I never intended to become a technician in the DME/CRT field. As I look back on the last 12 years of my career, it has been a mix of ups & downs, long days, and lots of early mornings. I've had employers that treated me amazingly and others that did not. I have endangered my career by openly opposing poor leadership decisions and advocating for better treatment of technicians. I've persevered through immense frustration over the progression of my career to reach my current role. I've often pondered my justification for doing so until recently. I finally realized why I stuck with it: purpose.
As field techs, we all encounter clients we aren't entirely thrilled about working with. But we also have clients who simply make our job worthwhile. Perhaps for you it was the client who tipped you when you finished working on their chair. Maybe it was a client who simply expressed their gratitude that day when no one else did. Then, occasionally you have that client who just makes you want to do the best job you can. For me, one such client's name is Mandy.
I met Mandy about three years ago when she first moved to Arizona and was having some issues with her manual chair. I remember when I first came to her door, she was just so nice and friendly. She was extremely grateful when I finished her repairs. Over the years, Mandy became one of what I call my "frequent flyers," meaning I saw her often compared to other clients. I would usually schedule her at the end of the day, so I wouldn't feel rushed. I really enjoyed the opportunities to catch up on how things had been since our last repair. As I got to know Mandy, I learned so much about her amazing life. To me, it seemed like she truly lived without limits. She backpacked through Alaska, kayaked in the Pacific Ocean, and recently graduated with a degree in Biomedical Science! Hearing about all of her adventures and getting to know Mandy inspired me to be the best tech I could be. Not just for her, but for every client I worked with. She gave me perspective as to why our job is so important.
Mandy left Arizona to pursue opportunities in another state and I had to say farewell to one of my favorite clients. I had never made a point of remaining in contact with prior clients, but I did keep in touch with Mandy. While I was traveling for work in January, I met up with Mandy for dinner. She told me that she was planning on attending a big three-day outdoor music festival in southern Arizona and invited me to join her and her squad. Now, let me preface this by saying that Mandy's taste in music differs greatly from my own, and I had never been to a music festival like this before. But I considered my access to various mobility platforms and thought it would be cool to take a Magic Mobility Frontier V6 all-terrain power wheelchair to the festival. Mandy had often told me the struggles of attending these events in her manual chair, or even the basic folding power chair she had purchased. Thus, I jumped at the opportunity to provide her with a Frontier V6 with all the goodies. I abandoned my own musical comfort zone and bought my single-day ticket. I packed up my camera to ensure I could capture some memories and headed for southern Arizona.
I realized that the Magic Mobility Frontier V6 was perfect for this event not only due to its off-roading capabilities, but also its power seat elevation feature. However, I didn't expect just how much of a positive impact it would have for her and also for the people she loved being around. One of the first pictures I took was a group photo of Mandy elevated in the chair, surrounded by some of her friends. It was a beautiful picture; everyone looked amazing and was clearly having a wonderful time. Afterwards I showed Mandy the photo and saw her cry the happiest tears I have ever seen someone cry. Part of me was taken slightly aback by this, until I realized how special it was. This was the first picture Mandy had with her squad where she was at eye level with them. I have always known the importance of this feature on power wheelchairs, but never fully understood the impact it would have on someone actually using it. It was at this exact moment that I finally understood the reason and purpose as to why I stuck with this career path for so long.
The people we technicians serve in the field every day really do think of us as more than just employees of a company. We are our clients' lifeline to living their lives in their chairs to the absolute fullest! We keep them from being stuck because their chair isn't working. We keep them moving and enjoying life. It may be as simple as walking their pet, attending an event, or celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in Hawaii. The purpose in what we do is to help ensure that regardless of the situation, we are there to promote a higher quality of life for our clients. If you are a technician reading this, I want you to find the why in what you do, even if no one consistently reminds you of the immense impact you have on every client you serve. Personally, I would like to thank Mandy for inviting me to one of the most memorable events I have ever been a part of, and for helping me to find the purpose behind what I do. To all the technicians out there, I hope you find your inspiration, motivation, and purpose to do the very best you can! You are more than just an employee.
Kelly Honeycutt has worked in the Durable Medical Equipment and Complex Rehab Technology industries for 12 years. His background includes experience as a Senior DME Technician for multiple vendors in the greater Phoenix area, a Logistics Lead Technician for the largest hospital system in Arizona, and a Senior Field Technician for a national rehab technology vendor. Kelly's career has spanned a multitude of different DME/CRT products and manufacturers, and places a strong emphasis on customer service and quality of knowledge in the field technician space. Kelly brings years of real world field repair and service experience to Sunrise Medical to help develop the best, most durable equipment available on the market. He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys exploring remote locations with his dog, as well as having fun with anything with a motor that goes fast.