Something we used to do after a bad or fatal call......head over to the diner in town and EAT!.....
Humor too doesn't hurt.....I was on traffic control at a double fatal accident one day - I had the entrance ramp to a highway closed off and traffic was being diverted off and around local roads to the next entrance....well, of course people were stopping and asking how to go around (as if the big, orange/black 'DETOUR' signs weren't a clue.....)...and of course the rubberneckers standing on the overpass asking what happened......finally I had enough, and my answer to the next person who asked was something to the effect ' what do you think....A SUBMARINE SANK!'.......gotta have some humor.....
Don't hold it it....use each experience as a learning tool....and remember it wasan't you that put the person in that situation in the first place.
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Thread: How do you cope?
10-04-2010, 07:18 AM #21
10-04-2010, 12:15 PM #22
Why was this moved to the Career/Paid FF Forum?
Volunteers don't deal with death or something?
Who made this decision?
10-04-2010, 12:20 PM #23
This can be a difficult issue and one that has forced some to give up the fire service.
While on scene of a serious or fatal accident I try to focus on the task at hand and not the overall tragedy of the situation. Whether I'm performing extrication, patient care or whatever, my attention is on my specific job task. I'm making sure the oxygen mask fits properly or that c-spine is performed properly, etc. That helps to defer your attention from the gruesome details.
Over time you will find a way to deal with it that works for you. Not everyone is the same so no one can tell you specifically what to do. Just know that it's not your fault and don't keep it bottled up.
One note regarding critical stress debriefings. We recently had a juvinile fatality. The patient was being transported into town from an outlying area. We met them in the rescue vehicle along the highway. It was late and so it was pretty dark. I performed cpr on the child along the side of the highway for a few minutes until the ambulance arrived. I never got a pulse or resperations. About a week later myself, law enforcement, emergency room personel and coroner's assistants all attended a CISD. It was there that I learned about the severe abuse the child had endured and ultimately caused his death. The descriptions from the emergency room personel and the coroner's assistants were very disturbing. Since it was fairly dark where I was performing CPR I fortunately didn't see the extent of the injuries to the child. In hindsight I would have been better off not attending the CISD as it was more traumatic than the incident itself.
Lastly, if you are at the firehouse when others are returning from a fatality or otherwise stressful incident please be respectful and sensitive to those that responded. Offer to assist them with restocking supplies, servicing gear etc. Take their lead. If they are joking and laughing to relieve tension then go along with it. If they are quiet and reserved then ask them if they are ok and if you can help them in some way. Realize that they may or may not want to talk about it so make sure before you go asking questions about the incident.
I know after the above mentioned juvinile fatality while I was in the firehouse restocking med supplies there was a group of firefighters laughing and carrying on. It made me angry that they didn't offer to help and that they appeared to not care about what had just happened.
Remember that whatever the outcome, an accident victim is better off having you there.My wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.
10-04-2010, 12:21 PM #24
10-04-2010, 08:29 PM #25
Not saying I haven't seen things that haven't bothered me.I have many times,but I've just learned to let it go.That is me personally.I find it easier to deal that way.Everyone has to find what works for them.
10-05-2010, 07:52 AM #26
Our SOG specifies a CIS (Critical Incident Stress) debrief after every fatality, and otherwise at the IC's discretion or at the request of any responder. We have access to a team of facilitators that will make someone available to conduct a debrief within the same day.
It may be overkill, but we figure it's better to spend an hour or two to give our responders a chance to process what they experienced and/or saw. It won't make the bad stuff go away, but it helps our people handle it better."I've met lots of volunteer firefighters, but I've never seen a volunteer fire!"
- R. MacLeod, Alma VFD
10-05-2010, 01:31 PM #27
- Join Date
- Sep 2010
There is a lot of good advice here, most of which I agree with. I would only add that sometimes you are not going to feel anything, and that is okay too. In fact that’s how I feel after most fatalities. Yeah some are tougher than most and kids tend to stay with you, but over time you will either accept that you control what you control and you’ll let the rest go or you will have to find another profession. More times than not, you have to hit the “reset” button pretty quickly after each call and get ready for the next call, I think that helps.
As far as taking the job home with you, that is a matter of preference. You know your family / spouse, and know best how they will handle or react to what you divulge about the job. If it works for you great, if it does not…you are a firefighter…improvise, adapt and overcome; after all, that’s your nature. You will be fine. Stay safe.
10-06-2010, 11:17 AM #28
- Join Date
- Aug 2009
- North Texas
My dad joined his local vol dept about a year ago down the road from his house. He called me a month ago and told me he had his first one due to a car wreck. He was first on, cpr en route to the hospital. Sadly the guy didnt make it. I am a 25 y/o FF and he said it was one of the hardest thing hes ever done working on a guy the same age as his son that didnt make it.
Being a veteran of the Iraq war, death has been apart of my life and will be for the rest of my career by being in the fire service. I have found talking about it makes it easier. Everyone handles it in their own way.
You are a firefighter. We are there to help the people who need help. As long as you know that you have done everything you can do, the rest if is the the hands of the man upstairs.
Stay strong and God speed*Always leave the job a little better for the next guy*
10-06-2010, 06:15 PM #29
- Join Date
- Sep 2007
My first call was also my first vehicle fire AND double fatallity. Yup. I ain't lying. It was a truck that had a fuel leak and somehow had a flame coming from the fuel line while driving down the road when another vehicle told them about it. After they stopped, the truck became engulfed and the two adults left and ran, while the 6 yr old and 9 yr old were trying to get out. They didn't. This was more than 9 yrs ago and I could still see the incident as if it just happend, plus the smell. That will never leave.
My dad retired from the Fire Service after more than 25 yrs. He was the first one I talked, cried and hugged to. If it wasn't for him and the advice I recieved from Pops, I wouldn't be a Firefighter today. But everyone reacts differently. Remember, this 'job' isn't for everyone.
10-08-2010, 12:24 AM #30
I have been lucky enough to not have a fatality to my credit as of yet. (Knock on wood). But being from a small town where everybody knows everybody it certainly makes it tough pulling up on accident scenes and knowing whose car it is, especially if it is someone who is my age. My first MVA ever involved a girl who is two years younger than me who I see everyday at school. If it would have been fatal I probably would have spent a moment of each of the rest of my days in school thinking about how I don't see her. The other night we had a one vehicle rollover with ejection and I chose to do patient care. I didn't know the guy, he ended up being airlifted, and lived. It left me a little in shock because this was the first "real" thing I've experienced up close. I talked to a close friend about the whole thing and that was the end of that.
The way I think of it is somebody's day sucks. They call us to make it better. We do all we can to make it better. We can't change outcomes no matter how much we do. If we did everything we can that's all we can ask from ourselves.
10-08-2010, 10:03 AM #31
Im new also brother, and being part of a heavy call volume VFD, I already got my share of fatalities in. I just put it in this perspective mentaly, the person would be in this situation wether im here of not, my first one ( now ive seen bodies before) was a search for victims of a complete burn down structure and boy i tell you i never seen a body like that! it didnt bother me though but gained a new respect of what burning to death would be like. all i can say is when you leave the sceene, leave it all behind, and when you roll up to a sceene and prevent that from happening it makes it all worth it!
always feel free to talk to the experienced guys, but you gotta quickly learn its somebodys job to deal with that situation, and that somebody is you...take care/b safe
10-08-2010, 12:47 PM #32
Many here have mentioned humor and joking amongst each other after a critical incident as a way to deal with the stress. That may be true but we must be careful. Watch yourselves while still on scene. Family members and the general public may take offense to a light hearted attitude at an accident scene or any incident for that matter. While the incident may be somewhat routine to you, it can be devastating to others and certainly nothing to laugh about.
More than once I've had to pull a rookie aside and point out just who is watching\listening to them joke about the incident.My wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.
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