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Monday, October 19, 2009


In the fire service there are a few cliches that are often used. These reflect, in a joking manner, what we do such as "Just living the dream" or Saving lives." While said in a non chalant way most of us do believe that we are fortunate to do what we do and can, every once in a while, save a life. The thing that is not mentioned is that sometimes we lose that fight to save lives. Most of the time when we lose that battle it's with an elderly person, quite often with pre-existing medical problems, that has lived a long life and it's simply their time to go. Or the person that has made choices in their life that unfortunatley shortened it, such as the use of some drugs. Every so often we have to deal with someone that is otherwise healthy that dies becuase of some traumatic event, a car crash, a shooting, a fall. There rarest and most difficult with which to deal are the ones involving kids.

This last week a couple of friends that work at another department had to deal with this. There was a drunk driver on the highway that crossed the double yellow line and, despite the evasive driving of the other vehicle, hit an oncoming car head on. From what I understand the vehicles struck on the front drivers side of both vehicles causing severe damage. The vehicle that was hit had in it a young family, a father, driving, mother and two daughter ages 3 and 5. The injured parties had to be extricated from the vehicle. The father sustained critical injuries and was transported to the trauma center by ambulance. The daughter was in full arrest and had some airway complications. She was transported to the closeset hospital because of the airway comprimise and then flown to the trauma center. They were able to get a pulse and a blood pressure back in the child but as they were starting to fly her out she died again. She was pronounced dead at the trauma center.

I know most of the crews that were on this accident. Things that most prople will never know are what the paramedic felt like when she had to shut the ambulance doors on that mother. Or another medic that stayed behind giving the mother a shoulder on which to cry. The medic that transported the father to the trauma center told me that they were relieved that he wasn't able to ask about the condition of his daughter. These stories almost never make it to the public.

As a paramedic you learn to be emotionally detached at what you do so that you can still function in situations like this one. The hard part can come later while dealing with your suppressed emotions. A lot of times agencies and departments will hold CISD's to help their crew through this process. In my experience crews usually deal with these situations in their own unique way on a crew level. They will talk it out with each other and possibly with a few friends in the industry that can actually understand what they are feeling sine they have been there themselves. Eventually you move on. My heart goes out to the brave men and women that serve our communities and subject themselves (and to a limited extent their families) to things that no one should have to see, then go back for more. I consider myself lucky to work along side you.


S said...

Thanks for addressing what has to be one of the hardest parts of the profession. My FF/medic DH recently transported a 2 yo girl who had been raped and beaten, and I know it hit him hard - we have three daughters. He assured me she was going to be ok, and I know he gave her the very best care anyone could, but it weighs on our minds.
One of his first calls was a suicide, a man whose children were in the home, whose son was my daughter's friend, and it was only then it struck me that aside from his physical wellbeing, this job would tax him emotionally as well.
I have such admiration for him - and all of you on the job.

Anonymous said...

Yep, I think we're all pretty lucky that y'all want to do the job you do.

Delia Adriana said...

I have no idea how I even found this blog, but this is very comforting to read. I know what you guys do isn't easy... I watch my friends do it all the time. They do get emotionally detached but I always knew something else was in there that they just don't need to deal with because they have other things to be dealing with in life.

This was also very beautifully written! Be safe.

Firefighter/Paramedic said...

S- Thanks for the comment. I hope that your DH has found a way that works for him to de-stress.

Anon- We're happy to do it.

Delia- I'm glad you found the blog. Thanks for the comments. Come back often.

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