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  1. #1
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    Question I need someone 2 talk 2.

    I typed this once... And this damn system deleted it. I have been having some thoughts lately about weather or not I should be doing this fire department/ambulance stuff. Let me start with the beginning, I've been an EMT for about five years. Very rural/wilderness, lots of MVA's, hunting accidents/shootings, stabbings, suicides... The thing is, the bad memories outweigh the good. I don't know where to start. It all stems back to the company it seems. Since all the offices changed a few years ago, it's really became sort of an "organized fuster cluck". People detest each other; therefore, they'll do anything to get a rise out of someone. Hence, the problem; you can't to any of them about any problems. I suppose it began about two years ago. I don't want to make any irrational decisions about being a member based on what may be described by me as, delayed stress reactions. I like to bottle things up, and I think the bottles are full, over flowing and some are cracking. Don't get me wrong, I'm not crazy or psychotic... I just don't know how to handle things, because there is never anyone to talk to.

    I have so much passion for this, and I take it very seriously. People on here tell me that if you donít absolutely love it, you should don it. And I agree, But itís not just a hobby or a job.. Itís a way of life. Lately this obligation has brought on a lot of stress and situations that could have taken the lives of fellow community minded folks. In a way as someone, who was well known was shot 5 times, and her last words before becoming unconscious were that her husband, the shooter had left in his truck. It was shocking in a way that we had come only seconds after he had done the job of killing himself. He had shot his wife, then called 911 and said it was a medical problem. It was a frequent call to this house. I walk behind another crewman, and all of a sudden, all hell breaks loose. I hear someone yell for a trauma bag, and another helicopter(s). Unaware yet that the gunman was dead, I look for clues that may tell me we are all ok.. Then it hit me... I realized that his truck that she said he drove away in was still in the garage. And a state of fear, panic, and extreme anxiety set in on me and others that any second, we could be killed. And thought of "Is it really worth my life" began to start. Prior to that I was never... NEVER afraid of the dark... Until then anyway.. Now I am terrified of fulfilling of civic duties after dark. I have nightmare that end with me staying up all night, or "loosing my cookies" (vomiting)... As I walked around the night of the incident.. My foot ran into something, and I shined the flash light down... and a state of shock was immediately set in; and I don't think it has ever gone away... As I seen a very well known citizen, also a civic minded person, and a friend at my feet with nothing from the neck up... EVERY time I close my eyes.... I can see the sight... I never talked about it with anyone; however I did sneak away and puke several times... I was afraid for a period of time that I was going to faint... I didn't of course... But it seems that right after this event, and to mention several other events involving family members, and a very good friend.. In just a 6 month time 3 very good people I knew had been dealt extremely violent deaths... and I unfortunately was one of the first to see them in every instance. One was my aunt, I assisted in the removal of her, while she lived for two days, she had never regained from a respirator; The second a friend, had not been wearing her seat belt and every bone in her body was crushed, she was purple, and her neck broken... I'll never forget the blood the running out everywhere it could, and how cold she felt; and the third was the previously mentioned incident. But in that case, the woman who was shot lived. I cannot look at her with out feeling like I will throw up. Since thenÖ Three friends have died in car accidents, one a fellow firefighter. That one kind of hit hard, but I never felt any stress... Until now. They say to everyone. "If you have a stress Reaction. You need to tell us"... Well what the hell is a Stress Reaction? And besides, with everyone jumping at each others throats, how can I trust what they say? Yet when all this happened, they told us that we were fine and didnít need to talk. And now with HIPAAÖ They are under the impression, which we canít talk about the call, even for cism measuresÖ All Iím looking for is some guidance on how I should go about taking a break, with out quitting..? I have such a strong love for this, I donít want to quit, I asked in other forums on here, what I should do. They told me to quit and not let the door hit me on the way out. I need to talk to a person, someone who talks from their heart. Not their ego or title on the name plate. Why is that so hard? The incident that set the thought that I've had enough of the FD was a boy, who in reality, ruined his own life, but the accident he has paralyzed him. It was a text-book extrication and removal. But I've never seen anyone with a spinal fracture survive. A good friend was killed last April, wasn't wearing her belts, broken neck.. Died while loading her into the chopper. I like helping people, no. I love it. And the fact that this kid was alive and talking, yet he was heavily on etoh, didn't know he was paralyzed. He kept telling us to let him up. This was the first time that I cried after I got home from a call. I just can't seem to find room for this last bad call in my metaphorical bottles.

    This isnít what I wrote the first time, it probably made more sense then. Does any of the make sense? Probably not. Maybe I am such the bad person that people on here make me out to be. Thatís all I have to say.
    Last edited by fireems1892; 09-04-2003 at 04:18 AM.


  2. #2
    Forum Member kghemtp's Avatar
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    It sounds as though the environment around your department isn't conducive to healthy dealing with feelings. And ya know, there isn't anyone who can tell you that you SHOULDN'T feel a certain way, as you feel what you feel. One thing you have to remember is that we're human and we put ourselves in very stressful situations on a regular basis. This doesn't mean we're superheros capable of handling all the stress that a "normal" human outside emergency services couldn't deal with. You have certainly done a lot of thinking on the issues you face there, and to answer the question about what you should do, you've done the first thing by writing. We're all in emergency services together, and the calls we do in New Hampshire are the same ones done in California. We don't know exactly what you're feeling because noone else could, but we know even such things as station morale plays a huge part in our happiness and mental health. When it comes to protecting privacy, discussion of a call without using names will be allowed. In fact, the CISM group should be including people from the call, which also means they already know the particulars of the patient(s), and this use of information is certainly considered internal use by the department. You focus on sorting through feelings without worrying yet about HIPAA and so forth. If there is any possible way you can begin dialogue with a respected member of your department, one you trust (either an officer or a senior member), discuss your concerns about calls & stress you have. It DOES bottle up inside when we don't have an outlet to deal with it. Now, you posted to a great forum group, "Chaplains & CIS." Does your department have, or do you know of a chaplain you might speak with? There are people out there who know better than I do what stress is and how it is best dealt with. Others also know more about communication and how feelings can come out of deep dark places inside. That being said, there isn't anyone on Firehouse or in this giant profession of emergency services who wouldn't lend an ear to member who has it tough right now. No matter how bad you think your department is, people take care of each other here. Start talking to anyone who will listen. MAKE them listen, as you're a valuable part of our profession, and the department needs you at 100%. They will see that you talk to whoever you need to talk to, and things will improve. Best of luck, friend & colleague. Take care, and keep us posted.
    ~Kevin
    Firefighter/Paramedic
    --^v--^v--^v--^v--
    Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong
    Dennis Miller

  3. #3
    Fire Chaplain IACOJRev's Avatar
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    drop me a line.... chaplain@iacoj.com


    Rev.
    Resident Chaplain of the IACOJ

  4. #4
    Disillusioned Subscriber Steamer's Avatar
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    You can't just muddle through these kinds of issues on your own sometimes. You've been whacked with a lot, and don't have a lot of experience with how to deal with these kinds of stressors; few do.

    You aren't crazy, or having an unusual reaction. It's quite normal, actually. You aren't going through anything that there hasn't been someone else there before you. You have to have to tools to cope with these things. Is spite of what some might have you believe, it's not necessary for you just "suck it up" and go on. There are things you can do to help you through this.

    E-mail IACOJRev. He's a great support/resource for this kind of thing, and he can give you some contacts possibly in your area to talk to. Drop me an e-mail at steamer@iacoj.com if you want to just talk or if there's anything else I can do.

    A lot of us have been there with the nightmares and such. It's tough to feel like your losing your mind, but it's even tougher to lose someone that has your apparent understanding of what the job really is. Especially because of these kinds of issues. This privacy act does not preclude discussion of an incident among reponders for purposes pf debriefings/defusings. Don't get caught up in rumors and innuendo about that stuff. You have the right to heal.

    Hang in there. You WILL get through this.
    Last edited by Steamer; 09-04-2003 at 11:38 AM.
    Steve Gallagher
    IACOJ BOT
    ----------------------------
    "I don't apologize for anything. When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

  5. #5
    Forum Member
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    Email me at fnffm@yahoo.com. I will be glad to help you out.

    Wendy Norris
    Firefighter Minsitries
    www.firefighterministries.com

  6. #6
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    I am not sure where you are from but if you are looking to talk to someone face to face you may try your local hospital chaplin or community mental health.

    You have been through a lot and yes it does get to you/me I have been there I know.

    Through your hospital they may have a team or someone that you could talk to. The team that I am on is based out of the hospital they are the contact for all the Departments in the county.

    We also use our community mental health people for further support if needed.

    Just remember you can and will get through it. You are probably not the only one on your department feeling the same way right now.

    Good Luck

  7. #7
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    I am not sure where you are from, but in the New York City area, there are a number of programs (I work at one of them) not affiliated with the fire department that provide FREE and CONFIDENTIAL counseling to firefighters (set up in the wake of 9/11).

    A lot of what you're describing is completely normal, and is the same response many people would have if they witnessed the things you witnessed. The best thing to do is to talk to somebody that you trust about it. Start uncorking those bottles of memories and pent up emotions and begin dumping them out in an environment in which you feel safe.

    Always here to help if you need anything else...

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