others. I am always intrigued to learn more about what inspired them to step onto such a path. Two people stood out at me at the Remote Medical International training. One of my instructors and one of my classmates. I know that myself and the other 24 students learned a ton from them both during the four weeks we spent together, and I wanted to pay forward their lifestyle wisdom to as many people possible. As they sure do make this world a better place.
This first interview is with Megan McCarthy, Remote EMT and Training Instructor
- How do you prepare yourself physically, mentally and emotionally for a trip?
“In general, I maintain a baseline fitness. That means every day I expect myself to get in some sort of cardio and some strength work. I’m very into yoga as well, it combines breathing and meditation which is huge for mental health. Again, it’s all about maintenance. Prior to going on a bigger trip, I start tweaking my training to the specific sport I’m going on. For example, if it was a sea kayaking trip I would work more on upper body and core strength. In between trips I never become so sedentary that I am out of shape. I find that because of this I have stayed very healthy and have had very few overuse injuries.
- You are clearly leading a life of extreme service, a path that not every person takes. What led you to this path and what keeps you on it?
“The generic answer is that I like helping people, but what I’ve found is that this is the way for me to reach the greatest amount of people – to have the biggest impact possible within my community. What keeps me going is that I love the work and the community that surrounds me. “
- Who has been the most influential leader in your life and why?
“My patrol director, Sam Llobet. He’s a good friend of mine first and foremost, but he is also my boss. Yet if I were to introduce as my boss, he’d get really mad at me. Sam prefers to be known as my friend. He leads by building mutual respect, but he also has one of the soundest minds and makes crystal clear decisions. I trust him wholeheartedly. “
- Given all your experience up until now I imagine you have seen things that have been quite challenging to process. If there were one piece of advice you could give your past self to keep her emotionally strong, what would it be?
“It’s OK to ask for help”
- As an emergency medical provider in remote settings you are putting yourself in precarious situations. Do you have a fear of death and, if so, how do you handle it?
“I absolutely do. And the people I work with are my family so the fear that they may get hurt and die is also very prevalent. It is a huge fear of mine. So, I live in the present. Each day is each day.
6. You learn a lot in a short amount of time, how do you keep your brain sharp?
“Nutrition and exercise. And coffee 😊. When it comes to nutrition I’m a huge fan of eating when you’re hungry and keeping a well-balanced diet of proteins, veggies and a few carbs. I also love probiotics, like yogurt and kombucha. I think there is a definite connection between mental health and gut health.
7. Not everyone is forced to take a hard look at themselves in life. Has your career in the field shown you your biggest strength and weakness?
“Yes. It absolutely has shown me my strengths and weaknesses. I think it’s because it forces me to be vulnerable every day. It does not allow me to live with an ego. “
Thank you, Megan, for your time and service. Thank you for being passionate about what you do and for finding what makes you come alive. Congratulations on your marriage to Ben come this August!
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”