Sunday, August 19, 2012

Getting help doesn't make you a threat


Three minutes after the initial call to 911, we arrived at the front of a small, well-kept house, a typical one for the area. There are toys scattered about the yard, undoubtedly left there by a small child.

The first through the door, I arrive in a rush and take in the scene. Even now, nine years later, that image is burned into my memory as clearly as if it were yesterday. There is a small child lying on the couch in the living room, a small pitiful figure, his skin is a mottled gray. He is covered in water and appears lifeless.

An adult male is standing next to the couch. He is soaked from the waist down, his clothing disheveled; his eyes red-rimmed, he looks like a wild man. I will not find out that this man was the child’s uncle for another fifteen minutes.

I pick up the child, and he is cold. He does not stir, even when I harshly pinch his arm. I move to the door, to the safety and privacy of the truck.

On the way out to my ambulance, I quickly look him over. He is about three years old, 12 kilos or so. Lying lifeless in my arms, he doesn't appear to be doing very well. He isn't breathing and has no pulse. My mind already computing drug dosages and accessing protocols, I reach for my radio and called in a “code” to the dispatch center.

I place my lips over the child's mouth, and give gentle breaths. Chest compressions. Breaths.

We arrive at the truck, and I select the proper sized ET tube, and slide it down his throat. My partner begins squeezing the bag, and I start an IV.

I place him on the monitor, and I note that he is in asystole. Not good.

I spent the next 40 minutes fighting the battle that I knew we had lost before we even arrived.

As the helicopter flew away, taking with it the small, pitiful body once so full of life, so precious to all who knew him, his Uncle approached and asked me what he should tell his brother. He wanted to know how to tell a man that his baby boy drowned in a backyard pool while his Uncle took a shower. He then put his head on my shoulder, wrapped his arms around me and cried for the next ten minutes.

I went back to the station, numb. I didn't know what to feel. All I knew was that I was empty, spent. In the weeks that followed, I had a harder and harder time going to work and functioning. I finally told my supervisor, they referred me to CISM. I was in therapy for that call for a while. It was hard to deal with. I even took anti-depressant medication for about 6 months. It was tough living with the ghosts of that call. I still get teary eyed sometimes when I think about that day, about what I could have done differently. Normal reactions, I think, to such a tragedy.

There are those who would deny me the right to own a firearm because I feel pain at the loss of a child. They wish to see people lost their rights without a hearing or a trial, simply because I sought help when I needed it. Millions of Americans seek therapy, or take anti-depressants, and own firearms. None of them killed anyone yesterday.


SiGraybeard said...

Wow. Just the story is enough to shake someone.

The unintended consequence is when people refuse to go get help when they become afraid that their freedoms will be denied if they have a medical record.

Tango said...

It makes one wonder how many that do NOT go get help go on to truly EARN a restricted status when it comes to firearms. It seems to me that those that voluntarily go get help perhaps should be the most trusted.

Matt said...

My best friend's 2 year old died in a somewhat similar situation. I still remember some 10 years later looking into the coffin and seeing that child there. That child had a look of pain on its face I will never forget. I think the look on her face was from all the work that all the emergency medical people did on her trying to save her life. In any case that scene haunts me to this day.

It was just a small decorative pool in the front yard.....