Being a medic is a very stressful job. Sure, it’s also rewarding. It’s great to save lives, but there will always be patients who can’t be saved and horrible trauma that cannot be unseen. For some medics, the trauma will hit too close to home, rolling up on a scene to find out the severely injured person is someone you know or maybe even a family member. For Paul Adams, paramedicine hit too close to home early in his career.
It was 1997. He was working as a medic at his hometown fire department in Clovis, New Mexico. He and his partner were just coming off a 24 hour shift when they were asked to take one more call, the transfer of a terminally ill patient who wanted to die at home.
On the rutted road to Lubbock, it began to rain. Paul and his partner had flipped a coin and Paul was behind the wheel when the ambulance began to slide on the rain slick road, spinning and crashing into a telephone pole. Paul was the only survivor. Sometimes, he would wish he wasn’t and would seriously think of joining his partner.
He would not leave the career he loved however. Saving lives is rewarding, says Paul, “I feel great when somebody makes it, but I am just a tool that God uses to help people. I don’t feel like I’ve ever saved anybody. I just feel like I got to be part of a precious moment.” He has also been part of some last moments. Paul says, “I can’t tell you the number of hands I’ve held where mine was the last face they saw. That’s very humbling.”
He credits his faith for helping him maintain control of his inner demons, but he also knew he needed something to keep him occupied as much as possible. He competed in barrel races from 2000 until he accepted a job at Cypress Creek EMS in 2003.
In 2006, he turned to bodybuilding competitions and, yes, the following picture really is Paul. It is not his head Photo-Shopped onto someone else’s body. I will admit, however, that I used PhotoShop to change make his spray tan less orange and more brown.
Paul says he fluctuated between 190 pounds, 12 % body fat and 165 pounds, 3% body fat. Several years later it caught up to him. He says, “I went into respiratory arrest and was intubated, so I said I gotta figure out something else.”
Paul had dabbled with woodworking off and on since high school. So, he bought a few tools and soon he was hooked. He was asked to make a large cross for a church. Then, he started making smaller crosses that were sold at a store in Tomball. Custom orders followed as word of his high quality workmanship spread. The self-taught craftsmen had found that when it comes to stress relief, Wood Works. He began to hope that sometime in the future Wood Would Work as a new full time job. He’s not there yet, but he has managed to stay busy.
A look at his website reveals that he can make pretty much anything you can think of, from chairs to tables to beds for humans
After all of the destruction he’s seen and continues to see at work, he says woodworking provides the balance of creation. “It’s being able to take something and create it in my mind. To me, it’s truly an honor and it’s humbling that you come to me and you like my work enough to allow me to do something. And, then to know that you think enough of it to put it in your house. There’s just no words to describe it. “
Of his experiences he says there is an upside. “The positive that’s come out of it is the patients that are suicidal and depressed. I say I understand and they say you don’t understand nothing and I say sure I do. I can relate to them and I tell them my story and they’re like, oh wow, you can.” Paul is also part of an organized ministry for first responders who are stressed out by their jobs, up to and including P.T.S.D.
Recently, the Community Impact did a nice story on Paul. To check that out, click here.