Help with post incident blues
Hello everyone. I was wondering if I could get some ideas or basic assurance with a problem I am having following a critical incident.
I am a volunteer firefighter in the suburban shadows of New York City. I have been a friefighter for 18 years, currently I'm a Lt. in the Engine/rescue company. The problem I am having stems from a recent rescue at a house fire. Early morning recently the tones went out for a house fire in my district. Strangely the house number was quite close to my residence, as it turns out, it was my next door neighbor a family I have known all of my life. There was black smoke pouring out of the garage and my neighbors wife was standing on the overhead balcony screaming to me to get her husband out of the house. I was obviuosly the first officer on scene and established command, however since I live two blocks from the firehouse, I rarely bring my gear home. My neighbor (a retired chemist) had been cleaning something with benzene in the garage, had dropped the glass jar the liquid was kept. It splashed all over him. Unfortunately, the furnace and hot water heater were only a couple of feet away and the fumes ignited casuing him severe burns. My attire, straight out of bed was nothing more than T-shirt, running shorts and sneakers. I had made a rescue of another neighbor years ago with little more clothing than I had on now and spent 3 days recovering. He was removed from the scene after the engine crew arrived (2 minutes after me, having a firehouse down the street is a wonderful thing). To cut this short, my neighbor died 8 weeks after the incident in the burn unit. He had second and third degree burns over 88 percent of his body and had some internal airway burns. I felt partially responsible for the extent of his injuries. I also cannot look his wife in the face after seing her plead for me to rescue him from the garage. He had come out of the garage when I arrived on scene but in my attempt to get the wife to safety as well, he returned to the fire to attempt to extinguish it. I spoke briefly to te CISD team immediately following the incident and felt OK with my decisions and actions then but I am now feeling differently because he has died. I can't even sit in my living room because I can picture my neighbor raking the yard or hanging clothes on the line. The clean up crews are working to disinfect and clean the house of smoke and water. I have trouble sleeping thinking of how his wife, son and daughter must deal with the tragedy over and over as they walk through the house.
I know this has been lengthy but anyone that has a suggestion is welcome to submit. I know I am in God's company here and with you fine gentlemen/ladies for support I can work through this.
God bless. Rescue Lt. Kevin C. (Pokey)