I was sitting home the other day when we get paged out for an attempted suicide about a mile from the station. As we get enroute, dispatch fills us in on what waits for us at the scene. A 17 year old female has shot herself. We have in our rescue 5 responders, one Paramedic and 4 EMT-B’s. The Ambulance calls for a helicopter as they leave their base about 15 miles from the scene, and we had our engine secure and prep an LZ near the scene.
The patient has been distraught because her ex-boyfriend shot himself and died a month ago. She has Facebooked to her friends that she is done and is sorry, then shoots herself at her ex- boyfriends’ house. She is in his room, while his parent’s are home. When we make the scene (2 minutes from time of dispatch.) she is still conscious and fighting because she does not want help, she really wants to die. She shot herself with a large caliber handgun in the stomach. Once the ambulance arrives, the medic knocks her out with something from his kit, and finally, she can be more effectively treated and packaged for the helicopter ride that she will not remember.
Now, a bunch of her friends that saw the Facebook post have come racing to the scene. Carloads of teenagers are held at bay by the PD as she is moved from the house to the ambulance; crying and wailing ensue as soon as she is visible. We get her loaded in the rig and after working on her in the back of the rig for a couple of minutes, we move to the LZ in a park 3 blocks away where the chopper is about to land.
The chopper lands as the ambulance pulls up. The mother and father of the girl are at the LZ. The chopper shuts down and we prepare to move her to the chopper.
As soon as the back doors of the rig open, Mom starts to yell. An anguished cry of mixed fear, pain and desperation pours out of her in a burst of emotion. She yells her daughters name and tells her she is not allowed to leave. She wails that she has to make it. Dad stands with her, holding her arm stoically; trying to maintain his composure at the sight of his baby girl on the cot with dual bore IV’s and a tube in her mouth. The medic in charge yells for someone to get her back as she continues to scream at her daughter to not leave.
Unfortunately I am right there. My ears are ringing from the force of Moms terror. I tell her to please step back, that the medics need to be able to hear to take care of her daughter. I feel guilty for having to be the bad guy, for if it was my daughter, I would most likely end up arrested. Wild horses wouldn’t keep me from my little drop of blood in this world, no way. Dad kind of nods at me and then half pulls his wife away from the back of the rig as she still yells, half sobbing now.
The kids from the scene were not able to get as close though, thanks to PD. They are in a knot of anguished humanity down the street. Crying and holding one another as they watch all this.
As we move her to the choppers cot, I deliberately try not to look at her face again. I know what will be the result for me if I do. I have several faces stuck in my mind that come back to visit me at inopportune times already. I try to insulate myself from the sight.
She is flown to a trauma center directly from the LZ. I do not know how she is doing. I kind of would rather not know. That way, if it is the worst, I can fool myself and just say, I don’t know. I can pretend that all is well.
But we all know better than that. We have seen and will see the tragedy of the human condition time and again as we roll out the door to help our fellow man in their hour of greatest need.
And we have been scarred for it.