What's The Worse Thing You've Seen On Your Shift and... [Archive] - Glock Talk


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10-21-2004, 12:34
how has it affected your outlook on life?

Or are you able to "not" let it affect you?

My only experience was coming upon a dead body many moons ago along a canal.

It freaked me out for about 3 months and I got over it.

10-21-2004, 13:18
Part of our job as a FF/EMS provider is to respond to incidents where people have been injured. I have seen everything from minor to major.

I have seen a youn woman of 26 years, who was injured in an automobile accident, who will be a quadrapalegic the rest of her life. I saw the worried look on her husbands's face as he held their 3 year old daughter to his chest and asked, "Will she be OK?"

I climbed into a car laying on it's top and determined the driver was dead. I recognized both the car and driver. I had sat across the dinner table from this bright high school student the night before. The next morning he was late for school and missed a curve. I had gone to work that morning and the call came in just as I was getting there.

I have seen alot in my career. Some of the victims I knew. Others were strangers.

A call early in my career helped me to set the mindset for handling the personal involvement. We arrived on scene of a SIDS case. Thats Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The young baby was wrapped in blankets and was being held in her mother's arms. Mama was crying the baby was not breathing. I took the bundle and unwrapped it. Inside was a small baby, still warm, but turning blue.

My partner and I began infant CPR. When the ambulance arrived, I went in the ambulance with the baby to the hospital. Despite all we tried, the baby died.

I went back to the station and worried that I had not done all I could to save her and somehow her death was my fault. I was a newby, 6 months on the job. I was worried I would be blamed and lose my job.

My Captain called me into the office and started asking me what I had done, what I could have done and what I was going to do. I was worried! I thought he was after me!!

I thought about it and told him I did everything I had been trained to do, there was nothing else I could have done, and I didn't know what I was going to do now.

He said, "Good job." "You did what you were trained to do, there is nothing else you could have done, and now QUIT WORRYING about it." "You did not cause the problem. Things got better when we showed up. We gave the victims hope in the midst of chaos. That is what we are there for."

Alex - we are there to assist the living to continue living. We respond to emergencies because that is a privilege we are granted when we become firefighters, Paramedics and EMTs.

I do not let it affect me by making sure I provide excellent customer service and train to excell in the job I do.

Sure we have flashbacks to the carnage, the smells, the scenes, the sounds, but we have chosen this noble profession and our character brings honor to it.

10-21-2004, 13:42
Wow groverglock ! ! !

My hat off to you.

;? ;? ;? ;?

10-21-2004, 14:13
Originally posted by groverglock
Alex - we are there to assist the living to continue living. We respond to emergencies because that is a privilege we are granted when we become firefighters, Paramedics and EMTs.

I do not let it affect me by making sure I provide excellent customer service and train to excell in the job I do.

Sure we have flashbacks to the carnage, the smells, the scenes, the sounds, but we have chosen this noble profession and our character brings honor to it.

Brother I couldn't have said it better myself if I had 3 lifetimes to try.

God Bless.

10-21-2004, 14:26
;? ;? ;? ;?

10-21-2004, 15:41
I've only been a working EMT for six months and I work in a very rural county, so I haven't seen to much horrible stuff. I've had a few bad wrecks on my shift though.

One morning, only two months into the job, my partner and I got called to a wreck on our main highway at like four in the morning. We rolled up on scene and the volunteer fire department was already on scene with a charged line waiting for us. The car was wrapped around a telephone pole with four people in it, three adults and a infant that was screaming. The phone pole was on an embankment and the car was sitting at a pretty bad angel. As I approached the car I looked at the driver and thought she was dead because she looked so bad. The only way I can describe it was that her face was literally framed in steel. I couldn't see anything but her face, her head and neck weren't visible because they were surrounded by the mangled car. She had several large lacerations around her cheeks and lips and she was motionless and quiet. I couldn't check a for a pulse so I lifted an eye lid to check a pupil. I wasn't expecting to see any movement but she looked dead at me with that eye and began screaming.

The front passenger wasn't much better, she was also entrapped with both legs pinned in by the dash board. The rear passenger was also entrapped by the drivers seat and door post which had pinned her left leg in. The only part of the car that was accesible was the rear passenger seat where the infant was sitting in a car seat. The infant was ok, not a scratch.

After removing the infant I grabbed the Hurst tool and started working on freeing the rear passenger. I had never used one outside of the extrication course so as the only male EMT, the Hurst tool was mine.

I worked on it for a while until senior medics showed up and I let them have at it. We had two helicopters from two different services on scene by the time we got the rear passenger out. She was lucky, her only injury was a fractured femur and she had been conscious throughout the whole ordeal. My partner and I took her in by ground and saved the two helicopters for the two up front which were pulled out after the car was pulled away from the telephone pole. There was absolutely no way to get either of them out while the car was still wrapped around the pole, the intrusion was just to severe.

By the time we arrived at the closest trauma center one of the helicopters was landing with the driver. She was in bad shape but she was still alive. The front passenger showed up in the second helicopter a few minutes later and she wasn't much better.

We got updates for about a week after the accident. The two patients that were in the front of the vehicle were still in ICU with ET tubes in, the prognosis wasn't good the last we heard.

Up until that night I wasn't really impressed with EMS work. I was transitioning from law enforcement and had pretty much made up mind that chilling in front of the tv for 75% percent of my shift while I spent the rest of my shifts doing chores and running really boring calls wasn't for me. By the time I got back to the station I was asking my supervisor about going to the next intermediate class.

I've been hooked on this job ever since that morning. Knowing that I'm helping someone in a time of need provides me with more satisfaction than any other job I've ever had.

I haven't had any problems dealing with what I've seen so far. I pretty much just accept the fact that things happen that are out of my control. That's just life and I know there's only so much that I can do about it after the fact. I can do every thing I've been taught and some patients are still going to die, no matter what I do. Whether someone checks out or not is in God's hands, not mine, and knowing that what ever happens to us is God's plan makes dealing with things much easier.

10-21-2004, 16:24
For Dale. ;c ;c ;c

Steamboat Bill
10-21-2004, 23:03
Years of rotating between pumper and ambulance in the 'hood and I generally laugh at most FF's versions of "bad scenes." We label those routine calls...;) No offense meant, just good FD ribbing.

The worst scene you will ever make, in my opinion, is not from a 911 call. It is staring into the face of the wife and kids of a Brother FF LODD at the funeral. We have had 4 killed in the last 5 years in 3 separate structure fire incidents. I cannot even begin to fathom what they are going through in FDNY. My hat is off to those guys.

10-22-2004, 15:49
I've had guys shot 11 times, triple ejections at 90mph, all kinds of terrible injuries. I'd take any one of them over a call involving kids or where kids are present. Those get to me.

10-22-2004, 22:12
ditto that, I dont like messin with youngin's.

but I've had SEVERE burn victims, decapitation, 100mph+ ejection, gun shots, missing limbs, etc etc.

Pretty much the same as any other EMT.

Central Texan
10-22-2004, 23:06
I feel extreamly proud to be able to say that I've spent some time as a fire fighter. I'm sad to say it was only about 4 years worth. I too have seen many sights that I would rather have not seen, however I chose the job and I knew that things like that would happen. It bothered me, but not to the point that it prevented me from being very good at my job.
There is one sight though that will haunt me for the rest of my life. It was the look in that woman's face, in her eyes, when I told her that her only daughter was no longer alive. The heart wrenching pain her face expressed when she found out I wasnt able to get to her daughter in time to save her.
Once in a while I see her face in my mind again. I've seen all maners of death, injury, and sickness, but nothing I've seen is worse that the look on that mother's face.

10-24-2004, 11:39
What's the worst thing....

This has been a popular question and I used to answer it but soon decided that I no longer would. I felt that in answering, I became merely a source of entertainment for someone who would likely never actually comprehend the experience from the perspective of a professional responder.

For the calls that have left lasting impressions, the only people that could ever relate to the experience were the ones that were there with me. Only their opinions and thoughts mattered to me and hearing their thoughts as well as describing my own to these same people help reveal perspectives that allowed for personal growth.

Re telling these human tragedies to those who were not there and who are not in my line of work only served to cheapen the event and reduce a powerful experience into a meaningless source of entertainment for someone who would never grasp what it's all about anyway.

So now, I tell them a story about a baby in a stroller.....near a beer truck......that was being off loaded.....when suddenly, a full keg of beer teetered at the top rack of the truck........and just as the stroller passed underneath.....the keg fell! (long pause, say nothing, wait for them to beg you to go on)

The punch line......the kid didn't get a scratch on him, it was a keg of....................LIGHT BEER!

This has worked for me every time! They get their entertainment and a good laugh and I have subtly dodged their original question.

10-26-2004, 22:34
I've only been doing the volunteer gig for about 6.5 months, so I haven't seen anything really bad happen to a person. I saw a car get washed under a bridge while we were evacing a block in town because of flooding though. I've gone to the station on our last two fatals, but since I run during the day (I work 2nd shift) we don't always have a second driver, so I didn't actually go out to them.

10-27-2004, 06:25
;? Thanks to all of you for your service to your communities! You make a difference in all of our lives!

10-27-2004, 10:02

I've ran bad auto accidents. Some jacked up drownings (ocean). A handfull of shootings. And some of the most bizzare medical calls.

The worst if always kids.

Had a 3y/o fall onto her mothers knitting needle. Puncture wound apprx 1 inch twards midline of the left nipple. ge grounded her for about 25 mins to meet a medevac. She went from limp and non-resp to semi-resp with some agressive care.

8 month old cardiac arrest about a month ago. We were the second in ambulance. Other Ambo on scene is an Medic/EMT being assisted by FD EMT's and PD first responders. I was FTO'ing a new medic and working with an EMT. We busted our ass on this little one. All of us sans the new medic have kids and worked as hard as we could, being as agressive and throrogh as possible. From inital 911 call, to arrivial at our hosp ED was 44min (large semi rural county) including the four mins it took to lacate the house due to false info given by caller and false ANI/ALI 911 info.

Little one had a faint pulse when we got her to the ED and the Pedi TX team flew in to get her. Unfort she ended up passing away the next day. Simply put, she was down too long. Her family did agree to organ donation. I woke up the next night after re-living the IO in a dream, have since re-adjusted.

Kids are the worst for me.

Brian Dover
10-27-2004, 14:55
During "downtime" here at the station, lookin at some of the stuff that Alex_Knight guy posts in OAF really turns my stomach..

What, didja think everybody would chime in with a serious answer?;f

10-27-2004, 15:07
Originally posted by Brian Dover
During "downtime" here at the station, lookin at some of the stuff that Alex_Knight guy posts in OAF really turns my stomach..

What, didja think everybody would chime in with a serious answer?;f

;z ;z ;z ;z ;z ;z ;z

Brian Dover
10-27-2004, 15:31
Okay, didn't want to throw the thread off course, back to topic.
Yep, if bad runs on kids don't affect you at least a little, you probably been in the Emergency Services racket too long.
Yuckiest/messiest calls I've seen have been folks hit by trains. On runs of that severity, it helps to remember that the person couldn't possibly have suffered.

10-27-2004, 15:53
The "smells" stay with me and can displace me to past scene in a fraction of a second.

10-28-2004, 11:37
Vol FF 14.5 years now...What's the worst? Everyone's is different. If you've been doing it long enough, you've been in spots where you seriously questioned if you wanted to continue doing it. Kid calls are it for me, no doubt. The smells from a few particular calls still come back to haunt me from time to time. Cutting my best friend out of his car (I was 18 at the time) definately a lowpoint for me.
It's the few thanks, and the memories of meeting some of the victims (including my best friend after several months in the hospital) I helped after they recovered that make it worth it. If it's in you, it's in you...if it's not, it's not. No shame in either, it's not for everyone that's for darn sure. But I wouldn't give it up for anything. Stay safe guys.


10-28-2004, 14:22
Actually I a set of answers for this one.

If asked by a new Civilian acquaintance, which I don’t particularly like, I answer. “People who ask me a question like that.” I like telling war stories as much as the next guy, but have little tolerance for people that think that’s all I do and that’s all I have to talk about is the “gross” stuff. For me there is much more stress in the job caused by abuse of the system, just the day to day trials of public service take much more of a toll on me then any one “gross” run. It’s just not as entertaining and I resent people using my job for entertainment.

I am assuming you are not a civilian and you honestly want to know so I’ll share it with you. The worst call I have had on shift was a call from my wife telling me my mother was on her way (“hot” by ambulance) to an out of town hospital for what my dad believed was a stroke. Mom did have a stroke and is recovering. Just like others who have stated about a brother FF lost in the line of duty, when it affects you and yours. “It’s a BAD one.” I guess this alone makes them all “bad ones” for somebody.

But again I don’t feel that’s exactly the answer you are looking for. I have seen a 13 YO (Yep, kids are always bad) ATTEMPTED suicide 12ga to the face. His arms were too short to pull the trigger and maintain contact with the muzzle. He missed vital organs but not his face. I have seen a motorcycle strike a power poll at >95 mph (35 mph zone). Rider skidded along a chain link fence. Burns are nasty; kids in fires are even nastier.

How have all the above effected me? I think just like they should have. My job is to assist with these things. My personality would allow nothing less. Honestly the hardest thing for me has always been how little effect it actually has. I am now a shift supervisor and continually remind my co-workers that I am 100% for CISDs, It’s just not something that always pops right into my mind but that’s just me.

I love my job. I’m good at my job. The frequent flyers, the LOL-NAD (Little Old Lady-No Apparent Distress) and all the rest are just things you have to do to be able to make a diff for the “bad ones.”

Lone Hunter
10-29-2004, 19:36
Got 15 years on the job. Had folks killed by trains,cars,guns,hangings,stabbings......

Been to over 20 fatals.(fire deaths) Pulled a few out myself,had 3 kids burned up like pop open hot dogs.

The worst I've seen?

Some freakin new kid who brings in one piece of chicken per man for supper!
"Your feeding men here kid!"

Steamboat Bill
10-30-2004, 00:40
Originally posted by Lone Hunter

The worst I've seen?

Some freakin new kid who brings in one piece of chicken per man for supper!
"Your feeding men here kid!"


Never lay short !

10-30-2004, 07:38
I have had similar calss as all of those mentioned above. You know what's funny is I can still vividly remember all of the victims faces. I don't remember the routine patients but I can never forget the faces from the nasty calls. Had one woman crushed by severe intrusion from MVA she was pinned from the waist down by the door and center console. She was DOA but when they removed her she was basically eviscerated not a nice sight.

11-03-2004, 22:14
well off the topic of gore and on the topic of the nasty. one night we got called to a possible stroke. walked into the house and this wonderful tasty smell of crap mixed with day old vomit hits me as soon as i walk into the door. go to the back room where the wife said she found her husband. the man was covered from head to toe in his own crap. apparently he had corn the night before because there was little corn nuggets clining to his skin via **** glue. the man had rolled off the bed, crapped all over himself, and then writhed and rolled around in the crap untill we got there. it was kinda funny because he had the white style hanes on and there was an obvious bulge of crap filling the underwear, which then squeezed out either side, and down the leggs. anyway mummified him in sheets(he was unreponsive only waking up to roll around in his crap every once in a while) and carried him to the truck. in the truck chem stick 109 gag reflex (no tube/opa) put in an npa (was breathing so no bagging) partner hit him with the narcan. SURPRISE now crap boy wants to fight he was spitting / squirming, and flining poo the rest of the way to the hospital.
hope someone enjoys this as much as i did

11-04-2004, 17:50
Here is the obligitory...

I try not to take any crap off of my patients.

;z ;z ;z

11-06-2004, 00:43
The OKC bombing, changed me forever. I think about it everyday, it will never go away. I chose to go down there and kept going back. I am glad I went, but I have paid for it and always will. Some of the things I had to do and some of things I seen will go to my grave with me. It cost me my career for the time beeing, I had 6 years on a dept. may go back one day may not.

11-11-2004, 09:25
I am a P-T FF who is also on a dive recovery team. Haven't had too many bad ones but the one that sticks the most is a 8YO drowning victem. He was blue when we pulled him out from under the rocks. The thing that bothered me the most though was that his grandmother and boyfriend were supposed to be watching (yeah right, from the vehicle 200yds away) and the boyfriends response when he found out that the boy had not stayed out of the water was 'boys will be boys' it was a hot summer day and the beach was flying red warning flags.

11-11-2004, 10:44
Thanks for responding people.

I don't mind hearing the stories, a lot which are heart breaking.

My true purpose was to see how these things affect you. And it sounds like you all deal with it in different ways.

Way deep down though, it sounds like the things you have seen and done pretty much affect you all the same way.

My hat off to you good people.

I hope I never need to use you.

;? ;? ;?

Brian Dover
11-11-2004, 10:58
The expression "I'm gonna go for therapy" means I'm headed for my gun club. My 'burg is currently in bad fiscal straits (IMO, thanks to several years of wild spending by city cou..), so that means at least one session a week.
At least I'm not using pictures of politicians as targets, yet. Nor am I praying for them to be the ones that have the house fires, heart attacks, etc.
See, I'm dealing with the stress just fine. Really.

11-13-2004, 21:49
I haven't posted on Glock Talk for a long time. I didn't even know this forum was here. Something Brian said really struck home:

Yep, if bad runs on kids don't affect you at least a little, you probably been in the Emergency Services racket too long.

I have been at the fire gig as a volunteer for over 20 years, the last 8 as a Chief Officer and Incident Commander. I thought I had lost my compassion for humanity. Now I am struggling with some demons from within that I have created myself. By burying the feelings of sorrow so deeply for so long, I find myself with feelings of guilt. It kind of sucks but I'll work through it.

The worst I have ever seen was horrific. Nuff said.

11-14-2004, 11:27
I'm in my 30th year as a Cincinnati firefighter.........Can't even begin telling all I've seen. Just as soon as I think I have seen the worst thing possible, something worse comes along.
I have learned one thing though; some things do not get talked about at home. Of course having a son on the CFD and a daughter on the CPD, I have close family that can understand a need to talk. So, they are there and we are here for each other at times.

11-16-2004, 19:05
Originally posted by oldstyle
The "smells" stay with me and can displace me to past scene in a fraction of a second.

I was on a run on a hot summer day. Man had collapsed in his easy chair after just finishing a very large meal.
I checked him when we got there. No breathing, no heartbeat, pupils dilated.
Started CPR while my partner got the cot.
Loaded him in the ambulance, continuing CPR all the way.
Halfway back to the hospital-yeah you guessed it. He power heaved right into my mouth and face. This was back in the old days, pre Aids. We usually didn't even use Ambu bags, but did mouth to mouth the old fashioned way.
Chicken, pineapple, and Lord knows what else.
I started to gag myself, but my training kicked in. I turned him on his side, scooped the mess out of his mouth and went back to mouth to mouth.
He didn't make it. But I tried my damndest.

11-22-2004, 07:06
Originally posted by Alex_Knight
Thanks for responding people.

My true purpose was to see how these things affect you. And it sounds like you all deal with it in different ways.

Way deep down though, it sounds like the things you have seen and done pretty much affect you all the same way.

;? ;? ;?
It's my oppinion that in ems, we give our lives so that others may live. may not be instantly, that is we may not die now so that some other may live but in all the calls we go on time after time. if its the 3AM call for the chronic alcoholic that calls everynight just for a ride to the hospital, or the 14y/o that drops to the ground pulseless, and apnec and they cannot figure out why the kid died on your shift. i think every call takes a little bit of our lives. there is an interesting study they reported in JEMS this month about how EMS is the most stressful job and how they contribute that to shorter life span. but through all this i would, err couln't ever do another job. whoever said it first was right this profession is a calling, not a job
just my 2 cents

11-22-2004, 10:05
"I do not let it affect me by making sure I provide excellent customer service and train to excell in the job I do."

EMS is not about customer service in times of emergencies! This is a perfect example of companies losing sight of the fact these are people who need emegency treatment, not customers who want to return again. The exception would be Nursing homes, dialysis, and hospital contracts, Not the people who called us to help.

11-22-2004, 15:15
Worst Fire Run: 02:30, pager for a fully involved trailer fire. Air temp -15. Volunteer FD is out the door in 4 minutes, at scene 4 later. From 2 miles you could see the glow. On our arrival the deputies are pushing us to go in and "get the kids". The fire had burned through the sheet metal walls on all four sides. After the fire is out, we take volunteers to do the recovery. Mom (20something) and three kids (all under 5) all dead. This cost me two FF who never came to another call after the CISD. Offered them further help, but they refused. That night on TV, we are surprised to find that one of the local newsies is investigating why it took "almost an hour" for the FD to respond the call. Radio logs tell the real story, but she won't listen, obviously the neighbors know better. :soap:

Worst EMS Call: Frequent flyer infant w/ seizure disorder. Through random chance I was on all calls except the first. Page comes in while I'm off call. None of those on call have ever been to the RURAL address nor dealt with the Pt. I asked Sr. member if he wanted me to tag along. He throws me into the rig. En route we (meaning me) fight with the dispatcher about ALS helicopter per the written orders of her ped (We're 100 miles from civilization). After no success, I call ped to expedite things on their side. Ped gets postal about dispatchers and sends Gounod ALS up -- too foggy to fly. WE arrive, mom is greatly relieved that I'm there. usually seizures lasted 5 minutes, she had been seizing for 35 when we got to local ER. Baby codes and my partners bail. I break away to call someone to go pickup dad and things look REAL bad. I assist the ER staff work her for what seems like an eternity -- no joy. The next day I get suspended for going outside of policy by going as a 4th. Terminated 30 days later. Family and 1st Responders complain to management, but I'm sill gone. No CISD offered. At least they let me go to the funeral.

That said -- the LODD funeral is far worse than either of the above calls. As someone said above -- looking into the family's eyes....

Fortunately I've never had one of my own go down, but it most likely is inevitable


11-28-2004, 18:09
Calls involving kids.

I've seen a bunch of bad stuff, two calls stick in my mind.

Called to a car accident involving two vehicles. Not high speed, but as usual with modern vehicles lots of damage. No extrication required. Mom standing off to the side, holding her 4-5 year old boy. His face is covered in blood, and he is crying. I grab a stuffed animal off our rescue (we have them for situations like this), and offered it to him as EMS was starting to work on him. He said "Thank you" and hugged it tight. I almost started crying. Turns out all he had was a small scratch on his forehead, otherwise he was fine.

The other call was late night/early morning on the exit ramp of the interstate. Young (20s) mom and 2 year old daughter. She came off the highway and went up onto the guardrail. Mom is freaking out, either drunk or drugs. EMT unbuckles baby car seat, which was properly in the back seat of the small car. Pulls seat to edge of car. Child is not responsive. EMT starts to gently try to get a response. Whole accident scene, I swear, went dead silent. Even the nearby highway seemed to stop. The child opens her eyes, she was just sleeping. Absolutely unhurt. Everyone took a breath.

Both calls, basically no injuries, but I will always remember them.

I had no idea what Fire Departments, EMS, and Police departments did and what they go through until I joined the FD.

How do I deal with it? Go home and hug my family.

12-01-2004, 00:30
The worst I've ever seen was the gentleman that blew his head off with a shotgun in the backseat of a 1969 mint condition Camaro SS. How could anyone do that to such a beautiful car! What a waste.

12-01-2004, 04:05
For me it was on my first clinical........Got the call to a 13 yr old girl drowning.Time we got on site she had been in bottom of pool for 15 minutes . She was so cyanotic that she looked blue . We worked her all the way to the ER and then while I bagged her they got a surgen was called down down and cracked her chest right there and did a manuel CPR on the heart .Well it did not work and they finally called it . After all that activity it was so still in that roon you could hear a pin drop . They called the morgue and I went outside to get a smoke . I will never forget as I walked by the sound her mother made when she found out . It made the hair on my arms and the back of my neck stand up . Outside smoking and thinking it all over , I decided right there that I was gonna be able to do this and that sometimes we would save one now and then and that would be enough . After that I was able to handle it all . Sometimes now then you get images that flash back into your head........Oh well " We Do What We Do " ...OUT

12-02-2004, 06:09
Originally posted by DepChief
The worst I've ever seen was the gentleman that blew his head off with a shotgun in the backseat of a 1969 mint condition Camaro SS. How could anyone do that to such a beautiful car! What a waste.

this creates quite a mess. I saw a guy who took a shotgun and placed it under his chin. It literally blew his face off. There was nothing on the front side of his head but goo. He actually responded to requests by EMT's to stop waving his hands around and lay down on the cot in the ambulance. He was still alive when he was picked up. I was in the ER when he was brought in. He died shortly there after. Turned out, he was a fellow from my home town, an old man who owned a local business. What demons could drive a person to do such a thing? Thats been many years ago, and I can still see him lying on the cot.
God rest his soul.