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    Default The things you see.

    Hey guys,

    I have asked questions before that were general about the fire service but this question is a little more specific. I went and talked to my local Fire Chief today about what I needed to do and make a plan on how to join a fire department and I am ready to go, excited, and want to do this. My only concern is I am not for sure how I will react to some of the things you see. Like bodies don't really bother me its what happens to them during the process of a wreck(Id rather not go into to detail, I think everyone gets the point). My dad works for our state's highway department and tells me about some of the things he has seen and he is fine with it. But this weekend he asked me if I thought I would be able to handle that stuff. I think I will be able to, but how do I know for sure? I don't want to get into this great profession that I believe is great for me and then come to find out that I have trouble handling all the guts or whatever. Any suggestions, advice, or anything? Any help is appreciated!


    Thanks,
    Cole

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    I don't think you'll really ever know how you are going to react until you are doing it. The thing that you have going for you is that you are already asking yourself the question, "Can I handle this?", rather than going in thinking your fine only to find once in the situation you are not. Then its "Oh crap what am I going to do now?" Asking the question allows you to mentally prepare for what you might see.

    As you get introduced to the training and exposed to the images involved with a scene you'll start to find out how the nasty stuff makes you feel. Eventually you'll get somewhat desensitized to things. That is one way I had to do it. My day job is working in a hospital and early on I knew I had to make myself used to the things I might see. So I would flip through trauma books and just look at the pictures. Getting myself prepared for what I might encounter. It doesn't seem like much but it helped. There are going to be some incidents that everyone has a hard time with, you are human. Hopefully you can rely on your team to help each other through it or you department should have someone you can talk to in form of a Critical Incident Stress Management person.

    Hopefully this helps. Either way you are a head of the game by already asking the questions rather trying to tough it out.

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    Any volunteer depts you can join???


    Or ride along. To see the real world with the dept you talked to????

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    Not to sound unsympathetic, but it is an accepted part of the job. Learn how to deal with it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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    Thanks for the input! And i have actually looked at some books like that myself it makes me cringe at first but then I guess I do get desensitized to it after seeing once or twice. And my local department doesn't do ride alongs and i really don't have the time to volunteer due to my current job and college. I wish I could but I have no time. And dealing with it is what I have alos heard before you just learn to deal with it. But on average how often do you see stuff that is just "that bad"?

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    what about the smell as well I think I would have more difficulty with that. Is it unsual to plug up your nose when you know that you are going into a situation like that?

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    Vicks Vapo-rub! A little under the nose will help you untill you get use to it. That is what I started on back in the '80's. Give sometime and see if you can cope. Not trying to sound like a smart *** but, this job is not for everyone.

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    It will take a few times to get used to the things you may see. You do get sort of desensitized after awhile. Once you go through training, especially if you become a First Responder or EMT, you'll look at gruesome injuries with a different perspective, i.e. not with amazement or horror but with an eye toward "what do I do about this?" More of a professional interest, I guess...you'll fall back on your training and focus on handling the situation. At least that's what I've found.

    As far as smells go, you really don't ever get used to them. They'll gag you if they're bad enough. And that varies from person to person...we had one guy that had seen every gory sight you could imagine but the smell of vomit would send him running for the door.

    I don't think you'll really ever know how you are going to react until you are doing it. The thing that you have going for you is that you are already asking yourself the question, "Can I handle this?", rather than going in thinking your fine only to find once in the situation you are not. Then its "Oh crap what am I going to do now?" Asking the question allows you to mentally prepare for what you might see.
    I agree. Some guys go in blind and are just floored by sights they didn't expect. At least you're thinking about it, preparing yourself...you may find that it's not as bad as you expected.

    Give it a little time, I'm sure your fellow firefighters will understand if you're a little queasy on the first couple of bad calls. You'll get to tolerate it better after awhile.
    Last edited by dmleblanc; 10-14-2010 at 12:45 PM.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
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    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    I definately know its not for everyone thats for sure. I mean i can handle these things but is seeing really grusome sights something that happens every shift?

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    Typically, if something is going to bother you, it will bother you after the incident, not during. And it happens to everyone at varying levels depending on the incident. If you are interested enough to get involved, I predict you will be FINE. I could tell you stories and give you examples but it doesn't matter.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccarlin52 View Post
    I definately know its not for everyone thats for sure. I mean i can handle these things but is seeing really grusome sights something that happens every shift?
    Not really. You'll go to a lot of medical emergencies that may be life threatening or may be pure BS. You'll catch some fires but unless there's a fatality there's nothing gruesome about them. You'll go to a lot of motor vehicle accidents which have the potential to be really bad but most of the time aren't that bad.

    Of course it all depends on the department. If you cover a busy interstate you may get a lot of bad wrecks. If you work in the slums you might get a lot of shootings and stabbings. If you're with a small suburban department you'll see less of that kind of stuff, relatively speaking. But every shift, no.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccarlin52 View Post
    I definately know its not for everyone thats for sure. I mean i can handle these things but is seeing really grusome sights something that happens every shift?
    Listen, the gory stuff is bad. I did a private ambulance before getting my position, and we did DOA calls. I saw some nasty stuff.

    The thing is, it isn't the gory stuff that gets you in this job. It is knowing someone is dying no matter what you do...it is when bad stuff happens to kids...seeing people watch their lives go up in flames, knowing you are putting out the flames, but can't do anything else...the frustration of running on the same drug addict every other week...you get the point. Our job regularly puts us in the middle of what might be the worst day of someone's life.

    THAT is the type of stuff you really need prepare yourself for and learn how to deal with. If you don't, eventually it will tear you up inside. You'll be one of the ones having a heart attack in his early 50's. Or you'll come home and take out stress on your family and not know what is even bothering you.

    Good luck getting the job. Even with what I describe above, I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

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    I really appreciate everyone's input it means a lot and gives me a bright outlook on the career when everyone is so willing to help and i am not even a part of the brotherhood yet and everyone loves the job so much. I like the thought that it isn't the death in the job that you see its about trying to make someones horrible day better in someway. I'm pretty sure I can handle this especially with the family that comes with being a firefighter. I am excited about this brotherhood. I thank you all once again for your thoughts on this not so great subject and all of the advice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccarlin52 View Post
    I like the thought that it isn't the death in the job that you see its about trying to make someones horrible day better in someway. .
    I'd say that sums it up perfectly.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    Hey where I work we have three on Jersey major highways running right threw our response area, what you are talking about is the un-glamerous part of the job but it is "part of the job" There is no way to prepare yourself for it, just accept it when it happens, puke if you have too and move on. As the vets where i work always say (thankfuly not to me anymore lol) Suck it up probie and dont puke on our scene.

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    One thing I was taught early on and taught all my EMT students, regardless of the the report on page think of the the worse possible situation you can and how you will handle it, focus on the job at hand as you expect it. That way once at the scene either you are pleasantly surprised (if it is not bad) or prepared (if it is as bad as you thought).

    As a CPR instructor (in the good old days of mouth to mouth), I was always asked what happens if the pt. pukes in you mouth. I told them I puke and get then back to work.

    More then once I had newbies worried about how they would perform. Most of the time their training kicked in and they did great. My bigger concern is afterward they got to voice any issues.
    Last edited by mjollnir_k; 11-23-2010 at 02:22 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mjollnir_k View Post
    As a CPR instructor (in the good old days of mouth to mouth), I was always asked what happens if the pt. pukes in you mouth. I told them I puke and get then back to work.
    I also as a CPR instructor, have been asked that many times, and that is my exact same answer.

    But I am a probie going through the academy. My department lets me ride to the scenes and observe/accountability board/fill air tanks on fires. My first double K entrapment, one of the other firefighters asked me how I was handling seeing my first bodies. My response was I'm okay with it, didn't gross me out.
    Like you I still wonder myself. I am wondering if things might be different if I'm actually involved at the scene.

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    If you are properly trained and know what you have to do, chances are you wont be affected by what you see in the line of duty. Most of the time I just see a faceless victim, and don't have time to take in the gruesome reality of a scene. What you have to remember is we're there to help. Even if you lose a victim, or they're badly injured, you have to remember that they'd be worse off had you not done your duty that day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kylemacphee View Post
    If you are properly trained and know what you have to do, chances are you wont be affected by what you see in the line of duty. Most of the time I just see a faceless victim, and don't have time to take in the gruesome reality of a scene. What you have to remember is we're there to help. Even if you lose a victim, or they're badly injured, you have to remember that they'd be worse off had you not done your duty that day.


    Kyle, you have never made a traffic accident where people are torn apart.

    You remember what they look like for months afterwards and dream about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kylemacphee View Post
    If you are properly trained and know what you have to do, chances are you wont be affected by what you see in the line of duty. Most of the time I just see a faceless victim, and don't have time to take in the gruesome reality of a scene. What you have to remember is we're there to help. Even if you lose a victim, or they're badly injured, you have to remember that they'd be worse off had you not done your duty that day.
    Bu||l$h!t. You don't know what you're talking about.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kylemacphee View Post
    If you are properly trained and know what you have to do, chances are you wont be affected by what you see in the line of duty. Most of the time I just see a faceless victim, and don't have time to take in the gruesome reality of a scene. What you have to remember is we're there to help. Even if you lose a victim, or they're badly injured, you have to remember that they'd be worse off had you not done your duty that day.
    I'm pretty good with what i've seen, but to say that they become faceless or that I wasn't affected by the gruesome-ness of the scene... I don't know about that.

    I remember the one and only CIS Debreifing I went to and was suprised at some of the folks sobbing who didn't even see the bodies or really even get closer then the sidewalk.... Were they making it up? Were they insane?

    No... they were just affected differently.

    I will say that the experience turned me off to the CISD process.

    Its not always about the gore. It can be the transposition of people you love with the deceased/injured or just the reminder of the frailty of life.

    The incident that comes to mind was a gentleman a bit older then me involved in an MVA going to work, another car (driven by a drunk/high creep) crossed the median launched into the air and crashed through the driver's window. He never saw it coming, it wasn't gory but the thought of some guy just driving to work and wham.. gone. Stuck with me for a while.
    Last edited by ChiefKN; 11-30-2010 at 12:13 AM.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

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    Maybe I wasn't clear enough in the point I was trying to get across with that statement. I wasn't saying that gruesome injuries/fatalities don't affect me, and shouldn't affect other emergency personnel. I'm a compassionate person, and yes alot of the time after an incident I'm shook up for a few days or even weeks. What I was trying to explain was that this comes after. On scene you know to always expect the worst, and that you have a job at hand. Sorry if you guys thought I was being insensitive, that wasn't what I was trying to say.

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    so does all of this effect anyones home life? I don't want to be a burden to my family because I am having a difficult time with something of this nature.

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    I guess I am just worried that I will be turned off of something I already feel that I am meant to do. I have never really had to experience much real life gore. I mean movies and stuff sure no big deal to me but real life is totally different. I am 18 and a freshman in college I am seriously considering that after i finish this year going to school to be a firefighter and then start trying to get on at my hometown. I don't want to do all this and then the gore and emotional effects impact me so much that I find out that it isn't for me. I don't think it will be that big of an issue but I tend to think of things in worst case scenario and I can just see myself wondering what to do next because the only thing that has ever interested me career wise has been firefighting. Has anyone else ever been in my situation??

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccarlin52 View Post
    so does all of this effect anyones home life? I don't want to be a burden to my family because I am having a difficult time with something of this nature.
    It has never been an issue for me. I come from a family of firefighters and my wife has always been supportive and just knew when I needed her support.

    Quote Originally Posted by ccarlin52 View Post
    I guess I am just worried that I will be turned off of something I already feel that I am meant to do. I have never really had to experience much real life gore. I mean movies and stuff sure no big deal to me but real life is totally different. I am 18 and a freshman in college I am seriously considering that after i finish this year going to school to be a firefighter and then start trying to get on at my hometown. I don't want to do all this and then the gore and emotional effects impact me so much that I find out that it isn't for me. I don't think it will be that big of an issue but I tend to think of things in worst case scenario and I can just see myself wondering what to do next because the only thing that has ever interested me career wise has been firefighting. Has anyone else ever been in my situation??
    I think most are surprised at what they can endure and work through.

    Gore is a pretty rare occurrence for most firefighters.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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