I hate writing hard posts. Unfortunately, this is one of them. While I haven't written one like this in a long time, I find that doing so helps me work through the difficulty I have dealing with what is in front of me. And this is one of those times where I feel a real need to do that.
This past Thursday I worked one of my shifts at the firehouse. Normal, not too difficult. Went out once at 7:15PM-ish for a call. Chris, my partner, and I had planned grab dinner, but we got sent out. I forgot to mention that we had a third rider, a department member that has ridden with me in the past. Andy - nice guy, really bright, but needs to get some more experience. I like him; he simply needs more grooming.
Anyway, we went out to do this call. Ended up taking care of a fall victim. We got back, were finally able to get a bite to eat, and we were for the rest of the evening. We were up until 11:30-ish. Our third rider headed out at that time, so Chris and I settled down to try to get some sleep.
We were woken up at a little before 4:00AM. We were sent to one of the assisted living facilities in town. Fall victim. We arrived on scene, and the patient - a 75 year-old male - had fallen out of bed. As we were walking up to the room our patient lived in, we heard the cries of, "Help! Help" coming from inside. We found our patient sitting on the floor next to his bed. The one thing I thought was interesting was the posters on the walls. All from Broadway shows. Plus, a very extensive collection of CD's and DVD's. Show tunes. Broadway soundtracks. Plus the DVD's were musicals, movies, etc.
We checked on our patient; he wasn't injured, but he couldn't get up. The house custodian told us he was down on the floor for probably 15 minutes before we arrived on scene. So we got him off of the floor. His legs were underneath him; I suspect they had fallen asleep. When we got him on his feet, he was able to move around without difficulty. And he didn't want to go to be evaluated. That was fine; he wasn't injured. So he signed a refusal of treatment and transport, and we were on our way.
Got back to the firehouse about 4:40. I attempted to sleep until my alarm went off 40 minuts later. I packed up and got ready to end shift. As I was walking into the day room, I caught some radio traffic on the police department channel that got my attention. The dispatcher said, "we got a medical call coming in from __ _________ St. I can't understand the caller; she sounds pretty hysterical." About 10 seconds later we got an incoming call tone.
"Respond to __ ___________St. Echo level medical call. Individual not conscious, not breathing. PD en route."
As soon as we got on the road, about a minute later, dispatch came on the air and asked us to call. When I did, I was told that we were headed to the scene of a suicide. We just needed to declare death and help establish a time. When we arrived, we were directed to the basement of the house where we found a man hanging. It was easy to confirm death as he had all of the obvious signs that I was looking for: rigor mortis had set in, there was dependent lividity (pooling of blood) showing in his hands, he was pale, and he had an angle of about 45 degrees at his neck.
Police officers on scene had his information, and when I asked for it and was given his name, it was like I got hit in the face with a brick. This person was somoene I had known for close to thirty years. I hadn't seen him in a very long time, and I didn't recognize him. Plus, this was someone that others I know also knew well.
I spoke with his wife prior to leaving the scene. Apparently there had been an argument the night before. Not the first, from what I gathered. And it was pretty intense. Intense enough, in fact, where she was scared for her safety. She had planned to leave him, and whether or not she intended to follow through with that, he must have gotten scared himself. On my part, however, that is purely conjecture. I have no idea what was in his head. But that doesn't matter now.
I feel badly for his family. Really badly. And while I am less upset than I was before, I am still pretty angry. But it doesn't matter what I feel or think.
If this were someone I didn't know, it would still be difficult, but when it is personal, it is much harder.