Friday, July 23, 2010


Never had them. All the ugly calls I've had have never caused nightmares, not one. I got into EMS as a result of an ugly call when I was a civilian and watched a friend die before my eyes. I didn't know what to do besides get help and call EMS, and as we were in the woods almost a mile from the road, that was tough enough, but there was nothing I could do to help my friend as everybody else worked on him. In truth, the autopsy results showed that even if he dropped in a cardiac care unit, they would not have been able to save him. (No, I can't explain further as I didn't understand the medical information at the time.)
I've had lots of sleepless nights after that event for about 2 years, reliving the moment and my failure to do something useful to make a difference. But those were not nightmares, only guilt. Bad dreams, sure, but no nightmares.
Since that event, I decided to be better prepared and I joined the local Squad. The short story of progression is this: Driver> Certified First responder> Exterior Firefighter> Interior Firefighter> EMT> EMS Lt.> EMS Capt.> Fire Service instructor> present. Of course there are a ton of other certs and classes in there like extrication, swiftwater, tech rescue, etc. But you get the idea.
Never had nightmares. Not for the fatal fires, the PED calls, the very ugly motorcycles accidents, nothing. Rough nights when it was hard to sleep? Of course, don't we all?
Last night was different. I had my first nightmares since I was a child. I have no idea why. No unusual stress at work, no recent bad calls with bad outcomes. Nothing. The details, like most dreams for me are sketchy, but basically I witnessed a shooting of a military officer by a subordinate while we were all operating at a domestic natural disaster. The subordinate was distraught due to the stress of the detail and he drew his sidearm. The officer tried to blow it off and talk the guy out if it, but got shot in the process. The bullet went through the femoral artery and I jumped on it, but had a hard time finding the hole and blood source. I only had my little side pack and minimal tools/toys to work with. I woke from the dream before I found out if I did him any good or not. My final impression was that of despair and frustration. I don't know why.
What I do know is that I could not close my eyes without the damned nightmare coming back. Thinking happy thoughts did not work.
I don't know which was more disturbing, having the nightmares themselves, or the fact that I got nightmares in the first place.
I'm thinking the latter is the bigger concern. I'm hoping that soaking my brain in a little ETOH tonight will help me sleep tonight.
Please, don't anybody out there mention CISD, it ain't happening.

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