"I worked with EMS and I've done all kinds of calls. Domestic cases with beat up women, overdoses, drownings, you name it. There was one that really stuck with me. We had just brought a woman in who had trouble breathing but everything was going to be ok. We dropped her off at the ER with no major issues. On the way out a car was pulling up. The guy in the car asked me where the ER is, pretty nonchalantly. He asked like the body in the passenger seat wasn't there. The young man was gasping for air flailing back and forth. I yelled for my partner and he came over with the stretcher. I jumped in the back seat and grabbed his shoulders and my partner grabbed his feet. I followed through the car and as I came through the kids head leaned back and he looked me right in the eyes as he lets out a gasp of air.
We were already at the ED so we ran him right in and called a code and got CPR started. On the table he went. In just minutes he had a weak pulse and respiratory therapy was hooking him up to a machine.
We eventually transferred him to a cardiac catheterization lab, where he died later that night. I just remember the gaze in my eyes when he let out the last breath. His father told us he was going back to rehab but never touched anything like that recently. However, this was a clear overdose.
Meanwhile in the room while the doctors were working to save his life, the man who brought him in admitted to being the father. He fished through his wallet and made a comment about how little money was in it. I'm not sure which one hit me harder, the look that kid gave me that day or the total and utter lack of concern of the father.
Any first responder sees stuff like this frequently. I had been doing it for over 3 years when this happened. I completely understand why people suffer from PTSD and the like. This call was bothersome but I didn't lose sleep over it. Or any of my calls for that matter. Maybe I'm broken but I get why people are on a short fuse."
"I worked with an ex-homicide and gang detective when I did security work at a casino. The old man told us all about this one time he was training a rookie and him, his partner, and the rookie went on a call for a man wielding a knife at an apartment complex. They showed up and were trying to calm the guy down and get him out of the hallway to a more open spot. The guy decided to lunge with his knife and the rookie panicked and started spraying mace in his face. Sadly, due to the enclosed area, they all began choking and had troubles seeing. In the midst of the misty mace fumes, my boss saw the man getting closer and smacked him across the face with his baton. The man's eye flew from his socket and he dropped to the floor trying to find it in his concussed state. Then the rookie takes a step back and steps on it.
Thankfully it turned out the eye was a glass prosthetic!
I also saw him, at the age of 68, get maced by DCI while fighting with a very doped up and super angry Arabic man. He walked towards me with a bloody nose and wiped the tears from his eyes while telling me how much he loved his job. Denny was one cool man."
"My father was a state patrolman for over 20 years and he was a police officer for 9 previous to that. He retired when I was about 15. He has so many stories that are incredible to hear. I do my best to listen carefully whenever he's told them over the years and remember them exactly. I believe the good/funny ones are important to pass on when he is no longer here to tell them. However, he has an alarming number of very graphic and disturbing stories from such a long career.
There was a busload of correctional officers returning from their training school in Atlanta, it was headed South on Interstate-75 when the driver fell asleep. The six other officers were either asleep or reacted too late to the driver to help when the vehicle crossed the median (this was before the metal guard rails were present) into northbound traffic. The van was struck head-on by a tractor-trailer and spun further into the northbound lane where it was immediately struck again by ANOTHER tractor trailer that effectively ripped the van open spewing its contents into the highway. My father was the first there since he was on the highway right behind the accident. He said the van was split into two and the correctional officers were flung out all over the highway. Other vehicles had hit the bodies and effectively destroyed them. He saw movement from one man and ran over to him. He was a very large, young guy and my father told me that, 'He didn't realize he was dead yet.' That statement stuck with me when he told it. The young man had lost his lower half and crawling down the road using his arms. My dad asked him to stop but he wouldn't and kept saying, 'I have to get up.' He eventually did stop however and my dad held his hand as he died. The other riders and driver were killed on impact."
"I was once called to the sudden death of a three-month-old baby boy as an investigator. In my country, investigators are basically in charge of a crime scene and we have to tell everybody else what to do. We'd tell them what pictures to take, what evidence to take, and so much more. I remember that nobody on the team wanted to go to the bedroom where the child was, everybody was trying to somehow delay the inevitable, as if we could make this whole thing disappear. The whole family was there, the young mother and the slightly older father. Their apartment was modest but clean, you could see they were honest, hard-working people. I have never ever experienced such intense, silent sadness in my life. It was as if sadness was in the air, making it thicker.
The worst part was that despite all the circumstances and the sadness, we still had to do our job. I knew the mother had nothing to do with the death of the child but we still had to look for suspicious clues or anything that would suggest wrongdoing. I was trying to do it as subtly as possible, but I still felt like I was betraying these people. Their child has just died, it was the worst moment in their lives and I felt like the intruder I was.
Actually, the worst part was after we have finished documenting, the burial service came to take the baby away for an autopsy. The father asked me if they could say goodbye to their son. He was so polite. Most people are yelling at us for a stolen purse and then this guy came up to me and politely asked me if he could say goodbye to his dead son. I remembered both of them standing above the cradle, the absolute pain on their faces. After a short while, I had to pull them out of the bedroom because the mother was losing it. That was definitely the hardest part - who I am to order someone to leave their dead kid for the burial service to take away? How dare I? Well, I had to.
The autopsy ruled out any wrongdoing, the baby died because of pneumonia within three and a half hours of contracting it, and there was nothing the mother could do. She had to be sedated and was later taken to psychiatric care. I was angry at the end of the day. Angry at life or god or whatever. It was just not fair, so not fair. These folks were good people, and even if they were not, nobody deserves to experience the death of their baby. Nobody.
It was two years ago, but I still cannot comprehend the whole thing. I just put it away, like you put away things you have to keep but have no need for. An older colleague said to me that day, 'This will stay with you for the rest of your life.'
I did realize though, that this job truly changes you and I understood why are there so many divorced cops. I came home that day and my girlfriend (now ex), who worked in a call center, started complaining to me how horrible her day was because one of her colleagues was such a prick. I just sat there listening to her, thinking that she has no idea what a horrible day is and I felt the distance growing between us.
I have never really talked about this, not in such detail, it actually helped me heal a bit."
eldar nurkovic/Shutter Stock
"There was a lady who was horribly depressed and decided that lighting herself on fire was the best way to go. She went to the gas station a few blocks away from her house, bought a can of gas, and brought it back to her house. She then proceeded to grab a lighter, douse herself in her driveway, and hit the button. She ran across the street screaming into a children's playground. A neighbor who saw what was going on decided to grab his garden hose and sprayed her until the fire was out.
My partner and I got there and being the only officer on scene who could speak Spanish, I had to keep this woman talking. 95% of her body was burned. Her hair, skin, and clothes were are black and tattered. She kept asking me for water to drink, but I couldn't give it to her considering her lungs and esophagus were burned and it would've caused more damage.
It took almost 20 minutes for the EMT's to arrive and all we could do is watch this lady suffer and try to give her some dignity as she lay there hoping it would all end. She was taken to the hospital and airlifted to another hospital that was better equipped to deal with serious burns. Last I heard, she died a week later from her internal injuries.
The smell was not pleasant. I went to mass the next day and prayed for her soul and for God to help me be strong for the next time this happens."
"When I was working there was a guy that slit his own throat after he got rejected by the girl he liked once she went to bed. There was so much blood everywhere, it's like he made a point to visit every single room multiple times as a last 'eff you' to her. Based on the clotting of the blood it appeared that he slowly cut his neck over like an 8 hour period.
Another time, I had an elderly lady jump off a bridge and left her 26-year-old autistic daughter at home with no one to care for her. The daughter required full time live in care, the mom had made no arrangements to care for her daughter and just left her there alone to end her problems which we found out later was constant headaches. That was the most difficult death notification I've had to do. When I told her she didn't know what to think at first then her emotions went wild. She kept blaming herself and the fact she was autistic and there was nothing I could do to calm her down. It was rough! I saw the daughter a few months ago and she is doing really well. She has a new caretaker and she has made amazing improvement with her condition. She actually goes out in public now and recently went through our department's citizens academy."
"My father has been a police officer for 22 years. As a child, I had always been intrigued by his stories: the good, the bad, and unfortunately, the ugly. One story specifically always comes to my mind. I was a junior in high school and my dad had the 3 pm -11 pm shift. I was up when he got home that night and something happened that I had never seen my father do in 19 years. My 6'3", 270lbs father was uncontrollably crying. We all sat him down and tried to help him through it. The story started out with him getting dispatched to an unconscious child, unknowing of what he was about to witness. When he arrived on scene a mother had accidentally ran over her 3-year-old little girl but stopped before it had completely killed the child. My father said all he could do was sit there with the baby in his arms since no other responders were there. He told us, 'I have never felt so useless in my life with that little girl in my arms with nothing to do but to watch and pray for her.'
I still get upset remembering how distraught he was."
"I was a security guard at a condo in downtown Minneapolis. A trainee and I were out in the courtyard, I was showing him how to get the pool robot to work as best as it could. We heard a scream from across the street in an apartment building that was 33 stories tall, with big balconies for each unit. I swear when the lady hit the ground I saw a flash of light.
We ran over to the exit of the courtyard, it was late, about midnight. People who lived in that condo had a history of chucking things off of their balconies at night, so I figured it was a dummy or something. I still don't know what I expected. She had landed right in the middle of the street. The cops got there super, super fast, I didn't even have time to call 911. She was in pieces. The kid I was training quit, and I have nightmares still. The cop showed up and just screamed 'GET OUT OF HERE!' I still remember seeing parts of her getting hosed off the street. By the time my shift was over people were walking out to their cars who had no idea of what happened.
The condo had all these rumors about a husband catching his wife cheating and tossed her off the balcony. It never made the paper or anything. I learned how much doesn't, while working there. She was a really pretty person, an ex model. Some say she jumped from the 21st floor. If that is true I wondered why she screamed. It was like she was afraid. If you purposefully jumped, it didn't seem like screaming made much sense, but maybe it was scarier than she thought? Still, it haunted me for a while. There was a big to do by our corporate about whether they should pay for grief counseling for me and the other guy. Pricks. We didn't ask, they just sent a memo stating it wasn't covered - preemptively."
"One of the first bodies I had to recover being a Search & Rescue team member was a murder victim. Just getting into the scene was a lot more intense than usual. Roads were closed all around, multiple checkpoints asked for my ID and information. It seemed a bit overkill, but I figured out why later. The body was in a swamp about a quarter mile from the best road. We had to wear our water gear and walked through foot-deep mud. Four of us carried a stokes in, we loaded up the elderly woman, who was completely undressed, into the basket, then started to carry her out. We had been sinking and slipping in the mud on our own, and when we tried to carry out the body it was even worse. At one point I sank in to my knees and fell down backward. It caused the basket to tip my way and I thought for sure she was going to roll on top of me. Thankfully the other guys hung tight until I could get back up and we carried on. It turned out later the murder victim was related to the county DA, explaining the extra vigilance of scene security.
I had visions of that body dumping on top of me for months after. How did I deal? No special way, it was just a job that had to be done."
"A suspect was holding his girlfriend and her child hostage in their mobile home for quite a while. He fled during the lengthy time it took us to locate the residence since lots of the lower-end trailer parks in my area are labelled with a letter/number combo instead of their actual address. He was reported to be in the wooded area by the trailer park, which was quite large. We established a search pattern and had K9's running tracks on this guy. We finally found him deep in the woods, where he was sitting against a tree with a weapon pointed up under his chin. Suicidal people who are 'holding themselves hostage' are pretty common, and usually, it has a positive outcome. As long as they are only endangering themselves, then we don't have to use force against them; we let the negotiator talk to them as long as they want, provided the suspect doesn't pose a threat to anyone else. In this case, he talked almost all day.
Unfortunately, due to our position in the woods, we were unable to access any of the usual equipment we use on long operations. There was an entire group of support personnel that operated behind the scenes. This became a problem, since we were losing light, and the terrain prevented us from safely surrounding him without putting each other in potential crossfire. In situations like this, we would use an 'L' shaped formation to keep from shooting each other; the downside was that it gave the suspect a wide path of escape. The negotiator talked with the suspect until we were almost totally in the dark, and it became apparent he was not going to surrender. Since we could not allow an unstable subject to possibly flee back into the trailer park with a weapon, command decided that we must physically intervene.
Those of us near the apex of the formation were only about 10-15 feet from the suspect since it was getting harder and harder to see him, and since he had not pointed the weapon at anyone but himself since he was in the woods. The plan, which has worked several times before and after, was to offer the suspect a smoke, then we would toss a flashbang nearby. The team knows what's up, so as soon as the bang was tossed, we're were already moving on the suspect. Humans usually have a defensive reflex when startled, where they will usually drop whatever they're holding and slightly extend their arms in front of their faces. This guy didn't react as expected, and he blew his head off immediately after the bang fired.
We handled it the same way we handle every other horrific thing we see: we kept our game faces on while we were on scene, second-guessed the heck out of ourselves, then we got hammered with a teammate and rehashed the callout until we felt a little better. It's not the best way to deal, but there it is."
"An old friend of mine would tell me some of his experiences as a fresh Sheriff in LA. There was one story that haunts me to this day. I think he was in his first few weeks with the department, touring the Two Towers or whatever they call those penitentiaries in downtown LA. I guess there was a psych section in those buildings, and his unit was showing the new recruits (him included) around the unit. Someone walked around a corner and just about screamed bloody murder. A young, troubled man wailed like a dying banshee in a pool of blood covering the cell floor. He kept screaming something about his eyes and how he couldn't find them. The sergeant barked to my friend and another officer to get in there. Three layers of gloves later, he found himself crawling around in a pool of blood, fighting to get the man up. Turns out the man somehow managed to gouge his own eyes out with the faucet. But where were they? Between the blood and viscous material, it's not like you can just lose them. A sickening feeling came over my friend as he realized what happened. This poor soul, for who knows what reason, decided to EAT his own eyeballs. Sure enough, he pried open the young man's mouth, and there they were.
This was about 7 years ago. I'm sure my old friend has encountered far worse on the streets of LA in the years since."
"My career was effectively ended by a lady that got hit by a car. The car basically ripped her whole face off, except her eyes, from the nose down. You could see everything inside her. She was convulsing on the ground, and a crowd of people was standing around her. I was first there, and she was still alive. There was absolutely nothing I could do for her at that point, it was obvious she was bleeding out. I got down on the pavement, cradled her in my arms and told her she would be ok, while I tried to stop some of the blood. I knew I was lying, but I wanted her to not feel alone and scared when she died. She passed in my arms, as the medics showed up. They worked on her for a bit, but they called it before the chopper landed. Two weeks later I quit. I've had severe PTSD since then."