Rescuing The Rescuer: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

When we experience a traumatic event our brain goes through a chemical change and the military is studying these changes in the brain with PET scans.Everybody goes fill out 10-75 (working fire). The address is 5826 Eastern Parkway and the fire is in a...


When we experience a traumatic event our brain goes through a chemical change and the military is studying these changes in the brain with PET scans.

Everybody goes fill out 10-75 (working fire). The address is 5826 Eastern Parkway and the fire is in a two-story commercial. Ladder 120 is the FAST truck (rapid intervention team).

When responding to a call as the FAST truck, we hope that we do not have to go to work for our intended purpose, to rescue a firefighter. Responding to the call you are thinking of all the possible things that can go wrong at this fire to "put you to work". Loss of water, member missing, lost or trapped member, low air, unconscious firefighter, collapse; the list is endless. These problems all to often start a cascade of problems, for example "The Domino Effect". In the fire service we can only control certain variables. Even when we control all of the variables firefighters die in the line of duty!

Battalion 44 to Brooklyn, Transmit the second alarm. We have heavy fire on the first floor extending to the second floor. We are starting our advance on the fire and we have reports of people trapped in the back of the store. Who is my Fast Truck?

L-120 is the FAST truck.

10-4.

Responding in you hear this report. You increase your thoughts on the task at hand. You feel yourself start to sweat and prepare for a fire that you know will test your training. You know your team is ready, but you don't know how bad things are really going to get! You remember your position and your responsibilities. What tools do I take? Where do I go? How will I get there? What companies are operating? Is there a basement? What type of construction? All these thoughts and many more should be going through the mind of every firefighter responding to the fire. Sometimes, this causes us to think about other things. Things we don't want to think about when going to a fire. As you pull up on the scene you hear on the radio:

Mayday, Mayday, Mayday Ladder 99 to Command Mayday! We are trapped in the basement in the rear of the store. The floor collapsed!

Command to the FAST Truck. Go in there and get them out! Ladder 99 is trapped in the basement!

As your team assembles their equipment, you rush to the command post to get the particulars. You are focused and determined to get these firefighters out. As you communicate with the incident commander, you hear a secondary collapse. The incident command radios Ladder 99 and they are not responding. Engine 98 is not responding as well. As you stand there for a split second, something comes over you. It is a feeling you have gotten before, at another tragic fire. You brush it off and move on. You start your search of the first floor, keeping your team together. You make it 15 feet into the store and encounter an every increasing fire condition. You are about to move forward to get the trapped firefighters when you hear on the radio "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday command to all units operating back out of the building! It is about to collapse!

You grapple with the thought of ignoring the order because you know there are fellow firefighters trapped below. You ponder for a second who could be down there? Do I know his family? Why can't we press on? I know I could save them! We have to get to these guys!

Command to the FAST truck! I am ordering you out of that building forthwith! You hesitate...then respond with a 10-4.

You roll call your members, and then back out of the building. As you reach the command post you overhear that Engine 98 is missing also. Just then the whole building collapses. That feeling you had before comes back. The feeling you got when you lost that two-year-old child, or that firefighter that died five years ago, or the deaths on Seprember 11 and Worcester MA, or New York City's Father's Day Fire and Black Sunday. Your world begins to darken and you feel as though part of you just died right there. You start to think of their families and kids. Who will watch them grow up? Who will take them to their first baseball game? Why couldn't it have been you! Why did this have to happen? If we only got there quicker...if we pulled them out sooner...if, what if?

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