“What Happened”?

In the Emergency Medical Services Biz, we don’t always find out the answer to the obvious question afterward: “What happened?” — how did it turn out? We just have to be content with doing our best in the situation at hand, turning the patient over to the hospital, and (usually silently) wishing them luck.

Sometimes we find out, and (sort of) wish we hadn’t.

Setting the Scene

Last Monday afternoon, while working on the Premium edition, my pager went off for “my” ambulance. Clearly very serious right from the start: a traffic crash. I mentally mapped the location: outside my normal response area. It was during the day and I knew the crew could handle it: the chief paramedic was rolling (and put a medical helicopter on standby until she could assess the situation and, if needed, launch it in a hurry).

As I heard the various “resources” mobilize and respond, I knew I had made the right decision to not go: for the two drivers involved they’d have more than enough personnel. Meanwhile I “translated” the radio messages for my assistant, Clare.

The nature that indicated the seriousness: “truck vs. motorcycle.” Not a fair fight to be sure: the biker is almost guaranteed to lose, but the driver of the truck could well be hurt too. “CPR in progress” came the update. If someone’s heart has stopped due to trauma — severe injury — the survival rate is almost nil. My wife, Kit, the deputy coroner, was out doing errands. I sent her a text to let her know her services would probably be needed. She replied that the coroner was on duty that day and would take the call, which was a good thing because Kit would be tied up for several hours.

“Stand down the chopper,” came the order over the radio. I translated for Clare: they don’t need the evac chopper, almost certainly because the biker was pronounced dead.

Not the End

So an example of knowing the full story — “What happened?” Actually, no: it was just the beginning of the story. Because one of the hazards of living in a rural area, a small town, is that the odds of actually knowing the people involved in an incident are astronomically higher than in a metro area.

After getting the Premium issue sent to subscribers, I headed home. Kit was still out, so I got onto Facebook to see if there were any updates: many of my Facebook friends are county and city officials, and if there were any public announcements, I’d see them there fairly quickly.

The first was from a Ridgway cop friend: he simply noted that the dead man was “a local” he was grieving for. Damn. And a city official finally posted the name: Scott Mills.

Wait… Scott Mills? I know Scott: the patrol sergeant for the police department in the county seat, Ouray. THAT Scott Mills?


Scott MillsScott was Fresh in My Mind because Kit had worked a coroner’s case with him just the night before. She had mentioned that with his long experience, she always learns things when she works a case with Scott. I had worked with him a little too; he wasn’t a friend in the sense that we socialized together, but we knew each other and worked well together.

We shared the same attribute when faced with hair-raising emergencies: almost supernatural calm. When others are getting keyed up with something crazy going on, it’s a Good Thing to have a calming force in the mix: someone to help ensure everyone stays focused to do their jobs, and to reassure the victims and family. Panic kills, so calmness really helps. And Scott is — was — even better at that than I am.

Another friend is retired from our EMS agency, and grew up here, but now winters in California. I called him so he’d find out about Scott’s death from a friend, rather than the newspaper.

“EMS is a tough business in a small town,” he said after listening to the news, and sure enough, that’s true. “It takes a heavy toll on the rescuers: psychological and emotional.”

And his conclusion surprised me: that maybe it’s too tough to handle, and he was glad to be retired. It’s true that post-traumatic stress disorder is a big risk in EMS. A Canadian non-profit estimates 22 percent of medics will be diagnosed with PTSD sometime in their careers. We think soldiers are more likely to suffer PTSD, yet their rate is “only” 5 percent. My question: and how many more will suffer without being diagnosed? (Example source)

Too Close?

Yet I disagree with my friend: while it’s tough to have friends die, everyone has friends die. Being a medic puts me in a special position, not a burdensome one: I consider it an honor to be there when a friend is in life or death need. I don’t have to wonder “Could something have been done?” because I was there to see that everything possible was done. Yeah, we try to fight off death, but death always wins at some point, and we have to be ready for that. And, frankly, knowing that nothing could have possibly saved Scott gives me comfort, not stress.

Scott Mills with his pipesScott played the bagpipes: he was in uniform (with a kilt) playing Amazing Grace at the memorial for another friend I wrote about: Mark Miller. I mentioned in that write-up that Mark’s wife is one of our medics. Scott was there for her, and then she was there for Scott: she was in the second ambulance that responded. And that is a small town reality too. “What goes around comes around” …very quickly sometimes. Thus, I trust there will be someone playing pipes at Scott’s service, tomorrow.

Memorial Service

Every medic and every cop in this county knew Scott. There’s no place big enough in this county to hold everyone who will want to be at his memorial, especially when you consider that hundreds of cops will travel here to attend. So it’s been moved to the bigger city to the north that can handle the crowd.

But who will watch the store? If we all go to the funeral, what happens if there’s a need for police or EMS? That’s the beauty of the brotherhood: the next county is sending sheriff’s deputies and an ambulance to be in our county while we’re all in their county.

In the huge line of response vehicles that makes up an emergency worker’s funeral procession, the local agencies lead the line. Kit and I will be in that line tomorrow. I’ll update this post tomorrow with details of that.

Scott Mills, 51, Patrol Sergeant, Ouray P.D.: End of Watch 14 March 2016 — his one-month wedding anniversary. Rest in peace, Scott. We’ve got it from here.

The Motorcade

We’ve all been to funerals, and I don’t think anyone would be interested in a recap of that. So instead, I thought I’d say what it’s like to be in the motorcade of a police funeral as we escorted Scott’s casket from the mortuary to the church where his memorial was held.

All of us from our county who were to be in the motorcade met at 7:00 a.m. and headed to Montrose, where there was a church big enough to handle the crowd. We stopped first and lined up by the mortuary, where the family was waiting. We had plenty of time to kill, so the EMS folks got a group photo — we don’t often wear our dress whites:

EMS crew
Left to right (rear): Glenn, Greg, Ruth, Michael, Mike, me, Kit, Brian, Joey, Mike (front): Colette, Chief Kim, Deb. (Photo by a friendly passing firefighter who was also killing time)


It was a 5-mile, 10-minute ride to the church. My dashcam video of the last 2-1/2 minutes (silent):

(Can be viewed larger on its Youtube page)

As we were from the county of the fallen officer, our group led the motorcade. Dozens of other agencies were represented, including from New Mexico (where Scott had worked as an officer for 18 years). We went the full length of the main street of town (Hwy 550/Townsend Ave.), and surely stretched for a good mile: scores of emergency vehicles with our emergency lights on, running silently. The local police held traffic at the intersections as we went through.

Choking Up

One thing that we all definitely noticed: so many people were standing along the road, many saluting or with their hands (or hats) over their hearts. Storekeepers and customers came out of shops to watch or salute. Some drivers stopped and got out of their cars to watch. A few even held full-sized American flags (they were ready for us, since the local news reported that the procession would come through town).

No one got in our way, or seemed impatient. That public display of respect by so many people choked me up. You can see one example early in the video: on the right side, a group of construction workers stopped their trucks and got out to show their respect, hands over hearts as we passed.

I was driving my “quick-response vehicle,” with QRVs from our EMS agency in front of me, and behind me. It was a little surreal having so many emergency vehicles following behind. I took this photo of my side mirror:

Rear-view-mirror view

After the service, we again escorted the casket, this time to the cemetery. When we arrived, an honor guard was waiting:

Honor Guard
(Photo posted by the City of Ouray.)

The grave-side service was mercifully short: a storm was coming in, and on top of this mesa overlooking Montrose, where Scott grew up, wind gusts were up to 50 mph, yet the Honor Guard held steady with the flags in such winds!

Since Scott was a veteran, the VFW was there to give him a three-volley salute (commonly, but incorrectly, called a 21-gun salute).

And there was one last bit as we left that grabbed me so much that I took this as I pulled out:

Standing guard over his casket
Another Honor Guard surrounded the casket, heads bowed, to symbolically “protect” it as everyone was leaving.

It was an amazing honor to be part of this.

And the Last Detail

Oh, and were there any pipers, as I “trusted” there would be?

Yes: a seven-member pipe and drum corps, from as far away as Santa Fe, N.M. Thanks, guys, for showing up for Scott as he did for so many others!

34 Comments on ““What Happened”?

  1. This was a lovely tribute, Randy. As a retired ER nurse who spent most of her life in a small town, I can relate. You and Kit have my sympathies.

    ER nurses and doctors, too, often didn’t know “What happened?” They may send a patient up to ICU or to surgery, and then move on to the next case. Resolution might take hours, days, or longer. What happened? Many times, there’s too much to do to find out. -rc

  2. RIP Scott, you served your community well and you deserve to rest now. I hope your wife and family mourn you well.

  3. Sadder than usual.

    My deepest condolences to you, Kit, Scott’s family and all of your co-workers in EMS and police.

  4. That was an excellent tribute to Scott! Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and all of you in law enforcement and EMS there in your part of the country.

  5. There I was, reading TRUE as usual. Laughing, rolling my eyes, and having my usual good time.

    Then the other shoe dropped. I turned the page and read this amazing story, which was (no offense) topped only by the astounding heroism of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy John Kotfila Jr. in the Honorary Unsubscribe.

    My mind reels. Funny, happy, “smack my head” …and then tragedy. I’m not sure how to feel! But seeing that one writer in can make me have all these feelings over a few-minute span is, well, a powerful experience. I’m trying to figure out what to take away from all of this.

    (P.S. I know you can identify me by my email address, but I prefer to be “Just a Reader” if that’s OK.)

    Yes, that’s OK. No, I take no offense that you found one piece of my writing topped another! But what you describe feeling here is a metaphor for life itself. We go merrily along, having fun, doing what we do — and then “turn the corner” and find something is happening behind the scenes that affects us in a different, and profound, way. If there’s anything to take away, it’s this: None of us knows when life will slap us, so pay attention to and enjoy the good stuff whenever, and wherever, it happens. Tragedy is not something we should avoid or fear, since if you don’t feel the hurt once in awhile, you won’t appreciate the good times as much. -rc

  6. There is a local Facebook page, DFW Scanner, that reports on active or recent emergencies. One day I saw a notice that overnight someone tried to exit the freeway using an entrance ramp, killing the driver entering the freeway. A co-worker wondered if the wrong-way driver was drunk. In researching that question, I found the name of the fatality, and it was a variation on a friend’s fairly common name. I texted him, but of course he could not answer, because he was indeed the victim.

    Quite the similar experience! Condolences for your loss. He will live on in you as long as you have memories of your time together. -rc

  7. You and your fellow public safety professionals are one reason Sergeant Mills — and Deputy Kotfila — can rest in peace, is what I’d bet. Knowing they have left a strong set of colleagues behind that have the knowledge there are times everything has been done, but death comes anyway, must be a comfort. I am hoping it will bring some help for their families. I despair about Sgt. Mills’ brand new wife. Special prayers for her.

    How many have the guts to put themselves in front of a ton’s worth of speeding destruction to save the lives of folk they don’t have clue one about? I don’t see it would have even been a thought with Deputy Kotfila. “Protect and Serve” isn’t just a slogan. It’s the life, and for many, I don’t think it ever needs conscious thought.

    That you speak of this in your newsletter is so important. Those who work for all of us in the public (even the obliviots!) need to know what you have said in this newsletter. Even when one “knows” it, it always helps to hear it from one we respect. Well, with you and Kit, I should say two we respect.

    Thank you. I will be helping to move a small building tomorrow, we will be having a police officer for traffic help. and Am going to give him a taste of what you wrote, along with the link for your newsletter, and I am about certain he will be passing it on. With some of the stuff they have to deal with, I bet there are days they NEED a good voice.

    My prayers and best to every one of you.

    I imagine you have excellent support for the officer’s families. Is there anything we can do to help?

    Please take excellent care of you. You and Kit are two of the best.

    Expressing your thoughts IS a help. I’ll be printing all of this out for the Ouray officers, and I have no doubt Scott’s wife will see it at some point.

    Indeed, I say that the three big professions who seem to enjoy TRUE the most are “the Three Cs” — cops, clergy, and counselors (lawyers) — so I’m sure if your helpful officer checks out the site, he’s likely to enjoy what he finds. -rc

  8. I appreciate your thoughts about being there to help friends when they need it. I’m not a first responder, rather a sort of last responder. In Orthodox Jewish communities, there are groups called “Chevra Kadisha.” Translates as “Holy Brotherhood.”

    These are volunteer groups that prepare bodies for burial (men for men, women for women). We wash the bodies, clothe them in shrouds, and place them in their caskets.

    Most often we don’t know those whose bodies we are preparing, but sometimes it is a friend, even a close friend. Some people find it hard to do for someone they knew.

    I’ve been doing it for 25 years now, heading my synagogue’s Chevra Kadisha for more than 15. It is called “Chesed shel Emet” — “Kindness of Truth” because unlike any other act of kindness, there is no thought of thanks from the recipient. And because of this, I find it one of the most satisfying things I can do.

    That’s amazingly powerful, Bill. Even though they cannot thank you, I will: thank you for performing this important service. I too find my work extremely satisfying, and certainly don’t do it for the kudos. Those who blow off volunteering to help others just don’t know what they’re missing. -rc

  9. I was very moved by your descriptions of EMS and police actions, their bravery and the terrible toll it can take on them. I’ve had and continue to have many concerns about the police culture in our nation, but we can’t forget how much good all first responders do for everyone every day!

    I like Jon Stewart’s take on the concern you express: “You can truly grieve for every officer who’s been lost in the line of duty in this country and still be troubled by cases of police overreach. Those two ideas are not mutually exclusive. You can have great regard for law enforcement and still want them to be held to high standards.”

    Indeed, in a free society we MUST hold police to high standards — and grieve mightily when they’re lost when working to follow them. -rc

  10. Thanks for this explanation, Randy.

    I have had this same wonder and interest many times but deemed it inappropriate to inquire.

    Small communities are warm and sharing. Makes them special as are you and Kit.

  11. Thank you for sharing the story about Scott’s death and your personal involvement. I hope (and suspect) that for you this may be a part of the process of “handling” the trauma. I lived for 20 years in a small community of some 500 people in the south of the country where also everybody knew everybody. Now in Tel Aviv acquaintances are quite different. We have lost several friends in the last year and a half and talking about them with mutual friends helps ease the pain. As you obliquely point out, death is something we all face eventually. Again thank you for sharing.

  12. Looking at what is going on in the world makes it easy to become cynical and frustrated. Reading your newsletter doesn’t help much with that, but the stories about the police officers and ER people restore faith in humanity!

    TRUE’s stories give me more hope for humanity. There’s a post about that, too. -rc

  13. I fully understand the feelings shared by the EMS and Public Safety communities when one of theirs die or are killed both in the line of duty and when out of uniform. My father was a police officer in the Upper Darby PD in Pennsylvania. He was also a Volunteer Fireman with the Highland park FD. I remember all of the police cars from all over the state and out of state cars too. It is almost too hard to type this as I have a lot of tears in my eyes for the families involved with both officers. May they rest in the arms of God and may the families feel the joy of knowing that.

  14. I was particularly heartbroken to see that he died on the one-month anniversary of his wedding — which was obviously on Valentine’s Day. My specific condolences to his wife Sandy in this tragic event.

    I also read his obit on Facebook and learned that he had been in New Mexico for most of his professional life. Truly saddened, but also thankful for his service and devotion.

    He served 6 years in the U.S. Air Force, 16 years in Los Alamos County, and 2 years in Albuquerque. All of those sent representatives, as did Broomfield and Santa Fe, N.M. There were also, of course, many from all over Colorado. -rc

  15. I just wanted to let you know I was here too.

    When I lived in a small town in CT, I lived across the road from the volunteer fire department and EMS. They had an old-style tornado warning siren that would go off whenever they had a call. Obviously, it woke me up, and I’d peek out to see what kind of call they went on. I didn’t have tv or internet, so this, besides reading and borrowing tapes from the library was my “entertainment”.

    I’d learned their cars and always knew what kind of call it was by who showed up, because I’d watch their training sessions every Wednesday.

    When my son came to live with me, he even joined as a junior member doing photography, and starting their web page.

    Eventually, I ended up having to move to a different town because the apartment we were in technically wasn’t legally large enough for us, and there wasn’t another one available in the area.

    I heard through the grapevine a couple weeks later that one of the volunteer firefighters had committed suicide. I knew who he was, and he had called the chief and told him where he was and left a note. It was sad all around for his family, the station, and the town. We couldn’t make the funeral because my son and I both worked that day, but I went to the library and read the newspaper reports. I imagine the turnout was similar to your friend’s, since he lived his life there. Small towns take good care of their people.

  16. Thanks for the update and the moving story of the funeral. I kept this tab open in my browser so I could read it when published. I’m sorry for your loss, but greatly moved by how he was honored.
    — Air Force veteran

  17. I was very moved by your writings of Scott Mills. I can understand the closeness and camaraderie of the emergency services, as my ex-wife was the 2IC of rescue in our relatively small town. Rescue was completely volunteer back then, except for the fire chief under whose purview rescue was run. They had 3 rescue trucks berthed at the main fire station, and a rescue truck and ambulance at each of two satellite locations. I wasn’t part of rescue but got to go to the parties, and after chatting with people I suggested to my wife that they get a professional counselor/debrief on some of the rougher cases. They were already doing self-debriefs, but brought it up a level.

    Turns out it was a great help when one snowy evening, the chief had to pull one of the responders off the road; the call she was responding to was at a poorly-planned 5-way intersection. Her son had been decapitated.

    After my ex and I had our child, she quit rescue just as it was starting to be paid. She said that with a child of her own, she could no longer deal with babies who had been decapitated, gutted, slit in two, and embedded in windshields. Understandable…

    The good news is that our child graduated from a good college in Vermont. He had been taking courses through high school, and volunteered and continued training while in college. The college and the surrounding small communities have a code share agreement. I’m proud to say he got his second pin just graduation.

    A rare position opened up at the college, and he’s on a 5-day full-time shift doing dispatch and studying for whatever the highest level of Paramedic there is. He’s hoping for another lucky break along the way, to get him out on more calls (riding along is on his own time, but he doesn’t live at the college.

    Hang in there, Randy and Kit. You know that in time the sorrow will pass, and the good memories will remain.

    Indeed so. And while I won’t suggest that decapitations don’t happen anymore, the carnage is definitely way reduced from those days. Cars are much more protective with crumple zones, airbags, and padding (where there used to be sheet metal dashboards, for instance). Not to mention that seatbelt campaigns have many more people using that simple life-saving device. Other than fingertips, I’ve never seen an amputation of any kind in my 15 years of service, though I certainly have seen some other heart-breaking things. -rc

  18. Your tribute to Scott Mills touched me deeply. I’ve enjoyed your writing for 15+ years, but this was big. That story, especially then being followed by the Honorary Unsubscribe for Deputy John Kotfila Jr., brought me to a deeper understanding of ‘The Big Picture’ in a very profound way.

    Thank you.

  19. “…None of us knows when life will slap us, so pay attention to and enjoy the good stuff whenever, and wherever, it happens.”

    A van of us were coming home one weekend from an event. Single vehicle car crash. One dead, one a SCI C-5. 19 years ago.

    Randy, I’m sorry for your loss. I do think that writing about your EMS cases, and writing about the loss of your friends, acquaintances and patients helps you with your PTSD.

    Do you get together with others from the emergency services in your area periodically to share memories?

    Writing it out is my therapy to ensure it’s worked out so I don’t suffer post-traumatic stress. I was somewhat affected by PTSD by a nasty call in California when I was first in the biz, when I wasn’t doing any writing. And indeed for this one, our chief called us together for an in-person meeting just after Scott was killed. -rc

  20. Just when I think that you have reached a pinnacle, something else happens. In this case it was a very sad story, but you have a way of presenting it that allows everyone to understand the feelings of all that are involved. My thoughts and prayers go to everyone that is touched by Scott’s death. (And also to those affected by the actions of deputy John Kotfila Jr.)

  21. When I read an article like this, I have the same couple of questions that are rarely answered. I checked a few sources, but haven’t found the answers yet. I hope this doesn’t sound cynical or insensitive, but I’d like to ask those questions of this case as well.

    What type of bike was he riding? What protective gear was he wearing?

    I ask because I’ve always worn a full-body armored leather race suit, Snell-certifiable full-face helmet, armored racing boots and armored gloves. ATGATT. On my first-ever ride (Ninja 250), I had a nasty wipeout on a rural road at 40mph. My only injuries were two chipped fingernails. They were long anyway. I just filed those two, trimmed the other eight, and called that my “surgery”. ATGATT.

    ATGATT: All The Gear, All The Time, which is the smartest way to ride.

    The answer to your question is, I don’t know. He had a helmet, but it was found near him, not on him. Was he wearing it and it was knocked off by the impact? Don’t know, and I don’t know what other gear he was wearing. He was hit very hard. And after hearing the summary of his autopsy findings, it’s clear to me that nothing could have saved him from the injuries he received.

    Update: he was indeed wearing his helmet, and it was ripped off his head by the force of the crash. -rc

  22. I am a volunteer for the Marion County Sheriff’s Funeral Escort Unit. My heart just swells and goes out to all the families we escort, especially Police and Fire personal, and Servicemen and -women. In the 14 years I’ve done this I still get the chills when I see the respect from the motoring public as we pass by. I am an 86 year old lady and I will continue to drive for the sheriff as long as I am able. May your friend rest in God’s arms.

    Wow: that means you were 72 when you started this work! Thanks for your help in being part of the sendoffs of these men and women who served us. -rc

  23. Thanks Randy, and to all those who serve. Another moving tribute.

    I recently found a new (free) app: PulsePoint. Its primary purpose (especially in the big cities) is to request/be notified when someone nearby needs CPR. But many fire/police departments also use it to log their calls (different tab/view).

    As I live a block from a fire station, I often hear the sirens as they go out on a call. I’m able to call up the app and see what they’ve been called to, and lift up a prayer for all involved.

  24. Every single story you have written for “True” inspires. But it’s when you add parts of your personal life that the fullness of your and Kit’s lives gel together. It’s like you become a symphony of life we can all become immersed in. Ya’ll are what I wish we had leading this country, Leading us. Sorry if a bit mushy, but do mean well.

  25. Thank you so much for this article. Extended family lives in Colorado and often frequents Ouray.

    You illuminated public servant Scott Mills’ life and career and the fellowship of the EMS in this town. Thank you for these insights, and for walking your readers through such a personally impacting experience. It is timely to current day news events. We, your readers, might otherwise never realize what might be on the thoughts of public servants. And, while not everyone works in EMS, everyone can identity with losing a loved one — the tremendous value each human life holds for us. We express condolences to Scott Mills’ family.

  26. As an ex-paramedic, and retired police Lieutenant, I feel the loss of any of my brothers and sisters in blue that have fallen. Often when my wife asks why I have tears in my eyes, I can only shake my head and walk away. R.I.P. my brother.

  27. I live near a small town that my daughter and her family live in. My son-in-law is part of the local volunteer fire department. He frequently sees people he knows at accidents. This included two of my children at a car-train accident. Luckily my son sped up just as he noticed the train and they were okay even though the back end of the car was practically gone. This was one of those rural intersections where the corn was growing very tall and it was hard to see the train coming.

    I read the report of Scott Mills in both the Premium and Free editions and cried both times. I keep the free edition in case I want to share a story.

    Thank you Randy.

    Your son’s quick thinking saved lives that day, including his own. I’m glad your son-in-law found everyone OK, rather than the ugly alternative. -rc

  28. I can never make it through Amazing Grace on the pipes. In my opinion, the only way it should be played. I trust there was someone to do the honors.

    “This Week’s Honorary Unsubscribe goes to John Kotfila Jr.”

    I grieve for both, and their friends and families.

    Il Divo: Amazing Grace.

    As noted at the end: “Oh, and were there any pipers, as I “trusted” there would be? Yes: a seven-member pipe and drum corps, from as far away as Santa Fe, N.M. Thanks, guys, for showing up for Scott as he did for so many others!” -rc

  29. First, my condolences on the loss of a brother.

    I had the opportunity to drive in a funeral procession for a Fire fighter, retired police officer, and former mayor of a small town. We traveled a bit farther than you, in that distance we went through the capitol of the state — no traffic control, not a single officer presence. And impatient people at traffic signals. The smaller municipalities we went through had more officers on the street than are normally on duty handling traffic control at major intersections. You could also tell the civilians that ‘got it’.

    I am a former emergency services dispatcher. While I no longer have that job, I like to keep tabs on what is happening in the business. I follow several emergency services-related groups on Facebook, and it always puts a lump in my throat to read a last call. Reading the snippet in this week’s free edition that led me to this article was no different.

    “Last Calls” are when dispatch calls the fallen officer three times, then announces End of Watch (in a permanent sense). I’ve heard some recordings online, but I’ve never worked in a place that does them. I’m sure it would choke up anyone who knew the fallen responder, and many who didn’t. -rc

  30. My wife, Carole, had a sad example at work recently of the “close community” of the professions that care for us.

    She is a receptionist in our local hospital Emergency Department. Sometimes she is on the main reception desk, processing “walk in” patients, sometimes she is doing Ward Clerk duty, and sometimes she is on the “Ambulance Line” booking in patients brought in by ambulances. A few weeks ago, she was on the “Ambulance Line” when a patient was brought in whose identity and clinical status shook everyone. He was one of the Ambulance Paramedics whose “beat” included the hospital he had been brought into, and he was brought in because he had deliberately taken something like 72 paracetamol (acetaminophen or Tylenol to our US readers) tablets. Everyone was a little shaken by it, but obviously they had to put aside their “this is our friend and colleague” shock and process him like any other patient. Carole was still a bit shaken when she finished her shift and came home.

    As others have said, you often don’t know what happened afterwards, although Carole sometimes does get some idea when she is completing the “paperwork” and sees where the patient went next — home, to a ward, or to the mortuary. In this case, as far as I know, she hasn’t heard “what next”. I just do my best to be a set of ears she can talk at.

    Suicide is a big risk factor for first responders, especially if they don’t feel like they can talk about the stress. -rc

  31. Sad to see, but powerful to see the effect this guy has had on so many people.

    The photo of the guys with heads bowed recalled my own father’s military funeral where the road was lined with Soldiers with rifles inverted and heads bowed — a powerful reminder.

    Carry on Randy and Kit with the amazing work you do — you are held in high esteem as was your pal.

  32. It moved me to tears.

    My late husband was our hospital’s chief pharmacist and the largest HMO’s regional chief. Even retired, he would sit up at the sound of in-coming helicopters; we knew from the flight path and engine pitch where they were going… and how bad it was.

    “For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.”

  33. Thank you, this was very moving. I used to be in the military police (over 30 years ago) and my late husband was a retired deputy sheriff. We both loved your writing for many years. Even though I don’t participate in emergency response situations in a professional capacity anymore, I have an almost involuntary response to pause to pray for all involved every time I hear a siren. Your account touched my heart (I literally had palpitations) and the video of the funeral procession was the perfect solemn note of dignity and respect. Thank you for your service to humanity, both with your First Responder work and with your writing.

  34. From your emotive description of the event, I was moved to tears, as I felt included as part of the story unfolding. That is due to your writing skills but nevertheless, it was a very moving story and I was also touched by the follow up in the blog with the photos.

    When stopped last week by a traffic accident, I was next to two young officers who were directing traffic around the wreckage and I felt it necessary to roll my window down and comment to the officers how much I appreciate the work that they do.

    I have been hit by a car whilst on a crossing and required assistance from paramedics and I cannot thank them enough for the care they took with me, an older woman.

    As far as I am concerned, there is not enough praise for emergency services workers nor is their salary enough to compensate for the dangers that they face daily.


Leave a Comment