The Ramblings of a Quixotic Dad, Firefighter, EMT, and God-knows-what-else…

Posts tagged “instincts

The Sounds of Silence

Man, it’s been a long time since I got on here and posted.

I could give you a list of excuses, but ultimately it boils down to me just not taking the time to sit here and write something. You would think that there should always be something to write about. Honestly, I always think there’s something going on that I need to get out.

But it rarely does.

We first responders have a tendency to repress our most basic instincts and emotional responses. Is it because we think we need to be strong at all times? Is it that we just do such a great job of compartmentalizing everything until it explodes and we’re left standing there, shattered reality around us?

This omerta, this code of silence, it follows us everywhere. There are things I see and do at work that I need to get out, need to tell someone.

But who to tell? My wife? My kids? I’m reminded far too often that my gory tales are far too much for respectable dinner conversation.

Instead of turning here, though, I sit, and I wonder about all those things I should have said, but didn’t.

And it’s a silence that is deafening.


My gut tells me…….I have no idea.

I’m not trying to brag. In all honesty, I’m a pretty modest guy. But I have good instincts.

At least, I have good instincts in the back of a box. They haven’t really let me down yet. Granted, I don’t have the kind of experience many medics and providers have. But I have enough, combined with my gut, to generally carry me through the day.

The guys I work with know this. I work at a multicompany station. That is, we have a truck company and an engine company. 10 people. Out of these, 90% of our medical calls are handled by myself and FireMedicBA. He has about 3 times the experience I have, but trusts me enough to ask my opinion and evaluation.

Typically, that’s not a problem.

A few weeks ago, while roved out to another station, we were dispatched to a report of a patient suffering from an altered level of consciousness at an assisted living facility. We arrived to find a man in his mid-80s laying on the floor. The nursing staff had found him this way. His blood pressure was well over 200/100, and the medic on the engine I was with (who is a relatively new medic), tried to do a full assessment. I told him we needed to load him up and leave. The arriving ambulance crew agreed. Long story short, our patient ended up being admitted for a massive stroke.

I’ve learned to trust my gut.

Today, I hung around a few extra hours to work for a friend of mine on the next shift.

About an hour in, we catch a run to a local sorority house for a report of an unconscious female in the doorway.

In a college town, this can typically be stereotyped as an inebriated sorority sister. That’s typically what it is when we get there.

Today, though, it was different.

We arrive with the local EMS service to find a young female seated in a chair. She’s pale, diaphoretic, and barely responsive.

She didn’t look drunk. She didn’t look high. But she had the empty, glazed stair of someone very sick.

When we left, one of the firefighters with me asked me what was wrong with her.

I honestly didn’t know.

I figure it was one too many diet pills and one too few waters. But that’s just a guess. What I do know is that she was sick.

And my gut let me down, because I didn’t really have an answer for him.