Three minutes after the initial call to 911, we arrived at
the front of a small, well-kept house, a typical one for the area. There
are toys scattered about the yard, undoubtedly left there by a small
The first through the door, I arrive in a rush and take in
the scene. Even now, nine years later, that image is burned into my
memory as clearly as if it were yesterday. There is a small child lying
on the couch in the living room, a small pitiful figure, his skin is a
mottled gray. He is covered in water and appears lifeless.
adult male is standing next to the couch. He is soaked from the waist
down, his clothing disheveled; his eyes red-rimmed, he looks like a wild
man. I will not find out that this man was the child’s uncle for
another fifteen minutes.
I pick up the child, and he is cold. He
does not stir, even when I harshly pinch his arm. I move to the door, to
the safety and privacy of the truck.
On the way out to my
ambulance, I quickly look him over. He is about three years old, 12
kilos or so. Lying lifeless in my arms, he doesn’t appear to be doing
very well. He isn’t breathing and has no pulse. My mind already
computing drug dosages and accessing protocols, I reach for my radio and
called in a “code” to the dispatch center.
I place my lips over the child’s mouth, and give gentle breaths. Chest compressions. Breaths.
arrive at the truck, and I select the proper sized ET tube, and slide
it down his throat. My partner begins squeezing the bag, and I start an
I place him on the monitor, and I note that he is in asystole. Not good.
I spent the next 40 minutes fighting the battle that I knew we had lost before we even arrived.
the helicopter flew away, taking with it the small, pitiful body once
so full of life, so precious to all who knew him, his Uncle approached
and asked me what he should tell his brother. He wanted to know how to
tell a man that his baby boy drowned in a backyard pool while his Uncle
took a shower. He then put his head on my shoulder, wrapped his arms around me and cried for the next ten minutes.
I went back to the station, numb. I didn’t know what to feel. All I knew was that I was empty, spent. In the weeks that followed, I had a harder and harder time going to work and functioning. I finally told my supervisor, they referred me to CISM. I was in therapy for that call for a while. It was hard to deal with. I even took anti-depressant medication for about 6 months. It was tough living with the ghosts of that call. I still get teary eyed sometimes when I think about that day, about what I could have done differently. Normal reactions, I think, to such a tragedy.
There are those who would deny me the right to own a firearm because I feel pain at the loss of a child. They wish to see people lost their rights without a hearing or a trial, simply because I sought help when I needed it. Millions of Americans seek therapy, or take anti-depressants, and own firearms. None of them killed anyone yesterday.