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Whew. I don't know how many know what I do for a living, but I am a supervisor of a police department's communications center. In other words, I'm one of the voices of 9-1-1, and the police radio. So last night, we handled a trailer fire where mom came home to find her trailer fully engulfed, with her 3 kids and boyfriend inside. The mom lost everything including her kids and boyfriend. The youngest child was 7 months old. SEVEN months old.

This really hit me. I've worked calls with death, with a LOT of death, before. I've heard things that would make most people hang the phone right back up.... I thought I was pretty tough, as a matter of fact, I AM pretty tough. I've dispatched on the radio for school shootings, fatal collisions, fires, bomb threats, officer injuries, drive by shootings, homicides, suicides, barricades, pursuits, you name it, I've done it. I've talked suicidal callers into putting down the knife/gun/etc., I've taken calls for all those things I've dispatched, and then some..... usually things don't rattle me. Last night, I was rattled. I had to choke back tears several times during the night. Even tonight, when I think about it, I get teary....

One of the things that keeps running through my mind, among other things, is that I had these officers out there trying to help with the rescue, who have kids of their own.... these officers have got to be feeling it worse than me. Who helps them? Who is going to make sure that the emotional damage being done by being out there on that scene, is being mitigated? We all have friends, family, etc. but they don't get it--most are entertained by hearing the stories when they are "fun" and slightly repulsed at hearing the ones that aren't. Like this one. The officer who saw the infant carried out, needs to talk about how she looked and smelled and how those images made him feel. . . his wife with the year old baby is NOT going to want to hear about that. We have each other, but we're all reeling from the same incident, how much help can we be to each other? It takes energy to help--and we are all in need of RECEIVING energy, we don't have much to give....

anyway, Just some thoughts going through my mind.....

Jewel L

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The following comments are for "Who helps the helpers?"
by JewelL

We actually had a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing with the Fire department today... it was good in a way, and bad in a way. This fire made national news, and was a BAD call for those involved. They really (we really) did all we could, the people who died were dead long before we got the call, but it was still hard to hear and see these very tough men talking and crying about how they felt to carry out those kids.

In my department (I'm police and have very little contact in reality with Fire, the debriefing today was an exception to the rule, they usually don't invite us to their CISD's), my department is having a debrief this coming week, for several different very bad calls we've been on lately, but the police culture handles debriefings very differently---mainly, officers are too tough to show up so they rarely do any good.
At any rate, our city activated our Employee Assistance Plan, they are doing everything they can do.... the pain inflicted in these past couple of weeks with some of the stuff we've responded on, just doesnt' seem to lessen with all the help we've been getting...... one firefighter put it very well when he said that each time we go on these calls, we leave a little piece of ourselves and have a little hole inside that it takes a long time to fill.
We'll all be okay, its just thrown me (and others) for a loop for a little while.

For the record, I wouldn't want to do what you do either. Knowing the outcome doesn't make it any easier, in my opinion.

( Posted by: JewelL [Member] On: December 17, 2005 )

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