Tag Archives: First Responder

Article: I Have Ghosts in My Head

This is a powerful article about the inevitable party question: So, what’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen?

I can’t remember how many times I’ve been in this situation. I’ve been out of the business for quite a while now, so it doesn’t happen much any more, but man…..Always bothered me. My standby answer was: “Depends on your definition of worst.”

That could be followed with: “Do you mean how much blood was spread across the highway? Or how long it took to clean the puke, blood and other bodily fluids out of the back of my ambulance? Or how long it took to get the smell out of my nose? Or do you mean saddest – cuz I’ve got a bunch of those.”

Too many definitions of “worst”. And on the rare occasion when I do share some stories, it’s never even close to the actual worst……

Article: I have ghosts in my head.

“It’s Not Your Fault”….I Lied….

Wow, is this powerful….The video in the link below describes a scenario that probably almost anyone who has spent a few years on an ambulance can understand.

While I don’t remember any specific time I told this type of lie, I am quite certain that I did. How can you not? “It’s not your fault…..” “It’s not as bad as it looks….” And any number of little (or big) white lies we tell to comfort the patient or the family……

And our selves……

Here’s the link to “It’s not your fault”

I do not belive I ever told the lie he describes, although I dealt with at least my share of SIDS. However, I was in a very similar situation – the only difference was that Mom already knew….and lying to her would not have changed anything……

(I have written about the emotions surrounding my experience and how it effected my for years, here, , if you are interested….)

 

 

 

Article: 5 Stresses of Firefighters

Great article…..

http://uniformstories.com/articles/opinion-category/5-stresses-firefighters-deal-with-that-non-firefighters-should-know-about?fb_comment_id=861044530640807_861192523959341

A Pause to Honor….

I find this very interesting. It is a fantastic idea. And, at the same, possibly a horrible idea.

The article linked below talks about hospital emergency workers “pausing” to honor a patient that has not responded to their efforts to save their life. Essentially, a moment of silence for someone they did not know at all.

In many cases, probably most cases, I think this would be a great way to bring a different kind of closure to a situation that is, in itself, so final – and yet, possibly not completely resolved for those who worked so hard for a different outcome. Taking just a moment to come to grips with what has just happened, might make it easier to step away and move on….

On the other hand, at least for me, there were many times that stopping to accept what had happened would have put me over the edge. The scenarios that were just so utterly horrific……If I stopped to think about it, I would not have been able to get back in the ambulance and run the next call…..

The article is about hospital workers. I wonder if it would have the same effect on field crews. Not to take anything away from the hospital folks – the death is just a real – but it is a different situation. Chances are pretty good that the patient the ER staff has stopped to honor was brought in by an ambulance crew who has already left the room to do paperwork and clean up the rig. Would it be effective for the crew to come back to the patients room? Or stop where ever they happen to be when they get word? If they even get word?

Yep, definitely interesting……….

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/09/27/443104073/trauma-workers-find-solace-in-a-pause-that-honors-life-after-a-death?sc=tw

Article: Nobody Taught Me How…….

This is an excellent post! Not about PTSD, but about being a paramedic – It’s about the parts of the job nobody taught you and you had to learn on your own…..

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/im-paramedic-nobody-taught-me-how-julia-cornah

PSA: No warning for PTSD

Yep……

http://www.emsworld.com/video/12105247/no-warning-ptsd-and-first-responders-psa

Article: Why 20 Years of Firefighting May Be Enough

Yep – This one pretty much sums it up. Very powerful.

As I started to read it, I was sure the emotions would well up and come pouring out. But they didn’t. In fact, I’m not really feeling anything. And I’m pretty sure that is not a good sign. The lack of emotion makes me wonder if I have actually made any progress. Or if I have slipped a bit lately…..But his story is mine, right down to the sleep patterns. There was just too much. I simply could not handle anymore. Period. I was done. And I’m still dealing with it – more than 15 years later……..

http://uniformstories.com/why-20-years-may-be-enough-firefighting-for-me

Article: First-responders pay a price for saving lives

I found this to be a rather interesting article. It mostly discusses how a specific fire crew, at a specific fire department, deals with the emotional toll of the job – especially when it comes to kids. It also touches on what the fire department is doing to help the guys on the front lines.

Essentially, it seems this crew and department have a very good and productive attitude about how calls can affect the responders. According to the article, they are open and willing to talk about their feelings and emotions after a horrific call. If this is truly the case, I applaud everyone involved.

Forgive me if I seem skeptical, but this was not my experience. I was never involved in an emotional conversation after a call. It just didn’t happen. Sure, each and every crew I worked with was a very close-knit group (well, with one glaring exception – but I won’t get into that). I have no doubt in my mind that everyone on my crew would drop everything to help me – with things like moving furniture, building a fence, fixing my car……But I would have never brought up how I was feeling after a call…..

Yes, I definitely hold most of the responsibility for never asking for help. But, it was the culture. I am absolutely convinced that a big part of that culture was (and still is), lack of education. Even towards the end of my career, when I was really struggling, no one noticed. Not even me. In hind-sight, I see it clear as day, but at the time I had no idea what was happening. And neither did my crew. Or, if they did, they were afraid to say anything.

This is what needs to change. Every crew needs to be like the one depicted in this article. Talking about every aspect of a call is crucial for growth. Reviewing the technical aspects will help you do your job better. Reviewing the emotional aspects will help you do your job longer……

http://tbo.com/news/breaking-news/first-responders-pay-a-price-for-saving-lives-20140802/

 

An incredibly humbling experience…..What do I do with it??

Tonight at a neighbors Christmas party, I had the honor to spend several hours talking with Randy and Gary. Both served our country in Vietnam.

Gary served one year “in theatre” as a Sargent in the Army. He told me stories about how he and his fellow soldiers were assaulted day after day – by Americans. Guys would pick fights with them  just because they “looked military”. I’m happy to report that Gary and company were undefeated in bar room brawls.

Gary told me about friends who were “messed up” when they got home, but insisted he was fine. Yet, with eyes watering, he shared story after story about how he and his friends were attacked and forced into fights they never wanted – at home. It seemed as though Gary was more effected by what happened after he returned than what he saw when in combat.

Randy, a small and soft-spoken gentleman with intense eyes, made the biggest impression on me. Randy spent three years, two tours, as a Marine in Vietnam he re-enlisted shortly after a field promotion to Sargent when his superior, and most of his team, were killed in action. He wanted to go back and, with an intensity in his eyes that I have never seen before, told me that he “made good – two for one”.

Almost six years ago, Randy was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer – an aggressive and incurable form – and given less than five years to live. He has gone through many rounds of chemo and stem cell transplants. Today, he looks very healthy, but moves rather slowly and speaks very softly. He says, at this point, no one knows how much longer he has left. As he shared this information with me, Randy took a sip of his beer, looked me square in the eye and said “I don’t know how much longer I have left, but I’m not done yet”.

Randy honestly believes he was exposed to something, perhaps Agent Orange, while in Vietnam that lead to his diagnosis. However, he does not cast blame. Randy feels that, while it really sucks, this is just part of serving his country.

Randy, Gary and I spent the evening talking, drinking, laughing and sharing stories. Through the course of the night, I eventually told them about my “past life” as a fire/medic. Most of the stories we shared involved “off-duty” partying, but certainly we all shared some of our more intense experiences. For the record, my stories did not hold a candle to what they experienced.

At the end of the night, both men shook my hand and thanked me for a great evening. Randy, however, held my hand. He looked me square in the eyes with the intensity I had seen earlier and said, “Thank you for letting me share my story with you”. He said he does not very often get the opportunity to talk with someone who is willing to listen and who understands his background. An incredible compliment from an unbelievably strong and brave man.

This filled me with pride, satisfaction, gratitude, and humility. This is a true American hero – thanking ME for simply talking to him……

And then, still firmly gripping my hand, with a firm thump on the shoulder and a renewed intensity in his eyes, Randy said to me: “And thank you for your service and what you did for our community”……….

With that he turned, waved to the host of the party, and walked out the door……

Wow……..completely speechless…….

Article: The Man Who Saw Too Much

This is a fantastic article about a guy with whom I can completely identify. Many of his experiences are very similar to mine – especially when things started coming apart for him. While I did not have the same addiction problem as he, my struggles pretty much mirror his.

It is a long article, but well worth the time. It will answer a lot of questions about PTSD and show you that there is light to be found.

http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/outdoor-skills/survival/The-Man-Who-Saw-Too-Much.html

 

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