I never really thought the different calls I went on bothered me that much. I went on what I thought were hard calls and processed through them ,and life went on as normal. Then I had, what I call, my black cloud month. We see dead people more often than we want to. It unfortunately becomes the new normal. Or something that just seems like it shouldn’t bother you. What I feel that makes these calls the hardest is what is left in the wake of a person passing away.
First call that started this black cloud of doom was a hanging of a middle school age kid. Going to the call my partner had already made statements of how it was already to late anyways and why are we even going. The system I work in we are private ambulance sole 911 and work alongside fire. Ambulance is staffed with one medic and one EMT. I am the EMT. As we get more notes about the call CPR has been started by fire, as I expected. As soon as we got on scene we were brought through the house. We saw the younger sibling.
He was busy playing a video game completely oblivious to what was going on in the backyard. When get to the patient fire is still doing CPR. I was starting to grab our gear and ready to run the call. All of a sudden the medic tells the firefighters to stop. He checks for pulses and then tells everyone to stop. He walks over the kid’s mom…..what came next will forever be in my brain. The wail that came from the mother just clawed at your heart. I did everything I could to not start crying myself in that moment.
I was just stunned at the events that were unfolding in front of my eyes. I felt helpless. I am the EMT on scene. I don’t make the final call. And I just had to stand there and watch it happen. Knowing there was nothing I could say or do to change what was happening. To me looking at the kid and hearing the brief history up to that point I had thought we should have at least worked the code. Kid was so young. I moved the gear back to the unit. As I was putting the gurney back, the younger sibling came running out crying and full of anger. My heart just hurt.
A call that just stays with you. Every call you go on hits everyone in different ways. After going on several cardiac arrest and trauma codes the outcome unfortunately isn’t always positive. The family who stands and watches you try and save their loved one is so emotionally draining. Hearing a young child beg you to save their mom. Do CPR on a teenager who was driving just a little to fast and having their blood on your hands. Being the last person that was there when they took their last breath. It weighs on the heart.
I have battled through very dark depression. Seeing the ghosts as I drive through the city. But I am so thankful for my coworkers and our peer support team we have at my company. I would not have been able to move through all of the hard calls I have been through this year. The people who understand the most and who have walked through the calls with me, have helped me get through some very dark times.
It changes you. No matter how long you have been in the business hard calls leave the scars. Little things don’t matter. You hold your loved ones closer. Knowing that anything can happen and time is short. Some days I don’t know why I chose to do this job. Some days I don’t feel like I ever make a difference. But I do know every day is a new day. I get up. I put on my uniform and try again. Be kind to those working in EMS. You never know what baggage they carry with them.
– Story written by an anonymous EMT