Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

A Response to Three Children Dead, Four Hospitalized After Houston Daycare Fire

EMS Outside Agitator writes in response to my post Three Children Dead, Four Hospitalized After Houston Daycare Fire

The truth is, we and every one of our patients WERE exactly like those kids once. All we’ve done is grown up. Pain is pain. Loss is loss. The pain of suffering up to and including being ripped away from life is physiologically experienced precisely the same whether you are three or 103. It’s what you do with it that gives it its weight; your interpretation.

Adults should be beyond just screaming for help. Adults should have much better coping mechanisms for dealing with pain. To quote from The Princess BrideLife is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

But think of this: In the very young, suffering is more distant. There are no conscious fears fueling the pain. An adult, in the experience of suffering, compounds or lessens it according to his/her prior experiences and conscious interpretations.

We clearly have opposite views on this topic. I do not see the pain of a child as distant.

Who figured out the cut off date? Who was it that determined we, as Emergency Medical Professionals, can be affected by the pain and suffering of an eight year old but really don’t need to feel the pain around an 80 year old? When did having feelings about the pain of living suddenly become Okay here, but NOT Okay there?

I never stated that the pain of a child matters, while the pain of an adult does not matter. Not at all.

I am pointing out something that we all know. Most of us experience the pain of children much more than we do the pain of adults.

Maybe (and sure, I’ll rape a Sacred Cow!) the death of kids didn’t bug me so much because I believe consciousness is indestructible and life on this planet may be just so excruciating at this time, the kid’s actually getting a break! Maybe the family circumstances of the life he/she is checking out of may be worse than the next stop.

Consciousness may be indestructible, but I do not see any good basis for that belief. I try to help patients while they are alive. I see no reason to impose any sort of religious belief on patients.

Maybe the family circumstances of the life he/she is checking out of may be worse than the next stop.

Maybe there is no next stop.

Maybe the family circumstances are not in any way bad.

Should we assume that any of these are less true for an adult?

But again, it’s okay to really cry over the pain of a parent of an infant but really, ya gotta be tough when it comes to how you feel the loss of that woman married to her husband for 45 years.

Again, I never stated any such thing.

As illustration of our dominant focus, I counted Rogue allotted ONE screen (on my computer) to the pain of EMS workers, ONE dedicated to scene management and just about FOUR MORE to Fire Extinguisher usage, including THREE VIDEOS! He acknowledged the pain and even hinted on a way out but his thoughts ended in essentially in teaching us how to or not to put out a burning baby!

Since the proper use of a fire extinguisher might help to prevent similar deaths, I have nothing to apologize for in spending more space on seeking to decrease occurrences of this tragedy, than I spend on coping with the aftermath.

I have never felt that the approach of Lord Kelvin was the right way to assess quality. Counting and comparing the numbers of words, or the numbers of screens, or any other amounts, does not tell me anything about what a person feels, or what a person cares about.

Where’s the video that showed Medic “A” holding Medic “B” when he broke down for one minute, then got back to work? (“He’s nuts,” you cry, “once you break that dam you’re cooked!”)

There is none because the unwritten rule of the culture is that showing anything that can be perceived as weakness (for ANY reason, by ANY BODY in your system), can put you under a microscope to assess if you can really DO THE JOB! Your competence is judged by how well you NEVER display human frailty.

In other words, if I do not demonstrate that compassion in this one post, I never do.

This is one of the problems with anecdotalism. Any example that can be made to fit a preconception can be generalized to a stereotype.

We have enough biases. We should not be encouraging more stereotypes.

What if we in EMS took each other seriously first? What if we made space for our peers to WORK THROUGH some of the emotions of being a human being? Do you think, having helped each other take the edge off — because NO ONE DOES understand this territory better than us — we could possibly take home impressions that we could share with our loved ones as an act of love!

I am not claiming that it is impossible, but I do not see it happening.

How do we share something this painful without a common background?

We have that common background with coworkers, but not with a spouse or a child.

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Comments

  1. Rogue;

    Just want to make it clear that I used your original post as a springboard to take a look at the overall situation. I had no intention of challenging you on what you were saying; just reflecting on it..

    Your statement; “Again, I never stated any such thing.” leads me to believe you felt challenged or misunderstood. This, also, made me a little concerned; “In other words, if I do not demonstrate that compassion in this one post, I never do.” In no way did I say that you did not show compassion in this post. Quite the opposite. Just for emphasis, this was in my post as well::

    [STRONG] Let me be clear, I’m not ragging on Rogue. I’d much prefer to honor him. First for the fact that he was willing to exhibit some of his own vulnerabilities and second for making it easy to reflect on what I’m about to say when he continues….[/STRONG]

    How do we get them to understand? (referring to our loved ones at home)

    If we do get them to understand, how can we ever apologize for bringing that pain into their lives?

    Why would we want to bring that kind of pain into the lives of those we love?

    [STRONG]I’m not being facetious here but can you feel Rogue’s pain? He identifies having THAT kind of pain as something that inflicts pain on those he loves.

    What if…

    What if we in EMS took each other seriously first? What if we made space for our peers to WORK THROUGH some of the emotions of being a human being? Do you think, having helped each other take the edge off — because NO ONE DOES understand this territory better than us — we could possibly take home impressions that we could share with our loved ones as an act of love! [/STRONG]

    I hope you see this was NOT about you; though you accurately portray some of the dilemmas faced by those in EMS. It was about how we, in EMS choose to share our experiences, with whom and how.

    As an afterthought, I was not criticizing your paying attention to the mechanics of putting out fires with a fire extinguisher. I was observing that that’s what most of us do; give mention of our internal experiences and then get right back to work.

    I just wonder if there aren’t other ways, as well.

  2. Rogue;

    Just want to make it clear that I used your original post as a springboard to take a look at the overall situation. I had no intention of challenging you on what you were saying; just reflecting on it..

    Your statement; “Again, I never stated any such thing.” leads me to believe you felt challenged or misunderstood. This, also, made me a little concerned; “In other words, if I do not demonstrate that compassion in this one post, I never do.” In no way did I say that you did not show compassion in this post. Quite the opposite. Just for emphasis, this was in my post as well::

    [QUOTE] Let me be clear, I’m not ragging on Rogue. I’d much prefer to honor him. First for the fact that he was willing to exhibit some of his own vulnerabilities and second for making it easy to reflect on what I’m about to say when he continues….

    How do we get them to understand? (referring to our loved ones at home)

    If we do get them to understand, how can we ever apologize for bringing that pain into their lives?

    Why would we want to bring that kind of pain into the lives of those we love?

    [STRONG]I’m not being facetious here but can you feel Rogue’s pain? He identifies having THAT kind of pain as something that inflicts pain on those he loves.

    What if…

    What if we in EMS took each other seriously first? What if we made space for our peers to WORK THROUGH some of the emotions of being a human being? Do you think, having helped each other take the edge off — because NO ONE DOES understand this territory better than us — we could possibly take home impressions that we could share with our loved ones as an act of love! [/QUOTE]

    I hope you see this was NOT about you; though you accurately portray some of the dilemmas faced by those in EMS. It was about how we, in EMS choose to share our experiences, with whom and how.

    As an afterthought, I was not criticizing your paying attention to the mechanics of putting out fires with a fire extinguisher. I was observing that that’s what most of us do; give mention of our internal experiences and then get right back to work.

    I just wonder if there aren’t other ways, as well.

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