Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Coal Mine

Wondering about the title, are we? The truth is I had no good ideas for a title to this post because I suspect it is going to meander somewhat. As you read along, you might start thinking of the old song "Working In A Coal Mine" because it could feel that way - it gets dark, takes all sorts of twists and turns underground, dead canaries litter the passages..... Get the idea?

Anyway, I've been spending the day doing house chores, like the laundry, house cleaning, etc. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was planning to see a therapist for some help debriefing. Today was my second visit - his name is Peter, and he is one of the clinical social workers at the agency where I go. It's the same umbrella organization that my wife works for, but she actually runs an acute care Psychiatric unit, and I'm seeing Peter in one of the outpatient counseling offices. We're getting off to a good start, I think; over the past couple of weeks we've spent the time getting to know each other, and I've started the process of debriefing. Basically, what I'm doing is taking some time to process much of the activity that I've been dealing with over the past year and a half. Ultimately I believe it will all lead back to Magno's arrest and subsequent death by heart attack right before he was to stand trial for child rape. But I need to take the time to sort out where I stand with all of it. I know how I feel; I'm angry that he never got to face his accusers, or more accurately, that he had to deal with his accusers in open court. Unfortunately for me, I've had some work-related issues dealing with patients and their outcomes complicate my ability to resolve that. It's somewhat complex, especially the part about the relationship in my own psyche between Magno and my patients. The fact is, there really is no relationship per se but my ability to deal with one is affected by the other, and it is causing a lot of angst for me.

The other part of it is that I love what I do and I don't want the problems I'm having reconciling my anger at Magno affecting my ability to do my job. Right now that is not happening, and I want to do everything possible to keep it that way.

The EMS community in my part of the world suffered a loss at the tail end of last week. Michael Latta, an employee of Patriot Ambulance out of Chelmsford, died of an apparent heart attack while transporting a patient. Michael was only 21. The patient who was being transported also died in the resultant crash. This Boston Globe article describes what happened to both Michael and the patient.

I didn't know Michael Latta. In fact, I don't know any current Patriot employees. But it doesn't matter; Michael was one of us. He died doing a job that, according to the Globe's article and others that I have read, he loved to do.

What happened was an accident and he likely had a medical event himself; he had a history of a hole in his heart which had been repaired in childhood, but as of yet it hasn't been determined that this was what caused his heart to fail. That said (and I'm speculating now), I would not be surprised if he did what he had to before he died to make sure the truck stayed upright. Think about it; if the truck flipped or when over the 113 overpass onto Route 3, everyone in the truck might have died. There is no way to know now what could have happened, but it is possible that, although the patient they were transporting died, the other crewmembers were saved indirectly. On the other hand, it's possible that he didn't know what hit him, in a manner of speaking, and he went down and lost total control of the truck. But there is no way to know whether or not either scenario is plausible at this point. I suspect the autopsy will tell at least some of the tale.

Regardless of the circumstances, he did die in the line of duty. And he should be honored appropriately.

Meanwhile, on a lighter note, let's follow Sasquatch's misfortunes out in the woods.....

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