A rough experiance to learn from.
|As a police officer for several years now, many real life scenes have been presented to me that would make the average person ill or sad beyond belief. I have performed CPR on over twenty people and watched as most of those slowly drift to the other side. I have responded to multiple car crashes where death is the main theme and I could do nothing but watch surviving family member’s lives change before my eyes. I have seen a human burned to such an unrecognizable point that the medical examiner had to tell me the still smoldering unknown person was a Jane or John Doe. Many of these events have little effect on me. You learn to detach yourself from the scene and just perform your job, thinking of the subjects as fake, unreal corpse, instead of lifeless human bodies with a history, a family, and for many people, a new memory to hold on to.
One event in particular really had an effect on me, those lasting images sticking in my mind to this day. It was a cool night, the sun had recently retired and I was out of my normal area assisting other officers who were looking for a lost child. I was rolling through the main arteries that divide the city looking for a nine year old that matched the description when the news came across the radio that the lost boy was located. He was found within the apartment complex, as they usually are, wandering around exploring his curious mind. I advised dispatch that I was clear from this call and began heading back downtown to my familiar streets and hoods that I have been working for the past three years. The evening was cooling off fast and thoughts of coffee began to cross my mind as I neared a gas station where I used to always stop by and say hi to James, the overweight clerk who was always trying to obtain legal advice from me. He may not have been the greatest and most productive citizen in the city, but I didn’t care, for he always kept fresh coffee and clean bathrooms. As I approached my old resting stop, the silence was broken by the crack of my radio. “All units, serious injury collision, vehicle versus pedestrian. Two year old child down in the roadway. Cedar and Lewis. Unit to clear and be in route code 3?”
I knew exactly where the intersection was and knowing I was the closest unit, I gave my unit designator and advised dispatch I was in route. My bright red and blue lights shined like the sun, cutting through the dark evening, and my siren sounded deafeningly, breaking the every day sounds as the city drifted towards sleep. I was a one man light show as I sped towards my unwanted destination, clearing intersections and honking my air horn impatiently as vehicles slowly pulled to the right. As I rounded my last corner, I could already see the scene, right across the street from a large park. People were already gathering to see what the commotion was all about. I pulled up in the dark night and the strobes from my light bar illuminated people’s faces in rapid succession. The overall appearance on the crowd that flashed before me seemed cheerless and heartbreaking. What was I about to get into?
I grabbed my undersized first aid bag that contained a few bandages and a CPR mask and walked into the heart of the crowd whose attention had been focused towards the street. As I approached, the distraught looks shifted towards me and a very small light of hope flickered in few of the eyes. As the crowd began moving back in compliance to my orders, I saw what had previously trapped their attention. On the ground lay the small motionless body of a two year old boy, his empty eyes staring past the dotted sky as if focusing on some unseen object. His shoeless feet were being held by a man in his forties, sobbing quietly as he hunched over his son, praying softly. His body twitched gently from each weep of pain and sorrow as he continued to beg for help, for strength, for hope. His dark head looked up to the heavens as if to be heard more clearly as he continued to whisper. I could see tears falling gracefully from his eyes, flashing blue and red from each spin of my vehicles strobes. My thoughts were suddenly torn as I realized the heartbroken father was staring at me, looking deep into my eyes and begging for help. I quickly knelt down beside the boy and my training took over. I accessed his breathing and pulse, both of which were absent. After grabbing my CPR mask, I placed the oversized barrier awkwardly on the boy’s mouth and gave him two puffs of life. His chest did not rise. After readjusting his jaw, I tried again with the same results. I began giving compressions and as I worked the chest of this lifeless two year old, I remember seeing people gather around as if watching in hope. The many eyes attentive to my actions gave me strength and I continued on. Life was still being restricted from entering his small lungs. I grabbed my flashlight and looked deep into the boy’s dark mouth and discovered blood and teeth as the blockage. I gently rolled the small torso onto his side to sweep the mouth and attempt to unclog the petite airway. As I supported the head with my right hand I felt something sharp poke my palm. I shifted the gaze of my flashlight and my stomach dropped as reality hit. Illuminated before me was what we call an obvious death. Looking up through a shattered skull was the young child’s core makeup. I had seen brains before, but my freshly destroyed hope made this difficult to see. The sharpened point I had felt was a piece of a recently destroyed skull, a skull that only moments before housed life.
Paramedics arrived on scene just as I made my discovery and pronounced the boy dead. The few short moments I had been on scene seemed like hours, long, lonely hours. We covered the lifeless body and began our investigation. Immediately, my thoughts drifted to my own children, unable to imagine what this father must be experiencing. You learn from everything you experience, however on that day the lessons presented to me created a much larger impact. When is being late and driving too fast worth taking a life? Not just the life of the child, but the lives of the father and his family will be forever changed. I have never taken a life in this way and never want to experience the guilt the driver had just surprisingly adopted. I also learned to keep my children close, not just physically, but emotionally. Should the terrifying and unfortunate event happen to me and the life of my child is taken, my only hope is there is no regret in our relationship and nothing is left unsaid. For now, I will live, and I will continue to learn.