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Tragedy, Response, Hurt, Healing
On a quiet Tuesday night, March 19, 2019, we had a tragedy
happen in our community. I won’t say
anything more about the tragedy, because it is well known to everyone.
I do want to talk about the response… for the firefighters
and paramedics that responded, it was one of the toughest calls you will ever
be on. Members of our public safety family
were hurt and in extremis. The
paramedics and firefighters did exactly what they needed to do. They focused on the patients that needed
their help the most. They did their job
professionally, with great skill and care for each patient. Two of these patients were our family members
and one was the cause of tragedy. Each
was provided excellent care, as we could get resources to the scene. Seventeen members (4 paramedics) of KVFR
responded to this incident and we needed everyone. I want to thank each of our responders and
those that backfilled because we needed everyone.
Hurt--because we are a smaller rural, close-knit community
and our relationship with Kittitas Police Department and Kittitas County
Sheriff’s Office is not just a professional relationship, it is truly a family
relationship. With blood relatives,
marriages, and deep friendships that bind us together.
That night, the crew that responded was hurting after the
call. Our colleagues from Upper County
Medic One moved up and covered the rest of shift. We also called Yakima Fire Department and
they sent a fire engine to cover the rest of the shift. Additionally, many of our career folks came
in and backfilled so that the shift could be off. However, once we had those people in place,
the shift didn’t leave, they helped to transport the fallen hero, Deputy Ryan
Thompson, to Moses Lake. This was hard,
but the start of the healing process.
Healing—healing from these types of events is always
individuated. Because the injury is
different for everyone. Let’s take twenty
skiers for example. If twenty different
skiers twists a knee going down a mountain, some will have a light sprain, and
some may have such a severe injury it requires surgery or other advanced
medical procedures to fix. A lot goes
into how badly someone is injured; base conditioning, past injuries that were
not fully rehabbed, and how much trauma or force is exerted on the body, just
to name a few. The body will repair
itself. The body repairs itself faster
when we apply medicine and help the body repair itself. Healing is an intrinsic process.
Your mind and psyche are the same as your body. When you
hurt it, it takes time to heal.
Depending on the level of injury, will mandate how long it takes to heal
and what interventions or “medicine” is required. Once
again, it is individuated and different for each of us.
The defusing that we did for the people on the call
helps. Returning Officer Chavez home and
honoring his bravery helps. The Memorial
Service held for Deputy Thompson helps.
Looking out for each other and truly caring for each other, helps. That needs to continue as we go through this
healing process as an organization and as individuals.
You don’t have to have been on the call to have this affect
you. I have spoken to a number of folks
that feel bad because they weren’t on shift.
They hurt, because others are hurting and they want to help shoulder
that hurt. It is real and comes from a
good heart. So, we responded to a
tragedy and got hurt in that action. We
will heal. The community has come out
strongly and loudly that they support us. That loving support from the
community will help. The community
support will be fleeting, what I hope remains is the loving support you provide
to each other.
In Josh DeHerrera’s eulogy for his friend Ryan, he said Ryan
liked to say, “It’s going to be OK, and it will be fine.” We won’t ever be the same, but to honor Ryan,
we need to be OK. We will heal…the sun
will come out tomorrow, to quote Annie.
Sometimes, it just takes a while.
Please watch out for each other.
This was a tough month.
April will bring new challenges.
We will heal from past hurts, and stand together, and we face new
challenges. I am proud of each of
you. Thank you again for all you
do. #KittitasStrong and #KVFRStrong.
Stay safe. John