This is one of those posts where I feel compelled to break with the norm (of subject matter anyway). This post probably impinges on homeless matters in a round about way, but not directly, thus I am going off script….
It is no breaking news at this point to inform you that down here in Texas the last few weeks, we have had our share of “active shooter” situations. All of that made national headlines that even competed with a major hurricane! However, those of you not local will be pardoned for not having familiarity with the smaller/spin-off stories which have developed in their wake.
Midland/Odessa are West Texas neighbors to Lubbock where I live. El Paso might be a distant neighbor, but they are too. We know people from these communities; we have ties to them – some quite personal.
The thing I learned last night is that Lubbock’s Fire and Rescue department (LFR) has a unit of second responders who respond to the first responders after the fact. It turns out that a career in law enforcement, EMS and fire fighting puts people in PTSD situations repeatedly – this not to mention that they tend to employ former armed forces at a higher rate than most careers, and fighting in wars is where we even got the term Post Traumatic Stress, which used to be shell shock or war fatigue. Now days we are finding that PTSD is rather common and deadly.
So this unit of second responders at LFR get dispatched to places like El Paso and Odessa after a major event where brothers in the line of duty go to support those brothers who have faced traumatic events. And it turns out LFR’s special unit stayed in Odessa for a week – way longer than expected.
Well, this has me thinking of Mrs. Agent X, who is also a second responder of a different kind. She is a nurse in the PICU. She is not a first responder, nor an ER nurse. She sees these patients after their initial admission to healthcare, but she is there when they struggle for weeks or months before succumbing to the inevitable. She provides skilled, medical care at the highest levels AND holds the hand of the dying as she drags out the process.
I hear her speak of children’s brains liquifying and running out their noses while on ventilators. About cleaning up that mess so a parent can hold the hand of their dying child. I hear her lament the “wailing mamas” and the sound of grief you can’t unsee/unhear.
I look at my wife as we eat dinner at the dinner table and find her hearing the chopper in the sky, that faint sound none of the rest of us notice as we enjoy a fine meal she made, and she knows it means she has a dying baby to care for the next day at work.
I don’t know about you, but I call that PTSD in the making. A career of it, in fact. But LFR does not have a unit that checks on the nurses at the PICU.
There will be a well-deserved parade for the vets. There will be a vet’s discount at the Golden Corral restaurant on veterans day. The first responders will get discounts and special finance options at the bank too. But the nurses in PICU will not. Their work is SECOND RESPONSE, but almost as bad as first – sometimes worse.
I worked in the county jail for a while myself, and the psych ward before that. I too have been on that second responder team. And I don’t talk much about the things I have seen, but then most of my personal involvement was a step removed from even that. I do recall one of the watch commanders at the jail kept a plaque on the wall in bold letters saying, “We don’t call 911. We ARE 911”. It had a way of showing off our departmental testicles, I think, but it also had a subtle suggestion that we are on our own here. We are the last resort.
I am posting all of this today to say that SALVATION comes at a cost – a cost of life for life. First and second responders don’t get the sanitized version, they get the hostile, in-your-face, ugly reality in real time, and they get it again and again and again. And they don’t save them all either. And it makes an impression.
I think this is a very nonbiblical observation which confirms a very biblical observation about Jesus. He got down in it with us, and died for his trouble in the most horrible way. He is the LAST responder that really counts.
We are not going to “survive” this world.
And we will be impacted by it.
Please THANK a first responder AND a second responder today. And support them. And pray for them. And do not try to avoid the ugly reality of this world and try to have the sanitized version, but rather appreciate the cost paid for any relief, salvation or joy you ever get.