Remember that old movie with Bruce Willis and that one kid that was in those 90’s movies? The one kid that saw and talked to dead people? Yea? I’m not that kid and this is not what this is about. I actually see and have seen plenty of dead people… On a pretty regular basis.
I have been in fire department for close to fourteen years now and have seen what I would call some “interesting things”. Things I honestly wish I could un-see. Never the less I have seen them and will never forget them.
For me I guess its normal, but is it really normal? When I go to work people call me and my coworkers because there is an emergency. They call us in their worst moments. They call us because they need saving, but we cant save everyone.
The gunshots, stabbings, cardiac arrests, over doses, and fatal car accidents… Or maybe it was the breathing difficulty call that turned bad when the guy didn’t make it. I can still see his face… Or maybe the young mom who overdosed and left her four year old behind. I can still see her laying on the ground in the parking lot…
I have very vivid memories of people I wish we could have saved. Most days I don’t know what to do with them. You would say therapy. Right? That doesn’t make them go away. They will forever be ingrained in my mind and I don’t know that I will ever forget. So some days I just stare and act like they don’t exist. Its just easier this way. Not healthy, but easier.
I also know I am not the only fireman that feels this way. We just don’t talk about it much. Its a lot easier to ignore it and pretend like we are not effected by the things we have seen. I can assure you this, we are affected, and it all goes somewhere. Sure, we’re tough. Some of us. But mentally, inside, we don’t know what to do with everything we have seen and our respective departments are not offering much help.
At the most you’ll get a couple of free sessions and they will send you on your way, and then you are back in the shit all over again… I wish I had a simple answer for it all, but I don’t. Right now I think its important that we start a conversation and keep it going.
This is me starting the conversation in my area of influence…