1. #1
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    Unhappy Having a tough time after an incident...

    We responded to a vehicle fire Monday night that turned out to be a one vehicle MVA that was heavily involved with fire. The accident was between my house and the station and I was first on scene other than a deputy. On arrival he came up to me in a panic and stated the someone was on fire and did I have an extinguisher? A young lady had her foot trapped under the car and she was on fire and burned very badly. She very calmly was asking for help and to be put out. I put out the fire on her and around her and made my way back to the roadside to help deploy the hose line from the now arriving truck. I knew that this young lady could not survive these injuries and couldn't beleive that she was alive. She passed away 5 or 6 minutes later. This has been the most difficult situation that I have ever had to deal with in my years with the fire service. After not sleeping for 21 hours I finally got some rest and felt a little better about it today until.....I get home late and Have a message on the phone from her brother wanting to get in touch with me. I don't have a clue what he wants, tried to call him back with no answer.

    How have any of you guys handled a situation like this? What do you tell a loved one after seeing such a terrible thing? I don't think that I'm ready to discuss this with her family. Any help, guidance and prayers for this family, myself and our firemen would be appreciated.
    Chief
    Wren Volunteer Fire Department
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    http://www.wrenfiredepartment.4t.com/

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    Brother, I don't envy you in this situation. It will certainly be something that is handled with assistance from others, be it fellow members, officers, clergy, or a CISM group.

    Do you know the brother of this patient? Might this be something best handled by an officer or public relations delegate in your department? You're still extremely raw & charged after such an emotional call, and it is likely best that you avoid major discussion with others outside the fire service or its affiliates.

    What I can offer you is the very best of luck in getting past this awful call. There are probably very few situations we can compare to yours, and noone else really knows what you're feeling. If you can get the discussions going with people now, you will begin to feel better soon. Feel free to write any & all thoughts here or privately. Take care
    ~Kevin
    Firefighter/Paramedic
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    Arhaney, I read something about this in the paper. I wondered if you were there. I can only offer my ear, I know, but it is there if you need it, friend. Will be praying for the family and responders alike.
    YGBSM!
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    Kevin,many depts still don't utilize Cism. Arhaney,as Kevin has indicated to you,get to someone you can talk to and soon.A Cism team member,someone from your local clergy. As a long time line officer who worked for years without this knowledge,I'm now starting to pay the price.For your sake and those of your teammates at this incident;get together with a Critical incident manager and get some help getting thru this.If you don't it will literally "haunt"you in the days to come.You have my prayers and support.T.C.

  5. #5
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    We had a situation just like this 5 years ago. Young girl on her way to work. She was kin to several in the department so that made it worse.

    We were lucky that a local pastor was trained by the US Airforce in CISM and we held a meeting that night at the department. We all talked about it and he offered "one on one" meetings after the group meeting. It's very hard but there are systems in place to help. We have never used it but our state has a network in place so there may be something in your area. Check with your chief or state department of fire programs.
    "Illegitimis non carborundum."

    - Gen. Joseph Stilwell
    (Lat., "Don't let the *~#%&S grind you down.")

  6. #6
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    Unhappy Get some Help to Deal With This........

    Kevin already said it all. I can only add that I've Been There too. 46 years is a long time in this business, and I've seen and been thru a lot, but talking it out is a way to keep from having stuff pile up on you. Even if you don't attend his/her church, any member of the Clergy would help you in a time like this. Call someone. Now.
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    I can only reiterate what the others have said, but with the advantage of being a CISM/CID Debriefer personally. EVERYONE involved in this incident needs to sit down with a trained debriefer and talk through his/her experience of it and how they feel.

    This is the only way that the issues will be resolved and people will be able to move on from it.

    The benefits of having a CISM debrief far, far outway the disadvantages of not having it.

    PM me if you have any questions/or want to talk. I will supply my email address.

    **just re-read my post and realised I had'nt added in a most important piece...DO NOT contact the next of kin of the deceased yourself, as CR and others have said there will be questions that they will want answers of, which you may not be able to provide. If there is to be contact it should come from the Chief of your Dept, or the Police Officer dealing with the accident**.

    CISM is really intended for emergency service workers, if it involves members of the public, we are dealing with a whole unknown set of people.
    Last edited by martinm; 08-12-2004 at 12:38 PM.
    United Kingdom branch, IACOJ.

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    Without knowing whether your department has a fire chaplain; this is who you will need for this situation. The victim's brother might very well want to ask you questions that you may not be able to answer. He may ask you questions that you may not want to answer. Or he may ask you questions that you can't answer.
    Regardless, keep your emotions from attaching themselves to your compassion.
    I am guessing that you were one of the last to see her alive. Her brother wants to know that she didn't die alone. He will be grateful that you were there.
    And you will be grateful that you brought along the clergy.
    Stay strong.
    CR
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  9. #9
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    All the advice given here is great. And I agree that those on scene need CISM. Also you should let a officer from the FD contact the brother. I have had to deal with a grieveing family member....that is not something you need to deal with, especially so soon after. Take care bro, we all are here to help and feel free to contact me.
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    arhaney,

    My thoughts are with you on this... our department had a very nasty fatal accident (no fire) about a month ago. It really hit a couple of the guys pretty hard. We had a CISD with the dispatcher, EMS and fire. (The dispatcher received a second fatal call before the first one was concluded...She did not have time to clear her head from the first one.) It works... figure out a way to get one for your department.

    Even right after the call was done and we got the trucks back I told the guys they did good job and did everything they possibly could. It sounds like you did the same. It wasn't your fault and you tried to make a difference.

  11. #11
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    arhaney, with this post you are heading in the right direction for help. CISM/CISD is, as previouly posted, a great asset, especially if you have a team dedicated towards the fire/police/first responders. They usually come from our ranks and have first hand experiance. Please contact them ASAP. If there isn't one around you, contact me, and I will put you intouch with the Twin City metro team located aound St Paul/Minneapolis.
    As far as the 2nd part of your question, yes I have been in simular situations. It is from my experiance, loved ones, especially family, want to know if their family member suffered. From your own statement that she was calm, the answer to that is "no she did not". She was beyond pain.
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
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    Good luck, brother. Make sure you talk to SOMEbody.......

  13. #13
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    Thanks to all for your support in this difficult time. Today has been better even after another long night without much sleep. A more senior fireman with a lot of experience who also knew the family went to see some of them today. He had a talk with them and answered most of the questions that they had. He was good enough to explain to them how much the situation had bothered me and how this wasn'ta good time to contact me. I'm so grateful to have this burden removed.

    As far as a CISM team is concerned...we don't even have one in our county. I'm really thinking about doing something about this when the dust settles. I spoke with a close freind of mine who is a chaplain for another Fire Dept. in our county, between him and some freinds from the local paid department and my new brothers on the forums, I might be slowly turning the curve now. I've always enjoyed the forums, but this brings it to a whole new level.

    One of our firemen is a pilot for the local hospital and has offered to get me in touch with a CISM team that he knows about, I'll give it a day or two and see what happens. Tomorrow I'm going to go see my preacher.
    Chief
    Wren Volunteer Fire Department
    IACOJ
    Southern Division

    http://www.wrenfiredepartment.4t.com/

    In Memory of:
    FireFighter/Pilot James Archer
    1946-2005
    "Rest in peace James, you now have the ultimate set of wings on you."

    Thanks, LeuitEFDems

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    Unhappy

    Please take everyones advice here. I have been retired from my Volunteer dept for about 3 yrs now. (13 yr member) This is the 1st time tonight that I have even been back to this website in a long time. I can remember one incident in particular about 7-8 yrs ago. With out going into details, I will never forget this incident. It affected many people on my dept, many people even acknowledged that we shoud-should've had CISD but maybe time or too much pride to admit that it had affected me that much stood in my way of getting it done. Since that incident I can look back and see a definate slow withdrawl. As much as I loved what I was doing I just didnt want to see the devastation anymore and the more I saw of it the less enthused I was for the job. One of my last calls was a vehicular suicide. The person hit a train support at high speed and flipped his vehicle back onto the highway where he was trapped and burned to death. I could feel that night was the "pop of my balloon"
    With in a couple of months I quit, blaming many things, politics, double standards, you name it. It was the destruction and devestation I had experienced that I just really didnt want to deal with anymore.
    I miss my dept and brothers dearly, will I ever go back? I highly doubt it.
    My point to my long story is that get the help you need and get it now. Dont let it eat at you it wont go away. It may settle down for a time; days, months even years, but with out help it will come back and keep gnawing at you. Something will bring it back to you and there it will be again but with more experiences tacked on to it.

    God Bless and take care...
    Some days yer the fire hydrant and some days yer the dog.

  15. #15
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    I talked with a member of a CISM team based in North Mississippi today, it seemed to have helped a lot. I'm going to talk with another member or his team tommorrow. Made my first call after the incident, perhaps that's the best medicine of all, get back into the swing of things....felt good to help someone.
    Chief
    Wren Volunteer Fire Department
    IACOJ
    Southern Division

    http://www.wrenfiredepartment.4t.com/

    In Memory of:
    FireFighter/Pilot James Archer
    1946-2005
    "Rest in peace James, you now have the ultimate set of wings on you."

    Thanks, LeuitEFDems

  16. #16
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    Arhaney,

    I'm glad to see that you're doing better. I'm also glad you're going to try and work to form a CISD team in your area. Every county should have one. It helps greatly. Thankfully, we haven't had anything bad enough to require their usage lately, but we've used them a lot in the past (pediatrics, extreme burn cases, etc). It helps.

    One thing though: Never force anyone to go to CISD. And never give an CISD details out after the meeting. What's said there stays there. And if he/she doesn't want to go, don't make them. Not everyone handles these situations the same way.

    Another thing: Talk to some of the more senior men in your department(who weren't there at the incident). They can usually provide insight and understanding that'll help. I know the first time I saw someone who had been struck by a tractor trailer I was ready to quit, but the assistant chief pulled me aside and we had a long discussion. It helped, and I'm still here.

    Just some ideas. Keep on truckin, brother.

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