On my way to work tonight I passed by a horrible single vehicle accident. It must’ve just happened, there was just a bit of traffic and only one CHP patrol car on scene. The vehicle, a dark mini van, had its rear left wheel on the center divide and rear right wheel hanging off the ground. All the airbags were deployed. There must have been damage to one of the doors because the front interior lights were on, the kind that comes on when you open the door. And there, in that split second that I looked as I safely drove with the flow of traffic, a young man. He couldn’t have been more than 18, so young, tragically slumped over the steering wheel, lifeless.
Life really is that fragile and everything can change in the split of a moment, a second. As first responders, there’s only so much you can learn from books. There’s a limit to what your instructors can prepare you for. In moments like these, dealing with deaths, remember this. “It’s NOT your fault. YOU did not cause this. YOU’RE there to HELP.” Focus on the task at hand. If you need to take a breather, DO IT. Let your partner know then a take a moment to yourself. YOU’RE ONLY HUMAN. First and most important thing they teach you is that YOU ARE YOUR NUMBER 1 PRIORITY! Take care of yourself before you take care of others. “Do the most good for the most people.” After the fact, find positive outlets to de-stress. Others may not always understand the shit we deal with but that doesn’t make it less important. Hang in there.