Tonight I was dispatched to a call of a possible car vs motorcycle. Turned out to be the guy on the bike fell out. He was non responsive. We started CPR and did all that we could. The time came that i should have been the one starting but I froze. I feel bad that I did this. I would like some advice on how to make this seem better.
There comes a time in everyone's career that this happens. If you beat yourself up over this, it could happen again. Talk to someone you trust. Besides being a volunteer, I'm an ER RN. We were working a code recently and I was sent out to talk to the family. When I walked back into the room, I blanked out. I just stood there apparently holding my breath. I don't remember standing there doing nothing. I do remember my supervisor telling me, more than once, to breath. The next code we worked scared me. In the back of my mind I kept thinking, "What if I do that again", and you may think that too later on. Fortunately, I haven't since, but the time may come that I do. I don't know what caused it anymore than you probably do. Again, talk to someone you trust. Your chief, a co-worker, you pastor, anybody, just talk.
I saw by your profile that you haven't been at it for very long.
I'm not one of those guys who will tell you that "it" will get better.
I will tell you that you haven't seen your worst one yet.
Is this one the first "bad" one that you have been on or is the first time that you "froze"?
When we roll on MVAs with injuries, we do all that we can medically, but when the injuries are catastrophic, all that we can do may not make a difference in the outcome. It may come down to the victim's over all health and a higher power. You may be the one giving them their last rites.
As you gain experience, you will develop a mental toughness that will allow you to process what you have experienced, find a place in your mind where you can store it and prepare for the next one. Because, as long as you stay in the service, there will always be a next one.
It's OK to have feelings and to show emotion; just not at a scene. We have to be the strong ones. We are the ones who have to show calm.
When the run is over, go back to the station and talk with the others who were there.
You may find that they feel the same way and by talking through it, you will GET through it.
Remember that your mental health is every bit as important as your physical health, because one can affect the other.
You're here and that's a start.
With it said as you are fairly new to the Fire/EMS Services it can quick and easily ruin good people. The biggest thing any Firefighter-1 or EMT class is missing is the emotional side of our responses. New people are usually thrusted into incidents that they are "excited" to handle given the new training they just completed. Your organization has a moral obligation to assist you through this event. You see, seek out a fellow confidant within the organization, someone that you can trust and seek help with what you describe as why you "froze". There can be many reasons to have this occur, it could be emotional, you know not expecting to see what you saw, was it gruesome, etc. or it can be much deeper with this being a trigger to events that have emotionally effected you in the past, but you may not consciously know it yet. We carry alot of baggage in the emergency services, it all get stored away in our heads. Therefore, seek out someone and talk about the call, your feelings, and the incident. Look to how things happened and why you may have frozen. If it was deeper than not being prepared for the sight of the incident, than outside help may be needed. Critical Incident Stress Debriefing or more. All things that are free and your department's EAP should have access to if needed. Whatever you do, do NOT just bury it or absorb it in temporary feel good things like alcohol, as it will resurface again in the future and at times be far worse. Talking is the beginning to finding the root of the problem...
Everyone here makes a good point... You've only been doing this job for a year. If this was your first "dead guy", now you know what to expect and I bet you'll perform better on the next one. We all have some degree of fear or apprehension on this job, and anyone who says they don't are either lying or just crazy. Bottom line, no matter how long we've been on the job, you never know when that one incident or event will make you stop in your tracks for whatever reason. It's what you do after that, or how you overcome your apprehension. In the academy I'm sure you learned about CISD. If you need to talk to someone, do it. If your F.D. has a Chaplain, talk to him/her. It's more helpful than keeping it all bottled up inside. I hope this helps...stay safe!
Thomas, it's a lot easier walking up to the rescue dummy and starting CPR, than initiating rescuscitation on a real person for the first time.
I also froze the first time I should have initiated CPR. I had had CPR training and recertification, but up to that time had never had to actually DO it. So I retreated and waited for others to show up. After this experience I vowed to raise my level of training so that I wouldn't be caught off-guard again, and I took the next available EMT class.
That was 20 years ago, and since that time I've either initiated or assisted with CPR on countless occasions. I've concluded that it's just something you get accustomed to doing, and I'm also convinced that everyone has to go through that first time, to get their "feet wet", so they can be ready to roll the next time.
In my case we had a 80-ish person with extensive heart history whose time had come, and CPR would not have made a difference. I suspect that in your case, severe and extensive trauma was present, and CPR will never overcome such injuries.
I think it is good to talk about this, and I have no doubt that you will be ready to go next time.
Hey, don't beat yourself to death about it...we all have been in situations where we feel we should or could have done better, the question is, did you learn something? What have you done to make sure it doesn't happen again? I can tell you we are not SUPERMAN, every once in a while we fall short of what we think we should be able to do...I remember a burn case I had, I felt helpless not being able to stop the patient pain, but I went back home after the run and went back to my medical books to see if I could have done anything else, quess what? I could not have done anything....You do what you are trained to do....if you feel didn't do all you could, then volunteer on more calls, I did to get over my fear..
It's going to happen. I remember when I had to do CPR for the first time, I found myself doing compressions with one hand and helping the medic intubute by giving cric pressure with the other. Then when we went to shock the patient, I stopped compressions and nearly forgot to resume. She didn't make it but I won't forget the way she looked while we were getting the order to stop. I kept thinking that I didn't do enough because she died when I was the one giving compressions. The other guys told me I did a really good job for being a newb but it was still hard. I know that in this field, you will always feel like you didn't do enough or something when really you're a hero to everyone else
We beat ourselves up everytime we lose someone we all think that there is more we could have done. Whats interesting is that there are a lot of times when we could/should have done more on the pt's that make it. That is a topic for another thread though. The more you train, the more you get exposure the more it will just be more automatic. There are so many distractions at the scene it is easy to feel like you are just one of the spectators for a moment, its at this time when must focus and rely on our training and resources to get the task at hand done. Something I learned my first day of EMT school many years ago and it still applies today: Rule #1; No matter what we do, people are going to die. Rule #2; You can't change rule #1. Put this behind you, never forget it and use it as learning tool. Its what we have to do everyday.
All you can do is all you can do. The most important thing to remember is to talk about dont keep it bottled up. You cant. Trust me I tried. The best thing to do is get it out. Sometimes there is nothing anyone could couldve done that would have made a differance. Everyone freezes it happens a call shocks you in some way or reminds you of your kids the best you can do is help to the best of your abilities. Good luck and stay safe
I appreciate all the advice given by all. Yes there is a lesson here to learn. Granted Im still a newbie persay but I wont let it get me down. I have spent sometime goin over the incident with my captain. He feels that i need a little more experience but its kinda hard when we are lucky to get 9 calls a month at our station. Feel free to keep talkin on this chat and Ill be sure to post more later.
I think just about all the good advice has been given. What's done is done, and all you can ever do is your best. And that is your best on the day. One thing, was there a debrief when you got back? If we attend a fatal, or even an incident with bad injuries but no fatalities, we debrief. This is where it can all come out and be put into perspective.
I'll take you sideways a little. I tend to review every incident - what I did and could maybe have done better. The main thing is that although I review my own actions, I don't beat myself over the head about it - I just remember it with the intention of doing better next time.