Saturday, 7 January 2017

Something you don't expect

I didn't expect that being a road rescue operator would alter how I read the news.  Somewhere it turned out that I'd go through my incoming news emails and digest most of the stories that relate to road accidents around the world.

A fairly bald report out of Dallas tells me that -
Firefighters rescued a driver that went off Loop 820 into the Trinity River in Fort Worth Saturday morning.
Fort Worth firefighters responded to a call about the crash on East Loop 820 near Randol Mill Road at about 5 a.m.
A technical rescue spent more than an hour extracting the driver from the vehicle, according to authorities.
Knowing how these things go, even this summary leaves me with a rough picture of the extrication: the work of getting a hydraulic pump and hoses and cutting and spreading gear from the truck to the crash site and the difficulty of finding something solid enough in the wreck of the car to press on to operator the spreaders and trying to find a way to take the casualty from the vehicle without compromising their spine.  And the time it took is revealing - an hour rather than the ideal of twenty minutes or less.  The crew that went out would have been drained at the end of the job.  If it went badly, they would have gone through the miserable feeling of why nothing was working.

I've been to fatal accidents, but I've been lucky that they haven't affected me much because the job itself went well and we did what we were trained to do.  What I've found toughest has been after a rescue or a search when things don't work properly.  When the truck rolled with the wrong crew on board, or a search team crashed a vehicle or crew leaders get into a heated bicker over radio frequencies.  Those are the moments you are bent out of shape and can't be unbent and when you hate the job and yourself and wonder where it began to unravel.

I don't think I'm unique in this.  If you're in the emergency services or know someone who is, maybe bear this in mind if they've been to a 'difficult' job.  Sometimes it's not the worst accident but the worst response that knocks people around.

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