Please, let me go…

Random post from the past that refuses to go quietly into the night…

PTSD is not always caused by a traumatic experience, years of not addressing frustration, hopelessness and helplessness is a big part of it.


We’re ready to leave the ER loading dock after dropping off a patient who was assaulted on Sunday. She said her headache came back and wants another Cat scan. A security guard approaches the ambulance and asks if we could check on a couple of babies that were in a car in their parking lot. There was nothing wrong with the babies, but the parents “wanted them checked.”

We find the car, no damage, no scratches, nothing. The two infants are sleeping in their car seats, parents walking around. The lady who backed into them is carrying on about how the babies need to go to the hospital in the ambulance because they need to be checked.

My radio comes to life.

“Engine 10 and Rescue 6, (the ambulance from the other side of the city,) respond to Homer Street for a possible drowning.”

The victim is reportedly two years old. I try to get myself out of the mess I’m in, the people involved in the “accident” are relentless. Homer Street is a few minutes away, in my first due district. The people involved in the accident insist the babies “be checked.” The scene, and that description is generous, is rapidly deteriorating, a crowd has formed and they are not on the side of the ambulance crew as tempers flare.

The radio confirms my fears, Engine 10 reports a two year old not breathing, no vital signs, CPR in progress. Rescue six is still five minutes out.

Somehow, I get the two babies into my rescue and 100 yards to the Children’s Hospital. Rescue 6 is approaching the scene, slowed by the dozens of speed bumps that litter the street.

Ten minutes later, they arrive, the two year old is still not breathing, we get him out of the ambulance and into a trauma room, where the life-saving efforts continue as I write this.

I don’t know if I could have made a difference, but when seconds count, being minutes away is sheer torture. Seeing the child that I should have been able to get to quickly rolling past me is torture. Seeing his mother arrive a few minutes later is torture. Looking at the people who kept me from doing my job is torture. Feeling contempt for a couple of babies who have nothing to do with any of this is torture.

Being here is torture.


  • Erin says:

    I’m sorry that this incident plagues your mind and poisons your memories. But I have a question for you; do you realize what you do? I know it must be a stupid question. But you endure so much from our line of work alone. But hear me out.
    You save lives.
    I think, sometimes, it’s very hard for us to remember what *good* we do for people. It’s shrouded by the calls where we “tried our best, but we couldn’t do anything”. We’re our own worst enemies. When you get the call, you respond, not only because it’s your job, but because it is your passion. You make a difference in this world, as cruel as it is.
    You save lives. It’s easy to read that, and nod your head and go, “yeah, I suppose.” But really let it sink in. People still have their loved ones due to your actions. They still have their mother or father, sister or brother, boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever they are…and they’re still around because of you. It’s no small task. We carry very heavy burdens on our shoulders, brother. But you’re not alone, and you know that. I hope you know that, at least.

    As a side note, and I said it in another comment on another story, but I really do enjoy your work. I’m binging on all your newer stuff while I’m at work. Thank you for sharing everything you do.

    • Michael Morse says:

      Thanks Erin, I wrote what I feel at the moment I write it, some of the things I write I read the next day and barely remember feeling what I wrote about. A lot of these are rapists from a few years ago, I retired in 2016, but thanks for reading and commenting, very much appreciated!

  • Erin Northcutt says:

    Though you are retired, I believe you are still saving lives, just in a bit of a different way. Reading through your experiences helps me personally a lot (I’m a newer firefighter). I’m holding onto my empathy for people, but that unfortunately seems to be a hard thing to come by in the world of EMS. Reading your material gives me hope that people still care about one another, and that maybe sometimes we just close ourselves off because of the horrible crap we’ve seen. Thank you for your service.

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