Daddy’s Girl (Explicit)

By Mark vonAppen

So, I’m at this backyard BBQ when this guy walks up…
Listing, he points his wine glass at me, “Fireman, right?”
“Uh-huh.”
It always goes the same way…
Idyllic, bullshit conversation ensues…
“Checkers and coffee all day, right?” He chuckles and claps me way too hard on the shoulder in a way that is way too chummy for a guy who’s not my friend.
Who the fuck is this guy?
I smile back, “Right…”
“You guys make a lot of money,” he persists.
I take a drink of my beer as my eyes dart around looking for my wife.
Get me out of here.
“I hear you guys are never at work.”
“Well, that’s not actually true…”
I can feel it, here it comes.
“So…”
The obligatory, ugly question.
“What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen?”
Fuck.
“You don’t want to hear it.”
“C’mon man, tell me…” A misting of spit hits my face. He pokes me in the chest.
Others surround to witness the novelty, I can hear them now…
“He’s a fireman, how neat…”
I’m like a side-show carnie…
Tell us a story…
“No, you don’t want that in your head.”
“I can take it, c’mon give me a good one.”
If he had only raised his chin as he said it.
I snarl inside. 

The fuck you can…

Ok motherfucker – you want to take that ride? Take a deep hit of that chardonnay you cradle in your callous free, SPF 70 protected hands- you’re going to need it.
You asked for it, you pussy with your limp-dick, sweaty hand shake, living your insipid, zero-risk life, here it comes…
Climb inside my fucked up skull.
“Ok…
What do you think about when you drive to work?
I think about scars in the pavement, deep and angry.
Three cars…
Battery acid, gasoline, radiator fluid, crunching glass beneath my feet…
A dead girl, a screaming boy, a headless man, a dog…
120 days a year, cup of coffee in hand on my way to work, I pass the spot…
Trips with my family, there she is…
It’s always there, if I try not to think about it – I’m thinking about it.
Right?
If I choose a different road, so I won’t see the scars in the pavement, it means I took a different road so I wouldn’t think about it – still thinking about it by trying not to think about it – a fucking endless feedback loop.
So here it is.
Fuck you for making polite conversation.
For making me think about it again.
I see a woman asleep drifting across the median into oncoming traffic,
A large truck with a lumber rack, you know the kind I mean?”

Fingering the neck of his glass he nods and shifts his weight.
“A boy and a girl in a tiny car, radio up, windows down, off together on an adventure…
A warm cloudless day…
Beautiful.
A horrific impact.
Front ends buried in the freeway, pavement gouged.
A woman sits beside the road, as if dropped from the sky, knees tucked to chest, head down, her face vacant.
She doesn’t have a mark on her.
Where’d she come from?
The boy is crushed. The girl is dead.
She was pretty as I recall… underneath blood matted shoulder length auburn hair, ribbons of ruby blood lay against her ashen skin, life drained, her heart crushed by the collision.
I watch her chest for the heaving of breath.
Nothing.
I brush a wisp of hair aside and touch her neck, still warm, slick with blood, feeling for the liquid slamming of her heart.
Nothing.
She wore a sleeveless blouse, on her shoulders she has tiny freckles…
Slivers of glass glisten like pixie dust over her body…
She spills from her seat onto her boyfriend, the driver.
He screams a scream from a place I’ve heard too many times, that place of anguish I never want to go again.
‘HOWS MY GIRLFRIEND? SHE WON’T ANSWER ME…’
Her head lies on his shoulder, neck violently snapped on impact.
His torso pinned, he can’t turn to see her or free an arm to touch her…
I lie. I say we’re doing everything we can.
We can’t do anything for her, she’s dead.
I sort the dead and living as though reading a grocery list.
No breathing, no pulse…
Next…
It’s nothing personal, it’s the job.
At times like these when you’re dead, you’re dead. If you’re close, you’re probably dead too.
Close counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and triage.
That’s not it…”

He says, “Oh, shit, it gets worse?”

I seethe.
“Yup.
Truck spins off into another lane…
A normal guy in a car…
Going about his antiseptic life when two vehicles explode in front of him,
The big work truck, the one with the lumber rack- careens backwards into his lane…
The bumper of the truck with a 50 lb. vice attached,shatters the wind shield, severing his head…
When somebody’s head is gone that’s an easy one to figure out, done.
Next…
Vice and head in the back seat.”
“No…” the prick says.
“Want some more?” I ask like a combat-raged door gunner, straight out of the throes of battle, words are my ordinance.
He looks for a way out, “Oh my God…”
I lean in to him, temples throbbing.
“Wait, there’s more… You wanted a good one; right?
The car is really fucked up,
Now we have to get the boy out…
It takes about a half an hour or so.
He’s SO twisted up inside the car, every time we try to push, pull, or cut part of the car he screams from that place.
Long, drawn out, torturous screams until he loses his breath…
The veins in his neck bulge.
‘STOP! OH MY GOD, STOP!
HOW’S MY GIRLFRIEND?’
I try to soothe him, ‘Hang in there buddy. This is going to hurt.  We’re doing the best we can.’
Pathetic right? That’s the best shit I can come up with under the circumstances.
I had a lot going on.
I can’t see his face anymore, only hers.
Hazel eyes open to stare at nothing.
A heart shaped pendant around her neck…
‘Daddy’s Girl’
Each time we rock the car, her head, held on her freckled shoulders only by the skin of her neck, no life to hold the muscles firm, bones turned to gravel, convulses side to side and front to back in a manner that I can’t describe.
Or maybe I just did…I don’t know…
Stop shaking the fucking car!
We hold her head still so we feel better…
‘SHE WON’T ANSWER ME…’
We pop the door off with the Jaws –
Dashboard finally pushed off the boy, we lift him out.
Bones broken, his arms and legs hanging and bending like he has extra joints in the center of all his long bones.
Kind of like the limp tentacles of an octopus. Does that make sense?”

The prick looks through me.
I gulp down some beer…
I boil…

Poke me in the chest again motherfucker…
“My job isn’t so fucking cute anymore is it dipshit?
And it’s still not over.
Sharp white fragments of bone stick through his skin from these newly formed joints in the middle of his arms and legs.
The jagged ends grind together as we carry him…
He screams…
His limbs shattered in too many places to count.
A gurney carries him away.
Just when I think it’s over… this God damned dog appears.
Where the Hell did he come from?
He limps along on three good legs. One of his fore legs angled in a way that doesn’t make sense.
Enough already!
FUCK!
He whimpers. Dazed, he hobbles past me.
His snout is bent at weird angle too, webs of blood and drool hanging from it.
‘Aw, Jesus Christ! Let me shoot him…’ A police officer says to no one in particular.
We cover the daddy’s girl with a yellow blanket.
I look down and think, ‘Holy shit, look at how deep the pavement is scarred.’
Anything else you want to know before you move on to the next conversation?”

Asshole…

“Every time I drive past, there she is.”


“Daddy’s Girl”

The terrible (and real) accident occurred a number of years ago (2003) on Highway 280 in Northern California. I was inspired (strange choice of words) to write the piece when my wife asked me over coffee on a Sunday morning (2011) what it looks like when a train hits someone.

She had been reading an article in the paper in which a couple visiting our area were hit by a commuter train and the wife was killed. I have been on too many pedestrian versus train incidents in my career. My answer, “Not pretty. You don’t want to know.”

Most of the time I’m polite and I decline to tell stories. The ghosts that rattle around in my head need to stay there, free to haunt me and no one else. My reality is not the same as theirs. Not even close. I am glad it’s not.

My mind says to me, “Remember when that guy doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire? Remember what it smelled like in the medic van as you drove him as fast as you could to the trauma center?”

That was Mockingbird Lane in Sunnyvale, 1997. I was a 24 year-old kid EMT on a paramedic unit.

Charles Bukowski wrote a beautiful and somber poem titled “The Layover”. I think it sums up a lot of what I have seen, and what I experienced in my career, though years ago by measure, it is only one sentence back in my mind.

The Layover 

That moment – to this. . .
may be years in the way they measure,
but it’s only one sentence back in my mind
there are so many days
when living stops and pulls up and sits
and waits like a train on the rails…
I look up at the window and think,
I no longer know where you are,
and I walk on and wonder where
the living goes
when it stops

– Charles Bukowski

I look at places around town in terms of where my first fire occurred, someone was stabbed or shot there, we delivered a baby on that corner, and scars in the pavement…
Someday the freeway will be resurfaced and then maybe she’ll go away, or maybe she won’t.

Every time I drive to work along the freeway my eyes track to the exact spot where the pavement is gouged and I go back.

Battery acid, radiator fluid, twisted metal, crunching glass beneath my feet, the sweet, coppery smell of blood…and there she is.

***PTSD is a subject we don’t like to talk about.  Suicide among Fire/Police/EMS is a much bigger problem than anyone cares to mention.  It is truly the industry’s dirty little secret.  They are both very real issues and they are right in our face.  If you, or someone you know is suffering there is help: Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 
1(800) 273-TALK (8255) 

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473 Comments

  1. Those are also my thoughts when someone asks me that same question. My usual answers are "Nothing major", "Mostly medical calls". Occasionally I answer "I don't usually talk about it"…and then walk away. Inside I have all those calls bouncing around. Thanks for putting words to those thoughts and feelings…and thanks for sharing yours.

  2. Like the idiots that harangue the combat veteran for a story about the worst thing they saw in battle. You never talk about it. You can't forget but you try to ignore it. You protect others from these things too as they don't really need to know. But some time you might just give in and tell it since some genius brought it to the foreground of your thoughts so you make sure they can experience even a bit of the same pain. Though it will never be the same as being there.

  3. 25 years a firefighter; 14 years on a medic unit; USA Army Ranger combat veteran; I know what you say, I hear your silent screams My Brother; My demons are mine , I choose not to share They will never understand. You and those like Us will ; While we don't know each other face to face we know each other heart to heart; only We will understand why we do what we do . There are no reminders. We cannot be reminded of that which we will not ever forget . It is Us It is not what we do It is who we are . Let Your heart Rest easy My Brother for today is a Good day . Peace. wmslt

  4. Thank you for your continued service to your community. Your professionalism and dedication allows the average citizen to feel secure and remain blind to the brutal reality around them. In my 15 years under the headset as a police and fire dispatcher there are so many terrible calls. We get the same dumb "worst call" question. I've worked 4 officer involved shootings, attended 2 LODD's for those I've worked directly with and heard all kinds of human depravity. Still I feel thankful to be somewhat isolated from the visceral scenes that I send my officers to deal with on a daily basis.

  5. We all can tell OUR own stories, the sad things are the endings are all the same and so are the demons we live with everyday. WE are all cut from the same cloth. You are NOT alone my Brother you will never be alone. God Bless and God speed.

  6. That's an awesome story brother. Thanks for sharing. I often tell my peers that the best thing I can do most times is talk to another firefighter. They have felt that story personally and most importantly, understand.

  7. Always hated those moments when non-friends ask about your job. Ret. Police here. Hang in there brother.

  8. Every fireman and cop has one of these cemented in their minds. Don't ask us about them. I think of several every day of my life. This is the real don't don't tell.
    Blessings
    Randy

  9. Wow…so powerful. Myself and, I'm sure, many others don't appreciate what you carry with you every day. Thank you for reminding me. Btw, your storytelling is phenomenal.

  10. The dumbest questions that's has ever been asked of me when I returned from Afghanistan, Oh wow how many towels heads did you kill? Did you see any dead bodies? I always turn and walk away. Or my first deployment stateside…been gone a year and return oh were you in Iraq? no I was stateside. His response oh.

  11. I am so sorry that any of you have to be subjected to truths like this .My son is a paramedic/firefighter and I pray he is coping with his demons. Thank you for what you do, thank all of you for taking care of our loved ones.

  12. My answer is always …. you really don't want to know. End of story and walk away. We all have those scenes and patients that will haunt our memories forever.

  13. Wow. I am always so thankful for everyone in these professions, yet perhaps never realized the extent of what you carry with you. I am sorry, I am grateful, I am horrified. I'm glad you put this out there.

  14. I to struggle with the ghost of a little girl. She has haunted me for the past 8 years. Many of nights does that run replay its self in my mind. Shortly after I became a firefighter.

  15. Thanks Brother I could not put in words as you have but as a Volunteer for 33 years and Paid for 24 I have the thoughts in my head also. God Bless you for your service.

  16. No — do tell — tell every story – as a warning – as a reminder – as a reality check – as a question, "tell me about your close calls that rattled your soul " — do not keep these stories to yourself – let it out – expose it to the light of day – put it out there so people won't ask – so people might understand – share the burden – say it again again and again – write it – type it – try anything and everything to let it go –

  17. Well written and very powerful. I'm so thankful for all that you do. My husband is a firefighter and I've always admired his courage and strength. Your story is very moving. Thanks for sharing.

  18. 25 volunteer and 15 paid. I still see them along side the road too. Great answer my friend.

  19. Great story. I wish more people were aware what a real emergency was! I work in ER and stupid fucks complain about the wait times while the sick person sits quietly in the back.

  20. I understand completely. 10 Years Uniform Patrol, 7 Years Criminal Investigation, 5 years in Crime Scene and the and the last 13 in Administration…………..The pukes like you describe are everywhere. I get sick of it. They just don't get it. I can remember every fatal accident, homicide, suicide, autopsy….all of it. Hell, I can still recall the odors on some of them. Screwed up skull? Yep, I got it.

  21. Paramedics, firefighters, police and sheriff officers doctors,nurses,and our military are all exceptional people. I know for a fact I could not do those jobs every day, but my father was in the Army during World War II, and later in life became a EMT/firefighter, my brother-in-law was also in the Army and then a firefighter where he lost his life in the line of duty at a fire, and my husband retired from the fire department after over 20 years where he was an EMT/firefighter. I know there jobs were not easy, yes there were times when they may not have a call while on duty one day, but they are constantly training, to improve themselves, to be prepared for their next call. God Bless them one and all, you have my utmost respect and gratitude.

  22. God made our hearts strong for this job brother.I have 20 yrs of ghost that live with me and me alone..

  23. Well said Brother!! To those that think it's a cake job….. WAKE UP!!!, it's not! This isn't a job for just anyone. I have 28 yrs as a Firefighter/EMT and Training Officer for my station. The demons and Ghosts are many and unless you've experienced them like we have, you have no idea what this job is like. The smells that we have smelled and the things we have encountered are things you never can forget no matter how hard you try or what you do. Our ghosts are just that…. ours. Let them be,… PLEASE! Most of us just want to try to go about our lives and not relive the things we've seen just because you have this misconception about our world being so great and that we just hang around and do basically nothing. When you ask us a question and we say you don't want to know, drop it and change the subject or just smile and walk away and please, don't keep asking and pushing the issue, or follow us if we walk away. I walk away to protect you as well as myself from the ghosts. Respect it, please. To all the Brothers that have been there,…. done that,…. try to remember that you're not alone and we are all part of the biggest and best Brotherhood in the world! We understand and feel your pain. Stay Safe…. and Never give up!!

  24. I know its a hard job to be firefighter or
    A emt . I lost my my sister amber , my brother Kenneth , nefew Anthony , my niece shanna (sanders ) all in a trailer fire in perry Illinois in 2003 . Amber was 20 Kenny was 19 Anthony was 5 Shanna was 3 months old when this happened to them I am 32 and still willnever get over tthe shock its had on my life to loose what means so much to me I could not imagine what the emt and firefighters went threw finding what they found that early morning in that trailer fire . I give them most respect for the job they do . Till this tragic accent happened I wanted to be EMT but since this happened to me I no longer want to be a EMT . Coping with traggity has mad me shy totally away from medical field . So just remember what they see everyday .know there jobs are not easy by any means .

  25. Mark,

    Wow. I don't think I have ever read anything so poignant. I am a trauma nurse and, most importantly, the mother of an amazing young man who will forever be 18. He died in a car accident in 2009. While I have seen my share of horrible sites I can not and do not want to see what you guys/gals see out on the road. It is a career that you obviously love and you compassion is undeniable. Thank you so much for this tribute. The Daddy (mom and the whole family) of this girl would surely feel relief in knowing that someone had great respect for his daughter in her death. The medics that were on the scene of my Benji's accident all knew me and I knew that each of them treated my baby with dignity and respect for him. Not because they knew me for they didn't know he was mine but because I've seen those men in action over many years and they had always treated each and every patient in this same manner. God bless you my friend for you and your brothers/sisters truly make a difference in this world.

  26. Thank you for your bravery and strength without people such as all of you a lot more people would not be here today. THANK YOU, THANK YOU , THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

  27. 30 years in EMS. 29 years as a firefighter. 28 years as a paramedic. Even the people I work with have a hard time understanding what I tell them as I teach the new men and women for the line. There are good days, and there are so many very bad days. I work in the rural setting and 25 years in the inner city. Each has its horror stories. Something is wrong with me I think, because I still love my job. But there are days…..

  28. It is impossible to make someone fully understand the sights, smells, and horrorific things that Firefighters store in their brain.. I spent 25 years as a Professional Firefighter for the City of Louisville Kentucky and I have been retired for 25 years now, and I still remember clearly the sights I have seen.. Not all are bad, some are just the funny things that have gone on, the Pranks, the Gotchas, etc.. You did good in answering that kook, the way you did.. He will forget what you told him, but at least he will better understand that "I heard you Firefighters don't do anything".. If he only knew how many times we relive those Tragedies. It takes a toll on your friendships out of the Firehouse and at home, but the standard answer is "You don't really want to know" . Never once did I take my demons home with me, but they were with me 24/7…

  29. I'm a 911 sheriff/police dispatcher and have been going on thirty years. I have heared just about everything you could imagine and seen almost as much. I am married to a retired Deputy Sheriff now Police Officer and have heard more than you can ever think of. This world is much worse then you could possibly imagine or even think about. The general public doesn't give the respect to their public servents as they should….they just want to complain when they are not happy with something and then throw up in your face that they pay your salary….
    Well let me tell you, you don't pay worth a shit and you get outstanding service!!

  30. Bless all of you who are called to do this work .at times of our greatest pain and fear just a kind voice gets you to the next point in time.i had a terrible accident and the emt and state trooper were my strength. I know my emt and I've thanked him I can still hear the the Ky state trooper's voice. So I thank the trooper who worked a fiery crash June 8,1994 hwy 293 in Caldwell county. God bless you thank you

  31. GOD BLESS YOU AND ALL THAT YOU HAVE TO INDURE, I GUESS I WAS ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES, SEE WHEN I WAS ONLY 6, I MYSELF WAS IN A CAR ACCIDENT, I AM 51 NOW, BUT IT WAS A WARM BUT RAINY SUMMER DAY, MY MOTHER, 2 YEAR OLD SISTER AND MYSELF WERE ON OUR WAY TO SEE MY AUNT WHEN FOR WHAT EVER REASON THE CAR WENT AIRBORN THOWING ME OUT THE SIDE WINDOW, MY RIGHT ARM WAS BROKEN AND MY LEFT SEVERED, MY 2 YEAR OLD LITTLE SISTER WAS KILLED INSTANTLY BECAUSE THE BRIDGE THAT WE HIT CAME THRU THE CAR AND HIT HER IN THE HEAD, AT LEAST I TAKE COMFORT IN KNOWING SHE DID NOT SUFFER, MY MOTHER ALMOST DID'NT PULL THRU BUT DID, I HAVE TO PASS THAT PARTICULAR BRIDGE PRETTY REGULAR SO I KNOW HOW HE FEELS, NO IT WAS NOT THANK GOD WHAT HE SAW BUT THERE WAS A MAN WHO STOPPED TOOK HIS SHIRT OFF AND TIED MY ARM TO KEEP ME FROM BLEEDING TO DEATH AND TO THIS DAY I DO NOT KNOW WHO WAS BUT THANK GOD FOR HIM EVERYDAY, I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO FOR WHATEVER SICK TWISTED REASON LIKE TO HEAR ABOUT DISPAIR, I THANK YOU ALL AND LOVE YOU GUYS FOR HAVING THE COURAGE TO DO WHAT YOU DO EVERDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GOD BLESS

  32. Each day on the job serves as a reminder to me to savor every moment that we have while we're here. The chaos that governs this life shows us all that there is no promise of another day or another hour.

    Darkness is around every corner, but so is light, so we must focus on those things that light our lives and make them worth living.

    Treat people right.

  33. 27 years as a ff/medic many sad days especially when young people or kids are involved. Life is fragile but also remember the "saves" and calls where the outcomes was good! We are the lucky ones that can make a difference and protect our neighbors, friends and even strangers.

  34. My Ex never understood why I would lay sleepless at night wanting so badly so drift off into a peaceful slumber only to have that endless slide show in my head play on and on. Unable to turn off the projector, pull the plug even turn on the lights so maybe the images would fade somewhat on and on it would play….Almost 15 years ago I had seen all that any one person should see I walked away from all of it and the show……it still goes on not as often but you never know when the next showing will be.

    No one can understand it unless of course you have been there yourself, with your own endless, always streaming show. We do it everyday and in many cases with little or no thanks and almost no thought of what it really takes to do what we do or have done. So having been there and done that far to many times to count….my hats off to all of my fellow brothers/sisters for no one knows the true depths of our pain or the real cost of our giving

  35. im sorry the world is filled with stupid people, thank you for what you do i wouldnt want to do it and im sorrry you have all those awfull memories may god be with you and yours

  36. My 3rd infant death in 13 months ended my 22 year career in EMS. 6 total and every other trauma nightmare known to man! PTSD is no joke! You only understand if you've lived it!

  37. After 27 years and still going I myself have seen my share. I often share the "funny" calls I have been a part of with those who ask. The real stories are kept in their perspective files. I myself have been confronted with the same type questions. Those who ask wouldn't get the picture if I painted it for them. The sounds and smells cannot be conveyed. Movies have desensitized our society where it is Ok to ask someone to share those demons. Just look at them smile and move on. Even if you told the story, they wouldn't understand.

  38. As I read what I wrote here I can say that if you are in this business long enough you will have your "Daddy's Little Girl" moment. You know what the funny thing is….I don't remember the face of the little old lady who just needed some comfort….but I can remember every detail of the well what this blog is about….This blog touched me….I am not alone…someone understands….feels what I feel..thanks brothers!!!! I needed this!

  39. My Mom would say to me you know Mark there is a special place in Heaven for people like you. Man I hope so because the hell you go through here is too much someimes

  40. We in the emergency services ALL have our 'worst' calls which leave us with many scars. … We attempt to forget, but some how some way those calls remain as a reminder, nightmare, or thought! It takes a very special kind of person to work in the emergency services, whether it be as a fire fighter, EMT, paramedic, police officer, Chaplin or a dispatcher! THANK YOU to all who are out every day (volunteer or paid) for your commitment to what can be a horrific/rewarding job!

  41. I have been a ff emt for 19 years. Thank you for writing this even though it brought back some of the memories that I thought were gone.

  42. Thanks for sharing,I am a combat vet and I have this therapist that seems to think that the more i tell my stories the better my PTSD will be. i have tried it and i strongly dissagree. God bless you all.

  43. As a news photographer in a small town with a lot of accidents I also saw the same things. pedestrian versus train was common, drunk drivers, and then came the truck that ran over an intoxicated man's head. The things I saw while trying to record the news and make it sanitized enough that the readers could handle it were horrible. I loved it when the EMTs and police would put up a sheet or move a squad car into a good position to block the carnage. In the end I had to walk away from it – I loved the job, but not those things. It nearly cost me my marriage, and 6 years later I still take antidepressants. There are some things no person should have to see.

  44. I worked the field over 20years ago- now I am in communications… I remember those accidents when I drive by the locations where they happened. The major calls with multiple fatalities… or that one kid that looked too young to be driving…becoming one with his car when he tried to race another… yup.. still in there.

  45. you are right Debbie. Those people that work in those fields of service are exceptional people. You have to have a strong mind and will. The average person could not handle the things that those people have dealt with. Usually the only ones they discuss things with is their fellow co-workers, having been there myself. You want to leave things "at the office" when you finish your shift. The stress finally got the best of me, it brought on health problems and I had to give it up. I do agree it is rude and inconsiderate of people to ask such questions, but some people have no regard for such manners.

  46. Previously being in Law Enforcement, being a volunteer EMT, and now working in the Emergency Room of the local hospital, I can so relate to the words you speak. Many times I have gone home and had countless nightmares of the things I have seen. Those memories never go away !!! Until someone actually does the work that we do, they will never understand. God bless to all those out there, like myself who despite the horrors we see and experience, feel a great sense of love for being able to help those that we can.

  47. I can't imagine the feeling one gets when asked "what is the worst thing you have seen?" After being on the inside looking out I imagine it can cause deep and bitter feelings. Whereas I am sure some questioners deserve to be disdained, I can also assure you that many of those questions come from people who are simply curious and/or ignorant. It is hard to imagine the worst that one can see if one has never seen it.
    I have interviewed more than 50 World War One veterans in the past. I was not so unkind or ignorant as to ask such questions as the guy in this story, but I did hear accounts of things so horrible that I could scarcely imagine them (& some light hearted/ funny stories too.) That said, I did notice that those men and women who were open about what they had seen, seemed to be the least haunted by it. None forgot the horror, but those who were open about their experiences seemed to lighten their burden. (And it made this writer appreciate them all the more.)
    Lastly, I will say that I am glad that I have so far escaped the terrible images that linger in the thoughts of many of you who have posted here. For that I am grateful, and I am deeply grateful and indebted to those whose jobs require confronting and helping people during terrible situations. I have always said a quiet thank you every time I see rescue vehicles pass me in life, and I thank you again, now.

  48. Does it help to talk about it? To let the stories out? My husband never talks about it. I know he sees stuff…I hear it on his scanner. I want to ask. ..to give him release. ..but I he tries to protect me. Makes my heart break that he has these ghosts in his head

  49. Nurses and I imagine doctors get these stupid questions too. "Oh you're an ER nurse, what's the worst you've seen? " AAre you kidding me? My cousin is in the Army and we've been at family functions where either one or both of us have been approached with this. I look at her, she looks at me and simply say, "Nothing. "

  50. Yes it does help if you are ready and willing to let it out. For many the pain of reliving the nightmare is too painful. I sought help and it helped me. The images are still there but it help me to deal with the feelings and emotions.

  51. Career Captain with over 20 plus years in the fire service, The screams for help, smell of flesh burning, the horrific sights that you just can't turn off like a light switch. I hear you brother.

  52. Brother I could not have said it any better. Seeing any life lost is a shame…the hardest ones for me were the young…lost before their prime could even get started. The one thing the job taught me take nothing for granted for in a flash it could be gone. I am thankful for every single minute….i don't care how bad of a day it is…I woke up, got out of bed, saw the ones that I love and in the not mush else matters.

  53. Hey.

    nothing compares to the stuff you see in the hell of the job. people think its easy. its not. i have my own demons i collected and keep locked away for now. thanks for this though. it helps for others i think.

    steve.

  54. I have friends in this field and for the record, I never ask. The reality of the occupation is traumatic and nobody ever needs reminded of or have to re tell the tales of the shit storms they rushed into to help.
    I often see it In their eyes when something triggers a bad memory..a place..a person…or even a smell and pray the memory passes as quickly as it was triggered.
    God bless you all.

  55. I don't think the average citizen has a clue with what we deal with on a daily basis. We in law enforcement and the fire services become numb, and callous. After doing the job in law enforcement for over 25 years now, I can actually say that there is nothing I see that shocks me or bothers me. Do we have issues? Oh yeah like waking up at night reliving horrific events that might have happened years ago. I agree with Mark and this article, leave all the bad shit in our own heads, it doesn't need to come out to infect others.

  56. I have 26 yrs service in as a firefighter and 15 in EMS too. People have no clue what we go through. Always away from family on Holidays or special occassions because we chose this profession because we love our jobs. I have many sleepless nights to this day. I wake up in a sweat from some of the things that I have saw and had to be part of. I get tired of people always saying we got it made. How many of them can go 48 hours without sleep and keep working. We are a brotherhood that stands together and only our brotherhood knows what we go through. I have seen some things that would make a buzzard sick and they tell me I got it made….God bless all Firefighters, EMS and law enforcement that put their lives on the line every day for someone else….

  57. Beautifully written, thank you for all you do and writting about it. I, myself am a Nursing Assistant however, I don't ever want to have to see anything like that ever!!

  58. 7 years as a paramedic, now an ER nurse. The ghosts never seem to go away; you always seem to remember the details so vividly, the sights, the strange smells and the screams. I don't mind telling the stories when someone asks, they are meant to serve as a warning to think about next time you do something stupid or to not take life granted cause it could be you next time. They're a reminder for me to spend as much time with my family and to cherish life, you just never know.

  59. It's great you respect your friend enough not to ask, you could ask and like some of the other's have stated you would not be smelling it or hearing it. I worked EMS for 14 years and still do some work with ES. I do not sleep hardly at all, and if I do sleep it's more like a catnap, every face or name or event roams in my head. God Bless and stay safe.

  60. Just want to say thank you to all who serve be it Fire/Rescue/Police/Armed Forces! You are all blessed and may God watch over you and keep you safe! My son is a Firefighter/Medic and I do not ask because I know what he does is very difficult and I don't want the details I just want him to be safe and to make it home to his family at the end of his day. Again God Bless each and everyone one of you!

  61. I tell folks I just zone to another place. It's another life. I don't feel, I just help. but reading this, it was everything I could do not to feel and cry. I can't.

  62. Former ER nurse….I'd tell people I was a bartender. Those "stories AREN'T fiction" that was a person

  63. Long time out of the field (EMS/Rescue) for me. Still there are things I will always remember. Like many that have expressed similar thoughts here… It replays like a movie at times… Somethings I almost never talk about… but it's good to know we are not alone. That was then. Thanks for sharing.

  64. Thank you for sharing this. And thank you for all that you do every day. My son is 19, and he is a volunteer firefighter (he is working toward becoming a career firefighter). His first call was a terrible tragedy, and I worry about the ghosts he will forever have. Reading your post, and the comments from other firefighters helps because I know that he has all of his firefighter brothers (and sisters) who will understand when those ghosts are overwhelming.

    To all firefighters – words cannot even express my gratitude for all that you do, everyday. All that you have to give up, just to be there when someone needs you. And the scars that will never leave your heart.

  65. Even before I joined the military I knew not to ask those kinds of questions. I hope daily for the strength for them to continue to do the job they do every day. The military, police, firefighters, emts, etc…know hell most of us will never know. So when we sit at the er and complain the doc is taking too long for our child with the sore throat instead say a prayer for the child that was brought in via helicopter that they're fighting to save.
    The world would be better if some people were allowed to say what needs to be said like he did here. Bless everyone daily.

  66. Thank you. Thank you for putting it out there. Not being afraid to do so! My husband is a paramedic/ firefighter of 16 years.

  67. When I was a teenager I naïvely asked my grandpa what was the worst thing he saw and he told me and I never asked again. I have a friend who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan respectively and he told me a story (of his own free will I didn't ask him) when he was in Iraq and an IED went off behind him and destroyed the Hummer his friends were in and got very descriptive when telling me what happened in the aftermath of the explosion. I honestly don't know how he can get up in the morning, be around his family, work and just have this stuff in his head because he spoke about it like I would about going to the grocery store. I have nothing, but mad respect for our military and people who work the ambulances and fire trucks. Thanks to all who serve in any capacity and keep doing what you do. All the best and gods speed!

  68. I learned at a young age you don't ask tese kind of questions. My grandfather was an UDT (now known as SEALs) in WWII. I asked him once if he had ever killed anyone up close, when I was about 8. My grandmother smacked the shit outta me, only time I ever heard of her doing this, that was usually his job. She said, "You never ask a veteran that, you never ask a police officer, medic, or firefighter (which is what he became upon coming home), that"

  69. An old timer told me early on that if there is not reason to look at a face, you have no reason to remember it and haunt you in your sleep. Kids are hard.

  70. Every time I lock eyes with a firefighter or police officer, there is an unspoken agreement: "I won't ask about yours, you don't ask about mine, but we both understand that each the other has seen things we wish we could get out of our heads…" the other half of the agreement is: "But if you ever want to talk about it, I'll try to be as strong for you as you will for me…" I'm a Marine Machine Gunner…

  71. What would we do without people like you? Someone has to show up to dig the wounded out and save their lives. And someone has to be there to care for the dead. My heart breaks when I think of the sacrifice this requires of so many men and women—the emotional toll this takes on you can't ever fully be compensated with money or gratitude. I hope you can find a way toward peace.

  72. this is how I feel whenever someone calls me an ambulance driver or makes the kind of statement that was made in the story about days being spent playing checkers.

  73. I have a couple of those places too. thank you for sharing yours, maybe it will help mine.

    AS for jackwads like him, I light off on them before they even get to that question because I don't want to open those doors again except with my brothers.

    Peace my brother

  74. Or knowing that the building at which you are hacking away, breaking out the windows, cutting the roof, throwing out burnt debris, is someone's home or business. And they are watching. And you have to face them, maybe walk through the scene with them. Tell them that you and your crew did your best, even as all the tactical "what if's" run through your head.

    Yes you can make more money in the future, rebuild a structure, replace items. But it doesn't reduce the frustration and heartache.

  75. Unless you've been there you really don't get it though. Middle of the night, roll up first on scene. One vehicle fully involved. The other is a van. Driver next to the car on fire, moves, not really alert. Move on with triage. The other three people turn ito 4. Didn't see the one laying on the ground at first, belly distended because it's full of blood. They say there are three others in the van still. Kid in the back seat holdig his leg screaming it's broken, and yes it is. passenger in the front seat able to respond by groaning. The driver…he's taking his last few breaths in front of me. Takes less than 30 seconds to see all that. Helicopters and extra ambulances called for. Start getting the most seriously injured patient ready to transport. There's a huge wooshing sound and everything goes dark. The engine arrived and got the fire out. Load up and get moving to the LZ after reporting off and transferring command. They got someone out who needed the helicopter more than me, so off to the trauma center we go, balls to the wall. head back to the scene to talk to the police. Sun is coming up. Tell him that my patient seemed to be the driver of the vehicle that was on fire and had been ejected. He was rough but he'd live. Well, they say…the driver is still in the vehicle. They had an idea of who it was, but couldn't tell for obvious reasons. We could tell that the driver died on impact. It was estimated that the car was doing greater than 80 when it hit the van. It lost control after leaving the road on a pretty wide curve. The driver over corrected. Of course if they had been old enough to have a drivers license in the first place they probably wouldn't have been travelling that fast in the first place.

    So yeah, when you call 911 for a bullshit reason that doesn't require goig to your regular doctor much less the ER, don't be surprised if I don't appear to give a shit about your ingrown toenail. I save the compassion for the people who need it.

  76. dont you just want to stick the images and and smells and the echos in theur heads for just 5 minutes and then they would know the pain

  77. Thank you for this,.. As I try to type through the tears, I sometimes wonder why it took me so long to get counseling, diagnosed with PTSD and I will always see things. Once seen and done it cannot be undone. 24 years worth

  78. It all starts out the same at a party or gathering. This is my friend Bob, he's a cop, so you better watch yourself. Then the stupid stories of their life start, I got a parking ticket once, I think the cop was wrong, just because I was parked in a no parking zone next to the no parking sign, he didn't have to give me a ticket., Do you realize how much more they do, what they see? I never hear any other introduction like, this is Bill he works at a desk, you better watch your pencils.

  79. I am more than happy to pay firemen (and women) a great wage to play "Checkers and coffee all day" because I know when they do get called out is it usually for something unpleasant. Just having them available if necessary, whether they are called out or not, is well worth whatever it costs to have them.

  80. I just tell them you are welcome to do cpr on a 4 month old little girl as her parents scream save my baby and you know it's to late!

  81. Thank you for your post! As a retired crime analyst, creator of The Children's Wall of Tears (www.thechildrenswalloftears.org), I felt every word you wrote. Thank you for what you do. Thank you! Jane LeMond-Alvarez

  82. You're not alone. There are those that do understand. I've learned that trying to keep it inside, only creates havoc on your soul. Please find someone who you can talk to. You're right: PTSD is no joke. And, there are those out there that can help you. Find peace, and know how much you are appreciated.

  83. Mark – Beautifully written. I wish people could understand how stupid and uncaring those kind of questions are. I was an EMT/LPN for 10 years and and ER RN for almost 30. The ones we couldn't help are always there. God bless your for your service and may He dim the memory for you.

  84. Humor is good for the soul. That's how my dad handled the hell he went through on the job. He would tell the funny situations and stupidity of some of them. There were many that had you laughing till you cried. Those that experience this type of work, got to laugh and let their tears be shed.

  85. before I read this I was thinking about giving up my career in the fire service. ive been a firefighter since I was 16 I absolutely love my job but lately the death and destruction have really been getting to me but after reading this I realize that everyone has demons just like me thank you for sharing your story .

  86. As a firefighter and paramedic who's "been there, done that" on a similar scene (drunk driver crossed a median and hit a single mom and her four kids), I can tell you she will never go away. Even if they re-surface the road, she will never go away. Every time you go past that spot, she'll be there. Trust me. That mom is there every third day when I go by on my way to the station, and it was March, 1996. There are nights I wake up and still smell the gasoline and radiator fluid. I REALLY hate those nights.

  87. Probably all of us who answer the call could, and sometimes do tell our own stories. Not to brag or show off, but usually to others how answer the call too, to let them know that they are not alone, with their memories of a 'bad one'. Most of the time, like this person, our first thought is a quote from a movie, "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!" To the rest of you who do and have seen things that people shouldn't see, from one to another, Thank You, and may God bless and protect us.

  88. May God bless you with selected amnesia someday. I have helped on a few accidents until first responders arrive and the "little" horrors I have seen still haunt me and I always wonder, "Did they make it?"
    Two of my children are paramedics and one a firefighter (daughter) and I am amazed at how they are able to be there in the way you have described.
    There are not enough thank-yous and God Bless yous to express my gratitude for the work you do!

  89. I salute each and every one of you – Military, Fire, Police, EMT etc.. (I know I missed a few). I am not in this line of work, but many of my friends and family are. You are the real heros of the world!!!

  90. As a young man, considering going into the EMS/Firefighter fields, this was good for me to read. While I knew the job wouldn't be pretty, I did not fully grasp just how horrifying it could be. I wept as I read this. This honestly did not turn me away from wanting to join these careers, but just the opposite, made me feel a little bit closer to all who have served our falling country in one way shape or form. Thank you for this eye opening experience, May God Bless you all, and give you the strength and peace you need every day.

  91. Ture… so true. Big city or middle-of-nowhere USA. Trauma is trauma; Memories are memories; Ghosts are ghosts no matter where. I see the excitement on the faces of the new guys and I sometimes wonder how do you break them in ahead of time, before they get to "that" call? I was first at a fatal MVA where I thought I knew the teenage girl until six months later I saw her at her HS graduation. Could've been her twin. I never would've known. The housewife pacing the trailer waiting for family after her husband codes and is taken away at daybreak on Easter morning, "CPR in progress." There's nothign that can really be done for him, but she's left with herself and her thoughts and her slippers. The sleeper who got home and started supper after being on the road all week and fell asleep – your run-of-the-mill "burnt food on the stove" turned into a structure fire and he made it as far as rolling off his bed before becoming overcome by smoke. Some of the new guys test themselves by looking in the bedroom window, never seeing "a body" before. Some can't.
    We'll never be out of a job, but it would be a nice thought.

  92. 30 years on the job-lost a very good close friend to an electric vault explosion, saw things I don't want to remember, was in places I didn't want to be but somebody has to do it & I choose to be that person, stood the honor line as they brought out several of my Brothers of the NYPD after 9/11,went to some many funerals of fallen Brothers I lost count, held newborn premature twins that were so small they fit in one hand, they survived and came to my retirement to say thanks-Would I do it all again-you bet because somebody has to do it & I choose to do it-the best job in the world FF/PM- but yet people still ask how much of my time was spent playing cards & eating good meal & how much my pension is………God Bless All That Follow-just remember Be Safe……

  93. My EMS is – animal ambulance – I can relate, though slightly differently. Yep – I'm just the taxi driver. Thanks for writing this.

  94. Very moving story! And true! I remember the likes on the faces of the Apple Valley fire department when they responded to a car 'vs' motorcycle! Two biker were racing. Both going over 100 mph and the young lady that was hit died! I saw just part of what happened and wish I hadn't! To every firefighter, EMT and paramedic, thank you all for being the first to respond and for the love you show everyone, whether or not they are at fault!

  95. 40+ years as a trauma nurse in ER. You are right the events never fade. Firemen, Paramedics, Police, Military, Nurses, and Doctors, EMT's your service to humanity can never be appreciated enough. The media can sensationalize while all of you handle it with compassion and skill. I am grateful for the experiences and that I was able to contribute to saving the ones we did.

  96. My respect and may God keep you in safe waters. The really unknown heroes of everyday life…

  97. I was a EMT for 5 years before going back to college, i saw alot in ,just the 5yrs so i admire the many medics and firemen who are still at it – ppl can ask such stupid questions- why would you want to hear of anothers pain and suffering?

  98. Great read, awful story to tell. Those who have no clue, really have no clue. Thanks for all that you do to help keep us safe and being there when we the general public need you.

  99. After 30 years or so in public service, including military, police, war zone contractor, and now Coroner, your story touches me in "that place" that we like to think doesn't exist. We ignore it so we can endure what's coming next while trying to forget what's already there, in "that place." Your words have helped me heal scars I've either ignored or pretended didn't exist. Thank you from the bottom of my heart- from "that place."

  100. some people ask cos they care, some ask cos they want to pretend they are there same as pretending to be an actor in an action film,,
    its easier to joke, smile, and laugh about, to change the subject and hide the pain of memorys and loss, they couldnt understand they dont know what they want or what they are asking

  101. Thank you for sharing…I get the same question its like people are amused by what you do but when you tell them the truth (for me its life in the ER as an RN) its always the same. You cant remember what the hell you had for lunch the day before but you can remember the color of eyes the 3 year old had that arrived 4 yrs earlier who died from being beaten to death by his parent. You remember the shoes the outfit and the smell of urine on the child but god for bid you remember where the hell you left your keys.
    Respect your Fire Fighters, Police, EMT, PMT, First responders, Military, and Health care workers for they are the ones saving your sorry ass when all you want to do is run in the other direction or vomit because of the scene is too awful.

  102. I understand your horror at some of the things you have seen.

    I also feel your rage.

    You need to find someone/somehow to deal with this before it destroys YOU. Too much is bottled up, too many things you have that come out in rage and directed at some dumb drunk at a party. Find someone, please.

  103. Nowadays peoples interest have become stranger website where you can see all this gore and more. if you are really interested in this do something positive and become an emergency worker, You will quickly learn that all of it is part of the job and all these people have loved one!

  104. I used to be the guy in this story asking the questions until one day I saw an accident where a car drove off an overpass. When I looked down to see if he was OK his limbs were pointing in every direction and blood filled the pavement. I learned not to ask questions anymore and just tip my hat and appreciate people like you who do their best to save lives. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  105. Hardcore and solid, beautifully written. I sleep sound at night knowing that an un-daunting force of Police, Fire, and Ambulance are always a phone call away. I just wrote my first book Still of Darkness, it will be available this week on Amazon. It is a non-fiction Paramedic thriller. I have been involved with law enforcement and spent the last 30 years on the streets as a Paramedic in Ca.
    If you found this article enjoyable and like the raw, straightforward truth you will enjoy my book.

  106. I feel for you brother. I've been there too. Had my fair share in law enforcement and am glad those days are long behind me even though the memories will always be there. Don't bottle it up and let it eat you alive because it will. Write the memories out, talk about about them. Get them out of your system and make peace with the past. God bless you.

  107. I used to tell folks I was a social worker just to avoid the run down of questions of prior events. Ghosts…Lost count after the first fifty.. It made the job so it wasn't so fun anymore. Years and years later,,I still see them. All of them at different times and any of the locations… Left work on the last day,,in an ambulance code 3 ,,my Own heart attack at work,,,to the best heart surgeons around. Two weeks later had another heart attack, 3x bypass,,and lungs collapsed after 11 hr surgery. went into a coma for 28 days,,,and was 5 % chance to live, They told my wife and kids to say goodbye. They could not get my oxygen levels correct. Hit me with the paddles 13 times in the process of it all. I am now alive 10 and 1/2 years post coma,, and retired . Don't have to walk The Thin Blue Line,,,,anymore………… God bless all of us who do our best to leave the ghosts in the closet……. Just a Guy They Called Friendly………….

  108. You pretty much summed it up. I've been in the fire service for over 20 years and I'm so tired of hearing you guys get paid to sleep (try having the bell go off at 2am and your heart immediately races to over 200 beats a minute), you're retirement isn't fair (you try working at a job where when you say goodbye to your family before leaving for your shift, you may not come home in one piece or may not come home at all). Walk one shift in our shoes then maybe rethink what you say!! So tired of these self righteous assholes thinking they have a clue of what it takes to be a firefighter or police officer. To all those that serve, God Bless you and continue doing what you do best!!

  109. Powerful story. It's bad enough that small things like a random smell or a sound can trigger memories you'd rather not have, you don't need people dragging them out of you. I'm glad I read this because I did ask a friend of mine that very question once, he said "you don't want to know". I figured he was saying that he didn't want to talk about it so I dropped it. I have never asked that question again, I understood after the look on his face. Now reading this I know I was right on about never asking again.

  110. My son to is a paramedic/firefighter and I worry about what he holds in his head. Am so proud of him and hope that he to can cope with the demons. Thank you to all our front liners

  111. I will never ask that question again. Yes, I am one of the stupid ones who grew up in Sunnyvale who asked that same question once or twice. But never again.

  112. We get so caught up in everyday life and so tuned to a routine that we dont stop to think of others and their journeys. Today I learned just how small I am compared to real heroes like firemen and emts and law emforcement and military. Thanks for this.

  113. I fell the same way. Don't ask because you don't really want to know and I really don't want to go through it again. Thank you for putting this out there to share with others. I am working through my own demons and have started a page on Facebook called Firefighter PTSD as a way to cope and to help my brothers and sisters. Thanks for sharing your pain, I stand with you my brother.

  114. My son is a full time fire fighter. People do not understand that they do not just go to fires they go to accidents. What they see takes a toll on them and as their family it is up to us to try and ease their burden, we can't but we try. Be thankful every day that there are people like my son willing to put their lives on the line for you. They run into burning buildings when people are running out.

  115. As the wife of a fireman I often remind myself that even though he's off duty it doesn't mean that everything he dealt with while on duty is forgotten. For most of us we can check our job at the door but for the men and women in this field it's not as easy.
    Thanks for sharing…Well said

  116. assholes like that think tv is reality, i rode the trucks for 15 year ending 20 years ago,some memories and some places still affect me. thank you to all the wonderful men and women who have the guts and drive required to do this difficult but essential wrk.

  117. give all the people who do this line of work alot of respect because they see stuff that would make most people sick but they do the job and try to live with it the best they can hope they also remember all the 1s that they save not just the bad but the good that goes with it but sometimes talking about it can help vent you dont have to go into detail just say thay it wasnt good and not all made it just to get some of it off your mind

  118. Ppl walk by and look and make a funny comment like "look our tax dollars at work” which I have heard many times walking with my husband and ask that same question. Who is a vol. Firefigter don't think bout stuff that any fire fighter, emt, police, or military person sees. I am proud of my husband my father and my twin sister(all three are firefighters) and all service ppl.

  119. I didn't even have to read it. I live this every time I go to work. You know, in-between the coffee and checkers. Love you, man. Big time.

  120. Thank you, I was a medic for 8 Years. I worked 4 volunteer services and 1 paid. When my unit collided with a work truck at a 4 way stop all I could see were his eyes. His ladder went through my door and burried in my seat. I packaged him and was transported in the unit with him. After reading your thoughts I know why I love and understand my husband so….. He is retired, disabled Army. I don't ever expect him to tell me more than he is ready …. PTSD bites but never give up, some do understand it's not all coffee shops and checkers. God Bless all and thank you ..

  121. Wow! Very powerful. A huge thank you to you and all the other responders who live with these 'memories.' Every time I see or hear about these types of events, I say a prayer not only for the victims, but also the responders. God Bless every one of you.

  122. I have been "off the street" for a few years now, but I still carry my ghosts with me. I expect I always will. I hurt for them…I hurt for those they left behind…I tell them I'm still sorry there wasn't more I could do. I thank them for the lessons they taught me – that I can be stronger than my fear, that I can give more when I don't think there's more to give, that I can go on when I don't think I can. Reposez en paix, mes vieux amis …

  123. Thank you to all those in the service, First Responders, law enforcement, for what you do for the rest of us. And the sacrifices you and your loved ones make for us every day.

  124. Removing the remains of a 5 month old blond baby girl from the area behind the glove box under the dashboard. Her loving and drunk dad had taken her from the moms house, and drove his 1974 nova into a massive electric pole. 100 mph. 32 years ago. I can see it, now.

  125. 17 years as a Police Officer. 28 years total in Law Enforcement and Corrections. I have so many ghosts in my head that I have to medicate to sleep. Unless you've been there, there's no explaining it. And there's always one DB who has never risked a thing for someone else who wants to live through your stories. PTSD and Depression are a bitch… Prayers of peace to all Fire, Law, EMT, and Military members.

  126. I have been an EMT since I was 18. I'm turning 20 on Saturday. I have seen more tragedy and heartache then I can even mention. I lost many of my friends due to actions of their own stupidity and I will never forget responding to the calls…seeing their bodies mangled and torn apart or needles sticking out of them. it will always stay with me to the end of my days. people are so amazed that I'm able to do this but yet they still ask why I do what I do, especially when I miss holidays and birthdays with my family. I do it because I have to. if not me, then who else? it takes a strong person to be able to see blood, guts, and gore day in and day out. granted there are times where I have broken down and flipped out on people because they're asking too many question that hit home but I deal with it. not all calls are as tragic as this one…many of them have happen endings(I've delivered 6 babies in the back of my rig by myself since I got my license) but there are also many that end the wrong way. Firefighters/EMTs and other health care professionals do what we can to help others but there are times where it's not enough. we need people to stand beside us and to support us…not criticize us and say we should've done more. thank you so much for stating this story….it gives words to so many things I haven't been able to say.

  127. I couldn't read it. Only part.

    Thanks for doing what you do. And I will never understand people who want details…who are crass and unfeeling and twisted to ask you to relive it by telling the story. assholes.

  128. As a career firefighter, I have seen the best of people and the worst of people…..the most life touching and the most life shattering moments…..there is nothing like hearing the screams of a mother standing in the ER who just lost her baby…..NOTHING like it…..on the other hand, there is nothing like being one of the first people to lay eyes on a newborn baby girl born in a car on the side of a dark roadway, so small, fragile, and indescribably beautiful….so much death and life……so let them ask their stupid questions…..when its their time, they'll dial 911, and we will answer the call no matter what…..just like we always do…..again and again…….cause it's just what we do

  129. I am a retired cop, I've got my own stories and I still get visits in my dreams of all the fatalities and death messages I've given. The first time I assisted the Fire Fighters on a fire, I realized I wanted no part of what they do! They may have some down time to 'watch TV, shoot pool etc' but they defiantly pay for it when they go to a fire! Give them respect for what they do, I'd rather dodge bullets! Thanks Brothers!

  130. I have 2 sons, husband and ex husband that are all in the profession..I know first hand how these calls affect them. I appreciate the posting you wrote.Bless You and ALL of them

  131. When I was about 6 I hear a tremendous crash on the main highway about a half mile from my grandmother's house. So being curious I walked through the neighbor's yards as I made my way towards the sound. I got there just a few minutes after the ambulance. I watched as they raised the front of a semi and pulled an MG from under it's frame. The windshield was gone, and so was the head, and most of the shoulders of the driver. They talked among themselves as the pried at the car so they could recover the body of the driver. Yet my attention drawn to one fire crew member, who was talking to a neighbor. The neighbor left and returned with a large feed shovel. The crew man then scraped what was left of the man's head and brains from the road surface and shoveled it into what looked like a pillowcase. He then placed the pillowcase in the back of the ambulance. Even now, 50 years later, I can still see the images, and I always wondered how the response crew could live with that day after day.

  132. I broke my back on the job 9 years ago. Every day I wish I could go back to help people. However, like your story I can remember every single detail about the runs that you always want to forget. The smells, the sounds, and even what happened step by step. The runs you want to forget, but are seared in your memory.

  133. Holy shit, brother. So much of what you said echoes what I've said and thought and felt. Over a dozen years as an EMT and paramedic, and another quarter-century as a cop. I know EXACTLY where you're coming from, and I'm grateful to read what you wrote about it.

  134. This also applies for tow truck operators i know i have that place in me as well, i also say you dont wanna know thanks for this peice it helps tremendously. BE BLESSED MY FRIEND

  135. Next time someone tells you your day is spent playing checkers and drinking coffee, say "yep, lucky for you because it means im not scraping you off the pavement somewhere"

  136. After 25 years on the streets in a busy EMS system in Massachusetts a injury sideline me for the rest of my life I worked in EMS because I wanted to make a difference. I like to think that I did. We didn't save them all and I saw a lot of what man can do to another man and no call was ever the same….. similar but never the same. The good and bad became a blur, it was my job when the call came in i went into business mode and did what needed to be done. Just like the author I had my share of screaming moms and kids in cars in pain and death but I also saw compassion and caring and people who do not give up on a patient even when everything is against them. The things people in the fire service and EMS see in one bad day would overwhelm the ordinary person for life. The men and women who are working right now in your community are some of the finest, giving and kindest people you could ever meet and they have a heart and they care. They have a tough job and they signed up for it, but do not think if you see them having some down time its like that all the time because it is not the norm ,once that call comes in for the MVA or shooting or baby come now they earn every penny they get paid. and they do this 24hrs a day 7 days a week. its a thankless job for the most part but everyday they put on the uniform and do the job. So before the next time you want to ask a firefighter or EMT what was the worst call they ever saw, THINK! Why don't you ask them what was the most rewarding call they ever went to. Try it sometime and then thank them for all that they do.

  137. Ive rode a fire pumper for 22 yrs and rescue truck for 2 yrs i still remmember the facrs of the dead thats what joe citzen doesnt understand is we remmember those we couldnt save not the ones we did. We remmember the pretty girl who will never find her first love the young man who will never be a dad the baby who will never get a chance the smell of burnt fless the smell of brain matter the smell of blood the look when the light leaves a childs eyes and the cries of mothers sons fathers when reality hit them and we had to be the one who told them it feels as though you caused yhere pain like you let them down not even thinking about the fact that you almost didnt come home on this one the faces never leave you mind im glad most people dont have to see what my reality let them think it like TV

  138. A few weeks ago, my son called. Dad…he said… I could tell from the sound of his voice something was wrong. What is it?.. dad..I lost a 6 year old boy today…he was talking through tears..my heart broke for his broken heart and the child, and the parents who stood and pleaded with their God and my son, and anyone who might have the power of a miracle…save my child.. please.. please… we talked for a while.. mostly I listened… until I was sure he was going to be ok…he finally put the image away.. for a while… hopefully longer…
    He does it every day…facing things I dare not mention for fear they will become my nightmares. To all those men and women who work saving lives and dealing with these unthinkable tragedies….I pray you find peace and comfort in knowing you are truly extraordinary poeple.

  139. people never ask about the good calls
    i just remember the best when people are in major pain they look at us and say thankyou
    thats the best pay a volunteer emt can get
    GOD BLESS ALL WHO SERVE !!

  140. My mom has been a nurse for 41 years. She spent 30 or so doing Flight For Life and the rest in critical care. She has told me some of the things she has been called to. I cannot imagine having to see those scenes every time she passes where an accident occurred. The sounds she must have heard, the smells, the gawkers, the helplessness, the panic, the families, the mothers, fathers and children…..even the family pet. To the people who have never done such work, they just don't get it. It takes a lot more than to "just tell a story." They truly relive it…every time! Whether it's by passing the scene of where it happened, seeing someone that looked like the one you tried to save, hearing familiar sounds from that time (there are many times), screams, engines running, horns blowing, antifreeze leaking, shattered glass everywhere. It's no different that asking a war veteran "Tell me, what was the worst thing you've ever seen." It was mostly ALL tragic. It's not easy to do that job and it most certainly IS NOT for just anybody!! On behalf of my mother, who is not doing that part of nursing anymore, and my father who was a Vietnam Veteran, please don't ask these people to relive those things. Save them from that pain and anxiety.

  141. Thank you for all you do. I was engaged to a cop how he did it everyday is amazing to me. Stay safe and strong. Prayers for your safety sent out everyday to all of you who protect and serve us

  142. We can all tell our sad stories and our worst stories. But remember!!!
    A good day is when you and all your brothers and sisters come out alive!!
    God has blessed us with doing something wonderful and he never gives us more than he knows we can handle. I am proud to call all of you brothers and sisters!

  143. I'm still green, just goin on eight years as an EMT moving on to my Medic, the one thing they never teach you in school, the one thing they never prepare you for is the reality. Sure you can spit out a trauma and medical assessment meeting every criteria on the paper but nthin in class, no pictures no story no made up scenario's performed with moulage on the strangers that became classmates that became friends that became brothers and sister can prepare you for the reality of the world. We all have ghosts I see mine everytime I look at my motorcycle or I drive past that curve, I hear the lady in my rig scream that she's dying and to help me. Every time I see the guy whose bike was scraped but he didn't know it, every time I see the other guys prostetic or the in loving memory patches on biker cuts. I remember people asking "hey were you there?" or "what was it like" I remember finding out that she was pregnant and that. I remember feeling like I should have, could have done more. We all have our ghosts, they never go away really, we just learn to cope and eventually we learn that we did everything we could. But we all have our ghosts.

  144. F.F./Paramedic for 10 years. I seen things on calls that I'll never forget. So when I get the question. "you get paid well as a Fire Fighter. So I reply,
    " YES I do and I would be willing to work for free if you can clear my memories of horrific things ive witness. great write. thx

  145. 8 yrs. EMT/FF Technical rescue Technician III, SWAT Medic, 5 yrs. Rescue/Recovery Diver, 9 yrs. volunteer rescue. had an old acquaintance ask me at a Civilian Christmas dinner (Of all places) seated elbow to elbow, "what's the worst thing you've ever seen") As I refused for the third time to answer him, he implored aw C'mon man We're bro's you can tell me. I said Ok then, "The absolute worst thing I have EVER experienced is someone asking me to tell a gory story at a Christmas dinner with NO concern for the people around him or my feelings." I promptly got up and left.

  146. They will never understand us. They are incapable. That's why WE have to do the job. God bless Brother!

  147. Thousands of accidents, some really suicides, 7000-ish total patients later, my well of compassion ran dry.

    There were days when we'd roll-out for our first extrication @ 2230, and 150 miles later shut the truck off @ 0545 the next day.
    Worst night was waiting calls stacked 2 deep and a request for a third call with ETA for another on the Interstate, three counties and 80 miles away.
    There were nights where we could get there, and would require fuel cans to be standing by, as we'd be nearly dry.
    This was a decade or so before 24 hour gas stations.

    There's the elderly – who ignored a need for medical attention, until it's nearly too late, and there's a half-inch of ice covering everything. The same elderly who were too much a PITA for the family to see three days ago.

    There's the suicidal, who would "catch a train"… and you'd pick them up over a quarter-mile. In 104ºF heat.
    The fishermen who can't swim.
    The ice fishermen who leave nothing but a floating glove, and you're in the murk, in the cold, under the ice. Fishing for men.
    There's the dozens of SIDs babies, and being punched by parents as you can't save a child who died an hour ago. Then thankfully the medical community figured-out how to keep them from dying of sleep apnea.

    There's the hundreds of induced abortions sent home to deliver, a decade later.
    There's dealing with the substance abused mothers, who wanted nothing to do with having a child, or recognizing that child that was, came from them.
    Denial, and a rapid return to paying for crack by selling the only asset, the only skill that remained.
    Her soul.

    I'm told it's all bullshit. That no one really does, or sees or copes with this.
    "IF and this is a real stretch, this is somehow real? Let the professionals do it. You obviously aren't one.
    Seriously, if I couldn't cope with doing this? And I have no regard for you?
    So you are less-than me?
    Then you are lying. As I'm obviously superior.

    Or, you have no skills, so shut-up, and do the menial clean-up tasks you're suited-for.
    You certainly can't hold a responsible job in an office, with administrative assistants, department heads, and managers. A job where you wear a suit and tie, and hang with the pretty people like myself."

    Those are the people who believe "the government will" solve every crisis, as they've never been a part of the solution.
    That "someone from The Government" or "someone from the Authorities" will sort all this out.

    There's no SHTF moment, that a call to 911, or your favorite politician can't fix, and I mean right now.

    We have, those posting here, seen it.
    All before.
    Twice.
    Occasionally twice today.

    ~ YankeeFarmer.

  148. Been a firefighter/EMT since Jan. 2001, every time the tones drop, just as that little rush of adrenaline subsides, you think back… is this one going to be like that one…I dont know if I can take putting another 20 year old in a bag, telling a family there is nothing more we can do for there loved one, telling rubberneckers to keep going and thinking "if see this shit up close your gonna be a head case" We are sometime called cold and calloused, but if we dont see it as a "call" I dont think many could do it, 13 years a lot of shit wakes you up at night, not only the mental pain, but a lot of us have physical pain, people call me crazy because after 8 knee surgeries and possibly a shoulder surgery I have no intentions of giving it up, because my little bit of physical pain does not hold a candle to that pain of a person knowing a loved one is not coming home.

  149. Over 33 years in law enforcement. Amen, brother. One study shows that over 40% of police and fire that retire suffer from PTSD. And it largely goes untreated. It took awhile when I got married for my wife not to push when I came home from work and she would ask "How was your day?" And instead of telling her a funny story, or a problem with a computer, etc. I would just day "It was just another day."

    I lived in the city I patrolled. Where civilians see houses, cars and people safety forces see only the ghosts of things that should not been seen, witnesses to the worst of what life can offer. We don't speak of them to outsiders. We don't share them because we don't want anyone else to carry our burdens. We hope that when we die the ghosts will die with us.

  150. I am a dispatcher & although I am not on scene I am the one who these calls first hit & I call all the appropriate personnel to help. The worst comments I get are you have an interesting job must be neat…. Not neat at all to know that the person screaming on the other end of the line is in serious shape or has just lost a loved one…..

  151. Hey, lighten up. Inquiring minds want to know!!! Death, even tragic DEATH IS ALL A PART OF LIFE. No one gets out alive. People need to know these things however seemingly morbid. Its good to have open dialogue on such matters, as it is all part of the human condition. Anyone who has seen European TV will tell you : they don't pull any punches. Things are shown for what they are. If you don't like it, then turn your head from it.

  152. I went through school for EMT hoping to get a job with my city, but ended up going through, and graduating FF training for a local suburb as a volunteer. I only spent 2 yrs as a volunteer, and although I tell family and friends the reason I quit was because I only answered 1 fire in 2 yrs, the real reason is I seen way too many fatal MVA's in those 2 yrs.

    While I was dating my husband, we would run into people I volunteered with, or cops from that town I answered calls with. He once asked me why I didn't volunteer again, I still was certified, I was still in good shape, and I definitely love to help others, so why not do it again? He asked this at a fundraiser cookout for one of the other volunteer fire halls. I was trying to be polite and not answer like you did above, but one of my cop friends did it for me.

    He took my date aside and described in not so graphic detail my last call as a volunteer, a horrific accident involving 4 small kids, their young mother and her kid sister. My cop friend was the first officer on scene, and he arrived a few minutes before we did. My husband never asked me again about volunteering, or why I sometimes wake up and can't go back to sleep. I have sought help for PTSD since then, but those ghosts never go away completely. I can still hear the kids ask why mommy and aunt Brenda don't answer them. The worst part is, this was the 4th accident in a few days where little kids were hurt or killed, and they could have been prevented with proper restraints for the kids, or adults not consuming drugs or alcohol before taking the kids for a drive.

  153. After spending 31 years with the Tennessee Highway Patrol, I totally understand every word of what you said. It is sad that no matter what road you take, you can always remember that crash or the death message you had to deliver. You file it away like it never happened, yet not only do you remember each time you pass that area, you can even remember the smells, the weather and the faces and expressions on the faces if they still had one. you wake up at night or can't go to sleep and all this we do because we care. Most people wouldn't do my job for twice what I make especially knowing you may not come home at the end of the shift because some scum bag may take your life. And people want to joke about eating donuts and drinking coffee. Pull one shift as a Police/Fire/EMS and then joke about it. Thanks to all my brothers and sisters in public service.

  154. To everyone who chose the Path of Helping Others. Firefighters, first responders, paramedics, ems/emt, police, doctors, nurses, and any I may have missed.

    Thank you.

    Thank you for doing the jobs no one else can.

    There are people who are willing to help you if you need. When you need. Please, turn to them for help. You are there for us, they are there for you.

    I understand that you feel the need to get away from it all. To take a break. If that is what you need, then I support your decision.

    I know I will never understand or know what you go through. I may not be trained as you are, nor educated or licensed to help officially, but I am one of the few who will listen when you need to talk. Listening is what I do to help. Listening is how I help people.

    Sometimes, all a person needs for a moment, is an anonymous ear to listen and shoulder to lean on.

    Thank you.

  155. To everyone who chose the Path of Helping Others. Firefighters, first responders, paramedics, ems/emt, police, doctors, nurses, and any I may have missed.

    Thank you.

    Thank you for doing the jobs no one else can.

    There are people who are willing to help you if you need. When you need. Please, turn to them for help. You are there for us, they are there for you.

    I understand that you feel the need to get away from it all. To take a break. If that is what you need, then I support your decision.

    I know I will never understand or know what you go through. I may not be trained as you are, nor educated or licensed to help officially, but I am one of the few who will listen when you need to talk. Listening is what I do to help. Listening is how I help people.

    Sometimes, all a person needs for a moment, is an anonymous ear to listen and shoulder to lean on.

    Thank you.

  156. Thank you for sharing this with us. These ghost never go away. People think FF, EMS, & LEO's jobs are such a novelty. There are streets in my city I will probably avoid for the rest of my life.

  157. Being a combat vet I can understand exactly where you are coming from and how much it sucks trying to not think about it and driving by the"bad place" daily. Drive on brother and remember you always have brothers to lean on.

  158. I would like to talk to this person if he would like to talk to me…. it must be hard keeping all that inside. wondering why she is there? or who she may have been? why you? i would like the opertunity to try to help answer some of these questions and eas your mind…. most of all i would like to thank you for this post, for doing the job you do, any lesser man would not be able to do it as you can see by some of the responses you get when you tell these stories. i have a few of my own. but that is for another time. GOD BLESS YOU. THANK YOU…..

  159. I don't get why people are so morbid. I worked at a home health agency and just reading med charts was enough for me. I cried every time a patient died. I decided to quit because I'd find myself thinking about the patients while at home and drinking too much to erase it. I've seen horrible wrecks and been through things myself that I'd rather forget. I'd rather see people at their best or help them get there, but I know someone has to do the tough jobs. I really admire what you guys do, it takes a special kind of person. Thank you

  160. far too often when folks are making our military looking like heroes that they forget the true heroes that do this everyday, nto when there is just a war. After serving downrange as military and civilian I know for a fact that I would still rather be there than have your job.

  161. Reading this actually makes me ashamed of myself…I go around everyday bitching and complaining about shit that does not even.matter…It made me realize that I really have no problems..Thanks for. sharing, thanks for what you do…You are truly a hero in my book. I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for you.

  162. I will never ever forget the image of my first DOA pt.or the mess his car was in. I couldnt help but think of his family waiting for him to come home from work. I dont remember how many cars drove slowly past the scene, but it was on a well traveled road, so it must of been dozens.Moments before, he had been one of those cars.Life is not guaranteed, we all have a time to go. Dont spend precious time asking stupid questions.May God bless those of us that respect Life and the time we have. . .Thank You Mark

  163. How do you explain to your friends and co-workers why you are always tired from lack of sleep that prevents the bad dreams. The unexplained anger and sadness that accompanies the Clinical Depression you suffer from.
    The blank stare you sometimes have when a sound, or smell, or just a random free moment brings you back to the one scene in your career that haunts you every waking hour and every sleepless night where you pray for no more dreams.
    What it is truly like to suffer PTSD. How do you explain that one cold night, in a sleepy little town, a EDP takes a butcher knife and stabs a 4 year old girl 62 times while she sleeps in her bed. She then grabs her 2 year old nephew by his ankle and proceeds to slice, dice, and stab him 56 times and then drops him on the floor.
    How do you explain how one has to make the decision on choosing which one to save while allowing the other to die because there is no one else there who can help you for the 10 minutes it take for Fire/ems to arrive.
    how do you explain what it is like to hold this baby boy's intestines in with one hand while covering both his stabbed lungs with the other while trying to breath for him.
    The Academy teaches you a lot of things, but dealing with guilt is not one of the core subjects. The little girl has haunted my dreams for 19 years. I have made peace with her but like an old hard drive, her memory is still there hidden in the back where all the other bad dreams and demons of this world live.
    I teach suicide prevention as part of my job. Being a survivor of attempted suicide due to the Depression and PTSD I know that there is a new day around the corner. You just have to live to walk the path. I worked in a time where seeking help made you week and untrust worthy. you old timers know the time in which I speak. Only in the last 15 years has it become "ok" to seek help. People LIVE, and seek help.
    Find the right group and talk about it until it no longer matters and that it is no longer your demon preventing you from living your life.
    I have lost 5 friends to job related suicide in the last 28 years. Brothers and sister please seek help and live.

  164. Powerfully written. Only those that have walked can ever appreciate your honesty and graphic nature of your profession. Thank you for what you do, you and the men and women in uniform.

  165. Has anyone ever heard of "Black Humor"? I was with the KCMOPD for 20 years and I can tell you I have seen things that I can only want to get out of my head. I was in Homicide for 4 years and that in itself was a test of human endurance. When you're at the scene of something horrific you crack jokes in order to put your mind somewhere else. This is black humor. Some people call it lack of caring. It isn't. If you don't put your mind out of what you're looking at or doing you'll go crazy. PTSD is real. I have it and most people who have endured what I've seen have it too, but many don't want to admit it. Do yourself a favor. Seek help. I have and it has done some good. Good luck to you and may your pain diminish with understanding.

  166. Not all are as traumatic; but how many ODs…19 yo females pulled out of her house and left on the lawn by her friends, or the 17 yo who is at the bottom of the stairs bloody with a an empty bottle of pills, or the mom who calls because she comes home to her son unconscious with a needle in his arm..or the time you forced entry on a home where it came in as difficulty breathing and did cpr for 30+ minutes…or the time the 11yo died of heart issues…never ends.

  167. I hope, I mean GLAD you guys and gals are there if and when my family need you. Thank you!!

  168. We continue to pay Athletes unbelievable Money and those that do the hardest Jobs both physically and mentally (Firemen,EMS,Police) get Crap in comparison! Wake up America and put wages where they need to be. Oh yea most of those that work in these occupations do so because they live and consume the belief of wanting to help others,not about the Salary they get. May GOD Bless each and every one of you Walking Angels!!!!!!!

  169. God bless you! No one understands unless you've been there. My husband, son and daughter are all police officers for the same department and they never, ever get used to the senseless tragedies that surround them.

  170. This is the way I feel when I'm told "your just a volunteer firefighter". I started in 1998 as a junior and I've seen things that would make the strongest men piss the bed at night. I know exactly how he feels!

  171. Why would you ask people to relive their demons? Those who are comfortable telling usually do. Those who want to warn do so in their own way. Would you wanting me invading your life and asking about the secrets and scars you carry with you? Doubtful!

  172. This work can only be done for so long— When we hit that "burn out point" its over; and time to get out. we NEVER forget. But we've made a difference! 🙂

  173. Your response is rather callous. Yes, curiosity is natural, but telling an emergency worker to 'lighten up' is simply not appropriate. Please carefully reconsider your statement. This is not TV for these workers.

  174. Lighten up? Lighten up? what the hell is the matter with you. and if you think European TV is anything like the real thing, you are obviously part of the passive, feed me generation. Get a life.

  175. This just changed my life forever. I will never look at a police officer, emt, military or firefighter the same. Always have been heros in my eyes but now It's beyond hero. Just never really thought about things like this. I have innocent eyes that haven't seen nor heard of situtations as such. I block out the thought. Thank you for everything yall do for us. Thank you for having the strength I couldn't ever have even think of having.
    ~Nikki

  176. Lighten up, you say? When some families life has been irrevocably changed forever? Great, European TV shows it all. That doesn't mean we need to emulate it. As someone with 50 years experience in health care, I would like to tell you where to put your inquiring mind. An inquiring mind would not feed off other person's pain and sorrow. Try morbid curiosity, as a synonym. It's more appropro.

  177. We test every year. Come walk in our shoes and see if you feel the same way. Very unintelligent statement. SMH

  178. We test every year. Come walk in our shoes and see if you still feel the same way.
    Very unintelligent statement.

  179. Frederick Register, the people who do these jobs are not some type of reality TV show for your entertainment. If your "inquiring mind" wants to know then do the job for yourself and stop feeding on these people's memories like a vampire.

  180. Oh, come on. Lighten up? Just because you want to be a voyeur, find it some place else, not one of the truly brave and courageous that do the "cleanup" work. You are not doing it, are you? Maybe you should try it sometime. PTSD is no joke, and unless you have it, then maybe you would understand and leave these people alone in their nightmares. God bless all of you who are out there fighting to save our lives and the lives of our loved ones! We love you for it!

  181. I got tired of the same fucking question. I started telling people I panting lines on the freeway for a living and they would leave alone. I retired after 25 years, and know the same haunts and demons will be with me for far longer than the years I put on the job.

  182. Frederick if your "inquiring mind" wants to know then go do the job. This isn't some form of reality TV for the masses you idiot. These are real people doing jobs that 90% of the masses can't even begin to comprehend. Go back to picking flowers and weaving daisy chains or whatever your world consists of and don't make light of the realities those of us in public service deal with on a regular basis.

  183. Very well written and point on. After 34 years paid and more than that as a volunteer Police Officer/Firefighter/EMT, I, too have seen my share of the tragedy of the human condition. I have attended PTSD debriefings but the memories will be with me forever. I rarely tell "war stories" but that doesn't mean that I don't remember. God Bless all who choose our professions

  184. There are not enough words to thank you for what you do. I am sure you save more than you lose, but I know that doesn't make the demons go away. May you find a place inside that you can rest in, a place where there is no death, no pain, no marks in the pavement. Only a few can do what you do day in and day out. Find your inner strength and lean hard into it. God is in that place…only there is there peace. The scars may be on the pavement, but the wounds are in etched into your heart. I pray for that to heal for you. I know it never goes away and it never will. If I am ever in need of help like that, I hope to God that the person who kneels beside me has half of your compassion.

  185. People ask because it makes them feel like it's OK. You survived, so could I! Let's celebrate. They don't understand that they could never handle these things, they're conditioned to not see it. If they don't see it, it isn't real, if it's not real then it can't happen to them.

  186. You are obviously one of these sedentary, desk jockeys that want to get your adrenaline rush through someone else's life. I promise you that you do not ever want to hear the scream of a mother who has lost their child suddenly. You do not know and could never handle the things we see and the emotions we deal with daily. Just like the guy writing about his conversation, your idiocy and "macho" attitude really piss me off. Take the same motto you wrote and apply it to yourself. If you don't like it, turn your head from it. TV is not what it's like on scene. You don't smell the blood, oil, gas, antifreeze, and heaven forbid the smell of burned hair and flesh. Living through your TV and think you have an opinion on this is truly a pathetic attempt at being a man.

  187. You are obviously one of these sedentary, desk jockeys that want to get your adrenaline rush through someone else's life. I promise you that you do not ever want to hear the scream of a mother who has lost their child suddenly. You do not know and could never handle the things we see and the emotions we deal with daily. Just like the guy writing about his conversation, your idiocy and "macho" attitude really piss me off. Take the same motto you wrote and apply it to yourself. If you don't like it, turn your head from it. TV is not what it's like on scene. You don't smell the blood, oil, gas, antifreeze, and heaven forbid the smell of burned hair and flesh. Living through your TV and think you have an opinion on this is truly a pathetic attempt at being a man.

  188. The only thing you are right about is that open dialogue is good in the proper place such as De-escalation and counseling sessions, not at a BBQ or cocktail party. You obviously aren't in EMS or you would have a better understanding of what these men and women see and dream about or are haunted by for the rest of their lives. As a ER/Trauma nurse for 20+ years I have taken care of the survivors or potential survivors of these tragic events, because even if they make it to the hospital doesn't mean they will live. I imagine what the scene must have been like and pray the responders can forget it. I have the upmost respect for EMS/FIRE and all involved in these situations, you apparently haven't a clue. Lighten up you say, just pray you or your family don't find yourselves needing them!

  189. I myself was fire,rescue and ems this piece reminded me of the things that I had long tried to bury. There are those things that stay in your mind even when you no longer do that job. Sometimes you wake in the night in a cold sweat and a scream that sometimes is out loud because you have those ghosts that never really leave you. I can atest to the fact that this is a job that is not all fun and games. It makes me angry when you have some idiot that thinks you don't really do anything other than wait for a call. There are just some of those calls that you wish had never occurred but they did and now you have to deal with it and work through it. Sometimes the way to deal with it is to try to push it far back into the recesses of they mind.

  190. With what these people have seen , this is giving them a place to release the stress and help people understand what they have to deal with. I want to thank every one of you .

  191. A very good story,but really the worst part is rolling up on scene only to find it is someone you know or was really close to. You never forget. Volunteer member of fire/rescue company.

  192. Strong and true! I am the mother and grd mother of 2 generations of firefighters and I see the pain in their eyes when they are asked about their wasted time .THEY WASTE NOTHING! Their memories are always at the forefront each time they receive an alarm to answer!!they push the memories aside for the required actions awaiting them to save another life!!

  193. Thank you for making us think about it, now it will be a month to put the stuff back in its mental boxes.

  194. That's why after every incident, good working fire, physical rescue, or whatever, the crusty old school skipper sits us all down around the kitchen table for as long as it takes and we all talk about it. you can learn a lot sitting around firehouse coffee tables. its good having leadership that's "fully involved", and it makes a difference.

  195. Powerful and poignant message/writing. It grabbed me deep.
    I'm an ER doc now retired after 20 plus years in level one trauma centers. Now an author.

    If you have any interest I would encourage you to write fiction. You are skilled and have a compelling voice.

  196. I have been on the job as a firefighter/paramedic for 20 years. I am proud of what I have accomplished and the lives that I have touched in a positive way. We all have memories and stories that in most instances make us stronger. My problem is not with the people that ask me about the gory calls, which I like many of you keep to myself. My problem is when I am out and about I run into people that have family members that are on the job, I always get the story about the brother who sits around the firehouse playing play station all day. We are our worse enemies and critics. We deserve down time to unwind and rest but we do not need people to see us washing our POVs on the front ramp at 1400 on a Wednesday afternoon. If we want to be considered professionals then we should act like them.

  197. Frederick Register……Your a damn idot……you've missed the point entirely. Go pick up your glass of chardonnay with your soft lily white hands

  198. Frederick, you sir are a jerk. These men and women are sharing a very vunerable part of their lives so idiots like you know how to act!!

  199. @Frederic Register – As an ex-EMT and military medic – Sure there is a natural curiosity, morbid as it may be, however realize that A) the person doesn't likely *want* to re-live the incident (be honest, would you *like* your worst moments being brought up and inquired about over and over and over again?) and B) there has always been and continues to be this innuendo that firefighters and ambulance personnel (and to an extent, police) sit on their duffs a lot. Like the article says, often expressed preceding asking about these incidents, already putting the person on the defensive. Most do way more calls than most people realize under conditions that people don't appreciate, on top of which they do equipment maintenance, preventive visits, inspections, demonstrations, charity work and so on. Oh and for firefighters, there is plenty to not want to re-visit from fire scenes, as much as from accident scenes.

  200. Thank you for what you do. I was an EMT for awhile…never able to volunteer due to my day job but the skills were good for cleaning up my brother's injuries from dirt bike riding. Heading home from my work holiday party I was the first person to come across a head on collision. And the only person with any first responder training. It was my first real accident scene. 17 year old boy hit by a drunk dumbass. I did what I could under EMS got there and I was actually ok until they got there. Then I broke down on the side of the road and cried while watching them use the jaws to get the kid out of the car while hearing a paramedic say he didn't think the boy would make it. It was the first time I had seen what a broken arm and leg look like in person. It took every ounce of self control not to beat the drunkard as he belligerently tried to fight off those of us trying to help him. I learned that I could handle the job at that accident. Like my mother I do great in that type of thing until someone else takes over. Then I crash. It takes one hell of a person to be able to do that job so thank you.

  201. It is very courageous of all these people to be willing to put their lives at risk for our lives. I know I could not do it especially day in and day out. I give you all a lot of credit. From experience working in the past as a C.N.A. I know firefighters see a lot more than just fires they are sent on all kinds of calls. They are on calls that have nothing to do with fires. I'm glad they are there in any situation to help. I am so blessed to know there are people out there willing to put their life on the line to protect and save my family and friends.

  202. my nightmare came early in my 30 + yrs as a cop, 3 1/2 yr old boy (same age as my oldest) I cannot go into detail without Becomeing upset even now after all these years . The road has changed several times over the yrs. but i still see the accident scene today when i happen that way. GHOST yes quite a few ! But none as bright and vivid at age 70 as when it happened at age 25 when this child died.

  203. Anyone that's done this for a living has too many of these stories, but I look at mine as fuel to keep learning and make my skills the best they can be so I can make a difference for the next one. They died for a reason and I choose to think the are my teachers and they sacrificed as I have so that I can do a better job the next time and there is always a next time. It's not easy but whenever I'm asked about it I always just say that the kids are the worse ones that it always hurts a little more. I appreciate that they are curious and after I tell them a story or 2 they usually have a sincere look of respect for our job. About me 26 years in fire service, 23 years as a Paramedic, there is nothing that I haven't seen or done in this field of work, I have been blessed to have lasted this long and still have a few more years left in me.

  204. Are you a firefighter? I'm highly doubting it by the comments you make. You think you know what we go through? I still see the faces of children I couldn't save. I think you need to look in the mirror and tell yourself how pathetic your comments are.

  205. I too have ghosts who run thru my head, my comfort is I was there to do a job and to ensure the final moments of that persons life was lived with respect and care. Sometimes their is nothing we can do for the ones we can't help, but just being there for the family and treating thier cherished loved ones with care is comforting in the months and years after the run. ….for me and the families.

  206. Frederick, try walking in the shoes of those Firemen, or Ambulance Corp. members, Paramedics,First Aid……and YES, Death is a part of life…..when you respond to many incidents where a young, or old person is seriously injured, yu're trying your best to keep them calmwhen asking for their baby,wife,husband,girl or boyfriend who IS no alive, all these people have heart and CAN'T TURN THEMSELVES ON THESE HELPLESS INDIVIDUALS…..Frederick, I JUST HOPE SOME DAY YOU ARE NOT IN ONE OF THESE PREDICIMENTS WHERE YOU ARE THE ONE IN NEED OF A TRAGIC EMERGENCY…..WOULD YOU WANT THEM TO '' JUST TURN THEIR HEAD " AND TELL YOU WHEN YOUR LOVED ONE IS NOT ALIVE….."DEATH IS ALL A PART OF LIFE" YOU SHOULD BE TOLD….AND LIVE WITH IT! YOU ARE A MAN WITH A VERY COLD HEART, AND NO FEELINGS WHATSOEVER! YOUR DAY WILL COME

  207. The 6 week old / 4 week premi that lay lifeless on the floor. Her lungs full of formula. After a successful rececitation to lose her that night from a brain bleed that was caused from the "boyfriend" shaking her. I see that lil angel all the time, her and all the other disfigured, burned, shot or just old bodies that are left behind after the soul goes on. I was told once that God only gives us that which we can handle. It is still hard sometimes.

  208. Lighten up? You are absolutely right that death is part of life. I've been to all "those spots" (I have a favorite Oak tree) and I've dealt with "that guy" at the party before.

    Everyone in public safety has a defective gene. We run in head on to death… It's that one save, that makes up for all the bad shit and evil we have seen… and being blessed to be at the right place at the right time.

    I had a good talk with a friend's son who just graduated the fire academy and is in medic school right now. He said what's the best advice you can give me for when I do my ALS field time. I said, "Stay calm, do your best and keep in mind you could be the best trauma surgeon in the world with an awesome set of tools and people will still die on you. Don't take it personal." and then I told him if you meet "that guy" at a party… Just say I'm a Fire Hydrant Inspector working with the local Water District….

  209. I am sick to my stomach, and so sad that these people are so underappreciated. Only angels on earth could do what these people do. I'll never look at them the same way again. I pray that if I'm dying, and my loved ones aren't there, that one of these Angels will be.

  210. Also a dispatcher, 31 + years now; I know my own silent screams, and I know the screams from "that place". I may never have been on scene, but there is still more than enough in my head – the sound a knife makes as it enters flesh, the sound of fists hitting skin, breaking bones – you name it and I've heard it, still hear it.
    People ask me the same thing, "what's the worst call you've ever taken" – on a good day, my response is that you don't really want to know. On a bad day, I just cry, and tell them there are so many, I can't pick out just one.
    Thank you for sharing, much healing mojo and blessing to you and yours …

  211. i applaud you in all that you do and now for i could never stomach all that you have. my heart goes out to all of you that choose this profession and stronger than me

  212. 23+ years in Law Enforcement and 5 years with our Rescue Squad, that first night, the 2a.m. call, 10-46 (Vehicle accident with injuries) 15 year old passenger who had his head torn apart when his cousin hit that tree. Open the door and his body slides out (no seatbelt) and his brains pour out on my boots. 28 years later the Dad who goes for a pack of cigarettes and turns back in his driveway, crushing his 6 year old son under his truck tires. His boy was hidden behind the garbage can and the first thing that he knew was wrong was when he heard that THUMP. Can't forget these ghosts just have to learn to live with them. Try and make peace with them all my emergency services and law enforcement brothers.

  213. The story didn't bug me as much as I though it might. The question about how people look after getting hit by a train? People who kill (usually try) to kill themselves? Maybe it's cold, but in my twenty years, the VAST majority of traumatics do it to themselves–either because they're stupid (to get hit by a train you were probably stupid) or careless. My heart does go out to those victims who were innocent. My heart went out to my GIs who were burned in Iraq. But in my opinion, the vast number of "tragedies" I see are what could be coldly called natural selection in progress. Just because I am there as a first responder doesn't make me a hero by any means, it means I have some tools I can apply to try and improve things somehow, whether by putting a coat on the shoulders of a resident who just had their home burn down or to relieve the pain of a broken leg with morphine. Whatever else though, simply being "there" doesn't make me a hero. I reserve that term for those who act when they don't have to, and when they are truly putting their lives in danger knowing that's the case, e.g. some military medics and some civilian bystanders/cops who have really risked their lives to effect a rescue….all without PPE…and all before we could get to the scene.

  214. i joined the local small town(700 people) volunteer Fire dept … i knew it would be hard at times cause we all know eachother.. i knew i would know most of the people who have fires or car accidents that i would respond too… My first accident was a truck that got hit on the passanger door at 65… It was MY DAD AND STEPMOM… now that was a hard first CALL>. god bless they are ok now after some time but they are still here with me… thank you lord but that has to be the hardest call i was ever on..

  215. I work for a college that has police, paramedic and firefighter programs. Every year I speak to hundreds of high school students who think that's what they want to do, but I'm sure most of them have no idea what the job is really like. I can tell them all about admission requirements but I have no experience with the work, so I'm curious to hear from those of you who do. What would you tell an 18 year old kid who wants to do what you do? How do they figure out if they're cut out for it?

    It's probably an impossible question to answer, but after reading this I'd like to be able to offer them some kind of insight into what they're really choosing. What can I say to them? What questions should they ask themselves? Who should they talk to?

    What do you wish someone had said to you?

  216. I've been off the job, retired for 17 years, and still remember vividly the first time I worked on a child who had died, I cry every time I think of all the children maimed or dead, don't ever think all we do is play checkers or watch tv or just laze about the station. until you spend a few years in our boots. We don't think we are special, just doing our jobs. Love my brothers and sister firefighters.

  217. I've asked my police and firefighter friends the same question. Now I feel like a total douche.

  218. I am massage therapist in Canada and I treat many RCMP and Paramedics in the area. We have had some pretty heartfelt talks about their careers and experiences. I feel grateful to be a source of outlet for these men and woman. I am so very grateful of all that they do. They have the biggest hearts and are the most brave and strong. I have inquired about some of the more difficult call outs. But it comes from a place of wanting to understand how they cope, heal and continue on. Anyways, I have nothing but respect for the men and women in the field of protecting, saving and maintaining lives. Thank you

  219. Inquiring minds??????? WTH? Do you think you are entitled to the anguish and horor that others have to endure? If you are not directly involved then give the survivors, families, Firefighters, EMS and Law Enforcement the dignity and privacy they deserve and allow them (Us) the right to keep the ghosts that haunt our memories to ourselves. You and your "inquiring mind" are owed nothing!!!!!!

  220. I have been a medic for 20 years. 15 of it has been on a helicopter. I've seen a few sad and terrible things. Had to stop flying for a few months because I needed a break from the many child patient flights that I had in a short period of time. Sometimes you just have to suck it up buttercup or get completely out. The story pulls on the heartstrings. Makes me remember a few things but I will keep doing it because people need help on their worst day. I wrote a book to help some of my bad memories. And I wrote another one for fun and for me. Sometimes writing it down helps to heal that raw open wound in "That Place"

  221. all true my brother, 19yrs as firefighter and 22 yrs as medical first responder. The thing that makes it worse is being in a small town of about 1200 and you know most of the people in the community and still have to face this knowing the people. At the last fireman convention, we had an excellent speaker, a psycologist, married to a chief, she said we are all crazy, we run to the fire/crash when the normal response is to run away… prayers to all of our fire, police, medical, and service people that see and experience things most people cant handle..

  222. Dear Frederick.,
    It's not up to those who deal with death on a regular basis to make you or others understand what they live with on a regular basis. Death is a normal part of life but you and others like you have no right to intrude on their experiences just so you can learn something. Please keep watching European TV and, perhaps you could also buy a dictionary so you can figure out what the word "privacy" means..

  223. Like the person above me, I would like to say thank you. Having driven a lot of miles on the highways, I have seen some trauma, and I know I do not have what it takes to handle it on a daily or hourly basis. Again, thank you

  224. wow! that is gut wrenching! i have to say that the subject matter is extremely hard to think about but the beauty in the story telling is absolutely poetic. i am so sorry!

  225. Part I: I guess I cannot connect very well to this story making its rounds on Facebook, or the strong reactions of the author (or many of the commenters) in response to the person asking the “stupid” question. In fact I may be hated after this post, but in my opinion, there is nothing intrinsically heroic about our job, nor a good reason to use gory details as a vindictive tool.
    The author’s story, as well as the numerous comments that followed, exposed a lot of indignation for someone dared to question our job as it were something so special it cannot be discussed without special permission or privilege, kind of reminding me of that famous Jack Nicholson line "You can't handle the truth!" from the movie A Few Good Men. The author, writing things like The prick looks through me. I gulp down some beer… I boil… Poke me in the chest again motherfucker… “My job isn’t so fucking cute anymore is it dipshit?” didn’t make me sympathize as much as make me think that he would professional counseling to be more useful than reiterating real and feigned indignation on a public forum. The blog’s ignorant questioner was given a heaping blog-full of scorn, but what if we responded in kind to our kids, or those fun fire station elementary school class tours, when they ask us questions about our lives and work? “How dare you ask me that question kid? Go to your room! I want to rip your heart out!” I guess that saying about there being no such thing as a bad question is….out?
    The author could have honestly, maturely and professionally answered the questions instead of wearing the stories of others suffering as some sort of self-righteous mantle of honor too sublime to share with a mere “citizen.” Perhaps you could even show him some reality by inviting him for a ride-along if your agency allowed it; then again that might be scary because he might see how much hum-drum work we often really do.
    I have been asked the same sort of question many times by those who wonder about what we do, and I recognize the fact that I am being asked because most people really don’t know. Many don’t even ask because they are afraid to ask. Maybe they’re afraid to wind up pilloried on a blog somewhere. Responding to and witnessing pain, injury and death doesn't make me or my colleagues some sort of super people, nor does it earn us the right to be "awesome." If the measure of awesomeness is derived simply from being exposed to the death and suffering of innocents, then let’s go ahead and heap that awesomeness on those who truly deserve it, those minimum-wage abattoir workers whose existence daily submerges them in hellish dens of endless death, suffering, fear and dismemberment.

  226. Part II: The weird thing is many of us, after a call, might joke ruthlessly among ourselves about some patient we “killed” or about some gored out victim’s injuries, all while scarfing down pizza. Is that hypocritical? Some of us might say “That’s how we cope” but I’m not sure if I buy that.
    Fire, EMS and police work—even military—are jobs we choose. Sometimes we choose the job out of a sense of duty, sometimes for excitement, sometimes for the external pride of a uniform, badge and emergency lights, and sometimes because we're compulsive and have our own issues that we deal with best by dealing with by focusing on others.
    Perhaps we in Fire/Police/EMS, instead of expecting the public to remain politely ignorant, remotely respectful, and afraid of violating our self-imposed veneer of unapproachability, should ask ourselves “So why do people ask such questions?”
    Maybe it’s because we are a hypocritical nation, part of a larger hypocritical social system, victim to, and sheltered by, our hypocritical notions. We create fiction movies we love to watch that show fantastically gory special effects of disfigurement and injuries, special effects most us (professionals) can tell are fake, but for members of the public, appear real. In movies people die dramatically only to look peacefully asleep afterward, spectacular car crashes never trap screaming victims by their crushed limbs, shootings are ridiculously neat with victims either dropping quickly dead (or nonchalantly sporting shoulder and pelvic through-and-though wounds without permanent disability or pain), and every 911 call is a life-threatening emergency requiring lots of rushing around and dramatics instead of the reality where truly nasty calls make up a very small percentage of our responses.
    On the other hand, for some reason, when real death occurs, even if non-traumatic, our news cameras will not even show anonymous parts of the body (unless, that is, the bodies are from some third-world country). We have become so head-in-the-sand blind that even documentaries showing transplant hearts blur them out! Why?

  227. Part III: As far as descriptions of traumatic injuries, the memories, those calls, yeah, I get it. But I don’t take it out on my neighbors, and I don’t take it personally. There are a number of places I drive by quite often that trigger memories of this call or that call that I’ll never forget and yes, that’s part of the job and part of the experience. I chose it, I love it, and I accept it. No one makes me (or any of us) stay on the job. The majority of people who get torn up, shot up or burned up do it to themselves. The overwhelming percentage of people involved in car crashes are speeding, tailgating, under the influence, or not stopping when they should. The vast majority of people killed by trains bring it on themselves when they stupidly try to outrun a train or skirt a crossing bar. There is a common saying in the Southern California Fire/EMS services that “Stupidity is job security”: Even our local Honda-sponsored motorcycle safety course issues stickers that say—quite appropriately: “Stupid Hurts.”
    Regardless of the reasons for people getting hurt, I almost always sympathize or empathize with them. I hurt for those who are true victims, especially victims of the stupidity or cruelty of others. I still suffer inside for those I saw injured, tortured or killed in Iraq, but perhaps more than all the others, I am tormented by memories of those who are victims of the actions of well-meaning, but incompetent paramedics, nurses and physicians. In fact, I have lost count of patients who have died or been killed as a result of incompetent medical care: these victims haunt me because they were victims of our actions, and we (paramedics, nurses and physicians) are very rarely held appropriately accountable.
    Why do I do this job? I started it in the spring of 1993, right out of the Marine Corps, for the excitement. I enjoyed going to emergencies, driving code 3, fixing people, and being…I admit it…perceived as important and in the “middle of emergencies” others were restricted to watching as bystanders or on the news. Later I began to really empathize with victims and derive my greatest satisfaction from relieving physical pain and providing comfort. As I grew older and my own pending retirement grew more “real,” I realized what a good job I have with its numerous days off, great pay, and ridiculously secure retirement. Sometimes I'm almost embarrassed at what I have in comparison to those like my neighbors who can never be sure they won’t be laid off and who have far less certain retirements. I'm always grateful for what I've learned, even if the experiences themselves were painful.

  228. Part IV (Final): The one thing I will never accept in my line of work, where "PPE and personnel safety comes first," is being labeled a hero. A hero is someone who voluntarily does something stupidly dangerous, knowing he/she could be injured, crippled or killed while doing it, as a sacrifice for someone else’s welfare. In my 20 years on the job in Fire/EMS, 23 years of active military duty, two combat tours, and half a dozen years as a helicopter medic, I cannot personally recall a paid civilian professional whose actions were truly heroic, though I know some folks who I’m sure have what it takes. It is only in my military service where I recall heroic acts because, in the military, the mission and one’s comrades come first, while in the civilian world, by law and custom, “scene safety” and personal safety has traditionally come first (an exception is for law enforcement personnel, especially in “active shooter” situations). To me, calling us “heroes” for simply doing our jobs simply cheapens those who are truly heroes.
    Who’s a hero? Mike T., my friend's husband who, in the early morning while driving home from his job at a factory, stopped to plunge into a flaming car and pull the unconscious driver out and drag him to safety, leaving the scene without telling the police or fire units his name, and keeping silent about the whole thing, despite experiencing 1st degree burns and nightmares about the incident, except to thank God he was there to help. He’s a damned hero!
    Let’s not blame the public for being honestly ignorant, and let’s not overdo our role. Be honest, be humble, and be professional and avoid the prideful clichés. Making up reasons to get upset will not do you or those you serve, even those with naïve questions, any favors.

  229. Lighten up your ass you prick. Let's see what you think after you go though it. Oh, wait a minute that will never happen. POS' like you would never put yourself in a position where you would have to actually help anyone and you sure as hell wouldn't have the balls ayway.

  230. just tell them that if it was that easy assholes like him would be able to do it god bless you all

  231. Sometimes you do not want to bring up the images. We in the profession are not really interested in your stupid, morbid curiosity. If you like European TV then move to Europe.

  232. I have been at this a day or two and I have never had anyone talk to me or ask me a question that way as to provoke this kind of response. Hope the author gets some help of his own.

  233. my first call as a responder was to a single car accident…2 people killed on impact…2 little boys and a little girl were in the car also (their mothers were the 2 killed) along with their dads…the little girls carseat was ejected from the vehicle since it was not buckled in. she was alive and getting life flighted…when we got to the hospital, i looked in a room and saw her getting operated on…i later heard that she was getting life flighted to another hospital and passed away in transit…i called my mom bawling, i couldnt even let it sink in how these things happen…it was my very first call, and almost my last, i was ready to quit before i got started…i spoke to a couple people, and they told me, "it takes a special person to do this job. just think about the lives that were saved from that accident…you can do this, you have the heart, and the first time is always the hardest, but it never gets "easy"" from those words, i grew heavy shoulders, and continue to be an EMT. i love what i do, yes sometimes it is the hardest thing in the world, but there are times when we save lives that i wouldnt have it any other way!!

  234. Mark

    After 25 years as an EMT and a Paramedic, I can truly appreciate your words an where they come from. I think all of us that have done what we do have similar stories and experiences.

    We have all been around that person that clearly has no idea what we do and clearly has no idea that he doesn't want to know.

    We live day to day with our own demons locked away in our minds waiting for the next demon to join along, knowing it will no matter how much we hope that it won't.

    This is the part of the life we have chosen that no one ever tells you about and you either learn to accept it or you look for another career.

    We will continue to serve the public in ways they will never know and why they will never understand why we become irritated with them when they waste our time or when we don't want to answer their questions. We know each others pain and can be there for one another. We understand that we laugh at misery so that we won't cry.

    I for one thank you for this and hope you know that to those that are with you and understand you, may your demons leave you at peace, my fools not bother you, and may you continue to save the ones that can be saved while comforting the ones that can't.

  235. That young man about 17 years old driving up the hill on a 3 line high way, he was on the side with 2 lines, right after it rain and i remember the call, MVA roll over into the woods, 1st fire fighter there, right behind the cop, it was more than a roll over, 2 poles down, hit a tree, rolled over and went threw the sun roof and landed in the woods, 30 feet from his car, i did everything i could for him, everything, but the worst was washing the blood off my arms, and see his mom and dad showing up and the mother running to the squad and banging, banging, on the back of the squad and than hearing the scream, thats my son, i remember to this day… 3 hours later leaving the call and taking a shower and getting that text, hey budd, he didn't make it. never will forget its only been 2 years but i will never forget

  236. Thank you for all you do. May the Lord bless you with peace. Some soldiers serve in foreign lands, but some, like you serve every day in the streets of highways of our countries. You come to our homes in desperate moments, and never ask for thanks. Those of us who can think clearly love you.

  237. They weren't asking you what you thought. They are telling you how THEY feel after dealing with this day in and day out. They do not want to tell you because of how it affects them. so, on that note..YOU LIGHTEN UP you insensitive jerk.

  238. Frederick Register……..They didn't ask what YOU thought. They are telling you how they feel and that they do NOT want to discuss it because of how it makes them feel. so, you insensitive jerk, YOU LIGHTEN UP!

  239. After 10 years in the Army Infantry I became a paramedic/FF, I have struggled with this same encounter over the years and have learned to tell them they don't want to hear the bad stuff, but I have a top 10 list of funny/dumb calls I've ran, 3 am for a bad dream….. freezer won't close… these funny calls in the social situation lead to funny stories, laughs, and divert the "worst call" questions. I hope this helps anyone struggling to answer in this situation. Mark, you really hit the nail on the head for us whether mil, law, fire or even dispatch. Thank you for that and helping explain what the "Job" is really about.

  240. I held her hand..and I could feel how cold it was..but I could also feel every bit of perspiration coming from her pores. I wanted to leave..badly. but she begged me to stay. She was beginning to talk non sense..saying that I had beautiful wings. Asking if I'd come to take her home and if her husband would be there when I took her home. I just held her hand and smiled and asked her to describe my wings…As a distraction. But how…how can you distract a 45 yr old woman when a nurse is behind her inserting a rectal catheter. Yes..a rectal catheter. Her bowel had been eaten away with cancer. She had constant bile like diarrhea for days. We had to clean gently…but no amount of care would bring back the fat tissue that was her behind before the disease ravaged her…her labia, bleeding because the bile ate away at her skin. No..no water she said…just hold my hand please? And what's said is she was not a DNR.. you could see the bones protruding from her back and ribs..the pain as she screamed when you ever so gently turned her from side to side every 2 hrs or more due to frequent cleaning. And then she vomited…All over my Mackey mouse scrubs…the scrubs I decided to wear because the we're cheerful. The vomit smelled like ammonia…the vomit smelled like ammonia and iron…and I roll her quickly on to her back after clearing her mouth…because..guess what? She stopped breathing!! She vomits blood on me and stops breathing?? I scream out..MAM!! MAM!! HEY SWEETIE!! LOOK AT ME!!…When her eyes roll back…I'm just reminded of her family. so I begin to count pumps…I begin to count as a nurse frantically rushes to call a code…I pump and hear the pop..that wretched snap…and I see her kid…my age if not older run in..OH MOOOOM!! MOTHER!!! NO!!! and I focus solely on her…13,14,15,……the nurse comes back in and makes the son leave…but I keep thinking about my wings…the wings she saw on me no less than 2 minutes ago. 20,21,….gotta keep going…blood trickling down her mouth and the nurse suctions…yes…I want to stop because she's gone..she's not coming back…she's lost the fight this time..no matter how greedy her son was for time…I want to stop because the urine and feces and vomit and blood are just horrible…but I don't because what if? What if she comes back? What if this last pump …This last compression….that what if never comes…the Dr comes and calls it..so I stop. A leave the room and go clean my self off and change out of those stupidly cheerful damn mickey mouse scrubs! I go sit in the corner for about a minute and remember why I chose this…because to them, I'm important and may be the last face they see..sometimes my strength determines wether or not they get one more hour here…or the 3 seconds they spent dieing on a hospital bed …..it's not just emt's, fire fighters, police or even Dr's and nurses…sometimes CNA's get those memories too…. I'm not negating your trauma . I'm just saying that if you pick any career that involves the possible event of life or death and you being the deciding factor…sometimes death,,, he brings you memories you don't want. (I was 16 when I became an aide. This was my first "death"..my first broken ribs during cpr. And definitely not my last. )

  241. That was awesome and emotional. I thought about being a cop but I knew I couldn't deal with wife beaters, child abusers, accidents where children die, etc… It takes a special kind of person to be able to deal with those horrors and the nightmares they bring. We take too much for granted and don't really appreciate the cops, firefighters, and soldiers that are out there keeping our rose colored glasses on so we can continue to have our misconstrued view of the world. Thanks for all you do.

  242. It is heart breaking to think of the stories and pictures that are held in hearts and minds of someone's violent end. I would like to think though that each of the responders to these horrific events can find a bit of peace in knowing the job they did and continue to do is of most importance. They may be the final person someone sees, they gave aid when someone was full of fear and pain, and they were the first to know that someone had left this earth and the first to say goodbye and have those victims in their hearts. That is important because even if the memories are more than anyone should bear they are still memories and those victims will always live on as long as those memories do, their final moments are just as important as their beginning ones as it is all a marking of a life. God Bless as they are the ones who have the shoulders to bear this. I so wish others could put aside their fascination with this type of thing and learn the compassion of what they themselves probably could not deal with.

  243. My father-in-law passed away from complications after a fire and my husband is a firefighter/EMT and tow truck driver. I also have several EMT and paramedics in my family as well as police officers. I hear stories, but never ask. I have had to accompany my husband on several accidents to do paperwork and pictures. Many of them have given me nightmares, it's tough seeing accidents involving people the same age and younger than you.

  244. I'm a truck driverseen many thing I wishi had not seen in 14 years of driving been by some bad accidents still can't get the images out of my mind. Think about all the hurting families that just lost a family member.So I do understand and do know the services emts firefighters and police respond to. Stay strong and thanks for what you do

  245. Truly sucks. Thought about death to many time. Would go to a bar and try to drink the pain away. But that would only bring the pain out so much more. All the calls I've shoved deep down just comes up. Blood, screams, lifeless eyes, babies , the lies I had to say to comfort a family member. Freaking 26 and feel dead Inside. Feel there should be a law that you can only do this work if your at least 21 y/o.

  246. Luckily I learned the lesson of respect for firefighters/police/Mets early…when I was 13 I went to summer camp and one of the adults was an emt…one of the silly teen boys asked this question and we got an answer that I have never forgotten…it wad early in his career and he was called to a M.v.a they got the man out of his vehicle and his arms and legs were severed…when he recognized the emt as they went to high school together. ..the man begged to be shot…just kill me now my life is over and continued the rant…the emt had never forgot the screams for death by a boy he went to high school with just 5 years earlier. That story touched me and made me respect the blessed people who can handle those jobs. Your story is the same, and putting it out there for everyone to read…good! People need to use their brain and look at the full picture. I respect you all for what you do, and thank god that their are people who have hearts big enough to continue this work. God bless you all…and know that there are some of us who clearly see you for the heroes you all are!!

  247. all the fires, haz-mats never got the juices flowing the way a vehicle accident with injuries call did, after awhile they would all run together in my mind with no separation and I would begin praying for a return to quarters/false call upon dispatch, this tremendous article digs into it much deeper and more eloquently than I could ever express, so, thank you for this,and it proves to me that the best therapists for firemen are other firemen, not some ham-handed, wide-assed psychologist with squinty eyes and a pocket protector pretending they know what we feel, thanks

  248. I was on the response team after the 94 Catoosa tornadoe only 18 at the time and i had to pull my neighbors from the rouble two years later i was with area unit who responded to the Murrel building in OKC….that was one of my last calls…my wife tries to understand the night terrors and the ramblings about abas and bunker gear i sometimes make in my sleep before waking up in cold sweats but its hard to put into words things you train yourself to forget..today i showed her this article and i think for first time shes glimpsed a little understanding for me and my ecentric friends from the dept. some of them like me out of it now but still carry the scars and turn our heads when the sirens of a response team go by…great article thanks for your enduring service…..

  249. I've been on a volunteer fire department for 14 years and we cover 8 miles of interstate. I have seen plenty of terrible accidents with people all stove up, crying, screaming for help. It just surprises me how much people want to know about all the bad accidents we have seen. They don't realize that what we have seen will stay with us for years. Its been 4 years since a young friend of the family died. Everytime we have a emergence call and we drive by where the accident happened, I can still picture that night in my mind like it was yesterday. Sometimes things are better off left unsaid

  250. Very deep . And to the point. Became a paramedic back in late 70 's an have been through so many things that just mess you up inside. And until recently I tried to get help but nobody else can understand what it is that I am going through. So I live in physical sickness because I battle daily with the wars of trauma of my past from the horror of others pain an suffering, but then there are those moments that help me that I think about when I saved a life or even brought one or two into this world .

  251. After over 30 in the fire service I have been in the exact same place you describe, there is that place or places for all firefighters. When happening you set aside the horrific scene and just do your job, crawling over the dead to save the living. Pulling lost loved one's from the depths of a river. It requires an inner strength that not all can muster. God Bless All Emergency People. "Hairy"

  252. If inquiring minds want to know, let them become an EMT, or firefighter, or policeman, or nurse, or doctor. Pulling these memories from the minds of someone suffering from PTSD is not okay. Yes, death is a natural part of life, but what these people see during the course of their jobs is not "natural". Let it go. If you still want to ask the questions, become what they are and do their jobs. Then you'll know, and then you'll wish people would quit asking the morbid questions.

  253. Thank you for telling such a moving story. Even though I have friends and relatives in police, fire, emt, the military, ect. , I never really thought about it in such a way as you told it !!! I have a deeper respect for their feelings , for what they have all certainly gone through. Thank you all for being there for the strangers that you have helped . There is a special place in Heaven for you . God Bless You All !!!!!

  254. Many walk this path yet always alone it seems. Thank you for showing in fact we are not alone.

  255. I'll never forget the first child I lost. Was working in ER. Both an EMT and a nurse, my fellow Co workers brought in a child they had already been working on, giving him CPR.The grandmother called just 30 min before she called an ambulance. Concerned about his status, I told her to bring him in if she felt the need to. It was me that took that call. Now it is me who is taking care of his lifeless body. We lost the boy. I was telling this story to another nurse i was working with just couple days ago. Seemed live it was just yesterday when it happened. So vivid in my mind. Takes a special kind of person to do these jobs. God Bless all the Emergency personnel!!!!

  256. I read these words and all i can think from one brother to another be strong live on live past a keep fighting the fight as we all know to well

  257. I have had to quit being an ER/ Trauma nurse for the time being. I was diagnosed with PTSD and its a bitch. I dream about traumas and dead babies. I cant talk about it with anyone except a professional. I am so thankful for this blog. I have called my dad so many times, late at night in tears because of what i have witnessed. I have said multiple times i am thankful for our crews that "clean up the big stuff" . I am so very proud of our fire crew, ambulance crew and police…we all have our ghosts

  258. I sure hope you do not need one of these fine people to help you because if it was me I would walk off and let you try to do it and see if you can get yourself out of the mess you are in!

  259. Disabled FF that was on the medical response team for the Murrah bombing in OKC. Once we switched from rescue to recovery I was assigned to the medical examiners team. Those images alone, of that day and the ones that followed, are forever in my head. It will be 19 years in a few months and to this day every time I hear a generate running I smell the burned flesh, hear the never ending alarms, and feel the coolness of the knee deep water. I don't put those images into other minds because regardless, they don't ever leave mine. Thank you for writing this, it sums it all up very well!

  260. Prayers go out every time I hear a siren for those who are answering a call, whether it is ambulance, police car or fire department. It also goes to cover the victims. Having had a grandson work as an EMT, having trained with FEMA for helping in time of need and as a volunteer Fire Fighter when young at home where it was all we had. I saw the trauma that all these incidents can cause. My Dad was very active, which is probably why I became active in our school safety programs over the years. Blessings to all and yes I am sure PTSD is almost rampart out there. Ramon H triple blessings cousin.

  261. We all owe a death, natural or violent. This premise became reality as a 19 year old infantry soldier in Vietnam. Ten years later I experienced parallel dreads as a volunteer firefighter & EMT. Chin-up Amigo, continue to journey the extra mile for humankind, yearning to make a difference. PTSD is real. Don’t keep mental trauma bottled up, share with trusted colleagues & family. If all else fails, seek professional assistance.

  262. Tear's rolling down my face, not for me but for all of you who are out there everyday and night seeing this ,doing what u were meant to do, God Bless U All.

  263. Really you dumb ass if you think its so great and a part of life sign up on a local fire department and serve. Have the nightmares that a lot of us do. Deal with your friends death by suicide and aftermath. And then tell everyone how its part of life. So basicly sign up or sit the fuck up

  264. My brother has been an EMT and firefighter for many years. Every time we pass a certain place he looks at the ditch with an inner sadness. I know he is thinking about call early in his career. The little blonde girl, about 2 years old, lying in the ditch dead. Sent from her car when it was hit. She was not in a car seat but held on a lap in the front seat. She was so much like his little blonde 2 year old girl at the time. It broke his heart. Those memories are hard to take and shake even if they aren't the worst he's seen.

  265. I worked an Ambulance for 13 years and in an ICU unit at this time. When I am ask that questions, I answer, I don't know there are so many, is it the woman that was going to be a model and now lives with brain damage and doesn't remember what she did 10 minutes ago?, is it the baby that quits breathing?, is it the two babies in the car seats and the mother/or father is dead in the head on and you can't even tell which it is because their face is lying on their chest?, is it putting 2 teen age kids in body bags then having to go tell their parents?, Is it the seizure patient that goes into cardiac arrest because he has seized for over 30 minutes while you are trying to get him to the hospital?, or is it the overdose you are working on and the family is standing over you while you are doing everything you can to save their lives, or is it picking up your family member form an accident or the ones that have finally done the job and have committed suicide, or picking up the child who was hit by a car while riding their bike and the driver of the car keeps repeating "he just swerved out in front of me!" That usually shuts them up without going into too much detail. I still think of all of them. then you get the comment "I'm sure you are used to it by now." I reply " if I ever get used to it, then it is time to get out."

  266. I was almost "Daddy's Girl." I was 19, a Division I basketball player, and invincible. Driving back to campus after a long weekend at home with my family, I clearly remember singing along with The Black Crows when the world exploded in front of me. A semi hauling construction material jack knifed right in front of me. I came to surround by people shouting "oh my God, she's alive! How is she alive?" And the face of a paramedic and firefighter begging me not to move, but to blink my eyes if I could hear them. The fireman, slithering into the twisted remains of my car to cover me, and hold my head stable as they got the top peeled back. All of them discussing how they were going to remove me from the car, when there was a 1/2" x 20' piece of rebar that had penetrated my skull and the headrest behind me. That's the last thing I remember, until I woke up in a hospital 8 days later, and remarkably walked out unassisted 30 days later. As thankful as I am for the men and women who saved my life by making every split second decision correctly, in the middle of the interstate, 30 miles from the nearest town, in the middle of a thunderstorm, I'm sorry that they have to live the rest of their lives with that image of me in their heads, in their dreams. For all of you that have to live with those memories, please remember that for every "Daddy's Girl", there's an Ellie, who 20 years later, is the mother of 5, pulling doubles in the ER, and coaching basketball on the weekends, because of you all! They didn't save a life that night, they saved six lives!

  267. I feel for you buddy. I was a Sergeant in a south-central Ohio county sheriff's office. I was a forensic traffic crash reconstructionist and was on call 24/7 to investigate every fatal crash in our jurisdiction the last 7 years of my career. Saw way too much during my 18 year tenure.

  268. The images never go away… You see them every day when you see a 6 year old boy smiling and enjoying his life, or worse… the 6 year old boy sitting across the table while his parent is nose deep into his cell phone, not knowing the worth of the little boy sitting 2 feet away. Or every time you see your high school sweetheart who lost his 2 year old boy and you were the first one on scene with nothing but gloves and a pocket mask… But we don't focus on the images that circle in our heads. We don't expose the public to them because we know the burden they carry. Most of us suffer in silence, or through crude firehouse jokes. Then we move on and focus on the overwhelming positives… like the lady who runs to you with tears in her eyes and gives you the most awkward hug because she can hug/kiss/fight/makeup and LIVE with her husband who was once lifeless in your hands. The look of relief when you hold the hand of an elderly lady who knows it will be ok now that you are there. It is the job I love. It's a calling. Those who can hack it, will never "work" another day of their lives.

  269. My father was an EMT when he was younger, he only did it for a very short time. I remember a story he told me when I had asked why he didn't stick to being a paramedic. He told me, that it was a hard job and not a lot of people realize just how hard it is. Seeing babies and children and people in general hurt, dying, or dead takes a toll. He quit not long after being called to the scene of an accident back in the 1980's. A mother was holding her infant child on her lap and they got in a car accident. It was so forceful the infant went through the windshield and hit a tree. It was one of the worst things he said he had ever seen. It took it's toll and after that, he just couldn't do it anymore. I am thankful for having EMT's and FF and anyone else that is even remotely in the industry. If it wasn't for EMT's and firefighters, people I know, including myself might be dead. I still thank the rescue crew that came to both accidents I was involved in, but I am mostly grateful. The accident I was in back in 99 when I was a child was severe, I had overheard an officer talking to my father in complete shock as to how no one was dead, both the officer, and ff/emt that day were amazing and calmed and helped my brother, myself, my grandmother and step grandfather. So thank you, for everything you do.

  270. NUMB.. PLASTIC… FAKE.. That's the way I felt on scene's, that's the way lifeless souls looked to me. Like a movie. Nothing looked real but it was all reality… and then you go home after feeling nothing and it HITS YOU OUT OF NO WHERE. I recall crying for a kid. HAUNTS of stacking people in body bags in the back if a empty ambulance and transporting to the morgue, and every time I picked up a bag I kept thinking HANDLE WITH CARE.. THIS IS SOMEONE'S MOTHER. Everytime you drive that road tgat place your mind's eye flashes those images again, those thoughts..Those feelings… This is the unspoken of that EMS, FIRE, POLICE AND MILITARY SEE, FEEL .. A HAUNT CAUSED BY THE SIMPLEST REMINDER. JOE SMERKO

  271. NUMB.. PLASTIC… FAKE.. That's the way I felt on scene's, that's the way lifeless souls looked to me. Like a movie. Nothing looked real but it was all reality… and then you go home after feeling nothing and it HITS YOU OUT OF NO WHERE. I recall crying for a kid. HAUNTS of stacking people in body bags in the back if a empty ambulance and transporting to the morgue, and every time I picked up a bag I kept thinking HANDLE WITH CARE.. THIS IS SOMEONE'S MOTHER. Everytime you drive that road tgat place your mind's eye flashes those images again, those thoughts..Those feelings… This is the unspoken of EMS, FIRE, POLICE AND MILITARY SEE, FEEL .. A HAUNT CAUSED BY THE SIMPLEST REMINDER. JOE SMERKO

  272. As an ex-wife of a medic…I appreciate what you guys/girls go through….after living w the horrid stories and nighmares of my ex it takes a toll…the sad thing is it effects everyone in the family…something that one can never erase or change…sad but reality…keep up the good work police, fire and medics… Ty.

  273. I was the first female paid on call fire fighter in my community in 1988. I had no idea what I was getting into. By the time I retired some 18 yrs later, I know I had found the best job anyone could ever have and at the same time saddest job. Reading your story brought to memory many calls I also still see even after being retired from the job since 2006. My first of almost everything. I also have a place that I see my victim every time I drive pass it. Its so funny when you say you are still thinking about it even when you are trying not to. Even though I have some very strong memories of some really bad things, I take comfort in those I was able to help. And if I had a chance to do it all over again, I would still chose to be a fire fighter. No other job in my 45 years, has given me the joy of helping my fellow citizen as being a fire fighter. Thank you for sharing your story!

  274. Thanks for being a public servant and helping others. But, if you cant handle your job, then go do something else. You cant say that you didnt know what to expect, when you took the job. I dont feel sorry for you Buddy and I am not buying the PTSD parade thats spreading like a plague across the nation. WAR, police work, fire fighting, all of it is well known to be dangerous, gruesome work. If you cant handle it for whatever the reason, then get another job, sack up, quit fuckin cryin and tellin your stories because nobody cares. What did you expect anyway, a fucking picnic? I have no legs, only 3 fingers on one hand and 4 on the other. The last time I saw my best friend, he didnt have a face and the other guy next to him didnt have a head and guess what, I am fine with it. People DIE all the time and they get mangled, burned, blown up, shot, electrocuted, etc. . You are supposed to be a little bit better, stronger, tougher than everybody else, act like it. And the rest of you who read this and chime in with your bullshit about how mean I am and how unfeeling I am, you are just feeding the problem by feeling sorry and spreading this PTSD "gimmee a paycheck cuz I got my feelings hurt"bullshit.

  275. Death and Dying….. Seems likes it all apart of life, till you are the one faced with having to keep the beats going, or your the one holding the parent… We all are dying every dang day, but when you are faced with it as a job, Those sights never leave you, Those words never leave you….. The images are there till the next one fills up your thoughts…. Some will never truly understand what happens to the mental being of the caretaker….. It does take a special giving soul to loan out their everything to give life back, or help console those going through a tragic situation…. I have dealt with death and dying since I was 16… I have helped more than my share to the other side…. My appreciation towards our FIRE/ RESCUE, POLICE, MILTARY always, but I feel words are minimal and cheap…. Thanks for sharing this above… And thanks to all that serve and protect us always!!!!!!

  276. I wish I had thought of this answer. As a EMT/LPN/RN, Ive thought it but never really said it. You can't handle my worst even on a good day so DON'T ask me my worst ever.

  277. My first accident scene, I was 18 years young. I'm a volunteer, so we deal with the lines about "Oh, y'all just play fireman lol!" Yeah, laugh it up assholes. Paid guys know our stories all to well. We're all in it together. When your 18 years old and see two young men your age staring up at you with lifeless, drained eyes and their brains in their laps, in an intersection you drive through everyday on your commute to the local college, you know then that you are not playing fireman, and nobody paid, or volunteer, should have to deal with these issues alone. I could go on, and all my public service brothers and sisters could, but I don't feel we need to. We need to tell it to God or our shrinks, and not some ingrate that looks at us like we're a bunch of freaks. We are farmers, cops, teachers, lawyers, soldiers, electricians, plumbers, and other various professionals (in rural communities paid guys hold other jobs too, as well as the volunteers). We are not sideshows for their amusement or morbid curiosity.

  278. The thing that ended my daughter's career as a paramedic was being the one to find her father's body. She never got over it, and could not return to the job she loved and excelled at.

  279. Number one rule taught is keep the patients Identity and incidents confidential, something you learn to live by. You never know how is going to over hear you and put two and two together. You make a rule for your self, don't judge and hope God knows what he is doing. Over the years you see people that are not cut out for the job and you know that could easily be you. We go home and pray, maybe the next day will bring better memories. Some days do and some days…just don't. You just hope you did your best. For those that want to know…Join and hope you can coop!

  280. After 21 years of seeing way too much unfortunate death being a firefighter I thank you for this. All of us in the brotherhood have this place in our heads and heart that go through every event over and over. A random stranger asking you to tell them "What's the worst" has no idea what graphic images we carry with us for life. No matter how many layers of pavement they lay down, the scars never go away. I pray someday we all find peace with the scars and fools stop telling us to LIGHTEN UP!!!

  281. Thank you for sharing what the rest of us are thinking when asked the very same question. I almost hung 'em up at my 5 year mark due to a very bad season. I'm glad I didn't some 14 years later. The fact is, I got help. I appreciate you sharing in your final remarks about PTSD. It is very real & unfortunately very ignored in our business. It's not about weakness. It took more strength for me to seek help than I ever would have imagined – but I'm so glad I did. Thank you.

  282. I was in an accident December 17 1997 I was 17 years old . My best friend and I had skipped school. And were headed to a local gravel pit to do some target shooting. About 3 miles from home a dump truck hauling an excavator on a flat bed pulled out in front of me. 50mph to 0 in under a second. The motor of my pickup sat between my friend and I. I had only the strength to open my eyes for a second to see him pinned in the metal . He wasn't moving.I don't remember much from there on . I do remember the paramedics trying to keep me alert. I would ask how's Isaac my best friend? How's Isaac? They couldn't / or wouldnt tell me. I couldn't open my eyes from loss of blood no strength. Couldn't breath broken ribs. My legs hurt. Broken femur in three pieces and knee in 60 + piece's. I had been carrying railroad ties in the back of my truck for weight that winter one of witch struck me in the head as it came through my back window. Between that and the glass it pretty well scalped me. That night at hospital they had to revive me 3 times and the docs told my mom they were struggling and to prepare for the worst. After many surgeries a year of physical therapy to learn to walk again I'm alive.my Buddy Isaac he's paralized from the waist down . He know lives in Florida with his daughter and wife and we still are friends. I wrote this because I'm alive! Were alive! Thanks to men and women such as yourselves. Several years goes by I start work and I find myself sitting next to the man who used the jaws of life that day to free us from the truck. He was my new co worker. I want you to all know I was as close to death as one gets and survived but in the moment of uncertainty there was no pain and was best described as my most peaceful moment. Thank you for all that you do !

  283. I can surely understand your feelings and comments! I have been a Funeral Director for over 40 years. We 'hear' the stories but most important is to try and put the people back together for their loved ones! My worst case was when a mother shot & killed her two children & then herself. At their triple funeral the woman's brother-in-law (who was running late) came running up the steps of the church. He had a massive heart attack in the lobby & died right there during the funeral service. I didn't sleep for 3 days as I still remember that vivid account back in 1979. BUT the most horrible was when my son died. I just knew way too much, way too much! Prayers for all of us!

  284. I am a Conductor and I have been around 15 collisions, I don't keep track my wife does, I know how everyone feels, I looked a 14 yr old girl in the eyes as we killed her, I had to explain to her principal and her parents what happened. another time a pathetic mother couldn't wait two minutes it cost her and her 3 kids their lives, youtube Hammond IN, train wreck I was the train she was trying to outrun.

  285. Our oldest son has been a paramedic for over 20 years. I remember when he had a call where a baby had drowned in the bathtub while the mom was talking on the phone. The child was the same age as his oldest daughter. He also had to testify at the mom's trial. I doubt he has ever gotten over that one.

  286. Incredible message. Deep down, we "civilians" know all of you have seen the worst side of life and death. Curiosity is human nature, but most can't begin to comprehend the horrors you have seen. This is the reason firefighters, veterans, and others who take on this amazing and necessary work need to have their "brotherhoods" where hearts can connect because of the realities they've shared. This story needs to be shared. Maybe it will save one person from becoming another chapter in your dedicated lives.

  287. don't have a daddy's little girl but , I do have a mommy's little boy same ghost ……same ghost

  288. Well said brother..I've a firefighter for the last 12 years and you just described everything I go through. I see the dead bodies and hear the screams every time I drive by the scene. I love to help people and treat them like family. I would give my life to save yours. I know my wife and 2 baby girls don't want to hear that, but it's the truth. It frustrates me deeply that the City councils and politicians want to take away our retirement and reduce pay again and again. Most firefighters make just enough money to survive in the middle class and do not live much longer than 5 years after they retire because of the lack of and irregular sleep cycles, physical and emotional trauma and stresses we see and go through. We are not just firefighters… We are all risk rescuers. We must be able to make sound decisions with in seconds of arriving on scene of Haz/mat, traffic collisions, wildland fires, residential structure fires, commercial structure fires, high rise fires, medical calls ranging from stroke, heart attacks, diabetics, to God knows what, fire prevention, electrical emergencies, etc… Thank you for sharing !! God Bless you

  289. You guys have my topmost respet for the work you do , no one in goverment jobs earn their money as much as you do .

  290. Can I point out that as a Firefighter/Paramedic who knows what it is to be there, that I have read about all of you guys hiding what you have seen and felt. I'm confused why you would all like to hide your accomplishments and heroism? We do a hard job at times, but I'm fucked if saving that mum or sibling is not worth the visuals. We knew what we were going into when we applied for the job so can we please not try to milk the 'PTSD' shit that gets bounced about on far too many of these threads. I love what I do, and at times it hurts to do it, but it also makes me wobble inside with how content I am with my job. We all love the adoration that comes with the uniform, but personally I love the job more. Thats all I'm saying…!!

  291. 33 yrs on paid department and at the same time 21 yrs as a volunteer. People ask why I laugh and BS about my job, cause you don't want to hear the other side. Hell I started to tell one now and here I set balling like a baby over something that happened when I was a rookie 41 years ago. Goodnight

  292. Very real stuff, been there, done that, not nice at all. Yet, someone HAS to do it, what would life be like if no one EVER wanted to be a fireman, a doctor, a nurse, a paramedic, a police officer, what if none of those people ever existed. Think about that. Never question any of the above listed people when it comes to their jobs, just say "Thank You", and mean it.

  293. It seems you have it all figured out when it comes to dealing with death. It would be interesting to hear your personal experiences. Or some of the terrible things you have seen on European TV perhaps

  294. It would seem you have got it all figured out when it comes to dealing with death. It would be interesting to hear some of your personal experiences. Or perhaps some of the things you have seen on European TV.

  295. You seem like you have death all figured out. It would be interesting to hear about some of your personal experienes in dealing with it. Or perhaps shed some light on some of the horrible things you have seen on European TV.

  296. It seems like you have it all figured out when it comes to dealing with death. It would be interesting if you could share some of your personal experiences in dealing with it. Or perhaps shed some light on some of the horrible things you saw watching European TV

  297. Dear Anonymous, I think your answer is one of the best I read. My dad was a Deputy Sherriff for 30 years and the first maybe 20 were road patrol. He never volunteered stories but I often saw him so quiet I knew something was there. The worst thing was having to share that stuff with a gawker who wants to hear horror but never experience it. My wife has spent 15 tears mostly working as an ER nurse and she sometimes relates things that tear her up inside but mostly she keeps them from me. Thanks to all of you who can do this work.and my God bless you all.

  298. My son has CIB plates. I was driving his vehcle and stopped by a police officer. He questioned the plates – and then went on to ask me how many confirmed kills my son has, whats the worst that happened. Shocking for anyone to ask, but coming from an officer??? People do not understad bounderies, especially in this reality tv world we live in.

  299. I believe this story is about the "horrors" these brave men & women deal with on a daily basis … but continues to be "haunted" by them. Having to tell the stories because of relentless questions by others curious & morbid minds, brings that "story" back into those EMT'S & FIREFIGHTERS mind like it was yesterday…..that's something we should be very thankful for. People don't need to "hear" it …"That's all part of life" as you mentioned, they can get all they need by watching T.V. So you must not have any EMTS or Firefighters in your family…..I am a very proud Aunt of my nephew, a firefighter! ♥

  300. Thank you for sharing this powerful story…….I found it today, ironically, as today was the day I finally went to see a stress counselor…….This story closely mirrors a triple fatal I was first on scene in 2001……It has stuck with me for 13 years, along with several other critical incidents………I am so sorry you experienced that, but I won't lie, it was comforting to know that someone else shares the exact same feelings……I get the "You are a small-town cop…..How much could you deal with? Barking dogs?"……..You want to smash their self-entitled faces. I usually walk away. But you can only "bottle" so much……..Decapitation, suicides, CPR (ineffective) on a 3 yr-old special needs little one…………….I don't think these scenes will EVER leave us……..I hope you find peace, Brother………

  301. Bullshit………..The tragic scenes are personal, and not for entertainment purposes, because "inquiring minds want to know"…………You really want to know? Take a job where you will encounter carnage and devastation………..Until then, sleep easy, and let us clean up the mess……..

  302. ^^^^To the dispatcher (02/06/2014)………You guys are fully under-appreciated, and many departments do not acknowledge the stress and heart-break that you guys endure in handling distraught and hysterical people…….I try to let my dispatchers know how great they are…….As a 17 yr cop, I would just like to say "Thank you"!

  303. Very sad, but at the same time I wonder…..what is the nicest, kindest, most generous thing you have ever seen on the job? No doubt in our world now a days everything is gruesome and cold, but I like to look at the positive. Who was the person that you saved? The person who threw their arms around you and called you their angel. Tell me a warm story as those ones you should hold onto and cherish forever.

  304. Dude. Stop. You don't *have* to think about that stuff. A lot of us feel like we *should* out of respect for those that are gone, or, … hell, I don't know why. I felt that compulsion too. I felt like I *should* replay those images. It somehow felt right that I do. It felt terrible. It hurt. But it felt like the right thing, and I don't know why. But you have the ability to tear your thoughts off of that stuff. It's there. You can let go of that shit. Listen… this worked for me, but I don't know if it will for you. But you can try it. When you have those thoughts, they come with a sickening pain and sadness. The only thing that drove it away for me, was to ask myself, "do I deserve to feel like this because of what I saw?" The answer is no. I've been a good man. I served my country. I continue to try every day to be a good man, and a good man does not deserve to feel like that. Am I truly a good man? No clue. But I think I'm probably good *enough* that I just don't deserve to have that shit in my head. I don't deserve to feel that shit every time something reminds me. You don't deserve it either. So next time you pass those marks in the pavement, ask yourself, "do I deserve to go through this again?"

  305. FF for 8 years, and an EMT for 6, All I can say to my brothers and sisters is, along with our demons we must also remember the saves. Including the new born baby that was born in your rig, or the child that you saved from a burning building, or the teenager that you rescues from an MVC caused by the drunk in the back of the squad car.

  306. Frederick, the fact that people want to know is not nearly as annoying as the fact that they make snarky remarks about how firefighters play checkers all day long on the job and make shit load of money… If the questions were coming from an honest place and were asked in a respectful way, the firefighters would not get so upset about them. Your comment "lighten up" clearly shows you did not understand that part. Think about it for a moment…

  307. We run a program in Australia called Behind The Seen Australia running preventative mental health awareness sessions for emergency services personnel – thank you for your honesty in expressing what it's really like.

  308. GOD bless you sir….Louisville is my hometown and many of my family members are still there. No one outside of the police and firefighters can truly understand what they have deal with..Both physically and mentally. Thank you for your service and commitment to the citizens of Louisville. GOD BLESS

  309. In my 27 yrs of service, I hope along the way I have managed to help someone and hopefully made someones life a little better. To many terrible runs to talk about, like combat. Soldiers we are a brotherhood paid or volunteer. I care about all people, if I didn't I wouldn't do what I do. If you are having difficulty dealing with alarms you have answered give it to the the lord, there you will find peace!

  310. If you want to know grow a brain first, because you made it clear you are deficient , and then grow some BALLS and do it your GODDAMN self. Pussy. Watching it on TV is not even fucking close.

  311. Frederick, You do know that when you watch tv you're not actually in it, don't you? You don't smell the blood, you don't carry the broken body, your muscles don't ache from ripping the roof off a mangled car. What you see on TV is out there and away from you. For firefighters and others, the problem is one they carry with every piece of sensory information. Then they have to make meaning of it–not an easy jog. God bless all those who do for us what this firefighter has written about. We owe it to him and others to respect their privacy and help them any way we can.

  312. God bless all the men and women in public service postions (military, police, and fire, etc) each and everyone of you are very important and strong. People take you for granted but not me was in mva where a 4 year old boy was med flighted and died the next day. Dad thought it was good idea to drive while on psych meds, alcohol and street drugs while having 4 yr old jeremy in front seat of car with no seat belt or car seat and hit me head on at high rate of speed. RIP jeremy! Ironically my two kids were in vehicle in car seats and seat belted. The police said had jeremy in car seat and belted would probably be here today my kids survived same impact. Difference was car seats and seat belts. God bless again.

  313. "We will not be given more than we can handle." Keep going and do God's work, cuz we were given that task.

  314. Even moving thousands of kilometers away from where I was a firefighter, the memories are very real. Vivid images haunt my mind when recalled by calendar dates, sounds, smells, or even similarity (same type and colour car, etc.). It helps to know that we do it out of love. We must right? Who else would subject their sanity to the service of others unless it was a labour of love for humanity. Critical Incident Stress/PTSD is very real and I have learned that the memories will never go away. But I am somehow thankful for that. Without the memories, I would just be crazy. Somehow the memories add validity to my life. Peace and love to all my brothers and sisters on the front lines of our home countries.

  315. I cannot breath. This could have been written by my son ~ Over 25 years of service. I have spent so many years worrying about him getting hurt and never saw how much he was "hurt" every shift ~ he never said this and I have been to stupid to realize it ~ I AM SO SORRY. Please forgive me and all the other dumb "f's" ! Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your tolerance. Thank you for your service. God bless you all

  316. I'm full time ff and this is awesome! So many want to know but its better off they didn't. My wife ask all the time "how was work" I always reply " another day in paradise" when inside the tears flow. When you want to talk about to try to relieve the tension but you don't want your family to have the mental picture and worry about you.

  317. Reading your entry and these comments tonight has affected me profoundly. You all deserve respect, compassion and empathy. Thank you for everything that you do. True unsung heroes.

  318. Thank you for sharing that. I've seen some shit also. My first MVA I worked was a two car head on collison with injuries and entrapment. Seven kids, Two adults. had to bring the chopper down and airlift.

  319. There is not enough gold in the entire world to pay these men and women for what they must bear day in and day out. Words cannot even come close to expressing our thanks for your sacrifices. May all of your most horrible memories be lifted from your shoulders as you rush to save the next victim, and may God Bless you everyone!

  320. You painted a picture that reminds me of the horrors I have seen in the last 18 years as a police officer. I can remember as a rookie sharing war stories with my buddies but as the years have passed I find myself hard pressed to share them anymore. Two months ago I responded to a house fire as I came up on scene I knew if there was anyone inside it would be a recovery as there was 0 chance of survival. As I walked up I could see the firefighters trying to douse the scene. I asked if everyone made it out of the house and was told that a two year old was still missing. The smoke that came from the house was thick and dark as night and out of it came this lone firefighter cradling a small child. He rushed over to a safe area on the front lawn and CPR was started, As I watched them work on the child I looked up and could see the mom and dad in tears. I remember looking at the child and the trauma he incurred from the fire and all I could think was please God take this child. The firefighter looked at me and he gave me a small side to side nod and as sad as the situation was it was almost a relief as this child would feel no further pain. After the fire was out I went and found the firefighter who pulled the child out. You could see it in his eyes. There was a sense of defeat. All I could say to him was he gave that child a second chance by getting him out but the rest was out of his control. I shook his hand and told I thought he was a hero in my eyes and then I walked away. I wish these incidents were far and few between but sadly they aren't. 3 days ago I attended the scene of a car accident where a 22 year old kid driving way too fast struck the corner of a parked flat deck trailer. The scene was horrific. As I stood there and watched the crows and seagulls ascend on the scene as it became a smorgasbord for them all I could think was how fucked up this all is. These are not memories I want.

  321. My late uncle performed volunteer fire and ambulance service for a small town. He got called out to a double murder & suicide one night, turns out it was people we knew. Ex-husband bust into the place, shot his ex-wife and her good friend, then shot himself. My uncle had nightmares for weeks after that, and probably experienced more PTSD than he let on about.
    I don't think I could do you job, and I sure as hell wouldn't ask insensitive questions about what you've seen. I don't have enough words to adequately describe my gratitude towards emergency responders, I wish you all the courage and wellness in the world.

  322. So very much true. After 35 years in the Fire / Ems service I so understand the ghost that stay locked up in my mind. I try to never talk about it but just a ride by that place that it happened is enough to bring it back just like the day it happened. I will only talk about it with the ones that have been there, they truely understand . others just stare at you like it is made up. Thanks Brother for the words that you put on paper for others to see and hopefully understand.

  323. We just had a plane crash in our response area. It was a man, his wife and their dog. No survivors. I am a volunteer firefighter like most of us are so the part about making good money, I make none. Lets just say it was very unpleasant and leave it at that even though that's an understatement. We deal with these things through the close brotherhood we have with other fellow firefighters, but it's not something you will ever really forget.

  324. I was pissed off reading that. The whole time I'm thinking "look at you mr. big fireman, better than everyone else. Never been curious about someone else's job and asked them to tell you about it?" I'm sitting here reading this wanting to throttle the author and scream at him that he needs to see somebody to get help for the demons in his head, that he thinks he needs to impart pain on another person. Maybe rather than bottling it all up and lashing out every time some "chardonay drinking, limp-dick, sweaty handshake, zero-risk pussy" asks, it would be better to have already dealt with it. We have CISD and we have them for a reason, use it.

    And then I read that last, italicized paragraph.

    Yes, the days are (sometimes) spent drinking coffee, playing checkers, watching some TV. Yes, it is a fun job and I struggle to call it "work". Don't get mad when someone brings this up, just remind them that they get to sleep in their own bed each night. They have weekends off. Every job, every way of life has it's ups and downs. I applaud the author for bringing these feelings to light.

    If you have any of the thoughts conveyed in this blog post, PLEASE seek out your local support structure or a trained professional.

  325. 23 years in 2 volunteer 911 Fire/EMS Dept's at the same time, I have left them both. I push the same stuff down & tried to repress the memories …. It no longer consumes me every waking moment, but it still stalks me every minute of every day …. My normal is not typical of anyone, except a brother & we don't need to talk about it …. ever

  326. What kind of ignorant boor would continue to badger someone for a "worst you've seen story"? He deserved the graphic description you gave and if it made him feel sick ..well. .GOOD!! I thank you and all your brothers and sisters for your services ,and if it were up to me , all of our Military Firefighters, Police,, EMTs, First Responders would get a hefty pay increase because you are all worth every penny and then some !! My late Grandmother used to say "People think those in public service are overpriced , until they need a policed officer or firefighter ".

  327. There are ghost all over the highways here. It doesn't help seeing crosses on the highways here for reminders.. I know what you mean. I really hate it here when town folks complain about the ladder trucks we have. What do we need a ladder truck for? Because, to save that one person, maybe your spouse or children that one time is worth every penny. That is why we need a ladder truck. Great story.

  328. Yes enough said I am with you the whole way! I am ask so many times and people think it is all fun and games but they have no idea at all what us Firefighter/EMT's go through. And totally agree just don't ask me and just leave it alone on the strong ones are meant to be firefighter's and EMT, NO it's not easy to just hold it in, reply it in our heads, and not involve others as we were the chosen ones because we can handle it. We are a breed of our own. My dad told me once that what I wanted to do I really did not want to do it but I did, (he was a firefighter too for years) but did not want me subject to that but my drive I had too. Even thou I did what he didn't want me to do and even thou it comes with grief and a life of keeping it balled up inside I never for one day regretted it as I have been able to save and yes with many loss but we are strong and don't underestimate our job!

  329. I'm very green, EMT-B 2 years. I agree, they never can teach the reality of the job, the sights, sounds, and smells. My first "bad" scene turned out to be a plane crash, this, btw, was before I became certified. We pull on scene to find a small private plane that had crash landed and came to rest against the side of a house. All passengers survived with minor injuries, but just the reality of having 4 to 5 wounded at one time was mind-blowing. It was almost like a staged scenario until I realized…oh hell…this is real. Their is really nothing to prepare you for this until it happens. As others have said, you pass the road that leads to that house, it all runs through your mind again. When I pass the house where my 1st MVA fatality occurred…I think about it. We do all have ghost memories that will remain with us forever. My mom and dad did this job for 25 or so years. I didn't get into this field until my early 40's. They hardly ever talked about their bad calls at home. I always pray for a good day and try to leave the bad days at work where they belong. My wife will ask me questions from time to time but if it was a really bad call, she stops my story when it begins getting bad for her to visualize. I do love the job and helping people. I hope burn out never comes for me. I think I realize that when it's someone's time, it's their time. We do all we can, sometimes, nothing will work. People do bad things to themselves, and sometimes bad things happen to good people. My outlook is to treat every patient as if they were a member of my family, no matter who they are or what they may have done in the present or the past. I hope this never changes. When I become "unemotional" it will be time for a new job.

  330. How about you let people keep their demons to themselves and understand that things like that usually aren't shared lightly. Respect someone's decision to not share, and you and your "inquiring" (or just inconsiderate) mind can go google gore.

  331. Well said, people keep asking questions when all you want them to do is shut up. I'm a firefighter and I've been a couple of bad wrecks and it's something that you don't want to keep reliving over and over. Prayers for all my brothers and sisters in the fire service out there.

  332. Thank You! No other words would be enough! Some of us do realize how much what you do means and how hard it has to be. My daughter was a first responder for a little while and went on a call for a teen hanging. She was there when she "fell". She said she was dealing fine with it but from that night on every night I heard her crying in her sleep till she moved out. I wouldn't tell her I heard her crying and knew it wasn't "OK" because it was her demon and she had to deal with it the best she could and it was not my place to try to "fix" her. We have to respect you guys and just be grateful that you do what most can't. Thanks again for all you do and I am so sorry for all those that try to make you rehash it!

  333. My Dear Friend and fellow Brother I've seen and done all of this myself. I have tried to Commit Suicide. And I did Died but to No preveal My Fellow Brother and Sisters brought me back from that Dark Empty Place and my Heart was beating once again. I thank them for that. There is much more better reasons to live then Die. Yes it is hard to live with all of this in your head but there is Hope and help out there. Please if your feeling down and out get help there are people who will listen and care for your wellbeing.

  334. 19 year veteran of small rural company. Doing cpr on a 2.5 year old little girl that drown in a swimming pool. Doing mouth to mouth I realized her face was so cold wet and clammy on my lips and her big eyes staring into mine yet seeing nothing. I feel your pain.

  335. I have been in Public safety for around 26 years now. ( Fire , Police, EMS) I haven't "seen it all", however, I have seen too much already! I can Identify with the man that wrote this narrative. I have "been there, done that". People outside of Public Safety can NEVER UNDERSTAND the lifestyle unless they LIVE IT ! I truly believethat a real public safety worker is in a true calling in life. GOD puts certain people in specific places who he has gifted to help mankind. GOD BLESS all my brothers and sisters in Public Safety that go out into the highways and hedges and render aid so that others might LIVE ! This article helped me to realize that C.I.S.M. type interventions are critical to P S Workers after Traumatic/Mass casualties. The overall mental health of an organization is made or broken either by having or NOT having a Trained Counselor to intervene with affected workers. Follow up visits are crucial to helping others deal with any problems that may have stemmed from a connections with horrific events. BOTTOMLINE: I'm going to our FIRE CHIEF and implore him to get this TEAM up and running so he can 'HELP US HELP THEM" ( Citizenry) Pray for Us!

  336. Not to piss in your cheerios Jerrod Troyer, but until you go on your first one you have no clue. You will know when its the one… It will affect you in ways you never could have imagined. It will be triggered and brought to the forefront of your mind by the most innocent of things. You cant even begin to comprehend what its like. If my words are pissing you off, then you probably shouldn't get into this job. Because if my posting pisses you off, how the hell will you react to a drunk prick screaming and cussing at you because you had to cut his shirt and then hearing him berate and curse the family of 4 HE just killed, for ruining his night… If you join, welcome aboard and get ready for an education that is out of this world. But beware of the ghosts that when they find you, they will never leave.

  337. I remember one of my first calls. I was dispatched to an auto accident where 2 of my high school friends died from the roll over. The driver had a BAT of .15 and I knew the parents well. There was a shortage of police officers that night so I had to make the notifications to both sets of parents. This was in 1974 and it still keeps me up at night. I can still see the girl's face and what she was wearing and the boys face and all of their inside body parts and brains. I also have more, such as when I had a baby die in my arms and the worst, I had to respond to my own home to see my wife laying there dead. She had died from a sudden cardiac event and I had to respond as this was in my district. To this day I still feel like I could have done more. I was the only medic on the truck, the other 2 were EMT's Yes, I live in eternal hell and have PTSD from it all.

  338. Read some of the comments… Checkers??? Don't you just wish checkers was all you could remember about your day??? The unsung heroes… Never have so many owed so much to so few… THANKS…

  339. I recently did an interview for a juvenile fire setter as part of his program and he asked what I thought was a simple question, " What is the happiest and saddest thing that happened to you as a firefighter?" It stumped me, I could not think of anything happy, all that came into my mind was the sadness. I have helped many people in my career, even brought people back, but the only thing that comes to my mind is the sadness and hurt that people go through.

  340. Thank YOU! I'm a wife of a Firefighter. Obviously, experiencing tragedies is something that comes with the job. It is also incredibly out of line for anyone to ask the question, "What's the worst you've seen." I'm glad you wrote this piece. Fuck anyone who tells you to lighten up. Thank You, again. Stay safe.

  341. I disagree with one thing. I don't think you guys/gals are paid near enough for what you do. I can't even imagine anyone saying that you "make a lot of money as a firefighter"
    You risk your lives every day on your job and yet there are corporate executives and actors that make millions while I hear about firefighters and police officers that have to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet.

  342. Wow what a self rightous asshole, a cop firefighter doctors alwayd spit that shit and im sure its hard and horrible but fucking deal with it your supposdd to be toygh not an ass your not Suu pposed to want people to know how tormented you are

  343. I was an EMT for many years, then moved into the emergency room in hopes of a more controlled environment. It was. We received them cleaned up from what those in the field saw. To this day, the smell of burnt skin makes me nauseous 20 years later. I left the ER and went into oncology research…2 months ago at 42 with 17 years of research experience, I sat at my desk and suddenly decided to quit my job because I can't handle the death & despair anymore. I am doing a job that has nothing to do with patient care of any sort. I no longer go to funeral, wakes & services. I don't consider them a healing process as I cry the entire time when all of those thousands of patients & horrors come flooding through my tears down my cheeks. I am taking a 50k year pay cut just to be around happy people, you know what? It is fine with me. I can never turn off the first responder. ..ever. When I scuba dive, drive my car, at a grocery store, it doesn't matter crazy things seem to follow me!! I don't just have a basic first aid kit at home…oh no! it is a full on trauma kit! Again, I can't turn it off. So now I am going to sell beautiful fine jewelry at Nordstrom. But for the person asking what it is like, I don't fault them, they simply don't know. TV has sugar coated & glamorized the profession (EMT, paramedics, FF, police and military) or what "action" they see as they drive by or stand on the sidewalk. I see motorcyclist/scooters without helmets and want to scream at them put your damn helmet on! Or a parent allowing their kid to stand in a shopping cart…sit down they could fall out and get a concussion or worse. I see the military kids drinking like there is no tomorrow and have taken their keys. Going to parties I see people drinking & drinking and I ask who their driver is. I have followed so many cars & called the police to report under the influence drivers. If I can stop one person from hurting, dismember, or killing then my day is good because everyone goes home that night. Again…I can't turn it off!! Sisters & brothers you are loved <3 Please seek help for drug & alcohol abuse, domestic violence and suicidal thoughts. You are NOT alone, you are loved and I care and so do so many others. It doesn't mean you are weak you are strong and amazing for seeking help!!! Love to all, Kim

  344. When my husband had a heart attack, I called 911. When the EMT arrived he said "we're not going to touch him, he's already gone." Until I read these stories, I never stopped to think how hard it must have been for him to say those words. Thank all of you for your service.

  345. ty for what u do people want blood guts an gore stick to tv folks this fella just shared his everyday blood guts an gore hab some freaking respect an im glad u told it like it was to you an your place be well an god bless u

  346. Mike April 15, 2014 10:16 PM

    My road name is the The Terminator, I have served 15 years of law enforcement. 2 years in IRAQ, I have seen enough to last me two life times. and I am still active law enforcement. There is never a day that I don't remember all the people that I have watched die due to the mistakes of other people. drunk driving, drugs, and just plain STUPID mistakes that make absolutely no sense what so ever..MY hat goes off to our 911 dispatchers, our ambulance drivers, our fire fighters, and my fellow police officers. we never know what we are walking into on any given call…May God bless us all as we continue to give ourselves in what we do ….. THE TERMINATOR , GOD bless my brothers and sisters that serve !!!!!!

  347. Thank you for telling your (and my) story… My ghosts are as real today as they where the days they happened, the nursing home shootings, the ten days in hell after the earthquake, the little boy with the broke neck from the horse (cody was his name)… yeah i feel ya brother

  348. I just read this story after 22 years as a medic/RN. I volunteered for 17yrs as FF. I kept so much bottled up. After my mothers death, I couldn't function. ALL my demons ran wild. I sought medical treatment. Medication and I mean alot of medication finally helped. Until the very service I loved, lived and breathed turned on me. Instead of asking why I needed the meds, they only told me I was incompetent and not good enough to do the job. I even attempted to take my own life, obviously not successful. But finally, I released the pain. I saw my self as I am…not invincable, but human. I thank God everyday for the calls I ran. The good, the funny, the bad and the ugly made me who I am today. Thank you to my brothers and sisters in public service. Keep on keeping on, ignore the ignorant. Seek help and support in others. May God bless you and dim the pain the demons bring so you can answer another call.

  349. Thank you for writing this. My husband is a police officer and goes through many of the traumatic scenes you do. I know his job is not pretty at times but don't always remember the repercussions of these scenes and the forever impact it has on him. It was a reminder for me to be sensitive to what is always in his head and will never go away. I can imagine how hard it must have been to write this but hopefully through your eyes it will help people to understand and appreciate what you all do without asking those stupid questions and making you relive it. Thank you for all you do!!

  350. I am Mariam used every single spell worker on the internet, spent untold amounts of money and discovered they are all fakes…i was the fool though; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In the end, I decided that I wanted a tarot reading to know what my future held for me; I contacted a woman who lives locally to me and she told me about a man named (Priests Abija); he does not advertise on the internet, has another job for income, has no set prices, makes no false promises and refuses to help anyone that cannot be helped and even helps for free sometimes, he will give you proof before taking money. He is a wonderful man and he was the only person who actually gave me real results. I really hope he doesn't mind me advertising his contact on the internet but I'm sure any help/ extra work will benefit him.contact him here as (518) 303-6207 or [email protected] He travel sometimes.i cant give out his number cos he told me he don’t want to be disturbed by many people across the world..he said his email is okay and he’ will replied to any emails asap,love marriage,finance, job promotion ,lottery Voodoo,poker voodoo,golf Voodoo,Law & Court case Spells,money voodoo,weigh loss voodoo,any sicknesses voodoo,Trouble in marriage,HIV AIDS,it's all he does Hope this helps everyone that is in a desperate situation as I once was; I know how it feels to hold onto something and never have a chance to move on because of the false promises and then to feel trapped in wanting something
    more.

  351. Thank you… You're passion and courage are are so greatly admired and appreciated… Once again… Thank you…

  352. My Ex-Husband dumped me two weeks ago after because i accused him of seeing someone else and insulting him. I want him back in my life but he refused to have any contact with me, i was so confused and i didn't know what to do, so i had to go to the internet for help and i saw a testimony of how a spell caster helped people to get their ex back so i contacted the spell caster and explained my problem to him and he did a love spell for me and assured me that after 3days, my ex will return to me and to my greatest surprise the third day my ex came knocking at my door begging for forgiveness. I am so happy that my love is back again and not only that, we are about to get married. Once again thank you Esango Priest, You are truly a great man. He can be of great help and I will not stop publishing him on the internet because he is a wonderful man, you can reach him via email:[email protected]

  353. One doesn't even have to be a firefighter or paramedic to understand this. About 6-7 years ago I was on my way to work one morning when I witnessed an accident where an SUV and motorcycle collided. I stopped, called 911 and tried to calm the severely injured motorcycle rider as we waited for help to arrive. The lady driving the SUV was so distraught that at that moment she could not even reason to call 911. He was wearing no helmet and his leg was not in a natural position by any means. I watched helplessly as he went into convulsions. I have epilepsy myself so I knew that me trying to restrain him in a convulsion would only lead to more injuries. To this day I have no idea whether he survived or not once he was loaded into the ambulance. I continue to commute that stretch of road at least 5 days a week and that accident still enters my mind at least once a week.

  354. Nurses get to see the aftermath. In the end, we are the ones who have to clean the body up, prepare it for the family to see, stand by as support for the family, answer questions. My son is a firefighter, he sees the NOW, tells me about it. I see the after. He's right……you DON'T want to know. And for all of you wondering…..the ghosts NEVER go away. They are there, all the time, day after day after day. They never leave. They are in your dreams, your shower, sitting with you at dinner, at the movies with you, in bed with you. I can name just about everyone that crossed my path and died from the time I started as a nurse over 20 yrs ago, including my very first code. Our jobs aren't NEAT or COOL. We see the worst of the worst and we get to live with it day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. And you wonder why we can be so withdrawn at times.

  355. I would like to acknowledge all of my friends and coworkers in EMS, firefighting and law enforcement. I have been an ER nurse for 23 years. I think I heard it explained best "in 1 year we see more violence, heartache and tradgedy than most people see in a life time". I know years ago when I had a call of ems coming in with a description fitting my family I always called home. My husband used to get upset with me til he realized I only wanted to know they were safe before that rig rolled in. Sometimes I still call. He just says "we are all here-its ok" and that's all I need. There are so many ghosts in my head. I remember having to place a beautiful little girl on a cold smelly morgue slab. I can still feel the ringlets of her hair on my finger tips. Oh how many memories. Thank you all for what you do. It is an honor to know you.

  356. Thank you to all ems, fire and police. This world is all wrong. I know what all of our salaries are- yet people who drive a racecar or throw a foot ball makes millions. Just wrong!

  357. I found this by accident. All I can say is God bless you, and thank you for all that you do. I cannot believe that there are still idiots around that think you do nothing but sit around eating BonBon's all day. Of course, I live in Florida where the siren should be our state song. I have a very strong opinion on what you guys do, and it's all in awe. You guys have my deepest respect, but also my condolences. Y'all have to see much more than any human should. Thank you for your service.

  358. Richard HCFD 130
    You never know what the next call will bring. One day after 14 yrs. on the job. I became one of those calls. I had a sudden death episode. I was down for 9 mins. before the crews got to me. 3 of my fellow firefighter and 2 of our EMS crew worked me for a long time in route. I arrived at the hospital still not stable but alive. After having an AICD implanted. I was unconscious for 6 weeks. I regained consciousness when the pastor from our church began to sing learning to lean on JESUE. in my hospital room. It was about 1&1/2 years of rehab before I was told that even though I had pretty much recovered I would never return to work. I still have goust about "the bad ones. But I can remember to 2 codes that I worked and got back. One of with I see every so often. Those are the ones that really make the job worth doing..

  359. I agree, let it be shown so that the IGNORANT INQUIRING MINDS can maybe learn what not to do. But how can you tell the GOD CHOOSEN HEROES (that most likely will save your thoughtless AHOLE) to LIGHTEN UP because they will not TURN THEIR HEADS FROM IT, THANK GOD. (from the mother of one of the haunted heroes)

  360. Am Alice Logan from New York I recently saw a testimony about this spell caster,Dr ATILA before that, my problem was that, A guy i who have been dating me for 9 months departed from me because he fell in love with someone else, I was so hurt and depressed. so a friend suggested the idea of contacting a spell caster, which I never thought of myself. after i contacted [email protected] for his help. I asked him to do a love spell for me so that my lover can come back to me, but before the spell was done, I was a bit skeptical about his capacity to bring my man back to me. Only 2 days after the spell was actually cast, my lover returned to me and since then, it seems that there is no more mistrust and no more lies between us. He doesn't cheat me now. Also, I feel no heartache anymore For that reason, I will never forget the good Dr ATILA did to me, there is no word to say how grateful I am for returning my lover back to me, I am gladly leaving a testimonial on this page, his mail: [email protected]

  361. God bless. Every one of you for every awful sight, every loss, and every horrid dream that follows. There is a special place in heaven for you. Thankyou for your strength and service…. i am one who was saved by you after a horrible crash that still haunts my dreams. Just wanted to say thankyou.

  362. I have been a volunteer fire fighter in Canada for 34 years and have seen more the I want to remember. Twenty -seven years ago ( I remember because my wife was pregnant) I had to respond to a child not breathing just down the road from where I lived. I was first on scene and started CPR on the nine month old. Things did not turn out well and to this day I still can tell you what the child was wearing. I went home after the call and hugged my wife and cried. I almost quit that day but my wife told me I did everything I could but I still wondered. Yes we have our bad calls but I now try to remember the ones that turn out positive. When I get asked that question I just say " you couldn't handle it " because if you could you would have been there with me

  363. 30 years of trying to help people as a firefighter,one year riding on with the paramedics.Was it the best career that I have done,or the worst.More have gone to the other side,than I have saved.PTSD.Roads,places,things,people,brings back @ times these ugly feelings of helplessness.

  364. Well, it's a whole different world working from an Engine, a transport unit, or working dispatch. I did 38 years, out of a house. No admin for me. (I would have gone nuts at a desk). Finally I had to retire as too many body parts were not gonna let me do it any longer. I loved my job! I have a head full of "scenes" that stay with me, as anyone would. I never shared anything with my family. When I got home, I would wipe my shoes on the front door mat and say to myself, "That's where I'm leaving it". Then smile, go in and enjoy my home and family… There;'s our strength, folks. If my wife or kids asked, I'd tell them that we helped some people that were hurt. That's all they needed to know. Like someone else said, our demons are our demons. I have a head full of various tragedies, like most of you. It's good to know you're not alone, and in fact, in some great company. All you can do is all you can do. Do healthy things and stay active!!!

  365. So glad you came thru everything! God bless you and your family for all that you have done and continue to do in your next endeavor.

  366. Oath Keepers all. Public servants. We live (and re-live) the nightmares so everyday Joe and Kathy never have to see them. Covering up bodies, scraping body parts from the pavement, contacting next of kin "Mrs. Smith, there has been an accident – do you have someone that can drive you to the hospital?" The smells. Blood, vomit, alcohol, burning flesh…Death has a smell, you know? It's not clean or sterile. The screams of the wounded or dying coupled with the screams of parents, spouses, loved ones being told their family member is never coming home. They get confused sometimes. In my brain. Especially when I sleep. They forget they are supposed to stay in my head. They wake me up. Coming from my throat. Yeah. There comes a point, when you serve in the same community for so long, that there is no way to leave the house and not pass a horror. So each day you put on your big girl panties and uniform, put on a calm expression and clamp down the lid on any emotions because they don't exist on the street. There's a job to be done.

  367. I am a retired paramedic. I have seen really bad stuff and I have ran the gamete of emotions for calls I have been on, mad, sad, even grieved some of them. But like deceased family members, I think of them occasionally and sometimes say a prayer for them but if that crap I just read is running through your head you are in the wrong business.

  368. My Daddy's girl accident was on the Beach line in Orlando Fl on Christmas eve, Young girl driving to the airport to go see her mom and dad for the holidays was hit head on by a drunk that just got out of jail 5 hours earlier. I spent the day after xmas at the hospital with the family as they unplugged their daughter from life support…I travel the beach line very often to see family on the east coast, every time I pass mile marker 24,…I am grateful that we were able to to keep her alive long enough for her family to get here and say goodbye….almost 20 years ago and it still haunts me to this day…

  369. Thanks for putting how I feel into words. You blog is easier to share than for me to explain to people about what we do, how we feel, and what we go thru

  370. After seeing so many tragedies, try not applying it to your life. When a mom dad and son leave a perfectly normal house to go out for ice cream, the second son decides to stay back. When the three return they find their son and brother committed suicide. They call 911 but its much too late for us to do anything. The mother who I know looks at me and says WHY?? he was a great son, a great student, well liked by everyone, no drugs, no alcohol, no known demons. How do you answer that. How do you not go home to your family, look at your own daughter who is close to the dead boys age,and not ask if she is OK. After all it happened to these parents who had no signs, they thought everything was OK. You discuss it with your daughter just to make sure she is OK. Then she asks you, Dad, do you think that little of me? No honey I don't but I love you that much. This is just one tragedy, these happen day in and day out. Nobody on the outside knows how it affects each and every , EMT, Paramedic, First Responder, Firefighter and ER staff. Please Think before you make statements that you will regret or ask questions that you really don't want to hear the answers to.

  371. My Daddy's girl accident was on the Beach line in Orlando Fl on Christmas eve, Young girl driving to the airport to go see her mom and dad for the holidays was hit head on by a drunk that just got out of jail 5 hours earlier. I spent the day after xmas at the hospital with the family as they unplugged their daughter from life support…I travel the beach line very often to see family on the east coast, every time I pass mile marker 24,…I am grateful that we were able to to keep her alive long enough for her family to get here and say goodbye….almost 20 years ago and it still haunts me to this day…

  372. Sometimes people can be so sheltered and judge us. I went to a family gathering and one of my relatives neighbors kept prying about we are over paid, riding the coat tails of 9-11, blah blah blah. So he asked me when was the last fire your went to being a smart ass about the amount of fires we go to. We just had a guy hit a median on the freeway and burn to death so we had to extinguish the car and pry him out for the coroner later. He was cooking chicken on the BBQ and after I described it, he could not eat since I gave him the R rated version. We need to do a better job of marketing ourselves in the fire service and taking care of our brothers/sisters.

  373. I became a cop at 20 and retired at 42. I had an old lady ask me what gave me the right to be retired at 42 while she is 63 and still working. I had to explain to her that I saw more disgusting, horrific things by the time I was 23 years old than most people could ever even imagine. I MADE her listen to one story that wasn't nearly the worst but I didn't want her to stroke out on me. I walked away and left her in tears. And, I didn't even give her a chance to apologize….

  374. Was the backbone to get them help can still remember many emergency calls with screaming asking for help making the right decision on who, what,where, when and why to send to call was also in the first responders field saw a lot helped a lot also lost a lot but I loved helping people!

  375. I read this story and know that as Firefighters/Paramedics/EMT's/Police Officers, we are the only ones who truly understand this. It amazes me how many times people will say to me after finding out I'm a Firefighter, "you guys just sit around and play xbox all day. Must be nice to be a Firefighter". Yeah, must be nice to get that chance to unwind after I just finished cleaning up from an accident call on the freeway that took the life of a child who is also my sons age. Must be nice to miss holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and school plays because I am needed on the Fire Engine. Must be nice to try and go back to sleep at 3 AM after my shower from the 3-hour fire I was just on knowing that when I get off shift in a few hours, I had already promised my son that I would hang out with him for the day even though I've had no sleep the shift before. Must be nice to see the disappointment in my families eyes when I tell them I got mandatoried for an overtime shift because someone was sick on a day that we had plans to go to the movies. If you dont know what we do and what we sacrifice, the nightmares we often have and the horrible memories that now haunt us, then you have no right to judge what we do. I have worked a 60-hour week, every week for the past 16-years. I can tell you that after the day is over (usually around 4 PM if we aren’t on any calls) then we get a chance to unwind and relax as best as we can, cause you know why? We have earned it. You may say “well, you chose to be a firefighter”. Your right, I did. At the age of 19 I chose to be a Firefighter. I trained my ass of and worked very hard to get to where I am at. So don’t tell me “if you don’t like it, find something else to do” because we do not quit. Especially considering the amount of blood, sweat and tears it took us to get here. I love my job, even after 16-years. But know that we are NOT overpaid to sit around and play xbox all day. God bless all of our first responders and thank you all for what you do and the sacrifices you make!

  376. I don't know how you people do what you do every day, in may 2008 I lost she was only 11 years old. the very first person that came on scene (I did not know until later) was an off duty EMT gentleman. he and his family were on his way to his Mother's it was Mother's Day…I had no idea who this man was and he did not know me or my daughter….he stayed with her holding her head and spine straight until they were able to cut her out of the car….. he then told me later in a letter he wrote to me. that said I did not know your Daughter but something would not allow me to leave her .I just wanted you to know I road with her in the ambulance to the hospital and worked along beside the DR. I am so very sorry I couldn't save her. but i just wanted to let you know she was not alone I was with her….till this day I still have this letter….GOD BLESS EVERYONE ONE OF YOU !!!!!! THANK YOU JUST IS NOT ENOUGH FOR ME FOR ALL YOU DO

  377. Ive been a voulenteer firefighter for 3 years now and ive got. Plentyvof friends in the fire service as well i can only imagine what my best buddy goes through rolling up on an accident with a 19 year old girl doa and know that she was in you high school class only one year prior

  378. Well why don't those inquiring minds join a dept. And find out first hand. Then they can have their own stories to tell.

  379. God bless All the firefighters, police, and EMT's. I tried to raise my children to show respect for what they go through everyday. THANK YOU for all you do. God be WITH YOU ALWAYS!

  380. As a firefighter who has gone though some of the same situation. My daughter was killed in an accident where my friends and coworkers had to cut her body out of the car with the most respect and care. The problem as I see it, lack of education to the public. The poor pay the physical mental and emotional stress on a firefighter .

  381. Maybe you missed the point of maybe you're the guy holding the wine glass…. What was written is not about the incident as much as the impact of what WE do on a daily basis and how it stays with US. We are human and unless you are a heartless human, the situations we encounter stay with us far longer then the call for service does, daily… It's not about lightening up it's about an unspoken reality. Frederick, if you've ever been in this situation, I'm sure you will agree.

  382. the two year old girl I did cpr on who bounced on the bed out a second story window, into a pile of lumber and concrete, waiting and waiting for someone else to arrive to help me..( I was a sleeper at a small fire department) , the ride in the ambulance ,pushing on her little chest, the emotion,helplessness and agony as the medics wheeled her into the emergency room as I stood outside by myself and cried……….the mother on highway 46 in her small pickup who was hit head on by the cadillac Eldorado, who's head broke like an eggshell, who my partner tried to help as I picked the glass out of her two year old son , who, thank god, was in a car seat……………the two guys in the mustang II who tried to pass and hit a duelly gas truck;how the one guys legs were bent over his head and his lifeless eyes were wide open……driving by the same spot 20 years later knowing my friend Mike was also killed there with his wife and infant daughter when some piece of shit tried to pass a semi and pushed it into mike's lane ………the teen age girl on highway 280 in sunday afternoon traffic who was thrownout of her car and run over by it as it rolled ……. PSTD IS VERY REAL , AND IT DOESN'T ALWAYS COME FROM COMBAT…….people always tell me I think to often of the negative…..there's a reason…life can be all too short….the job makes you all too cautious …..

  383. I was a volunteer medic for about 2 years during college, and I was one of the lucky ones who never had anything horrific happen on my shifts. Now I'm a dispatcher for the local Sheriff office, Fire, & EMS. This story shed so much light on the looks of the guys faces when they get back from the hell I know I sent them to. And is a solid reminder why I try not to ask too many questions, only enough to finish my logs. And let them vent if they need to. Thank you. And thanks to the other FDs & Medics out there doing the horrific shit no one else can. But always remember the thin gold line has your back.

  384. I live with thoughts like these everyday and every night of my life since a became a volunteer EMS worker for our small town. Yes I put myself through that and didn't get paid because someone had to help. In the future just tell them thank you and ask him about his family……..just NOT his job.

  385. I just lost a very dear and special brother firefighter and EMT after almost 30 years of service… more sad than any of the tragic calls I've done..please please my brother and sister firefighters, don't let the demons win. Seek help…there are those of us that want to help both you and ourselves.

  386. As a brother of the FD, thank you for the article. It's powerful and true for so many of us. I feel the same way when I get asked that dreaded question. For the longest time, I couldn't explain to my wife why. She's proud of the work I (and we) do and respects what we see and endure. After all, she has first hand real world experiences of what it's like to be with someone in the service. When I read your article, I thought "I have to show her". I did. What you said was right on point and speaks for so many of us. Thank you. Stay safe.

  387. Instead, when one finds out that the person with whom they are speaking is Fire/Police/EMT/Military: just shake their had and say a huge heart-felt thank you. Really, truly, thank you.

  388. My husband is an EMT-P (paramedic for those not well versed) and he doesn't like to talk about a lot of his bad accidents. I remember one in particular where a 3 year old little boy drowned in our town. He refused to talk about it. The only thing I could do was tell him "I'm here if you need me. No questions asked. You don't have to talk about it. I can just be a shoulder if you need it." He has told me several times he won't tell me what he's seen, for my protection. I am an ED nurse(ER for those who don't know), so I have my own demons, but I know for a fact he has seen much worse, because they don't bring the already dead to the ED. I don't see the decapitated and dead on scene, but I have seen my share of death as well. I don't ask him to tell me anymore. I will be his shoulder if he needs it, no questions asked, because I know that his demons are worse than mine, and he sees them everywhere he goes, while mine are contained to a small section of a building, and I can leave mine at the door. I will never ask someone the worst thing that they've seen, because I know what it does to the psyche. I know what it looks like when they've been on a bad call and can't sleep for the horrific nightmares.

  389. I work at an ice cream place and anyone in uniform (ex. Police, Firefighter, EMT, Soldier, ect.) that comes in gets ice cream for free. We know that they do more than just drive around. All of them deserve to be treated with respect for putting their lives on the line both physically and mentally.

  390. Early morning hours. Chilly and heavy fog. A guy is driving to work in his pickup truck. 2 deer shoot out into the road. One crashes through the windshield and out the back window. The truck flies off the road, down an embankment and into a stream. We extricate him and carry him up the embankment. EMS begins CPR, but we all know he's gone. Worst part is, later we find out he was a firefighter from a neighboring town.

  391. I just read this and am amazed. Thats the real shit we deal with within our own thoughts. Tough.
    Working a 10 yr old who drowned on fathers day hearing his dad screaming as he tried to get to him. Those screams cannot be reproduced

  392. I learned my lesson young, that you really don't want to know what a first responder has seen. My older Brother was a member of our town's volunteer Fire Dept and the First Aid Squad and one evening after a call I asked him several times to tell me about it.He kept telling me no,that I didn't want to know, but I kept nagging him like a typical 12 year old. He turned and looked right at me and said " how do you think I feel after handing a dead baby out a window of a burned out apt". My heart broke for him as I saw the pain on his face. Needless to say I never did that again, to anyone. I grew up with respect and appreciation for all First Responders, for the job they do and the heavy emotional load they carry with them.

  393. I worked and accident that didn't seem that bad at first but the car she was in was driven by a drunk driver. Ran a red light . busted her spleen and she died on the operating table. However in the ER she looked up with big brown eyes ans sad to me please don't let me die.That was back in the 80's I still she her face to this day.

  394. Its not only those who respond to the scene who has those people inside their heads. I was a 911 operator, and I still have the screaming voice of the mother who's 12 year old daughter had hung herself from the bunk bed. That one never goes away.

  395. 40 Years a FF/EMT-Retired. In the hood or busy interstate area. There are a lot of spots, Daddy's/ Momma's little girls and boys. Buildings refurbished after losing Brothers in them or someone's loved ones.
    Now days, I get "thanks for your service." But, it usually is followed by "tell me the worst…." I've learned to say, "thanks for your tax dollars/support.." The next answer is, "I burned the turkey on Thanksgiving! Nothing like the shift being pissed at you for doing that!" I'm usually not asked anymore after that.

  396. My 19 year old best friend's suicide with his mother, sister and younger brother… holding on for 6 and a half hours with seemingly super human resolve as a 12 gauge 00 buck plus sabot Magnum round emptied part of his chest cavity. A 23 year old exgirlfriend failing to negotiate a sharp turn at 68MPH… finding her decapitated head 30+ feet from the scene. A drunk father running from THP hitting a culvert over 140mph ejecting his three children, ages 2, 5, 9. Only the father survived…I found the 5 year old in a tree some 170 feet to the south of the scene… it took 2 hours to get him out.

    This was my first 18 months as a firefighter… I had just had my second child.

    My wife would always ask how the calls went… when I didn't answer, or couldn't answer, she'd push and push. I finally shared my hell. She has never asked again. Instead, she hugs me, reassures me that what I do is important, and prays. I have been on a LOA for two years for personal business… I wake up in a cold sweat, heart pounding… still hearing screams and cries for hours into my waking consciousness. It never goes away.. and if you seek help, you are treated like a leprositic pariah.

    So you suck it up and move on to the next call, and continually operate in an emotionally detached state… devoid of humanity… until you break.

    Did I mention the exgirlfriend still had the promise ring on her finger I gave her when we were 14? With our names engraved on the band.

  397. 40 Years a FF/EMT-Retired. In the hood or busy interstate area. There are a lot of spots, Daddy's/ Momma's little girls and boys. Buildings refurbished after losing Brothers in them or someone's loved ones.
    Now days, I get "thanks for your service." But, it usually is followed by "tell me the worst…." I've learned to say, "thanks for your tax dollars/support.." The next answer is, "I burned the turkey on Thanksgiving! Nothing like the shift being pissed at you for doing that!" I'm usually not asked anymore after that.

  398. Ah, those demons. They poke their heads out so matter of factly, as if to say, "Normal? Nah bitch! I'm still here!" I was a volunteer firefighter and EMT for just over 3 years. I saw more than my fair share in that short amount of time. My first ride along with EMS was to our trauma hospital. Room 9. Trauma room. Bullet riddled body laying there as if to say "This is what you signed up for" followed by compound fracture, a few nursing home runs and an assistance call. The night I graduated high school there was a house fire. A man was freebasing cocaine and blew up the house. Neighbors said his daughter was inside so 2 of my firefighter brothers went in for a search and rescue. Behind a bedroom door they came upon a round object about the size of a child's head. It ended up being a ball but the guys came out white as a ghost and so shaken they had to seek counseling. Those are the stories I choose to share. We all know how the others go. The concrete slab where a home once stood. The cross on the side of the road. The deflated mylar balloons and once fluffy stuffed animals at the makeshift memorial. Civilians see that. We see the actual incident. We live the incident. We have an ongoing internal battle with the incident.

    Godspeed my brothers and sisters. Fuck you demons and ass clowns who want to know about "the worst". Fuck you.