View Full Version : Does death bother you on the job?
I've experienced a bunch of calls that were deaths (class 5 is what we call them here). I'm not sure if this is normal or not, maybe because it's not MY family member or friend, but it really doesn't make me tear up or have any emotions. I'm respectful and compassonate to the people at the scene due to their loss, but it really doesn't effect me on the inside. I just make sure no one tampers with the scene unless the cops are already there. Is this abnormal? Do you become emotional?
I have been on a few and I find that I have a similar reaction. There was one that bothered me because because the victim was youger than I was with no apparent cause of death.
Initally it bothered me, but now it doesn't affect me. I am still very sympathetic with the family.
I've seen two fatal MVA's so far and neither one has bothered me.
The only times it's ever bothered me was when it was kids. Adults dying, even after I've worked a code, has no affect on me. I've seen kids that have been run over by cars and burned up in airplane crashes. Those bothered me after the fact, but not as much as the SIDS babies. I went on about four of those calls within a few months of getting into the fire service. Very emotional events. One of the best moments of my life came when I arrived on a call reported as 'baby not breathing'. I walked in on a young couple tearfully, and ineffectively, trying to do CPR on their baby. As I took the baby away from the father to do CPR myself the baby let out the most satisfying scream you ever wanted to hear in your life.
Yeah, the SIDS are bad.
But generally, the trauma calls are more likely to stick with me. We've had a high number of serious trauma calls lately involving children...
Theres always some certain run we'll all never forget, but in the end if weve done all we could do up to our training i can sleep knowing i did all i could.
Being FD without medical response, I haven't seen a whole lot but so far I've not had a problem. As others have said kids, and people if I know them, will affect me. I have never had a problem with "messy" scenes (parts and fluids scattered about). A friend of mine who is a body builder will faint if he sees blood, even from a finger stick. Go figure.
It doesnt really 'bother' me but sometimes i will smell/hear somthing similar to somthing that happened on scene (the sound of dead weight hitting a roof, the smell of working a code) and it kinda freakes me out for a split second. We've had a few wash-out b/c they couldnt deal with it. To each his own...
Kids will bother me. I've worked codes on relatives before and only had 1 that really bothered me for a while. As far as the above post about smells, have you ever had a pt that was burned? Thats a smell you will not soon forget and it'll stay in your nose a while.
Ofcourse they do, especially children. However, there is a time and place to deal with that (ie; CID). On scene, its strictly business.
One that really hit me was several years ago. We were sitting in the truck at a hotdog joint.. dispatched to a small sports car vs semi truck. Arrived on scene to find a Mazda Miata had gone UNDER the trailer. Removed the windshield and part of the driver in the process. ;G
Not for the most part. I've been to about 20 fatal fires,pulled a few out myself.As far as EMS deaths maybe a couple hundred,shot,stabbed,hit by trains,cars,trucks,hung,you name it.
In all maybe 2 stayed with me for any time.
Kids still upset me but not as much as it once did,people tell me im burnt out because i don't let it get to me...maybe they are right
Does death bother you on the job?
As long as its not mine, no.
I believe that this reaction is a subconcious defense mechanism.
Almost always bother me. Espeically the with children. It makes me think what I would be feeling if my little girl went through what the victim did.
I guess though in a way.. it comes with the line of work, we took these jobs cause we care about people. It'd be inhuman not to care about any one them.
I think after many years we get de-sensitized to situations not involving persons we know. Although we may never get "used" to it; we just have to accept it and do our job. Some of us always remember scenes that stand out because we don't normally vent about our trauma. We go through de-breifing after such calls but this isn't the place to conduct any kind of therapy. It does give us the chance to vent and learn from what had transpired but it isn't normally conclusive. Problem is; that most of us are in this profession because we care so just shrugging it off isn't an option. I have noticed that most of us are affected by children and I think that is because they have very little influence on what has happened. They are somewhat defenseless and are victims of bad situations or conditions. I don't beleive there are true "accidents" since somewhere down the line there is negligence at the root.
Have to agree about SIDS infants, but the one that still gets me is two siblings ( 11 months & 3 y.o.) drowned in a boating accident here in Southern Montana. First of all, kids that young have no business being in a 16' alum. with an o.b. Second, father cut down the transom with a sawzall to fit a short-shaft o.b. and wake came up over and swamped them when he off-throttled. Got one kid (core)that day (I'm local hosp-based EMS/S&R) and younger kid surfaced two weeks later. You want to feel sorry for these parents, but I'm still pissed. Criminal case is still pending and it's got town split in two. Innocent victims of a**hole parents.
As I get older it bothers me a little more, but more for the families and friends. We just lost one to an aortic aneurysm - he was OK on the scene but crunked on the medics during transport. We'd all known this guy for years. His organization sponsored a memorial and a lot of us went. Everyone was very nice and complimented us on the level of care, but still a friend was gone - that made it harder.
I don't really care because I hate people.
At first it was a little hard to deal with, as I saw more and more of it I got used to it, that is until April 19th, 1995. That day I hope for the time being has cost me my career. The 19th and 3 12's in that building changed me. Put in 3 more years after that and I finally had to give it up, may go back some day.
Hippy 23; I understand the demands of firefighting and dealing with the tragedy we face. I was on a department for 13 years but moved out of the area so I had to give up my position. One thing I had noticed (also with another members statement); once a firefighter... always a firefighter. It is really something we are as opposed to what we do. It sometimes can be tough on us when we don't normally speak of some of the issues we encounter. I realized that firefighting is what we are and the day to day life is hard to get acustomed to. I took a couple of years off to get my life in order (married, new job and location)but after 9/11 it hit me again. Not everyone can do this and we can make a difference, so I went back in. It wasn't about any kind of recognition or status but what I can do for the community and the type of person I am was the biggest factor. It is just not the same standing on the sidelines watching when we can be in the game. I hope you decide to go back as there is always a need for people of our dedication.
Comes with the territory got to deal with it. Had 2 this week all ready. One crackhead drowned in the river, one woman died driving down the road car went off road and hit a tree at 5mph. No idea what caused her to croak. Kids are the only ones that bother me.
If she was only going 5mph, wouldn't it make sense that she was probably stopped (at a light,intersection, stop sign, etc.), then had a heart attack or something of the sorts that's instantaneous, then "croaked"??
Man 2 per week would be a bit distressing I'd think, then again, once you get used to something I guess it gets to be so you don't even notice the severity of it anymore.
Thanks for everyone who's shared!
No she was still driving down the road when it happened. We followed tire tracks off the road to where her vehicle stopped. She might have been going faster. Went head on into a tree but did not deploy air bags or damage the vehicle. Tree looked worse than SUV.
When i first started i had some kind of notion that I was supposed to be tough and not show any emotion ever. That worked for awhile and if you ask any of the people i work with they would all agree that i just dont get rattled and the worse the situation gets the calmer i get. Its a conscious reaction on my part when i see things getting sideways to force the situation back under control by speaking slower, more clearly, with less emotion and doing things more methodically (but with due regard to speed). In the middle part of my career i worked in several urban trauma centers, as a flight medic, fixed wing medic and ground crit.care medic and those traits helped tremendously, but what i found most valuable out of those experiences is that i was confident enough in my skills and knowledge to let a little emotion back in, and connect on more of a human level with patients again without worrying that i was giving up too much of the "tough guy " image. I can honestly say that the past few years of doing straight fire service ems mostly as a first line superviser has been some of the most rewarding years so far. I go on a lot of calls, see a lot of tragedy and humor and get to actually relate to people as other than a patient, After the squad transports to the hospital i even stay and talk with family sometimes. I think the tough outer shell served its purpose early on, im glad i avoided becoming callous toward people (altho i certainly can be when its warranted) Maybe with age comes more of a recognition of my own mortality. i've even shed a tear or three after going home after a particularly tragic call, neither the details of the call itself nor the tears bother me just the stupid senseless waste of life at times. One thing is for sure, this job gives you more insight into the human circus than anything else i can think of. and ive never regretted doing it.
Great post, Solo.
Up until a week ago or so, I would have said that death never really bothered me. Unfortunately, around that time I got an early morning call to assist a nearby town on a structure fire with multiple patients. When we showed-up, the one ambulance already on scene had all of the patients loaded-up already and was getting ready to transport. Since that was their last available ambulance in their system, they asked us to stick around and help with firefighter rehab and such. About 10 minutes later, we got word that they had pulled two victims out of the fire and had called them as code black immediately. The ambulance supervisor asked us to go handle the pronouncement. When I got there and lifted away the sheets that the firefighters had placed over the bodies, I discovered that it was a young mother and her 18 month old baby. I had never had to pronounce a burn victim, nor a pediatric patient in my carrier to that point. I continue to function well still, but I won't deny that this call hit me harder than most others. Luckly, I have good friends on the department who are excelent listeners!
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