I had a very rough call this past week at work and I find I’m having trouble shaking it. I rarely take work personal but there are times when certain calls find their way past my shields and really get under my skin. Most days, work is forgotten the moment I leave the building. Hell, its forgotten before I get my bike started. lol
Sadly in my line of work, even when everything is done 100% right, people still suffer and I realize that. Without getting overly detailed, a person died while they were talking to me on the phone. I did everything I could possibly do (and then some) to no avail. I don’t have any angst or guilt over my performance. Its just been a long time since I had such a raw nerve-racking call.
Most people assume working in my agency, we handle emergencies non-stop, call after call, day after day.
That simply isn’t true. Many calls can be urgent and even stressful, but the ratio of truly emergent calls is very low. And while many of our calls are emergencies in one sense or another, there are emergencies and then there are emergencies. That’s the best way I can explain it. I can handle bloody vehicle accidents, shootings, stabbing, fights, assaults, etc w/o blinking an eye. And while I am not belittling the realness of these calls, after years of repeating’em over and over, it just becomes sort of routine. Granted they are still stressful but you don’t really get excited. You handle it as best you can and move on to the next call.
This last call was just so raw and out of the norm, it got to me. Hearing someone slowly1 pass away while pleading for help and comfort is hard, to say the least. To know you are helpless to prevent the inevitable is just gut-wrenching. I was obviously upset afterwards and took some time to compose myself and refocus my mind. I was texting Apple guy and he managed to make me laugh, which is exactly what I needed. He knocked me out of my funk enough for me to move on. I finished my shift and went on about my life. For whatever reason, this particular call wasn’t so easy to forget.
The upside to this is I recognized the hard edge within me hasn’t taken over yet.2 I’ll be honest, if I ever lose myself to the dark parts of my id, I would consider my life (and my struggles) an utter failure. It has been and continues to be on of the single most important guiding principles in my life. Thankfully, I don’t see myself going down that path. So while this particular call really got to me, it has also helped to remind me that I am still the man I strive to be. I can’t save everyone but I can take strength and comfort in knowing I do the best I can every time I can, no matter the scenario.