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Monday, January 30, 2023

‘Are You Okay?’ Firefighters and Psychological Rehab

I was sitting on the curb by the ambulance entrance to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I must have been holding my head in my hands. An ED nurse just coming on duty asked me: “Are you okay?” Knowing the firefighter “code,” I said, “I’m fine.”

But I wasn’t. It was my third year as a firefighter-EMT. A mom of two kids had just died in our ambulance of a massive abdominal bleed, a bleed we had missed, a bleed we couldn’t have done anything about. A seat belt dissected her descending aorta in a motor vehicle collision (MVC). The kicker was I had told her kids that their mom was fine, and she would see them in the hospital. Then, she bled out and died right in front of us.

I felt unmoored for weeks; I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I dreamt about it and thought of quitting. (“I’m not tough enough to do this work.”) I was irritated and irritating.

Read more at Fire Engineering.

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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