by Peggy Sweeney

The Sweeney Alliance

Grieving Behind the Badge program


   It is not unusual or abnormal for people in the emergency response community to experience many different emotions and feelings in their day-to-day lives. The traumatic calls they respond to are, at times, overwhelming. Research shows that many of these professionals experience nightmares, depression, substance abuse, or strained relationships with family members or friends as a result of recurring trauma and the grief it causes. Read more

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Comment by Peggy Sweeney on February 23, 2012 at 5:22pm

Scott, thank you for sharing your story. There are words and scenes and feelings and sights and sounds we NEVER forget. If you are interested in sharing your story in the Grieving Behind the Badge eNewsletter please contact me direct It is a resource for emergency responders by emergency responders. Help for traumatic stress and grief.

Stay safe,


Comment by Scott Hayes on February 23, 2012 at 1:06am

Almost twenty years ago.

    Bad memories may fade but they never go away. As I knelt down I felt a hand touch my shoulder, the words that followed would change my life forever.

     I was asked to be at my sister's side when my niece was born.  I had the ambulance company and these were the exciting times of my chosen profession that brought joy.  A baby girl came into this world that day.

     Three years two weeks and several days later on a clear Sunday afternoon, my sister had just left seconds ago to walk home across the street.   I heard a scream, one which squeezes at your gut, something was not right, and required an immediate response.  It felt as if time had slowed, the faster I ran to get outside,the slower time seemed to move.  I crested the hill on my driveway only to see my sister standing at the edge of the road with my other sister, as I reached the top, I saw her, my niece at the side of the road face up.  I quickly instructed my sister to call 911 and told my other sister to grab the med bag at the house as I checked vitals. She was still breathing on her own, but not conscious.  I quickly began to take steps to monitor her vitals while kneeling over her, that is when my brother-in-law, the father stepped behind me.  He placed his right hand on my left shoulder and said these words, "Don't let her die!"

Comment by Peggy Sweeney on February 5, 2012 at 2:51pm

Thank you Oldman, for your comment. I have gone on many child calls as a mortician and EMT. I was grateful to have a good core group of people I could talk to if needed. 

Comment by Oldman on February 5, 2012 at 2:10pm

Growing up in the funeral industry, I was exposed to death most of my life. Years ago, I had the misfortune of having to assist in the funeral of the 4 year old daughter of a close friend. A freak accident had claimed this little "china doll" of a child, and this service really was affecting me. Part of the sermon at her funeral really helped me then, and also to this day, when dealing with a child death.

We always ask why. Why would a child be taken before they've had a chance to experience life. I have the answer. A Florist will tell you when making a flower arrangement, you take fully mature blooms, and add younger blooms that are not fully opened. And to complete any balanced arrangement, you must always add a few buds. We are here today, because God needed a bud to complete another perfect arrangement.

I think of this sermon every time I am involved with a child, and will use it when I work to help my people when they are involved. As Michael said, find someone to talk to. Trying to be "Macho" and hide your feelings or emotions, will ultimately lead to bigger issues, and could cost you your career, or worse.

Comment by Peggy Sweeney on February 4, 2012 at 7:55pm

Thanks, Michael. Your words are so true. Your key comment is that IF you are having trouble you find someone to help. All too often, they turn to other means to deal with this such as alcohol, drugs, and other addictive behaviors.

Comment by Michael McCarthy on February 4, 2012 at 7:03pm

All in the persons personality, some people just deal with certain things better than others. Comes with experience sometimes I think also. Although you will never get "used to" losing a child you have to learn how to cope with it. Whether it be thru talks with others, prayer, or any other constructive way of dealing with it you have to know in your heart that its not your fault. After making it thru 9/11 and twice thinking that I aint making it out I count my blessings everyday.. 

Comment by Timothy O. Casey on February 3, 2012 at 11:26am

I have to say that image is painful to look at. Sorry don't like it much, brings back memories.

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