Thursday, October 15, 2009

Disposable Society

A mid-afternoon call into an area two stations away. A T/C, auto versus pedestrian, in front of a school. As the call was a good distance away, dispatch requested and received an engine from a neighboring department. While en-route, we fired up the UHF radio and listened to the mutual aid engine arrive on scene and give a report on conditions to their dispatch.

"Dispatch, engine 4 on scene, we have one patient on the ground being tended to by locals. Appears to be moderate injuries."

That was somewhat of a relief to us. The mutual aid engine was an ALS engine, they should have had things well in hand by the time we arrived. I was sure that we would assist them in loading for transport and that would be it.

Imagine my surprise four minutes later as I saw the mutual aid crew performing CPR on a teenager, as a large crowd of high school students watched.

We dismounted and assisted CFD Engine 4 with establishing a line, CPR and spinal precautions. After a long wait, the ambulance arrived and we loaded the patient. Two of our people went with the patient to the hospital to assist with CPR.

I released the mutual aid engine but didn't ask what happened between "moderate injuries" and full arrest.. My engineer and I made the 30 minute drive to the trauma center to pick up our people. My engineer and I discussed the call and wondered what had transpired, both with the accident and the early part of the call.

The next morning, we read in the paper that our patient was a resident at a local group home for abused and troubled kids, ones who for a number of reasons, can no longer live in their home environment. According to the local rags, our patient ran out into the street in front of the car; the driver having no time to swerve or stop.

Later that afternoon, I drove by the accident site after picking my kids up from a nearby school. A small cross marked the spot, some pictures and stuffed animals placed there to honor our patient. Although the shrine was not as large or as elaborate as many that I have seen, I felt relieved knowing that someone cared enough to make the effort. I know how difficult it is for kids who are "in the system" or wards of the state to make friends and be accepted.

I wonder if our patient was missed by family members when the tragedy became known. The group home where our patient lived is operated by a company with numerous small facilities in several counties. Did any of the staff mourn the loss or was the event viewed as another vacancy to fill.

It is somewhat hypocritical of me to ask these questions. Although I want to know the answers, I don't want to make the emotional investment to be part of a solution for kids with these kinds of issues. To me, it seems as these kids are a by-product of a situation where the people who should have put the kid's needs above their own didn't. In short, they are disposable.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Being responsible for your offspring is not so hard. Its unfathomable to me what people do and I just dont get them.

    I've got a friend who just took in her 17 year old neice. Her mother (my friends sister) is tired and doesnt feel like dealing with her anymore so was going to throw her out. It boggles my mind. These are well off people that live in a very nice area of Palm Beach County. WTF??

  2. All too often, a throw away society.........what a sad commentary of this and future generations.