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Thread: First Fatal

  1. #1
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    First Fatal

    A couple nights ago I was dispatched out to a rollover. I knew the area of road is usually black ice and we were in a weather storm advisory.

    On my way to the call I had that feeling of dread. The gut feeling that you know SOMETHING is bad. Scenarios started playing out in my head while I drove.

    I was first on scene and immediately after another officer. My first fatal crash involved a family of 4. Mom, dad, and a 1 year old and a 3 year old.

    All occupants were extracted out by fire and jaws of life. Dad made it out alive and was transported by air care. He has gone from critical to fair.

    Mom and the kids did not make it. It took the fire department 4 1/2 hours to finally get everyone out.

    We go through Critical incident debriefing this week. I am ok. I am dealing with it, but it sure did shake me up a bit. My partners who are veterans on the force are shook up as well.

    I guess I am just venting on here. I coped with it by running and relieving stress that night. I figure it will get easier after a few fatals but this was a hard one.
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  2. #2
    Molon Labe
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    Incidents involving kids NEVER get any easier.....

    Make sure that you and any of your coworkers that were involved in this incident at least go through the critical incident debriefing.....and talk amongst yourselves if you feel the need to vent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheChickCop View Post
    A couple nights ago I was dispatched out to a rollover. I knew the area of road is usually black ice and we were in a weather storm advisory.

    On my way to the call I had that feeling of dread. The gut feeling that you know SOMETHING is bad. Scenarios started playing out in my head while I drove.

    I was first on scene and immediately after another officer. My first fatal crash involved a family of 4. Mom, dad, and a 1 year old and a 3 year old.

    All occupants were extracted out by fire and jaws of life. Dad made it out alive and was transported by air care. He has gone from critical to fair.

    Mom and the kids did not make it. It took the fire department 4 1/2 hours to finally get everyone out.

    We go through Critical incident debriefing this week. I am ok. I am dealing with it, but it sure did shake me up a bit. My partners who are veterans on the force are shook up as well.

    I guess I am just venting on here. I coped with it by running and relieving stress that night. I figure it will get easier after a few fatals but this was a hard one.
    This may bite you later... weeks, years, whenever. Don't fight it, if you gotta cry then cry.
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    When it comes to kids it is never easy, especially if you have some of your own. Sorry bud
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    ABSOLUTELY, ABSOLUTELY participate in all the counseling and help you need. While you will probably see a lot of death and other mayhem in your career, suppressing it will only eat you up, and cause you tons of future medical issues.

    The death of a child is especially tough, and if you are going to make it through your career, you MUST ask for and get the help you need.

    One of the saving graces in my career that helped me rationalize and deal with death was something a good friend and Paramedic told me:

    "You are not God. You cannot save everyone. You must always know that you used every tool in your toolbox, all of your talents and training, gave 110% effort, and if you win you win, if you lose you lose, but it is not your fault the person died."

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    Quote Originally Posted by chiefjack View Post
    "You are not God. You cannot save everyone. You must always know that you used every tool in your toolbox, all of your talents and training, gave 110% effort, and if you win you win, if you lose you lose, but it is not your fault the person died."
    That's exactly it. You can live with it if you know that you did absolutely everything that you possibly could. I'm dealing with a demon right now about a 10 month old that died on us. I sometimes picture him with his pajamas ripped open on the floor staring off into eternity. He had the same colored eyes as one of my little ones.

    I can deal with it because I know that we hustled, we lost, but we hustled.

    Read the Man in the Arena by Roosevelt
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    Be praying for you and the family.
    1*

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    God damn that sucks. I still dread 'em...


    You too Tick, I wish you the best- it's never easy.
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    I went through debriefing and that helped. I feel like I am "over" it. I can deal and sleep ok now. My partner and I talked a lot about it. I learned how hard it was for the fire department to deal with this experience.

    Yes, I did shed tears. I had nightmares right away too. I know I will proly see worse, but this really shook me. I feel much better and know that I have a great support system in place when I need it both professionally and personal.

    THANKS guys.
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    My first fatal was riding as an explorer... The critical incident debriefing definitely helped a lot. As others have mentioned, its about doing everything you can, and sometimes there is simply nothing you can do.

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    I've been working in some form of emegency services for 6 years now; mostly in an ER setting, the last year also in Law Enforcement. I remember every child that i've lost in those years. I can tell you, the next one isn't any easier. Each one just puts a new scar over an old wound. Talking to other officers, hitting the gym extra hard, pushing that extra mile out; it all helps me. We can all offer you suggestions and give you our opinions, but it's up to you to push on. We cannot unsee what we have seen, and we cannot unhear the cries we have heard; the burden becomes ours.

    Remember there are many more people who need your help and are depending on you to be able to give 110%. There are many verified, vetted, officers here that i am sure would be willing to exchange messages with you. Don't make yourself carry these things alone, if you feel like you want to talk to someone then do it... My personal opinion, I try to keep these type things between other Officers, Emergency Service workers. I made the mistake of sharing some information with friends and family a time or two. A couple of them seemed way too interested in the bad stuff, like it was a movie, and some of them just couldn't handle the sorrow....
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    It is refreshing to see that we have moved out of the era where stuff like admitting it shook you, and crititcal incident debriefs are not so taboo.

    ..as others have posted the kid stuff sucks and always will.
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    Any critical incident with kids is tough . . . . the images never leave you, its how you work through the angst it causes that will determine if you have any long term issues . . . hope its a long time between incidents.
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    I feel like I am "over it." I have dealt with it and made good decisions on how to feel better. I will be an officer for a year in March and I was under the impression that we don't vent and talk about our feelings. I also thought that officers don't go to debriefings with the dreaded "psychologists".

    I was so impressed with my partners at how open and honest they were with everything. Their feelings, their sorrows, the past sorrows that resurfaced andtheir massive support.

    It all hit me after I left the scene and I was driving back to the PD...it was over my shift and i was on OT and I honestly felt like suddenly crying and drinking like a case of beer. I knew that was not a good thing, so I got back to the PD and got into gym clothes and just RAN like no other.

    I had support from officers on the call, my supervisors, chief, other departments we worked with and some of my off duty partners.

    I just was so surprised with how amazingly supportive everyone was. It shed light on the fact that it is ok to talk about out feelings with one another.

    As I was running that night and I was running HARD....my co worker came into the gym at the PD and just sat there. He didn't say anything for a while. He said he knew I was shook up and he just wanted to make sure I was ok. That in itself made me feel like I had support.

    I try not to talk about it with my family and friends. I do talk somewhat about it with my significant other. Not the details, but that I was on a multiple fatality crash involving children. I told him how I was feeling and he helped by being my supportive boyfriend. It was a different kind of support but at least I know I have all around support when I need it.
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    They haunt me before bedtime right after the incident. the images pop up in my head...

    but after a short while it goes away and that's about it.

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    The worst fatals are right around the holiday time. While they all suck, it sucks worse to happen around the holidays. Nothing sucks worse than going to a families house all decorated and having to knock on the door.

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    I don't have any great advise, but just wanted to emphasize the support system you have here. It sounds like things are going as well as they can after a situation like that.

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    Ditto to everything said by the group above, very good advice from some caring people. Yes, it can be damn tough.
    I would just add one thing regarding how you can use incidents like this in your career that might help you in spots. When your dealing with a whining POS and you're thinking it may not be worth the trouble to write that ticket, or hook-n-book some scroat, or get up early after a long nightshift and testify in court - remember those dead kids and do your job right for them and their memory. My experiences like yours helped me in that way. God bless.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Langford PR View Post
    Ditto to everything said by the group above, very good advice from some caring people. Yes, it can be damn tough.
    I would just add one thing regarding how you can use incidents like this in your career that might help you in spots. When your dealing with a whining POS and you're thinking it may not be worth the trouble to write that ticket, or hook-n-book some scroat, or get up early after a long nightshift and testify in court - remember those dead kids and do your job right for them and their memory. My experiences like yours helped me in that way. God bless.

    I never thought of it in that way. Thanks!!!!

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    Always have someone to talk to. If you're religious, talk to God, or whoever you believe in. Dead kids never get easy to deal with. The worst is when it's a kid you know. I hope you don't have to deal with that. Do your best to not keep things bottled up. It will effect your relationships, your attitude, etc. Always have an outlet (other than booze). You did good by running. That and prayer keep my mind clear.

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    Thanks for sharing

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheChickCop View Post
    I feel like I am "over it.".

    Probably not-------------------------------

    30+ yrs later I can still vividly remember the second fatality I worked................Jeep (open top with roll bar) roll over 4 yr old with a lap belt on in the front passenger side.


    The child slipped partially out of the belt as they rolled over and got pinned between the ground and the roll bar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Iowa #1603 View Post
    Probably not-------------------------------

    30+ yrs later I can still vividly remember the second fatality I worked................Jeep (open top with roll bar) roll over 4 yr old with a lap belt on in the front passenger side.


    The child slipped partially out of the belt as they rolled over and got pinned between the ground and the roll bar.








    Yeah, I have gotten some "flashbacks" of the incident.
    However, I wil say I don't remember EVERY detail but periodically I think about it.
    Last edited by TheChickCop; 02-25-2013 at 12:13 PM.

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    The first one can be pretty rough.

    Here is a secret though, they never get any easier after that. You just get more technically proficient at dealing with the mess ... no different than any other type of call. You go, you do your very best and it just shakes out how it does. At least you can say you did everything you could. You win some, and lose some.

    I have been working my current job about seven years now. There is a HUGE difference now from when I started, which is not too long ago. In my agency there was no real peer support or counseling available. It was the old school "suck it up and drive on" attitude. Things have changed with the war, and the returning vets. Now we are beginning to understand how bad that old philosophy was for the poor person who drew the short straw and got sent to the bad call. We have critical incident debriefs and counseling, and as time goes by people start to realize that its not a stigma.

    Use it. This is a god-awful, thankless job some days that can destroy the fabric of your being if you let it. Look at a lot of the old timers who took to a bottle, ate their gun or just died a year after retirement. We owe it to ourselves to break that cycle. A lot of us came in as healthy, vibrant people full of life. Absolutely no reason to not try and go out that way too.

    I don't think anyone can help but remember the bad ones. It makes some people walk away from the job after a while. We can try and do what we can to deal with it in a constructive manner. I guess now you know why we do what we do.

    I'm with Langford PR - I take things like this and use them as a reminder for doing what I do.

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    I spent 20 years in EMS as a Paramedic, Hosedragger/Paramedic and then as a Flight Paramedic. In that time, I've seen a lot of people die in a lot of bad ways. After coming to LE, I worked for over 2 years at my first agency with no issues. After starting work at my current agency, my partner and I worked 3 separate fatality accidents in about a month's time. The first one was auto vs pedestrian and the driver was the nephew of one of our Jail staff. The second was a two car head on collision with entrapment and fire where both drivers died. The worst part about that one was that one of the drivers was the same nephew of our jailer who was involved in the previous auto vs ped. I had to go to his parents house and notify them that he had died. That was probably the hardest thing I've had to do in my whole career in public safety.

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