Monthly Archives: August 2014

Please distribute to all Law Enforcement, Paramedic and Fire personnel – 9/11/2014

Distribution: Please distribute to all Law Enforcement, Paramedic and Fire personnel

First, I want to say another thank you to everyone who has made it possible for me to distribute this message. I can not express my gratitude enough for your assistance.

As I write this, Patriot Day is two weeks away. It is a day or remembrance for what we lost in the attacks on 9/11. Just under 3000 people lost their lives that day. 343 firefighters, 70 officers of the NYPD and PAPD, 8 private EMT’s and a K9 gave their lives that day and over 75 more since then due to “9/11 related illness”.

From time to time we all battle the “us versus them” feeling. Sometimes it’s when a shooting makes the national news. Sometimes it’s when we are trying to get enough funding to ensure we can operate safely and provide the best service we can. Sometimes, you just have a long day and wonder “does it really matter?” And that’s just the external weights that come with the job. I read an article by a nurse and thought an excerpt really applies here:

But I’m not alone. And it’s the people by my side that make me feel normal about this chaos that we live in. This peephole into reality, that only a few of us see… What choice do we have? This is our job. This is our life. Even if we quit it, it’s too late. Once you peep through that hole, you can’t pretend you haven’t seen it.

As Public Safety personnel, that is who we are. We battle the evil, we take the fight to the darkness, we stop destruction and we stop the bleeding. When I first started this in 2008, I thought the reason that you are awesome was because you battle the evil. But now I see, the battle is not what makes you awesome. What makes you awesome is that you get up, and do it. You help others fight the same fight. You share with others the tools you have. You go home, get rest and then you get up, and do it all again. You are the person by someone’s side, helping them feel normal in the midst of chaos. I’ve seen as you help that 90-year-old woman who never had an accident process what just happened. I’ve listened to how you feel about all the “politics”. I’ve been in the car weaving in and out of traffic so you can get there to save someone. I’ve seen how you keep that elderly person with dementia calm while we wait for medics to take her to the hospital. I’ve seen how you bandage the kid who was just the victim of the hit and run and tell him he is going to be OK and tell his parents that you “will find the person who did this.” You’ve stopped to make sure that Doc here is up to speed and is not in the dark.

So you may feel like you’re in a war. You may feel tired, or unimportant, or like giving up. I Just ask that you keep on going. You do more good that you realize and it matters to more people than you think. Really.

Thanks for reading, stay safe, and contact me if I can help you.

I’ve said it in every email. I’ve said it to the chiefs and administrators when I contact them. You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

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Doc’s thoughts on suicide.

DISCLAIMER: If you are contemplating suicide, please call the Suicide Help line at 1-800-273-8255.

I am going to discuss a subject that no one likes to talk about. And relate it to a group that most people prefer to shun or ignore. And let you in on a dark secret I’ve held in my heart and a fight I’ve waged from before. This may be a hard read (and I am sure it will be a hard WRITE), but sometimes we have to speak up and “strike while the iron is hot” so to speak.

By this point, I am sure that you have heard about the death of Robin Williams. How he died too young (63), the impact he had made, or about the times that something he did deeply impacted someone’s life. One that got me moving early on was a line from Dead Poet’s Society “Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Do not be resigned to that. Break out! “

You’re going to hear a lot of commentators talk about depression, mental illness and how they relate to suicide and how they are different. But I’m not going to get to in depth in those areas. You may hear theological debates on “if it’s forgivable” or something like that. I’m not going there either. Determining who gets into Heaven is above my pay grade. What I do want to point out is the “peace” (or lack thereof) that comes with suicide.

I want to say that there is no “peace” in suicide. If you do not believe that, ask the survivors – the family and friends of those who took their own life. They have so many questions, and most they will never have an answer for. There is guilt (“Maybe I could have stopped it”, “If they had just told me”). In addition to the other normal emotions during a time of loss, there is a regret that they did not get to say their goodbyes.

And I’m sure that you have guessed the “group that most people prefer to shun or ignore” is the Law Enforcement community. According to statistics, an officer is 2-5 times more likely to be killed by themselves than they are by a suspect. They also tell us that over 30% of officers have thought about suicide at some point in their career, and that an officer is twice as likely to commit suicide on the night shift than any other shift.
We in the Miami Valley are not immune from these trends, having had one locally in the last few months. So how do we turn the tide?

1. Never assume that anyone is immune to it. Who thought Robin Williams would have taken his own life?
2. Know the signs of distress. If someone is openly talking about it, TAKE IT SERIOUSLY.
3. If you (or someone you know) needs help, SEEK IT!

Let’s not allow this tragedy to be in vain. We watch out for each other on duty all the time. Watch out for this too.

Some of you may be thinking about it now. Life isn’t “worth it” anymore. No one cares about you. Your spouse is not speaking to you. You are “at the end of your rope”. One of my instructors in Bible School told this story.
Several years ago, my brother was allowed to witness an open-heart surgery. During the procedure, the patient’s heart had been stopped from beating. When it came time to restart it, despite repeated attempts, the medical staff was unable to cause the heart to beat again. Finally, although the patient was obviously unconscious, the surgeon leaned over and spoke into the patient’s ear, “We need your help. We cannot get your heart restarted. Tell your heart to start beating.” Incredibly, in that instant, the patient’s heart began to beat again!

Here is the dark secret I promised. At one point in my own life I have experienced some what I would call “mild depression”, and even thought about “ending it all”. (Do not be alarmed, it hasn’t been recently). And up until now I never really shared that with anyone. I was afraid of what people would think or what would happen I guess. But I’m a stronger person today thanks in part to those experiences, which is one of the reasons that the subject is still a soft spot in my heart.

So if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, talk to someone. You CAN be happy again. You CAN live life to the fullest. You can touch others with your story. You can tell your heart to “beat again”. So live! Reach out!
If I can help you in any way, contact me!

DISCLAIMER: If you are currently contemplating suicide, please call the Suicide Help line at 1-800-273-8255.