A child’s death is never easy for the first responder, who has to experience it up close and personal. A friend at work related this personal and touching story about her experience at this type of call.
When she was sixteen, her 2-year old brother suddenly passed away. About eight years ago, this officer was working patrol and in her mid-thirties when she and a sergeant were dispatched to a call involving a dead child.
When she arrived on scene, she saw the child’s body in the bedroom and was instantly filled with the painful memory of her brother’s death all those years ago. The agonizing memory was made worse by the child’s family being there, which reminded her of how her mother had felt.
In that instant, the memory flashed into her head of performing CPR on her brother’s lifeless body as she tried to breathe life back into him. The memory of him lying in his coffin also flashed into her head like a bolt of lightning striking into her heart.
The officer had to get out of the house because she needed to separate herself from the situation. Distance was her friend and the only thing that was going to help her at this moment. Distance from the death, pain and grief that this house symbolized to her. She told the sergeant about her brother’s death and that she needed to be alone for a few minutes.
She quickly got out of the house and sat alone in her patrol car as she cried. She had no one to talk to at this painful and personal moment, which had just flooded back into her mind after seeing the dead child.
After a few minutes she composed herself and was ready to go back in. I asked her, “What did you do?” She replied, “I went back in. I had to handle the call.”
She went back into that house, which had been an emotional trigger and did what we’re supposed do. That was to be strong when others needed us to be.
All first responders have gone through similar emotions at one time or another while at work. Our job is not to stand by. Ours is to be strong, despite the tragedies we have experienced at work or in our personal lives.
This is what makes the first responders special. We are still doing the job that has to be done even though our emotions might be fighting an inner battle.