1. #1
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    Default Dealing with the scene

    Like some many othere here I am going to start FF training very soon. I am beside myself with excitement and worry. One of my main concernes is basically, well, very gory scene, if you will. Honestly, I would say I am a bit uneasy when it comes to, this is hard to say with out sounding like a ***** I guess, lots of blood and missing limbs and things of that nature. I feel that in the moment I will be able to function and do my job, I am just afraid I may puke on someone. I am also worried that at night when the day is done and I am back home and the shift is over and its just me and the wife lying in bed, that these things will then haunt me, so to speak. I am sure time make this easier, I am just looking for anyones expierences first hand or second on this matter. Have you had the same concerns or seen someone with the same concern. I would say problem, but honestly I dont know how I will deal with it. Thanks.

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    If you are not disturbed and disgusted by detached limbs and violent death, I would be a lot more worried about you. It is going to bother you and it will probably be stuck in your head for a little while.

    Since you asked, I'll tell you a little personal story. Some people don't want to talk about this. I don't mind and I'll tell anyone that asks about it. It is neccessary.

    The first code I actually worked all the way into the hospital didn't really bother me for the first day. I knew all about how it could mess with your head and I've seen it mess with other people's heads so I was confident that it wouldn't bother me since I was prepared. First night, no problem. The next morning, it started bothering me. It was bothering me enough that my co-workers could tell something was wrong. I couldn't get it out of my mind day or night for over a week. It was making me downright miserable at it's peak the first few days. Everytime the pager made a sound, I got worried it might be another code or serious trauma. I didn't sleep very well. Generally unhappy. There were two things bothering me... one being the incident itself. The other was that I know what happened, I know we did everything we could do, i know he was dead and now he is alive, yet it still is bothering me. Its like the fact that it is bothering me at all is bothering me even more... if that makes any sense.

    Now, what to do about it. I'm telling you right now that if you do nothing and say nothing, the results will be nothing. It will keep festering. My friends that have been-there-done-that, one in peticular, were of a significant help to putting it behind me. It helps a lot to be able to talk about it with someone who knows what you are talking about and knows what you are going through. He was also able to give me some tips on not making it worse. For example, don't drink and don't go on medical calls for a while until you get through it (both good advice).

    You do that and you give it time. It will eventually go away on it's own and you might not even notice it. I didn't realize I had put it behind me until someone asked if I had checked on the patient's status at the hospital lately. When I was asked that, it occured to me that I haven't checked on him in over a week and I hadn't thought of it either. I didn't notice that I had gotten over it until someone reminded me. It felt even better knowing I was past it.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    If a scene bothers you like beamclamp has experienced,there is Critical Incident Stress Debriefing available through your department.Bad scenes affect you even if YOU don't think it does.
    BTDT.It helps.
    If you've never heard of it,there is nothing off limits during the session and no notes are taken for future reference.What is said in that room stays there.
    When on the scene,I try to concentrate on the mechanics of doing what I am assigned and not dwell on what has been done to the people involved.Yes,I do think about what a shame it is to have have their world turned everywhich way but loose but I try to be detached while working on resolving it.Besides,I'm usually too busy getting gear,holding pry bars,etc to wonder about how it looks inside.Once I get my EMT certs in,that will change,of course.
    One other thing.
    What happens on scene stays in the fire house.We had a guy just joining my old volunteer department that went to the funeral of a friend of his after a wreck.He was overheard telling the next of kin how he suffered and begged for mercy,among other overly graphic details .
    Besides violating HIPPA and telling need to know information,he was waving traffic 1/2 mile away with the rest of the rookie class and couldn't have known.
    It took another member that also worked with the deceased the time it took to find his wife and get the cell phone from her to call a LT and let him know to start the removal process.
    It can kill a firefighting career to run off at the mouth like that.In another forum,I mentioned to a newer FF that one good thing about being a firefighter is knowing more than what the news reports give out.
    One bad thing about being a firefighter is that you cannot always talk about what you see.
    We see lots of humorous stuff but also stuff that will cut your heart to the bone dealing with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by beamclamp
    Like some many othere here I am going to start FF training very soon. I am beside myself with excitement and worry. One of my main concernes is basically, well, very gory scene, if you will. Honestly, I would say I am a bit uneasy when it comes to, this is hard to say with out sounding like a ***** I guess, lots of blood and missing limbs and things of that nature. I feel that in the moment I will be able to function and do my job, I am just afraid I may puke on someone. I am also worried that at night when the day is done and I am back home and the shift is over and its just me and the wife lying in bed, that these things will then haunt me, so to speak. I am sure time make this easier, I am just looking for anyones expierences first hand or second on this matter. Have you had the same concerns or seen someone with the same concern. I would say problem, but honestly I dont know how I will deal with it. Thanks.
    This is a good question. 99% of the time you will not have the missing limbs and super gore you fear. You learn to get use to the typical stuff. The super gore runs are a rarity, but sometimes come in clusters. Certain incidents will stay with you, but the most important thing to do is talk to someone about it.....but, NOT your wife, that will just worry her more. Find someone you're tight with in the firehouse or a Senior man. Sure they might break your ballz a little, but that how its handled, you just have to laugh at somethings. You'll understand that eventually. And make sure you kiss you wife and kids before work and after work. That alone will help you out in a big way.

    Learn to focus on your job, and don't let the incident consume you. Remember that someone pulled the street box or called 911 and are waiting for you to make things better. To them you are Superman, and you have to act like him.

    If you do get something that bothers you....feel free to drop me a PM.

    Good Luck, stay safe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by beamclamp
    Like some many othere here I am going to start FF training very soon. I am beside myself with excitement and worry. One of my main concernes is basically, well, very gory scene, if you will. Honestly, I would say I am a bit uneasy when it comes to, this is hard to say with out sounding like a ***** I guess, lots of blood and missing limbs and things of that nature. I feel that in the moment I will be able to function and do my job, I am just afraid I may puke on someone. I am also worried that at night when the day is done and I am back home and the shift is over and its just me and the wife lying in bed, that these things will then haunt me, so to speak. I am sure time make this easier, I am just looking for anyones expierences first hand or second on this matter. Have you had the same concerns or seen someone with the same concern. I would say problem, but honestly I dont know how I will deal with it. Thanks.
    One of my first runs when I got on my former dept was a injury accident where a flat bed semi-truck stopped in the slow lane of an inter-state highway at 0200. 2 cars narrowly missed side swiping the trailer ending up on the shoulder (he had his triangles and warning devices out) But the third...well the car hit off center sliding partailly under the rear edge and the "A" post inserted itself right through the drivers face. The passenger, (drivers brother) had to crawl over his dead brother to exit the car and had his teeth and part of his toung missing.

    We...I had to use the ram and the Jaws to get the dash off the body so the body snatchers could take him to the mourge.

    The point is...I never really thought much about it...the training takes over and you should be looking at it from a technical point of view...how am I going to complete my job...what advice is the senior man giving you and what is the officer instructing you to do. Right now you are nervous about a half a million things..because there are sooo many unknowns...that is what the accademy is for. Your training will serve to make your actions instinctive and you won't be looking at it from a personal view or a civilians view...but that of a fireman who has a job to do and how will you accomplish it.

    If you have to puke...step away and if you have to...do so. Will guys bust your ballz? Sure...but it is all in good fun. For the odors...I recomend a cigar to clense the odor away...or gasoline on the fingers and take a whif...it completely overwhelms any other odors you may be thinking about.

    Just relax...and focus on the job and everything will go smoothly.

    FTM-PTB

    PS- Don't take everything too seriously. I know guys who can find humor in just about everything.

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    Thanks. The advice has been taken to heart. I know that dealing with these issues are something that I am going to have to do as they come my way. I feel 100% confident that I will be able to perform in what ever situation that comes up. If most of the Firefighters I am about to meet are as half as cool as you fellas, I know that I wont have a problem finding someone to talk to about anything that bothers me. Thanks again.

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    I found the best way is with laughter. I try to find something I can make a joke about on the way back from the call, no matter how morbid it is. Course, that also gets me the reputation of being a freak and a sick.... you can imagine what goes there.

    Your going to hear people say "oh its nothing, dont let it get to you." There the ones who when they get home cry themselves to sleep in a pillow. Most of the death we see isnt in a glorified state... a la ejection from a vehicle, choking on a hot dog, biting the dust on the crapper.

    I feel that you have to vent somehow and laughter is the best way

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    Quote Originally Posted by JHR1985
    I found the best way is with laughter. I try to find something I can make a joke about on the way back from the call, no matter how morbid it is. Course, that also gets me the reputation of being a freak and a sick.... you can imagine what goes there.

    Your going to hear people say "oh its nothing, dont let it get to you." There the ones who when they get home cry themselves to sleep in a pillow. Most of the death we see isnt in a glorified state... a la ejection from a vehicle, choking on a hot dog, biting the dust on the crapper.

    I feel that you have to vent somehow and laughter is the best way
    This works for me as well. When you are in the middle of a "bad" call, your training leads you through what needs to be done. It is at the end when your mind starts to wonder. The best thing you can do is talk things over with your fellow members. Just remember the law frowns on discussing the events of a call with others (even other members that where not on the call). Making jokes does relief some of the tension, but remember to get back to the station first. The worst thing you can do is laugh, for any reason, at the scene. Just my opinion.
    Just someone trying to help! (And by the way....Thanks for YOUR help!)

    Aggressive does not have to equal stupid.

    ** "The comments made here are this person's views and possibly that of the organizations to which I am affiliated" **

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    I was in the same boat as you when I first started into the Fire Dept..After 5 years,I know its not a long time in the scheme of things, My soft stomach has gone away....I hate to say I'm somewhat Immune to seeing death and injured people now But I guess that comes with the territory...Sure I still get bothered by s**t.Everybody does..So like some of these people said if you do have some issues...Use the resources you have for you and get some help..


    P.S. Dont worry about pukin on a scene...I've done it..Its nothin big...You have your moment,keep on truckin and get the job done
    If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

    Ryan

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    Default Thanks....

    Thanks so much. All of these replies have been great. I am honestly not so worried about it anymore. I figure I will just cross that bridge when I get there. I really want to do this, so I'll just have to figure out how to deal with it. I am certain all of these suggestions will help. I really appreciate all of the comments.

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    I strongly believe each and every Firefighter, EMS person, and Police Officer has a problem with seeing all the gory stuff many of us often see. And I strongly believe that the fact that we so often have to deal with things that nobody should ever have to see is the reason we all have the most extreme sick and disgusting sense of humor.

    We are the "strong" folks, trained to deal with death and mutulation, it is all just another job to us. "What do you do? You work on computers, nice, I pick up body parts for a living. Yeah, it pays ok." <--- This is how we are often expected to deal with all the horror we sometimes deal with. We are firefighters, we don't puke, we don't run away scared, we don't cry.

    So how do we as a profession deal with the death and horror everybody else fears? We make fun of it! We laugh at it!

    Watching the usual Video someone posted on this forum:
    General Public: How horrible, he just got ran over by a car!!!!
    A lot of Firefighters: NICE!!! Did you see how he was able to do 3 flips in the air before he landed, sucks to be him, hey everybody, look at this funny guy flying through the air.

    Laughing at death has the tendency to de-horrify it. Humor makes death see more human and tolerable. I would say that for 99% of firefighter this is our coping mechanism.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcusKspn
    I strongly believe each and every Firefighter, EMS person, and Police Officer has a problem with seeing all the gory stuff many of us often see. And I strongly believe that the fact that we so often have to deal with things that nobody should ever have to see is the reason we all have the most extreme sick and disgusting sense of humor.

    We are the "strong" folks, trained to deal with death and mutulation, it is all just another job to us. "What do you do? You work on computers, nice, I pick up body parts for a living. Yeah, it pays ok." <--- This is how we are often expected to deal with all the horror we sometimes deal with. We are firefighters, we don't puke, we don't run away scared, we don't cry.

    So how do we as a profession deal with the death and horror everybody else fears? We make fun of it! We laugh at it!

    Watching the usual Video someone posted on this forum:
    General Public: How horrible, he just got ran over by a car!!!!
    A lot of Firefighters: NICE!!! Did you see how he was able to do 3 flips in the air before he landed, sucks to be him, hey everybody, look at this funny guy flying through the air.

    Laughing at death has the tendency to de-horrify it. Humor makes death see more human and tolerable. I would say that for 99% of firefighter this is our coping mechanism.
    I have to agree with you. An outsider would view our brand of humor as vile, disgusting and reprehensible. For us it is how we cope...It's how we can go from one bloody mess to another. Laughter is amazing medicine!
    We have the same feelings and emotions as everyone else. We just learn to deal with them in a different way.




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    You're right, sooner or later you're going to have to deal with a really bad scene. Hopefully, if you're lucky, it won't be the first week you start....as VinnieB said, 99% of the stuff we respond to isn't like that. So more than likely you'll get a fair amount of experience dealing with less intense scenes before you catch that first really bad one.

    Fortunately, some of the stuff that's really gory and gross isn't necessarily tragic........like the time we responded to a guy who popped his sutures after some kind of abdominal surgery, and when we arrived a good bit of his intestines were sitting in a neat little pile on his stomach. He wasn't in any pain or any real danger, and although it was kind of unsettling to look at, in hindsight it was kinda funny. You'll get a lots of that kind of stuff.

    Always remember, that you didn't cause the problem...you're the guy they call to make it better. Train hard and seriously so that your training won't fail you at a crucial moment...that way, when the time comes, you will do your duty to the best of your ability. And that will help you to deal with the aftermath...One of the biggest problems some responders face, following a bad scene, is that nagging self doubt...Did I fail in some way? Could I have changed the outcome if I had been better/quicker/etc.? Don't let yourself fall into this trap. Sometimes the cards are stacked against us and we just ain't gonna win, no matter how hard we try. It's unfortunate but it's true.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
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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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    Well fellas, I have started my training. First Responder ends this Fri then off to FF1. The other day we watched a nice little video of Sig 7s. Some of the most disgusting footage I have seen. Squashed by a 10ton wall? Well, let me tell ya, wolverines are good boots, cause other than the mass of guts and brains that's all that was left. I know that it's nothing like being there, but it was certainly a start. wow.
    I tried to joke, and honestly it did help a bit. However, I think that time will also be a big help. That much carnage takes some getting used too. Yuck. friggindouble yuck....but that's the job, and another thing, I don't think all of the calls are that bad. Infact, I am certain they arent. So, basically, I just wanted to let y'all know that your advice has worked so far. I do have to push the visual out of my head when I eat, but it's already gotten farther away from the front part of my memory. Without sounding to gross here, it will certain aid in those moments during coitus when things are moving alittle to quckly, if you will. One thought of that scene sends the little guys right back home.

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    I just tell myself that I wasnt the one that put them in that situation and they need me to help them. And I dont look at the victims familes faces. A dead body doesnt bother me nearly as much as what a family members faces does. And when its all over, dont react the scene, just look at what you did right, and how you can improve.

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    In a really *****ty situation, your consious thought kinda shuts down and your training takes over. Some things are so crazy that you don't have a chance to think, not that that is a bad thing. My thoughts with trauma's are: I didn't screw this guy up, he screwed himself up. I'm just here to keep him un-dead if possible and get him to where he needs to go.

    I think that laughter is a way of coping with stress, not just in an emergency setting, but in everything. Both of my parents are in medicine and I always thought that they had a sick and warped sense of humor. Now they look at me with disbelief at the occasional story I drop on them. Laughter is the best medicine. Just remember (from personal experience), if you laugh and joke about a patient's stupidity etc., wait for the firehouse to do it. At the hospital is not a good time or place even in the EMS lounge. You never know who is standing outside the door and can hear your conversation!

    And if all else fails, talk to someone about a CISD (Critical Incident Stress Debriefing). No one will look down on you for talking about an incident that has been troubling you. If they do, they probably need it as bad as you do.
    The views expressed by me are my opinions and do not reflect the opinions of any of my affiliations.

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    I to have delt with my fare share of scene. the way that I do it is you never get personal. you don't want to know the person involved.and with gory scenes. well you just do what you have to do and then just find someone to talk to. don't hold it in. it will work/kill you. I NEVER go home and tell my wife about a gory scene. now other scenes I might. but the bad ones stay with the fire department. now I have gone home in the middle of the night and go into my daughters room and just picked her up and just hold her. or I might go home and just hold my wife. Now I have been with the service for nine years and I have been married for ten. and my daughter is now five. so my family perty much has been around the service too.it does get easer. in the sence that you find the best way to deal with it all. it still works on you.

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    To add a bit to my previous post,I am the only one besides my instructor in EMT class that has seen emergency scenes and/or dead bodies outside of a casket at the funeral home.
    Some of my classmates asked about how long it takes before you get "used to it"and my reply was "I hope I NEVER get used to it because I don't like seeing people hurt and would wonder what I was doing not being affected by the things I've seen and will see in this line of work."
    Mr Instructor wholeheartedly agreed to that.

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    The gory stuff you will find becomes not that big of a deal. For me the one thing that really really gets to me and I have a hard time dealing with after the fact is young kids. My 1st call of cpr on a 18 month old still hurts me deep down and if thought about too much will still bring me to tears. That was 16, 17 years or so ago. I think the fact that I am friends of the family makes it a little harder.

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    Nothing is never easy when it comes to dealing with a dying victim. You have to put your personal images and thoughts to the side and focus on the best way to help the victim. Also, plant images in your mind of what the victim would look like in the same instance, just without the blood, however, still focus on what you're trained to do. When it comes to victims, dying or living, your primary focus is helping that victim. There is no time for standing there thinking and wondering why the scene is so gory, however, time is focusing on how to keep that victim alive.

    Find some gruesome photos, look at them for a while, and imaging what that victim at the scene would look like without the blood, and how you can save their life without the fear of vomiting or so on. Give it a try.

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