I was hanging out this afternoon with the guys on C shift at Station 21. Giving back to my community for me comes in the shape of being a chaplain with our fire department.
When my department's tones were sounded on my pager the words that followed weren't good. "Chaplain 16 [that's me] please call Station 16." The phone call said that I was needed at the hospital.
Two little girls - sisters - somehow got into an abandoned car in their neighborhood and couldn't get out. When their mother realized they were gone a search began to find them.
I arrived at the hospital in time to hear the attending physician explain to the mother that the younger sister (18 months) was unresponsive and she was gone. I went with her into the room and watched as they discontinued the CPR and made the pronouncement. Then I stayed with her for quite a while as she held the lifeless body of her baby. All the while, in the very next room her other daughter (not yet 3) was being intubated and being prepared for transport to CHKD in Norfolk. Later I walked the father in to say goodbye to his daughter.
The story is on tonight's news.
As much as I grieve for the parents, it's the emergency responders and hospital staff I'm most concerned about. I've already recieved a call at home tonight from a paramedic who worked the call and was in tears. The cops who met me at the emergency room were sullen. The ER staff was obviously struggling to do their jobs. The firefighters who frantically searched the neighborhood and sound waters have to be devastated. These kinds of calls take their toll, even on the most experienced. Especially when children are involved.
Its' a tough job.