Tuesday, 28 May 2013

It's all up to you, yeah YOU! No excuses!

For me its all in the eyes. They can tell you so much without making a sound. Some will be with me forever. Sitting at a red light, daydreaming at home, zoning off at work but most often as I, often  futilely, try to get to sleep. I see many eyes, just counting off hand I've been witness to dozens in their last moments.  Some come to mind uninvited much too often and cause me a great deal of strife and struggle. Often I wish they would just leave me alone and not intrude my daily life and sleep. Most of them don't bother me too much or often. I'll never forget any of them though. I don't believe you belong in this career if you can just forget.

That being said there is a time and place for reflection or thought. The scene is not that time or place. I'm often amazed at times when after a call when everything and everyone is taken care of, I realize what we just saw, did or experienced and that we were able to perform and function and do it so well. As I gain more experience the "pucker factor" lessens when we hear what we're responding to or when we get there. I'm too focused on visualizing the location and how to get there, what we need to do, listening to the officer and forming a plan as a crew with the info we have. 

I think we are all addicted to that adrenaline high. We all love when that call comes in. Lights come on. Tones go off. Gear on. Trucks out. Every little kids dream- to me any way. I can attribute functioning under that high better and better as I was trained extremely well and most importantly mentored well and continue to be every shift. I also firmly believe that that adrenaline high protects us as well. (something for a really smart person to study and look in to) 

In my experience, it's when you come down off that high that you'll know if a call bothered you more than normal. The calls that I've struggled with left me feeling very NOT normal. Nauseous to the point of vomiting but worse because I couldn't. Shaking uncontrollably. Shivering as I was cold. Sweating because I was hot. Anger. Sadness. Frustration. As I write this I realize these are all symptoms of Shock and a Panic or Anxiety Attack all combined into one. I've been to hundreds if not thousands where almost every patient has these symptoms. What do we do for them? We coach their breathing and give them oxygen, get them warm, treat their other injuries. In some cases we transport them to the hospital if needed. 

What do we do for US? Squeeze our hands together into a fist to stop the trembling and shake it off. Drink a water and get back on the rig. Next call. Have a few too many drinks after shift to quell the memories for that short time. I've done it. You've done it. We've all done it.  Wow are WE stupid! Mostly because we don't know any better. We're starting to though and YOU need to speak up because WE are not ALL there yet. Especially you officers. It all begins and ends with you. If you say "Hey guys that was a tough call, let's go grab a coffee and chat". You may LITERALLY save the life of one or all of your crew and in the least you will show them the proper way to deal with troubling calls. Maybe the call didn't bother you that much but maybe it was the call that popped the proverbial water balloon of life of one of your guys. So even if it didn't bother YOU personally, it's YOUR crew and YOUR Sister/Brother Fire Fighter. So whether you're a Chief with thirty-seven years on the job or a rookie on his first day-it's YOUR problem and YOUR responsibility to say something. No excuses. No "buts". 

We all want to help. Worry about your's and your Sister and Brother's well-being first. That way we can all be healthy enough to help others when called upon to help. You cannot win these "personal" battles alone. It's SO hard, I know, but you must speak up and get help and confide in your brothers. You will not regret it, I can assure you. 

We are absolute perfectionists when it comes to helping others in need but we do a piss poor job of helping ourselves and our brothers. We all know we depend on each other for survival on the fireground same goes for eachother's emotional and mental survival. 

YOU choose. Speak up so you can be on the front page with your crew after a big save or keep quiet and one of you may end up on the back pages in the obituaries. 


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