Shadowland

by Ross Beckley

shadowland

One of the darker and more difficult days I have had to endure in my career was attending “Shadowland”.

Located in the middle of an industrial area in the heart of a major city, surrounded by a high security fence, the building is an older style warehouse with no signage. It appears to be unoccupied as there are no workers’ cars or signs of life.

The building is brick façade and steel roof with brick walls about 8 foot high around the entire building. Two sets of high galvanized, colourbond doors that open from the middle are visible. There is broken asphalt leading to the doors where trucks unloading their cargo have torn up the pavement. Continue reading “Shadowland”

Living Someone Else’s Worst Day

Reverend D. Dean Young
Senior Chaplain and President
Pinellas Chaplains’ Association Inc

The day had been a pleasant one, I had spent it with my family preparing for Christmas festivities. I was holding my youngest son when the alert went off. It said: Signal 7, PD/EMS Involvement, veh vs mc, engulfed in flames. The location was in my response area.

I found my wife, and as calmly as one can be after reading that, I said I had to go. She knows the call can come at any time. She smiled and said, “Be safe, I love you”.

I dressed in my gear as fast as I could and headed toward the scene. I wondered what this scene was going to look like when I got there. Being a Chaplain, I often get very little information before arrival at a scene. This time the information I got was rather accurate, except for PD Involvement which, thankfully, there was none. Continue reading “Living Someone Else’s Worst Day”

What Was Your Worst Call?

by an Anonymous Dispatcher

At one time or another, anyone who has worked in Emergency Services for more than a few months will get asked, what was your worst call?  This is a question we hate after being asked the first time.  How do you quantify and qualify “the worst?” Does “the worst” have specific requirements for people asking the question? My “worst” and your “worst” could have two totally different definitions. Should it be based on number of people injured or killed ? How about extent of injuries? Or what about what could possibly motivate people to do some of the heinous things they do?

Time and time again dispatchers get dismissed because they don’t respond to the scene and see the wreckage of the calls they handle. They are being told that what we hear “isn’t that bad”…we should be able to handle any and everything without it impacting us.  I would love to find a human being that can listen to what we hear and not be impacted. A mother discovering their baby dead due to no fault of her own. Hearing the sound a parent makes when the one thing they love more than themselves is gone and there is nothing they can do. Continue reading “What Was Your Worst Call?”

They Called Us Heroes

by Rev Kevin Coughlin, PhD

Rev Kevin Coughlin, PhD
Rev Kevin Coughlin, PhD

When I was a younger man, I took an oath to protect and serve my fellows. I wore a shiny badge on my chest, a bullet-proof vest, and carried a powerful weapon. At academy, I was at the top of my class, a squad leader, and an expert shot. I wore a blue uniform and polished black boots. I loved my job. We had codes for this, and codes for that, we had our own language. We were a special breed!

Some guys thought they were John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, or “The Rock.” Some were close to retirement, bitter, and gray. Others were young, inquisitive, and active. To some it was just a job, and for others it was a calling. The older guys had a tendency to look at every citizen as if they were all criminals. I guess they had seen the bad side of human beings for far too long. Some thought they were above the law, and better than other men. Me, I was the rookie! My main job was to get the older guys coffee at first. That wasn’t what I had signed on to do!
One fall evening I was sitting at the front desk with an icepack on my left knee. I had taken down a three hundred and fifty pound man during a scuffle to arrest him, earlier in the shift. I smashed my left knee on the road as I subdued him. Just then a call came in that there was a house fire near the station. I forgot all about my knee and sprung into action. My partner and I headed to the scene. Continue reading “They Called Us Heroes”

HEROES

by Rick Workman

Rick Workman
Rick Workman

I post this in honor of those members of fire/rescue/EMS/law enforcement who have gone to their rest. I have been in the position to say goodbye to some of my “Heroes” and mentors, and it’s a hard place to stand. I thank you all for what I received from each of you. To your credit or detriment, you helped make me the public servant I am today.

He was an old hand
I was just a rookie EMT
We rode together to a fire call
In December of ’83
Everybody on that scene
Gave it everything they had
But it was an old two story structure
It couldn’t end any way but bad Continue reading “HEROES”

Imprints on the Soul

by Careen Condrotte

Careen Condrotte
Careen Condrotte

Every waking moment of each and every day
Leaves an imprint, a memory that may stay
Locked in the very essence of who we are
But do we always know if that memory will scar?

Was the imprint a moment of joy or of sorrow?
Are we present in the moment, or thinking about tomorrow?
Was the moment gone, much to fast?
Or did it leave an imprint to last? Continue reading “Imprints on the Soul”

Emotional Preparation for Retirement – Adjusting to Civilian Life for Public Safety Personnel

by Chaplain Jim Burns

Introduction

Chaplain Jim Burns
Chaplain Jim Burns

Those of us in public safety careers – law enforcement, fire service are usually gung-ho, Type A personalities, self-reliant, confident and sometimes even a little cocky. We love excitement. We feel there is nothing we can’t do; we’re self-important, helpers, fixers, we need to be needed, and we enjoy being the front-line of defense and first responders when something goes terribly wrong in our neighborhoods, our districts and our jurisdictions.

In the academy. we learn to be tough, to be a team player, to follow orders to the letter, to fit into the chain of command, to practice our particular skill sets until they become second-nature. During our years of service, we continue to train to be the best police officer, firefighter, or chaplain that we are capable of being. We learn about critical incident stress and how to manage it. We practice working under extreme stress. We train, train, and train some more. We are among the best of the best at what we do. Continue reading “Emotional Preparation for Retirement – Adjusting to Civilian Life for Public Safety Personnel”

Hiding in Plain Sight

by Captain Robert Cubby (retired)
Jersey City (NJ) Police Department

Robert Cubby
Robert Cubby

Once again, we hear about another officer killed in the line of duty. We mourn the loss of Police Officer Randolph Holder of the New York City Police Department whose end of watch was October 20, 2015. May he rest in peace.

I have attended too many police funerals in my career. Two of the funerals that I attended, I was personally involved with the case and was there when the officer died. Continue reading “Hiding in Plain Sight”

I Loved Them, Too

by Tabitha Hill

Tabitha Hill
Tabitha Hill

You don’t know me, and you probably never will. If you were ever to think of me it would be because my face is a blurry memory of the worst day of your life. It was the day you found out you lost her. Or the day you found out he would never be the same again. It was the day you forgot how to think straight and you learned just how many tears you could cry before you were empty.

It was the day you barely remember in some ways, but you’ll never be able to forget. You see it in your dreams, in color, in 3D. I was there that day. I saw you walk in with your husband. Saw you hugging your loved ones and holding hands. I saw you stand in a circle praying desperately. I heard your sobs and I hurt for you. My heart broke so deeply for you. Continue reading “I Loved Them, Too”

Jane

by Robert Cubby

Robert Cubby
Robert Cubby

I am reminded of an experience that took place at a police funeral and the aftermath, the loss of an officer to suicide.

It was December 2005. We lost two officers in a motor vehicle accident where their emergency services truck drove off an open drawbridge in dense fog on Christmas night. The bridge was shut down because the lights and gates that would stop traffic when the bridge was in the open position weren’t working. They  closed the bridge entrances in Kearney and in Jersey City. The Jersey City unit in Kearney was running low on flares and the emergency squad truck drove over the closed bridge to give them more flares. After wishing each other a Merry Christmas, the emergency squad headed back over the bridge to Jersey City. Due to the thick blanket of fog,  Sean and Robbie didn’t see that the bridge was open and they plunged to their deaths. Continue reading “Jane”