Ivan Mazurkiewicz knows there will never be a typical day on his job. As a paramedic for Allina Health, he might be called to assist an older adult who's taken a bad fall, before rushing to the home of someone else going into cardiac arrest.
But it's children whose medical emergencies tend to weigh most heavily on his mind. So Mazurkiewicz, who became a paramedic in 2010, has found a way to lighten the emotional load for them.
For the past couple of years, Mazurkiewicz has been performing magic tricks for his youngest patients as a way to calm them down and make their ride to the hospital less stressful.
He coughs, and out of his mouth comes a deck of playing cards. His finger tips suddenly light up like neon. He opens his wallet and doesn't seem to notice that it's in flames.
All of his antics are followed by smiles -- his and the kids'.
"I had this idea that, maybe if I learned a couple of coin tricks, I could do that for kids in the back of the ambulance," Mazurkiewicz said. "I just thought it would be something fun for them so they're not afraid of us."
Mazurkiewicz, 33, lives in Scandia, Minn. with his wife, Amber. With no kids of his own, he said he sees himself "as the crazy uncle."
But the idea to bring magic to work came from a far heavier place.
Several years ago, Mazurkiewicz rushed to assist at a tragic call involving a 5-year-old boy. The boy died in his ambulance.