When I arrived on scene, I helped package the last patient who would be going by ambulance.
I would tell you the details, right now. Except that somebody's father might read them.
I talked with one such father, in particular, and it was not my place at the time, to tell him what I knew. In a mile's travel, he would know. He would probably insist that he see, as I had seen.
There was someone else on scene, who caring and competent men had determined had no need for the services of an ambulance.
When there are more victims than there are resources, one prioritizes. One helps who can be helped. The dead and very soon-to-be must be last. One helps who can be helped.
When I finished my task. I decided I would go do my own assessment. There were two reasons. What if things had changed? What if later, a co-worker began to second guess themselves, as has been known to happen.
There was no question that a life had ended in the blink of an eye. If it should come up, I could tell my co-workers that that they had done what could be done.
And, for the father... That day I lacked the words, because I hadn't learned them yet. And, it was not my place. And, alone, a mile from the scene was no place for me to say the wrong thing. I alerted those at the scene to be prepared for his arrival.
And, ten years later I still feel the emotion and I struggle to write.
I saw a terrific waste of human potential. I saw a father on the worst day of his life and I could not improve that. I saw a half dozen men who left their own families at home, when the pagers went off. We did what we could do for the people we could help.
And, we went home to not talk about it.
If you don't have somebody to talk to, talk to me.