The Beating Heart

Because I like nothing more than walking through minefields, I figured I’d share this latest thought:

A soldier gets injured (wounded) and gets a medal.

A firefighter, cop or EMT gets injured and gets accused.

I am well aware that there is a big difference being injured or wounded in an active war zone and on the streets of our cities and towns. That being said, one of my seven documented back injuries sustained over twenty-three years active duty occurred during a response for an emotional Afghanistan veteran needing a psych evaluation at the VA. The patient’s wife called 911 for transport because her newly returned from the war zone husband had been acting strange. She stated that he wasn’t violent, and not a threat. She requested no police.

The guy seemed okay at first, cooperative, walked to the ambulance and sat on the bench seat. He refused to let us take his vitals. Then heattack started banging his head against the wall of the truck, Then he rose, and my partner, a ridiculously fit twenty-five year old with numerous black belts in all kinds of martial arts tried to slow things down, and was attacked. During the ensuing scuffle, which was ugly to say the least my partner’s thumb was broken, and my back felt like it was. I stayed on duty, my partner was out for two months. The Afghanistan War vet was restrained, uninjured and delivered to the VA with the assistance of two firefighters from Engine Co. 11 and a police escort.

The rest of the day was business as usual, me and my new partner responded to a double shooting, one fatal, two or three MVA’s, a domestic assault and rape and two or three combative, intoxicated homeless men. My decision and resolve  to press charges against the vet was weakened as the day progressed, and both me and my partner decided to let it go. There was no follow up, no reports and no discussion.

First responders get injured on duty. It happens all the time. If the injury is not catastrophic, our claims are met with skepticism from our administration, scorn from the public and contempt  from our brother’s and sisters. The injured are left to fend for themselves, get better by themselves and return to work with little or no acknowledgement.

Ever since I hurt my back while on duty I’ve bounced between anger, self-loathing, misery, arrogance, self-pity, jealousy, indignation and self righteousness. Maybe we need better PR. Maybe we need our own version of the Purple Heart; call it the Beating Heart, and whenever a cop, EMT or firefighter goes down we’ll have a big ceremony, and the populace will join together and thank us for our service.

Oh, I forget to include delusional to the things I bounce around in my mind since I injured my back.


1 Comment

  • Warren Moore says:

    Yup. We are always forgotten by the public and very often by our own people. It always surprises me, the work EMS people do with such little emotional support from inside the organization.

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