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What's The Worse Thing You've Seen On Your Shift and...

Discussion in 'Firefighter/EMS Talk' started by Alex_Knight, Oct 21, 2004.

  1. 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.
  2. groverglock

    groverglock Guns & Hoses

    Mar 4, 2002
    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.

  3. Wow groverglock ! ! !

    My hat off to you.

    ;? ;? ;? ;?
  4. N2DFire

    N2DFire Who Me ???

    Apr 29, 2003
    Ferrum, VA
    Brother I couldn't have said it better myself if I had 3 lifetimes to try.

    God Bless.
  5. c-mama

    c-mama Moderator Moderator

    Jan 15, 2004
    Tangled in my yarn...
  6. DaleGribble

    DaleGribble Sandwich!

    Mar 20, 2003
    Land of the toothless!
    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.
  7. Steamboat Bill

    Steamboat Bill What've I done?

    Sep 25, 2004
    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.
  8. clubsoda22


    Jul 28, 2004
    SE PA
    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.
  9. jlw_84

    jlw_84 General Glocker

    Nov 8, 2002
    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.
  10. Central Texan

    Central Texan AmericanSoldier

    Dec 27, 2002
    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.
  11. twinfin


    Aug 5, 2004
    Santa Cruz
    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.
  12. ClydeG19


    Oct 5, 2001
    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.
  13. ;? Thanks to all of you for your service to your communities! You make a difference in all of our lives!
  14. obxprnstar

    obxprnstar Goth Lover

    Jan 8, 2003
    Zombie Patrol

    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.
  15. Brian Dover

    Brian Dover

    Jul 31, 2002
    SW Ohio
    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

  16. ;z ;z ;z ;z ;z ;z ;z
  17. Brian Dover

    Brian Dover

    Jul 31, 2002
    SW Ohio
    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.
  18. oldstyle

    oldstyle Jeep Pirate

    Jan 31, 2002
    Jacksonville, Fl
    The "smells" stay with me and can displace me to past scene in a fraction of a second.
  19. CRider

    CRider Crider who?

    Mar 29, 2001
    in PA, with BlueJeans
    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.