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Some nights, this is what it feels like.



Our first call was for a psychotic person who was attacking pedestrians and threatening to kill all the officers who came because the case manager didn't know what else to do. I've seen this person decline over the last number of years from a reasonable, intelligent, even kind individual, to a mess in the gutter who gave up on himself long ago and has only hatred left - the worst of which was directed to those who came specifically to help however we could. I told the cops I thought we could manage, that - maybe - telling him the cops were gone would help him realise we weren't The Enemy.

After he told us he was going to cut our throats and break our jaws, I had to wrestle with, restrain, and sedate this person, wondering who would be recording the last part to accuse us of something later...That's right - people we call sir and ma'am...people we give blankets and hot packs to...people we advocate for often want to kill us. Every time I have to do that, it feels like a failure. We take great risks to try and do the right thing, but, sometimes, there's no fix - just a momentary pause in the destruction.


Shortly after that, I went to a home where a person was in the very last moments of life, the partner finally succumbing to the finality of what was happening. I explained that we would honor the DNR, that no one had to go to the hospital...that there should be drops in the comfort care package that would help ease the secretions, make breathing easier; make that rattle less intense. Let him die at home, peacefully, comfortably...


There was more, but I think that paints a picture. Two calls of one night of one tour. Today, I just had to call out sick, watch the sun come up, and think about the gracious savagery of it all.


I got home, sat on my porch and sipped a Negroni. Just when the sky was turning the pre-dawn pink, an owl slowly glid past. He turned and we made eye contact. Maybe he'd had a rough night shift as well and just wanted to get home...


Sometimes, when those of us in EMS, Fire, Dispatch, Law Enforcement don't want to come out, when we worry about things you think are Game-of-Thrones-paranoid impossibilities, it's because our nights are filled with what - to most people - *are* impossibilities.


We don't know how to explain it when we come home, and so we seem distant, aloof, secretive. We just don't know how to describe it - how to describe what it feels like to be in a helping profession and come back day after day after day, feeling that we helped no one, and ran a gauntlet of investigation-dodges to give our level best.


It's tiring.

Some mornings, like this one, we have nothing left, and so we get some sleep, tell you that we're fine, and try to come to ourselves enough for the next bag of tricks. And the next, and the next, and so on.


Please be kind to yourselves and gentle with us - we really do go through more at work than we admit.


Please understand that it's not because of you, partners, families, kids. It's because we would rather say nothing than dump that wet blanket on you.

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