Don’t Mistake Our Smile

I read an incredible story, written by a local paramedic. He was off duty and became a part of an amazing rescue attempt to save a life. Unfortunately the life was lost, however his story made me think. He talked about the hurt and feelings after the rescue, how quiet the car ride home was, and how he knew his friend had the same feelings but not once did they discuss it.

I am guilt of what I am about to write about, I’ve caught myself and partner doing the same thing. I hope one day to start educating fire and EMS crews, but right now I don’t have the degree for that. Instead I will stick to sharing my thoughts here.

I don’t remember a class during my fire and EMS training that was titled “Feelings: Keep Them Hidden.” I can’t recall a time in class where the instructors lectured us on not showing emotions. And I certainly don’t recall any training on how to deal with the emotional drain this career can have on a person. Is this what leads to so many suicides within our field?

We often see things the majority of the world is spared, our eyes have seen tragedy and our hearts have felt great pain, but no one ever talks about it. Many times I have ran calls with my partner, tragic calls, but we never discuss it. We ride back to the station in complete silence then we laugh it off with other crews.

Don’t mistake our laughter for not caring, our laughter has become our way to deal with the pain. Somewhere between school ending and starting to settle into the field we learn that laughter hides the pain. They say laughter is the best medicine, but laughter can’t take it away. The memories are still there, the pain still weighs in our hearts.

Sometimes the smallest thing will bring the memories back, maybe the same smell from that horrible day. Or the sunset after that day, it looks so much like the sunset now. All the emotions and memories come flooding back, but we just laugh it off.

Often times crews I am with discuss the sick sense of humor you have to have to be able to work in this career, but they don’t mean what I thought when I first heard that. What we mean is, you have to have the ability to laugh about it so you don’t let it bother you as much, but laughing about something so tragic makes a person look crazy to the outside world. To the normal people, that live their lives unaware of the horrors in this world, our laughter is confused for not caring.

We send men and woman to fight for our country and offer them very little help when they come back. We send police officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, and first responders into some horrible situations, yet offer them no help to learn how to deal with the things they see. How many lives will be taken before we start educating and offering help?

The next time you see us laughing after a tragedy, please remember we are not laughing at the people, we are laughing for ourselves. We are human, we still hurt too, but to keep doing this job we must laugh it off. I remember some young kids asking how we deal with what we see and the firefighter standing next to me had the ability to explain it like no one I have ever heard.

“Each one of us has out own memory book, we take the pictures and memories of the events and file it away in that book. A book we never open willingly. We laugh then file it away, never to be opened again. Some people have books 5 inches thick and still live each day happy, while others books are only 1 inch thick and completely full. Each of us have our own limit, but you will know when that book is full. Once it is, you will know. You will know it is time to quit.”

So each of us must know our limit. You must know when it is time to stop. Once your book is full and you can no longer laugh the pain away, it is time to walk away. Don’t let this career take your beautiful life, you have done wonderful things. You were there for someone when they needed help, they will be forever grateful for that, but much like us and our feelings, they don’t always know how to show theirs. People often forget that a simple “thank you” can make us smile for weeks. A true smile, that makes this job all worth it.

Advertisements

Christmas Murder

Did everyone out there have a good Christmas? I sure hope so! I hope you got to spend time with you family and friends, got everything you wanted on your Christmas list, and I hope Santa was extra good to you! While you were celebrating, don’t forget to say a little prayer for those protecting your celebration and ready to respond if something happened.

Don’t forget about the Soldier fighting for your safety and freedom, especially those that don’t get to spend these holiday’s with their family. Don’t forget the Police Officers who are trying to keep the roads safe. Don’t forget the Firefighter who are always ready for your emergency. Don’t forget the EMT/Paramedics who are waiting and ready in the event a loved one has trouble. Don’t forget the Dispatchers who make this all possible. Don’t forget the Nurses and Doctors who are standing by, in case they are needed. Don’t forget the people that don’t get to spend their holidays with their families, but are more than willing to help you if something happened. But most of all, don’t forget those Soldiers, Police Officers, Firefighters, and EMT/Paramedics who never return home to their families, don’t forget our fallen brothers and sisters.

If you haven’t been watching the news or you don’t follow stories on firefighters, then you probably don’t know about the two firefighters who lost their lives and the other two who are critically injured on Christmas Eve, doing the job they loved most. Do you know that story? Do you know theirs? No? Well, let me share…

On Christmas Eve morning a report of a house fire in Webster, NY. When these men stepped out to do the job they love, the job they volunteer for, they found themselves under fire. Two were shot and killed right there, they went to the ground and never got up. Another two were alive, but not good. One of those men got on the radio and communicated clearly with dispatch, gave them information that saved many more lives. It was because of this firefighter that more units did not respond, he kept calm and gave clear radio traffic of the scene and what had happened.

The two firefighters that lost their lives? One was a 19 year old dispatched, Tomasz Kaczowka. The other firefighter was a Police Lieutenant, Michael Chiapperini. Remember those names, not the killer who’s name you will not find here. Those men died volunteering to put a fire out on Christmas Eve, they weren’t required to respond, they did because they wanted to.

The killer? His has a history, murdered in the past, was released from prison a while back, got a gun and was determined. How did he get a gun? Well you see…gun control doesn’t stop criminals! And according to the updates online, he left a note saying he wanted to take out as many people as he could. He took the coward way out, shot himself before police could get ahold of him. The report reads, “as a convicted felon, he could not legally own firearms.” Yet he had one…so for those of you that think gun control is the answer, think again!

There have been many firefighter shootings, most of which have similar details. They respond to a fire, step off the truck, then gunshots open up. The one I remember most, because I know many people from that area, happened on July 21, 2008. I don’t have to look that day up, I don’t have to research that, because I will never forget that day. It was just before I started my EMS career and it hit me hard, because this firefighter was friends with many of the firefighters I know from that area. It was an area I was considering moving to and starting work, but July 21, 2008 changed my life, as it changed many lives. A report of a house fire, a “routine” call, changed this department forever. They lost a brother, a friend, a young man just beginning his career, Ryan Hummert. He will never be forgotten there. When I go visit and see firetrucks and ambulances driving around, they still bear the sticker for him. They have a memorial and a scholarship fun in his name.

But Ryan wasn’t the first firefighter to be shot, nor will he be the last, however his had the most impact on me. There have been many shooting, some killed, other’s just injured on fire and EMS workers. Why? Did you know that many countries have agreed that hospitals and combat medics are off limits? That there is an agreement that you can’t injure those helping the injured? So why does it happen here, where there is no visible “war” going on? Because some people don’t care, some people want to kill and it doesn’t matter if you take away their guns and ammo…they will always find a way.

How many firefighters have been killed because they went into a house that was trapped? I can’t tell you that number because it’s unknown, but I can tell you there have been many. In fact, my department has training on what to watch for and how to help yourself in those situation because of a house that was trapped. No one lost their lives that day, but it was close. It was an arson fire, and this house had traps all over. Random holes cut in the floor, windows that won’t open, doors that are blocked, exits no longer exits, and this happens all too often. We watched a video in training, where the department responded to a house fire. One of the firefighters had a helmet camera (very educational) and when the firefighters opened the front door to enter, there was just enough light that night from the full moon to see that there was a massive 20×20 foot hole cut out in the floor. Had those firefighters entered, they would have fallen to the basement, and possibly never came out.

I picked a career that I love to do, I just pray the career doesn’t take me. Especially not when I have kids, I hope they never get the Chief’s vehicle and Chaplain knocking at the door. I pray that will never happen to them.

Don’t Forget the First Responders

Heaven gained some beautiful angles this week when they were stolen from their families. Their lives cut short, never knowing what they might have been, might have done. These beautiful babies, just starting their lives. Never getting their first dance, never getting to graduate, or drive a car, or learn to live.

But don’t forget those first responders, police, fire, and EMS, that arrived there, some entering without knowing where the shooter was, just to save a life. Don’t forget about them, what they saw, what they feel.

My worst fear in this career isn’t my injury, nor is it my death. My worst fear is being sent to a scene like this, or the Colorado shooting, or 9/11. My worst fear is being sent to a burning house only to pull a lifeless child from the building. My worst fear is watching an innocent child, so helpless, losing their life because of someone else. My worst fear was lived by these first responders.

I can’t imagine what they saw, how it will haunt their lives forever. I can’t imagine how helpless they felt, knowing there is little you can do. I can’t imagine how they felt telling parents their little angle was not coming home tonight.

So next time you complain about the firetruck delaying your trip, or the ambulance that caused more traffic, or those “Union Firefighters” that just sit around and want more money…think about what they have seen, what they have done, what they do every day for you. Think about those soldiers fighting for you right to judge and belittle the people that keep you safe every day.

You Might Cry

This is my warning…you might cry. I’m sorry, I just feel it is EXTREMELY important to share these videos so please watch and share with other’s out there! Especially the second one and you will read why shortly.

This first video was created by the Chicago Fire Department called “Everyone Goes Home.” It is moving and discusses the importance of safety. Everything from your seat belt to calling a mayday. Even if you’re not in the fire service, you might find this eye opening and interesting.

The next video I find VERY important for the public to watch, more so than the firefighters out there. This is moving and you will cry, trust me! All the guys did when we watched this. It talks about budget cuts and maybe the next time you are voting on taxes that include fire/EMS you might start thinking about this video. There are places taxes and money needs to be cut, such as in the salary of those government employees sitting in their nice and comfortable offices or their vacation homes…but it’s not in Military, Police, Fire, nor EMS. As you saw in my past posts…the majority of public safety officials cannot support themselves, let alone a family, on their income of one job that’s why we require so many. But despite that, we will never quit the job we love. We love serving the public and ask little in return so show some respect please.

Please share these stories, they are extremely important. Thank you.

Study Me Time

Well, it’s that time of year again…twin study time! Fun fact about me…I have a twin and we look and act NOTHING alike! In fact, you would never even guess that we are sisters! We couldn’t be any more opposite! And the only good thing my parents did for me was enter us in twin studies. I’m sure my parents kept all the money when we were younger, but now it’s all mine and pays VERY well! : ) Originally we were not suppose to be in this study because of the injuries I suffered in our car accident, but they called back and said they want to try us anyway.

This study involved the effects life choices have on the brain, comparing twins that have different behaviors. Good news…I actually do have a brain! They said it’s in there! Bad news…I was officially diagnosed with 3 different cases of PTSD. Is that possible?! Apparently so. The person I worked with was totally awesome! And kept making sure I was doing ok and wanted to make sure I was safe. I lied a bit..told them I’m not suicidal, but did admit to it in the past. Sorry…I’m not going through that lock up…not happening, not right now anyway.

Back to these 3 cases of PTSD. What’s causing each one? And how bad is it? Well, I was diagnosed with PTSD from the car accident, those I read minor in this one. Apparently it is still having a small effect on me and how could it not? Let’s see…get in a major car accident, woke up with no feeling from the waist down…I think anyone would have a hard time getting in a car that someone else is driving, wouldn’t you agree? For the record, I still, to this day, refuse to ride with my sister.

The second reason for the diagnoses was that jackass Captain and his move! It read a moderate to severe on this one. Apparently it is really effecting me, more so than I let on. I think about it almost daily and really struggle with what he did to me. I hate him for it! But I hate myself more for letting it happen and I hate myself even more for not getting the fucker fired! That’s a struggle too because had I gotten the jackass fired, then I would have had that black mark my entire career. I just hate that I was ever put in that situation! I’m not a violent person, but if I came across the asshole I’ll fucking hit him so damn hard!! I’m tiny, but he’s got me pissed off enough to offer me that “super power”…you know what I’m talking about? Drunks and angry people get this super human power, they are unbelievable strong…I think I am capable of that with him. I just hate the whole damn thing!

And the third reason, the most severe, is naturally my past and upbringing. Needless to say I tested severe in that one. I pretty much knew that already, but never had it confirmed until now. It was recommend that I get help for all of them, but especially the last one. The problem with that…I can’t afford it on my income. And my career means it compounds the problem, given what I’ve seen and done. Great.

People complain all the time that Fire/EMS makes too much and do too little but when they need us they complain we took too long. WTF?! Did you know that 85% of people in my career (nation wide) can not afford to live off just one income? Bet you didn’t. That’s why everyone in my career works 2 or more jobs! Meaning they can’t get off work when they need help, nor can they afford the help they need. I’m an example. I’m one statistic, but I won’t become another…not yet anyway.

Do you know what the number above means? Do you know what it stands for? No? Well read below and find out.

In 2010, while educating firefighters across the United States, I began to notice through stories and reports about the number of firefighters who had taken their lives.  I began to collect reports through a confidential reporting system in late 2010 through Counseling Services for FIre Fighters.  After much research and effort, I realized this was a much larger issue than I thought, and expanded by starting Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance. I am now collecting this data through FBHA also. This confidential report can be found on the list at the left “ff suicide report” or at www.csff.info under the tab “FF Suicide Report”.

The number on the box above are members who were active or retired firefighters who suffered deaths by their own choice.  It should not be conceived as one of weakness but one where they might not have believed they had any other options to relieve their pain.  FBHA is dedicated to collecting the most accurate numbers regarding FF suicides and then updates this number as information is confirmed.  It is also FBHA’s objective to educate all of our brothers and sisters on suicide prevention through our workshop titled “Saving Those Who Save Others” in hopes to limit this number. 


Regards,
B/C Jeff Dill 
Founder of CSFF & FBHA

Note: Number is from information received from suicides ranging from the years 1880-2012. The total is comprised of 269 FF and 11 EMT/P.

Think about that. Just let that sink in when you think about voting for a tax cut for firefighter/paramedics. And that is JUST firefighter/paramedics. What about the police officers? Or that military?? Those numbers are alarming as well. Some things in this country need to change…congress needs to be put on minimual wage in their comfortable little office and give their pay to the people that work every day for their life, health, and safety.

But enough of that for now. I have a lot to do before work. Another day at “hell” job! Ugh. And a full 24 hours there to make matters worse…expect to see me tomorrow. I’m sorry…good night!

Search Me Often?

Thursday this week the dentist will be stealing all my wisdom so I am currently trying to keep my mind occupied, plus I’m bored at work. You may find many random posts between now and Thursday, especially when I’m trying to keep my mind occupied like today.

I noticed recently some odd searched leading people to my page. Some make sense, others not so much. If you care to read, they are below with my thoughts on the people doing the searching. Enjoy.

i love you finger art – Well, this can only lead to my post with finger art in it. I can only imagine what this person thought if they decided to read the rest of my blog.

finger art – My guess is this is the same person as above, once again I believe they came across this post and it’s not what they were looking for. Instead it was just a random photo from my random life when I was messing around with people…nothing unusual for me.

cancer pisces alike in many ways – I’m going to guess that this person was searching along the lines of my search when I came across the information I posted on this one. They probably found some information they were looking for in this one, maybe.

our24yearagegap@yahoo.com – Clearly someone was trying to see what all was linked to my e-mail address which got me curious. I found the following: contact page and some other page that I’m not sure of.

when to divorce – This had to lead the person to the following post and I hope this person found what they are looking for. It saddens me to hear about people getting a divorce, but sometime it really is for the best.

lmfao – sexy and i know it youtube ageless – This is a random search here…very interesting. This person was looking for me that’s for sure, not sure why those plus “ageless” would be put together. It had to lead them to the following post and probably another page I have removed from my account.

our24yeargap.wordpress.com – This one is pretty self explanatory, they were clearly trying to relocate my page.

love finger art – Someone really loves their finger art! I’m curious if this was all the same person or multiple people.

mimi alford or beardsley – This person was probably searching for “Once Upon a Secret” and came across my post reviewing the book. I do hope they buy it and enjoy it as much as I have. It was truly a good book!

our24yeargap – Once again this is pretty self explanatory, clearly this person was searching for me.

finger art love – And again someone is in love with their finger art! I will admit, this search has made me quit popular. I’m always impressed to see that 1 person has looked at my blog, let along 2!

this kid necer stops playing x box – I’d like to point out that this person can’t spell, but they must have come across either this blog post or this one. I’m going to take a guess here they may have been talking about my brother because he NEVER stops playing! It must be nice to be 20 (almost 21), no job, no school, and play Xbox all damn day!! Ugh!!

job come – I’m guessing this person was searching for my post directly because I’m not sure why you would search “job come” only…it’s a little creepy to think people are looking for me directly and clearly more than once.

what if volunteer firefighters don’t volunteer – Someone is worried about their firefighters not showing up and I would just like to say that it would be very rare for this to happen! But who knows, it could. I think they came across one of the two posts that I have with volunteer firefighter in it, either this one or this one.