Posted by: medicblog999 | January 18, 2010

A realisation of my limits

haiti

It seems that the whole world is talking about Haiti, and quite rightly so. It seems like the vast majority of the blogosphere is writing about it, and rightly so.

I havent touched the subject so far.

Part of that is due to the fact that I didnt have anything new to say, that some of my fellow bloggers havent already said. But I guess the main part is that it is just incomprehensible what has happened and is still happening over there.

I have mentioned in previous posts and I am sure that it has come across in many others that I tend to think (some may say dwell) about things and events a little too much. If something bad is happening to someone, or something sad, or horrific has happened, for some strange and unknown reason, I cant help but put myself in that situation and imagine what it must have been like.

This has kept me awake many a night after bad jobs, but I find that with the Haiti disaster, whenever I see the news I have to look away. I dont want to see the images that are coming out from their, I dont want to hear about the thousands upon thousands of dead. Its not because I dont care, on the contrary, its because I care too much!

I find myself drifting off and imagining what it would be like to be trapped under a collapsed building. Thats bad enough, but then I imagine being trapped with my children, hearing then screaming and crying and not being able to get to them to hold them and try and comfort them, then slowly after time, hearing their cries get quieter then finally stop. It is a horror that is making it hard to see the monitor in front of me, never mind having to live, then die, through it.

These thoughts plague me whenever something like this happens in the world. I want to help these people. I want to dash out and do what I do best, care for people and try and make a difference in thier lives or at least reduce thier suffering. But then reality hits home.

There is no way that I could ever do something like that. I would not be able to cope with the sights that would meet me. I would not be able to cope with the utter loss and despair in so many families eyes and hearts. I am ashamed that I cannot join some sort of international aid and rescue effort and go and help, but I know my limits and I know that it would break me in ways that I maybe not be able to put back together.

In my service, the HART (Hazardous area response team) is just about to go live this year. 40 Paramedics who are trained to go into situations like this and deliver care to those that they can reach and hopefully save. I have lost count of the amount of time colleagues of mine have asked why I didnt apply to be a HART Team Leader. Alot of my friends tend to think that I would have loved that job, but I guess they dont know me as well as they thought.

I had a conversation yesterday with a paramedic on my station who I really and truly respect. He has secured a place on the HART team and I was asking him how he would feel if he was ever sent to a disaster zone like that. His answer :

“I would just have to hope that I could be satisfied that I would be doing the very best I could to help, and If I could save just one person who would otherwise have died, then surely that would be worth it”

And that sums this short post up. It wasnt about me….. It wasn’t even about the survivors and those who have perished in Haiti. It is for all of the rescuers who have taken themselves out of their own safe environment and put themselves in harms way, both physically and psychologically to try and save ‘just one person’ from the horror that is all around them.

I could not do it, but I am thankful that there are some of you who can.

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Responses

  1. Good post, as ever – very thought provoking.I know what it can do to dwell on thoughts like that. I found it when I was doing some research into international human rights abuses (mainly genocide) – some of what I read was particularly graphic and gave me nightmares. In the end, for my own good, I had to abandon my research. Sometimes I'd even try and put myself in the place of the soldiers who uncovered mass graves and such like or those who had watched members of their family being brutally murdered (and quickly realised that one cannot do this).

  2. I know what you mean, Mark. I learned a long time ago that if I internalized everything like I did early on in my career that it would destroy me. Now, I work my job and I'm as compassionate as I can be… but I try not to get any of it on me. I regularly work disasters here in the US and I've been to some of the biggest ones in the last few years. The things I've seen and heard haunt me to this day. I just consider it my honor to carry part of the people's pain… because if I can carry some of it for them, perhaps in some immeasurable way their burden is lessened. Perhaps that's too melodramatic.. anyways. Good post buddy.

  3. I know what you mean, Mark. I learned a long time ago that if I internalized everything like I did early on in my career that it would destroy me. Now, I work my job and I'm as compassionate as I can be… but I try not to get any of it on me. I regularly work disasters here in the US and I've been to some of the biggest ones in the last few years. The things I've seen and heard haunt me to this day. I just consider it my honor to carry part of the people's pain… because if I can carry some of it for them, perhaps in some immeasurable way their burden is lessened. Perhaps that's too melodramatic.. anyways. Good post buddy.

  4. Well, this certainly is some good therapy…and I mean that most sincerely. Quite often I'm guilty of putting on a hard shelled exterior in order to cover up the emotional turmoil inside, and every now and again some manages to slip through. I'm not sure if there is a way to really deal with all that we see and do on our jobs other than what we are doing right here. I know personally that I have felt MUCH better over the past few months putting my feelings out in writing and it's also nice to know that there are people out there that deal with the same issues I do.My real weakness is this…geriatrics. Mark, your post the other day about the older lady living alone really hit home to me. I think it's those types of calls that get to me because I do realize that it could very well be me one days. As for the people of Haiti there will be lonely people across all age groups from here on out and it would absolutly break my heart…and my wallet. That's just me; I would bring them all home with me if I could.O.K., enough of the sappy stuff (LOL)….Medic Up!! Thanks Mark.

  5. I know what you mean, Mark. I learned a long time ago that if I internalized everything like I did early on in my career that it would destroy me. Now, I work my job and I'm as compassionate as I can be… but I try not to get any of it on me. I regularly work disasters here in the US and I've been to some of the biggest ones in the last few years. The things I've seen and heard haunt me to this day. I just consider it my honor to carry part of the people's pain… because if I can carry some of it for them, perhaps in some immeasurable way their burden is lessened. Perhaps that's too melodramatic.. anyways. Good post buddy.

  6. Well, this certainly is some good therapy…and I mean that most sincerely. Quite often I'm guilty of putting on a hard shelled exterior in order to cover up the emotional turmoil inside, and every now and again some manages to slip through. I'm not sure if there is a way to really deal with all that we see and do on our jobs other than what we are doing right here. I know personally that I have felt MUCH better over the past few months putting my feelings out in writing and it's also nice to know that there are people out there that deal with the same issues I do.My real weakness is this…geriatrics. Mark, your post the other day about the older lady living alone really hit home to me. I think it's those types of calls that get to me because I do realize that it could very well be me one days. As for the people of Haiti there will be lonely people across all age groups from here on out and it would absolutly break my heart…and my wallet. That's just me; I would bring them all home with me if I could.O.K., enough of the sappy stuff (LOL)….Medic Up!! Thanks Mark.


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