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The Very Definition of Tragedy

I have had this story sitting in my inbox since the beginning of August. It was written by an EMT. I thought it almost a little too raw and too sad to post, which is why I’ve held on to it. I re-read it today and decided that if someone had to live through this, who am I to say that such an experience is too uncomfortable to post for others to read? Jason, EMT writes:

Yesterday was terrible. Words cannot explain just how bad it was. It’s
enough to make anyone in my line of work question why they do what they do.
A 4-year-old girl died, a freak accident. I know the person who killed
her. It’s hard to decide who needs consoling most, the father of the young
girl or the person who was responsible for her death. Here’s the story,
and it’s a very hard one to tell.

About a mile south of our fire station, on a major US 2 lane highway, there
lives an older couple (in their 80′s). They have a large lake on their
property across the highway from their house. Yesterday, a man brought
his children to go fishing there. It was supposed to be the idyllic day
out for a father and his kids, fishing in the country. He parked his truck
there at the gate going into the pond, and walked across the road to get the
key to the gate. The little girl and her brother (I don’t know an exact
age, but he was under the age of 10) were waiting there at the gate. When
the father walked back from the house to the road, the little girl saw him.
In her excitement, she started to run across the road to meet him. As she
stepped out into the road, a friend of mine that I graduated with was going
to his wife’s parent’s house in his truck. He never saw her. He hit the
young girl doing well over 55 miles per hour. This little angel was not
only killed, she was utterly destroyed. I won’t tell you how bad her body
was mangled, but I will say that it will definitely be a closed-casket
funeral. Since I was at work, I didn’t get to be there when the ambulance
got there, but I got there in time to see her loaded up and going to the
funeral home. I also got to help pick up pieces of this little girl.
That’s right, pieces. If there’s any form of good in this act, it’s that
she never suffered. She died instantly.

To hear our crew tell of pulling up on the scene and seeing the father sitting there on the side of the road, holding the little girl, cradling what was left of her head, sobbing uncontrollably, trying to get the child out of his arms, realizing
that there was nothing that could be done, no matter what. It was
horrible. Her young brother was thirsty, so one of the state troopers and
our driver took him over to get a Gatorade. He was walking across the road,
looking at all the flashing lights, the people picking up parts of his
sister, his father utterly destroyed, and he looked up, with tears in his
eyes and said “This is the worst day of my life”.

I’m a Christian. I believe in God. I know that everything happens for a
reason of some sort, but I have to admit that it’s hard to understand why
this little girl had to be ripped from life in such a violent way. What on
earth could be the reason for that? The only thing that I’m 100% sure of
is that another little angel got her wings yesterday.

I want to say to all my friends here a very heartfelt thank-you. The
people who listen to me, who think I’m so great for doing this…it’s no fun
at all. We in the EMS have what we call a Critical Incident Stress
Debreifing. This is my form of that. This is my therapy. Thank you so
much for letting me tell stories like this. I cried like a baby while I
was on that scene, cried all the way to the station, held my partner when I
got back to the station as she broke down, and then went home and held my wife and cried some more. Hell, I’m crying right now. I’m here at
work, trying to make a deadline. My wife has gone to her mother’s house to
pick up our four-year-old daughter. I’m going home sometime tonight, and will just hold her
for a while. Any of you with children, I’d encourage you to do the same
thing. And while you do, say a prayer for this family that has lost a
child, and a prayer for the guy who never saw what he did.

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I read, but I don’t comprehend. Can’t. Won’t.

Yes, this story is very raw and most definitely defines the word tradegy. Almost too deep to comprehend isn’t it? I am speechless.

Geena’s email this morning telling me that she had posted this story just brought back all these memories. It’s still hard to look back on that day and remember everything that happened. I’ve had traumatic calls since then, but I don’t think anything will ever come close to that little girl.

I had a very similar experience several years ago, Although I didn’t know anyone involved. It still ranks, much like Jason’s, as the most tragic call I have ever been on.

I still get choked up when I think about it. Lucky for us, we did have a formal CISD after the call. I feel for Jason, the family, and the poor unfortunate driver.

I hope I never run another call like that again.

Dad quit the ambulance corps he helped found in the early 1980′s because he found an infant under a car seat in a serious crash. Five other members of the corps also quit.

utterly speechless. I can’t even really compose a response. Its calls like this that make me realize how special EMT’s and paramedics are.

I wasn’t going to read it but I couldn’t stop once I started. I can hardly see the screen. Thank God for people like you Jason, who do have such a difficult job and manage to stay tenderhearted and compassionate in spite of all the tragedy you see.

Thank you Jason, Doc, Sonia, and all the rest of you who work out there on the streets. I wish I could give you all hugs and tell you how much I appreciate what you do.

My son had a teacher who was an EMT. He got a call about a little girl who had been terribly beaten by someone in her family. “I am a bad girl, that’s why it happened,” she said. He said he cried and cried. I know I’m crying today. Bless you for this job your doing.

There are no words.

Hey…I feel your pain! Deeply. March 16th, 2004, my little brother died also. He was hit by a school bus because he thought it was gonna leave him. And that was when he was at the age of 5. ( a month before his birthday.) Just keep ya head up!

this breaks my heart.
the week before Easter my dear friends lost their two-year-old daughter when she ran out behind her mom as she pulled out of the garage. my friend is devastated and their lives are forever changed. i pray these people find comfort. may her memory console them until the full consolation of reunion.

im an EMT in california, south central LA and carson to be exact and i have had more than my fair share of horrible calls so i feel your pain in ways most will never understand.

This is an new post for an old blog I found in the archives. EMT are NOT PAID WHAT THEY ARE WORTH. They are the first responders and the people who help us to stay alive. It is criminal that they are paid so little for what they do. Angels among us.

So, what brought you to the hospital today?

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  • profileI am Gina. I have been a nurse for 15 years, first in med/surg, then CVICU, inpatient dialysis, CCU and now hospice. This blog is about my experiences as a nurse, and the experiences of others in the healthcare system - patients, nurses, doctors, paramedics. We all have stories!

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