I started my career in Emergency Services in 1979 as a Volunteer Firefighter in Florida. I moved to Tucson, AZ in 1980 and started my career with Rural/Metro Fire Dept in 1982. Became an EMT in 1983. I stayed with RMFD until 1994 then moved on to become a Tucson Police Officer here in Tucson. With TPD I worked as a patrol officer assigned to the East Division. I worked some assignments at the police academy but stayed in the patrol division throughout my career. In June 2008 an event happened that would change many lives forever, including mine.
The day was June 1, 2008, a Sunday. My shift was 6am to 4pm. Shortly before 10am we got an attempt to locate broadcast for a male in a in a Maroon Mustang Convertible who had shot at or shot a Deputy Sheriff & he was heading eastbound. After setting up in a location where the suspect may appear he did exactly that. My Sgt. first spotted the vehicle, My unit came in behind here & 2 Sheriff Deputies came in behind me. The Deputies announced over the radio that the suspect was in front of us. As we activated our code 3 equipment the suspect raised an AK 47 Rifle over his head & started shooting at our vehicles. As we pursued the suspects vehicle he would slow down then speed up to draw us in closer. We approached a busy intersection where there was a lot of vehicles & motorcycles present the suspect made his way through the traffic, went through a red light & continued eastbound.
TPD Officer Hite was coming westbound & then took the lead in the chase. As we approached an intersection the suspect turned north on a side street & as Officer Hite turned northbound we heard more gunfire. As my car turned I saw Officer Hite’s car drifting to the right in a steam cloud. Long story short, Officer Hite had taken a Rifle round to the Left Eye & in was a closed head injury. My Sgt. & I rendered aid to Officer Hite. I have treated & seen many things throughout my career but NEVER have I had to treat a friend in such a condition. Officer Hite died the following day.This incident took its toll on many lives.
It changed my outlook on life as well as changed my life forever. I am now retired, Have my own company teaching CPR & First Aid & still teach at the police academy. After this incident I had nightmares, bouts of crying uncontrollably, anger, sadness, depression & a desire to not do anything. I credit friends & family for helping me with my PTSD. My wife was an administrator at a school & had witnessed a shooting on the school property years ago & she too suffered from PTSD. With the fire dept I was a member of the Crisis Response Team but I myself didn’t recognize the signs & symptoms as they happened to me. I thank God everyday for my wife. I would’ve lost it without her.
My ADVICE to all, Learn the Signs & Symptoms of PTSD & DON’T BE AFRAID to reach out to family & friends for support.
– Story written by Mike from Tuscon. 33+ years in EMS, FD, and PD.