by Tillie Geidel Conklin
My name is Tillie and I’m originally from Tottenville, Staten Island. I grew up in a very loving and happy home. My Dad was a fireman who worked in Rescue Co. 1 in midtown Manhattan. Sadly, I tragically lost my Dad on 9/11/01. He was 44 years old with only a few weeks left before his retirement. His remains were never recovered. I was just two months shy of 7 years old at the time. I ended up developing PTSD and anxiety from losing my Dad in such a tragic way.
Tillie Geidel Conklin
Some people don’t realize that when a child experiences something so traumatic, even at such a young age, it will affect them for the rest of their life. Through my tragedy, I became a born-again Christian. Jesus is what truly helps me through it. Sometimes a panic attack can come out of nowhere, caused by something so small that may not seem like a big deal to other people. I find that reading a bible verse and praying really helps me calm down.
Sitting outside, being in nature helps me as well. I think it’s important for people to know that PTSD and anxiety have many faces and you’re not alone. I am learning to open up about it so that I may be able to help someone else who suffers. May the Lord give you comfort and strength.
You may purchase Tillie’s book through Amazon. All proceeds of Tillie’s book are being donated to the
ANSWER THE CALL
New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund
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by Rick Neeley
Officer Rick Neeley
In 2006, my best friend and fellow police officer committed suicide while he was on the phone with me. I viewed the in-car camera footage of him shooting himself which lead to the onset of PTSD.
I lasted on the department another six months, and have struggled through PTSD which has led me on a path of suicidal thoughts, hospitalization, separation from my wife for a year and many struggles and battles on the road through the valley of the shadow of PTSD. Continue reading
by Mike Crowe
Editor’s Note: Over the years, I have received hundreds of articles from firefighters, EMS, officers, and so on. Mike’s article is by far one of the most poignant stories about his fight to LIVE in spite of his post-traumatic stress and to help others coping with the same.
WARNING: This article MAY be a trigger for some people
I grew up in a small town where the town siren would go off when there was a fire or an ambulance call. Every time I heard that I would run to the curb of my house to see the people responding and to watch the fire trucks and ambulance go by.
After a four-year stint in the Navy, I started to follow my dream of becoming a paramedic by getting my EMT-A certification. I worked for a short time as a volunteer before working for an ambulance company in Omaha, Nebraska primarily doing nursing home and hospital runs. The hospital in Omaha had its own rescue and ambulance, but I still got experience.
About six months after earning my EMT I decided to start my education towards my paramedic license by taking the EMT-I course. I continue to work as a part-time EMT for the town that I lived in doing primarily chest pain type calls, shortness of breath, diabetes, and an occasional car accident. My true first experience that I would call “real” was in Topeka, KS where I had moved so I could be closer to the college I attended to get my paramedic degree. Continue reading
by Rob Leathen
I went public not for any sympathy and not for any pity but because I firmly believe that silence does nothing but strengthen stigma. Rob Leathen
So my first visit with my psychotherapist. How did it go? It was amazing! I was early, very early, as I always am. I sat in the waiting room looking around at all the signs, posters and books dealing with trauma, PTSD, support systems and the like. In that 20 minutes while I
sat there (yes I was that early), the gravity of why I was actually there set in and manifested itself as what I call an “almost”. For me an “almost” is defined as a welling up of emotions to the point of almost uncontrollably bawling my eyes out but then, as I have done so often before, stifling back those emotions and tears until those emotions and tears are no longer visible to the outside world. All part of that “mask” that many wear. Continue reading
Shared by Code 9 – Heroes and Families United
This is written by a nurse who bravely went to New York to help. The following is heartbreaking and may be triggering for some. The reason I am posting this is that some of these healthcare workers will develop PTSD and we need to be there for them. We will help in any way we can.
I lost a patient today. He was not the first, and unfortunately, he’s definitely not the last. But he was different. I’ve been an ER nurse my entire career, but in New York, I find myself in the ICU. At this point, there’s not really anywhere in the hospital that isn’t ICU, all COVID 19 positive. They are desperate for nurses who can titrate critical medication drips and troubleshoot NBC [Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical – types of mass-casualty weapons].
I’ve taken care of this man the last three nights, a first for me. In the ER, I rarely keep patients for even one 12 hour shift. His entire two-week stay had been rough for him, but last night was the worst. I spent the first six hours of my shift not really leaving his room. By the end, with so many medications infusing at their maximum, I was begging the doctor to call his family and let them know. “He’s not going to make it,” I said. The poor doctors are so busy running from code to code, being pulled by emergent patients every minute. All I could think of was the voice of my mom in my head, crying as I got on the plane to leave for this place: “Those people are alone, you take good care of them”. I was the only person in that room for three nights in a row, fighting as hard as I could to keep this man alive. The doctor was able to reach the family, update them. It was decided that when his heart inevitably stopped we wouldn’t try to restart it. There just wasn’t anything else left to do. Continue reading
by Norman Vincent Peale
An excerpt from The Healing of Sorrow: Understanding and Help for the Bereaved
Norman Vincent Peale
In many ways, this seems the most tragic form of death. Certainly, it can entail more shock and grief for those who are left behind than any other. And often the stigma of suicide is what rests most heavily on those left behind.
Suicide is often judged to be essentially a selfish act. Perhaps it is. But the Bible warns us not to judge, if we ourselves hope to escape judgment. And I believe this is one area where that Biblical command especially should be heeded. Continue reading
by Chaplain Jim Burns
Chaplain Jim Burns
Those of us in public safety careers – law enforcement, fire service, are usually gung-ho, Type A personalities, self-reliant, confident and sometimes even a little cocky. We love excitement. We feel there is nothing we can’t do; we’re self-important, helpers, fixers, we need to be needed, and we enjoy being the front-line of defense and first responders when something goes terribly wrong in our neighborhoods, our districts and our jurisdictions.
In the academy. we learn to be tough, to be a team player, to follow orders to the letter, to fit into the chain of command, to practice our particular skill sets until they become second nature. During our years of service, we continue to train to be the best police officer, firefighter, or chaplain that we are capable of being. We learn about critical incident stress and how to manage it. We practice working under extreme stress. We train, train, and train some more. We are among the best of the best at what we do.
But have you thought about what you will do when you are no longer firefighter Jones, or officer Jones, or Chaplain Jones? Public safety careers are lifestyle careers. Many police officers and firefighters die in the line of duty or die of other causes while still serving and protecting their constituency. Some, however, will outlive their career. One of these days those careers could come to an end and we could still have life left at the end of the career. What then? Continue reading
by Robert Cubby
Police Officer (retired)
Often when I get caught up in the news of the pandemic and start feeling remorse for the massive losses to this virus. I like to take a long walk in the woods. The fresh air and sunshine, the trees, plants, birds and animals all help me to cope with what I’m witnessing. I like to walk in a wildlife preservation area near my house. It is an ancient peat bog just teeming with all kinds of birds and waterfowl, deer, frogs and fish. The trails aren’t really well kept but passable. Some become overgrown from non-use and an adventurous hiker will machete a clear trail once again.
It was late spring-early summer, the height and beginning beginning of the pandemic. The TV was spewing out statistics that were hard to fathom. It was difficult envisioning losing that many people in one day. We only see those numbers in the time of war. But this war is different, the enemy superior in weapons and invisible. And winning. I had to walk away from the TV and get outside
by Chaplin Kathy B. Thibodaux
“God is in control.” This is such a simple statement, yet one that exhibits a deepening faith, which requires that I trust in the Lord with all my heart for every situation and circumstance. God has a master plan, a higher goal and a special purpose for my life.
His ways and thoughts are not my ways and thoughts. I may even fail to comprehend the path that I am following; but I must not lean on my own understanding. In all ways, I am to acknowledge Him for He is God, the Creator. He knew me before I was formed inside the very womb of my mother. He knows my thoughts before I ever speak a word. Nothing I do is hidden from His eyes.
God is my King, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He is my Rock of Refuge in times of trouble, my Haven of rest, the Balm of Gilead, the Healer of my Hurts, my Place of sanctuary and my Kinsmen- Redeemer. God will make my paths straight with His wisdom. He will show me the course to navigate for my journey. With His strength and mercy, He will guide and direct. Continue reading
by Don Prince
Former Fire Chief
None of us ever wants to admit defeat. It is not in our nature. What makes it even more difficult for people like us is what we do. We are the ones going in, giving aid, support, sacrifices and sometimes even our lives in order to save others. We are supposed to be the invincible ones and for the most part we are. But ultimately, we are all human; we act and react differently to situations both in and out of the “job”.
Pressure, stress and pain are pretty much unavoidable in all forms: both physical and mental or a combination of them. How each one of us deals with these stresses, such as self-medicating and isolating, is what separates us from our families, loved ones and careers. Continue reading
Author’s Note: I would like to thank this brave officer and their spouse for sharing this article. I know it was not easy for them to lay out their lives as they did. If they can help one officer or first responder get help, the mission was accomplished. I encourage all who read this article to please share it with an officer or other first responder you may know. You may be saving a life.
I can’t un-see what I have seen
Ever since I was a little child, all I wanted to be when I grew up was a police officer. My parents would listen to my tale over and over again. After graduating from college, I accepted a position as a Director of Finance. My parents questioned me about my career choice knowing finance was not what I aspired to do. At 22, I knew this wasn’t going to be my permanent career as most people who just graduate take a transition job until the right one comes along.
Fast forward 10 years and I thought it was time to live the life I was meant to live…..to finally achieve my dream of being a police officer. I worked in a busy police department and eventually made rank. Continue reading
by Peggy Sweeney
Author’s Note: Several years ago, a detective from a metropolitan police department sent me an email concerning the death of his 17-year-old daughter. She had been brutally murdered by her boyfriend and the anniversary of her death was fast approaching. Vince was struggling with several grief issues, one of which was his perception that as a police officer he was unable to protect her and save her life.
With his permission, I am sharing my response to his email in the hopes that it will help other bereaved dads, especially those of you in law enforcement and emergency response, who may be coping with some of the same issues. Continue reading
by Aubrey Futrell
Louisiana State Trooper (Retired)
Grief is a long and hard process that only time will ease. You will be going about your life when unexpectedly, without warning, something happens that reminds you of the one you’ve lost. You will see someone who looks like them or laughs like them. You hear a song on the radio that reminds you of them or you think of something you need to tell them and as you pick up the phone you realize, they’re gone… Your heart will break all over again, and the flood of tears will come.
There is a Egyptian story that says:
When God created the world, He made everything small so that it could grow with time: The grain into wheat, the baby into an adult, and the bud into a flower. Only sorrow was fully grown so it could decrease with time and man would be able to live with it.
I cannot imagine that it will ever heal, but with time, it will decrease and not hurt as bad and we will be able to live with it.
About the Author: Aubrey Futrell brings over fifty years of experience in law enforcement and criminal justice. Aubrey is known for his unique character and presentation style and has presented training both nationally and internationally for numerous organizations. He is now a private consultant, conducting training on a number of vital subjects for law enforcement.
In areas of stress and grief, Aubrey has plenty of experience. He has used this experience to teach and help others with their critical incidents. With regard to his personal grief, Aubrey has had two grown children and his spouse die. He has also dealt with prostate cancer (in remission) and the death of his best friend.
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by Peggy Sweeney
“Training them to deal with trauma, stress, and grief is no less important than training them to be safe on the fire ground.”
Suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2010 it was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 38,364 deaths. One of the major risk factors for suicide is depression, or a substance-abuse disorder — often in combination with other mental disorders. More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have these risk factors. (Moscicki, 2001) Continue reading
by Timothy O. Casey
As a firefighter/paramedic for more than 30 years, I can safely say I have pretty much seen it all. I have seen death in every incarnation, and life as well. We on the front lines are not invited politely to join in the fray of life; no, we are thrust into chaos on a daily basis, it’s our job.
It is, to say the least, an unusual profession. No two days are alike, and no two emergencies are alike. The environment is rarely predictable and the events and people even more unpredictable. Yet we go.
Who takes care of us? Our families? They try, I know mine did. But the average or normal person cannot share our experience, they can’t imagine what we do or see.
I know that many days I felt like a human garbage collector, picking up the waste of society. People, although fascinated with the gruesome, macabre, or terrifying, only see it from a distance. We hold it in our hands and get it on the soles of our boots. Continue reading
THIS VIDEO MAY BE DISTURBING FOR SOME
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by Tim Trickey
Advanced Emergency Medical Care Attendant [Paramedic]
Editor’s Note: Tim wrote this article in 2014 to help emergency responders cope with tragic calls, but most importantly, to share how he copes with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Sadly, Tim died on December 17, 2017. He leaves his wife and son to mourn his loss, as well as his crew and those whose lives he touched. Rest in peace, my friend.
I was asked by a very dear friend that has helped me through some very difficult years, to tell you about my daughter, Natasha.
I am a Paramedic in Ontario, Canada. Some of you may have been in the Kingston area where I am still working. Ten years ago, I was the supervisor of a small, rural volunteer ambulance service that, at the time, had a call volume of about 500 calls per year. Like most, we hope we never have to respond to family emergencies. But like all small communities, it is usually someone you know, or in my case, family. Continue reading