Death... Something that we as firefighters have to deal with. A part of the job. There isn't any way to become used to it. If it no longer effects you then maybe a different line of work is in store for you. In the short time that I have been a part of the fire service I cannot or should I say that I do not want to remember those scenes that I have been on where someone has lost their life. Thankfully none of these has been a fellow firefighter and I hope to never experience that loss. There are a couple of calls where the deaths have stuck with me and I think that they will forever be ingrained in my memory. The first was a 12 year old boy that drowned in the irrigation canal that runs through town. We were able to pull his 15 year old friend from the water alive. It was close to 24 hours after they went into the water that we recovered the body of the 12 year old. It was a bad situation from the beginning and we went above and beyond what was safe for us but it was still our fault that we could not rescue both boys. The second death that I will always remember was the result of a MVA. The girl looked to be right about my age and I think that is why it has stuck with me. I can still see the way that her glasses were tangled in her hair. She wasn't wearing a seat belt. Its always a wonder to me how some can walk away from a pile of twisted metal and then some where a vehicle is just on its top can kill someone. It is part of our job that no matter what we do we cannot keep it from happening...Death

PS- What I intended to say was that with the the boy that drowned was that part of our community put the fault on us for not doing enough.

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Comment by Jeff Wright on January 6, 2009 at 9:10pm
In the 33 years on this job, I'e seen more than my or anyones share of death. From a fellow firefighter and his lovely wife killed in a vehicle accident to 4 children and their father burning in a mobile home fire and countless people whom died in their sleep and getting a call for help.
In all of these incidents, I've always stood tall, thanks to the good Lord above and knowing that I and my fellow members did everything in our power to save that person.
I agree with the other post, Don't go down that road of blame game, Don't even think about it. There is not enough good or bad bourbon in the hole world to make you forget. Your department may have some hards times ahead, but hang tuff my brothers, you are not alone and when it's all over with all of you will be stronger.
When we lost the father and the children, we were on scene and had the fire knock down within 3 mins of being toned out and we were sued by the wlfe/mother for failing to act. Enerything was dismissed, but it still didn't make us feel any better... Hang Tuff You'll make it thought this.....
Comment by Matthew Cosgrove on January 6, 2009 at 6:48pm
The blame game, it's the wrong road to go down. Just as everyone else said it's not your fault. You didn't ask the kids to go down there....That was another story that unfolded long before the tones went off. You just stay focused on what your job is and realize that every call you run has happened before you got involved. You are there to help, not change the course of life. TCSS -Matt
Comment by Kevin Burks on January 6, 2009 at 6:41pm
I agree with you TCSS. If you did everything you could to save the boys and in doing so went above what was safe for you, you did your job. You didnt put the boys in or near the water so "Your Dept" IS NOT TO BLAME. I have had several experiences like yours but, I did seek help with the problem . The tones go off and it is an small child that has been pulled from a swimming pool. Myself along with my wife who is also on the dept. respond. We get on scene and cpr is in progress. So we continued cpr on this child. It seemed like it took forever for the rest of the dept. to get there. We did manage to get a pulse by the time the Bird got on scene. but he later died at the hospital.. People asked me why we started cpr? I told them we did not start cpr on the child but took over from the people on scene. At that time my kids who are now teenagers were at that age. And Yes It did bother me. I seeked help for the problem and got it . So if you dont have a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team , I suggest you look into starting one.

Comment by FETC on January 6, 2009 at 4:28pm

First thing you need to realize is you didn't put that child in the water. Long before your department's tone was dropped, someone or something else on a higher higher level intervened with those children. The cards are dealt every single day and fire department's and EMS services need to respond to assist in mitigation. But bottom line is people die in this business, we simply can't save them all. You guys successfully rescued one of the children from his fate and in my eyes you all should be hailed as a hero.

Your comment that you went above and beyond what was safe to save the child but it was still OUR fault that we could not rescue both boys, is a red flag for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. If you honestly feel this way then you as a responder need personal assistance with your feelings.

More importantly your department or organization is responsible for providing you with the support needed to become OK with the events that you were thrusted into that day.

Please speak to someone you trust and explain how you feel.


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