He laid bare his soul

Published on 15 May 2022 at 22:37

Talk about it, is what they say. It should help you. But where do you begin? Do you want to take them through the worst things you have experienced? Do you want to burden them?


Talking always helps, they say. For me, talking makes me relive the experiences. Not like the flashbacks mind you. But the raw emotions come anyways. Talking about my childhood, talking about things at work, they never came naturally. Perhaps that's because of how I grew up or just because I always felt I needed to be strong. And strong men don't talk about their feelings. My biggest worry has always been my family. And especially my wife. What if I unburden my soul and lay everything bare to my loved ones and friends. What will that do to them? Will they see me as a victim? Will they feel pity for me? Will it scare them? Maybe that's why I keep everything close to my chest. 


I have often tried talking and opening up about the heavy stuff from work. Usually when I start, I look at the subconscious responses. Often I see worry. Often I see disbelief. More often I see aversion. That's when I know this is how far I should go. And more often than not it barely scratched the surface. One of the reasons I started writing "Going Crazy" Was so I could finally lay everything bare and really unburden. So far it's helping me. Even though I'm still thinking what would everyone say? What will they think? And most of all I really don't want to be a victim or feel like a victim! 


First off, having flashbacks sucks. I can't say it any nicer than that. I could probably say it's still an understatement. I relive a lot of incidents at work. Most of which I didn't even consider traumatic. Hell, most of those incidents we often discussed over coffee at work. For people outside of first responders like law enforcement and the fire department it may come as a shock. But often times we encountered the remains of someone and were still discussing what we would eat afterwards. Often before we even reached the precinct the jokes started. Sometimes even at the scene. It is a coping mechanism for people who see too much. I doubt people last long in my line of work if they don't have some way of making things trivial. It is also one of the pitfalls. By making things trivial, do they still matter? Is it still something you should talk to people about? Seeing as it is so trivial? If it happens every day, is it not just normal ?


These are some of the things first responders deal with. For me, it unconsciously made it much harder to share everything. 


The flashbacks come daily. And to unburden I'd like to share some of them. 

At work there are a couple of calls which get your blood pumping and get your adrenaline up. For me the calls with children are always the worst. The second is probably a life threatening situation. Those where you know every second matters. Like CPR calls or people who want to leave this life. Usually first responders are very in tune with dispatch. Often you can hear by the sound of their voice if something is serious or not. The call came in, there was a person missing and he told his parents over the phone that he was going to kill himself. We get these kinds of calls a lot and dispatch was fairly calm. They informed us that the parents didn't know where their son was. He hadn't mentioned how or where he wanted to leave this life. That's when dispatch gets busy and looks at possible sites. Where could he have gone in the time mentioned and what would be a logical place. And we have to check those locations. That's when we heard it concerned a boy of 19 years old. 


About 5 minutes later dispatch sounded urgent. They called us and told us there had been a collision between a train and a person on the tracks. You could hear by the sound of the dispatcher, he was affected by the call. We went there as fast as we could. When we arrived on the platform, we could see the train stopped about 150 meters away. 


**Graphic warning**

For those of you who are very graphic I'd suggest skipping to the next bit. 

We started walking towards the train, but as soon as we got to the end of the platform we saw a lot of blood. The blood covered the entire end of the platform. It was all in between the tracks. Al the way until the train. Walking towards the train we spotted a pair of boots in the middle of the tracks. They should not be there. They were just standing there upright. I could see the feet were still in there, but that was it. Above it, there was nothing. It just stopped. I could see the flesh and bone, but it was like someone just used a very sharp knife and cut someone off at the ankles. We could not stay there, we had to check and see if the person whose feet we just found, boots and all, could still be saved. Of course we also had to check if everyone else was alright. We reported our findings to dispatch so they could inform the medics, and kept on going. While walking we saw a lot of bits and pieces belonging to a body. This should all be on the inside of someone, but it was everywhere. Seeing this we knew that the person couldn't be saved. 

End of the Graphic bit


When we got to the train. The conductor was very calm. He seemed unperturbed by all this. We asked him how he was doing. He gave us a dejected smile (Feeling emotionally numb) and said it was his third one this week. Now that I look back on it, that was a sign that maybe the conductor had also seen way too much and needed some help. We then moved towards the front of the train. While walking past the train we could see blood across the entire length of the train. It looked like a scene from a horror movie. The conductor had moved all of the passengers toward the front end of the train so they couldn't see the carnage behind the train. The railway have their own protocols and stuff to handle the business end of this, so that was all underway. The conductor even managed to produce a blanket or tarp to cover the front of the train so the passengers could be spared the gruesome sight.


**Graphic warning**

For those of you who are very graphic I'd suggest skipping to the next bit.

We were not so lucky. We went over to the front of the train to try and find some form of description of who it might be. What we saw on the front of the train can barely be described in words. Apparently the person had hit the buffer of the train and literally splattered everywhere. Chunks and blood was everywhere. I almost threw up when I saw it.

End of the Graphic bit


I still remember the conductor saying:  "This guy just climbed on the tracks and sat down in front of the train. There was nothing I could have done."  Even now I still feel so sad that someone would see no way out and decide to end his life like that. I had to ask the conductor if he could describe the guy. He mentioned a young man, probably 20 years old wearing boots. We eventually got everyone of the train without them seeing too much.


Then the investigation starts. Cordon everything off and have the detectives investigate the scene. That's when we discovered camera footage of the station. On which we could see the person. He just saw the train coming and walked towards the end of the platform. Right before the train came he climbed on the tracks, squatted down and that's when the train hit him. We could see everything on the footage. We could even identify him as the young boy who told his parents that he wanted to kill himself. That was enough for the detectives. Luckily they were the one who went to tell his parents that he wasn't coming home.


But now we have a scene. Trains can't move because of the carnage. We had the night shift and the others all were from the evening shift so we were guarding the scene.  When the coroners came, they were 2 people. They had this coffin like thing with them with a plastic bag inside to gather the remains. But they were 2 people and they had to cover about 150-200 meters of tracks littered with remains. That's when the question you never want to hear came. We need help, can you guys help us pick up the remains so we can cover more ground.   


**Graphic warning**
For those of you who are very graphic I'd suggest skipping to the next bit.

Not wanting to be squeamish but touching dead people freaks me out. And sadly I had to do that too often in my career. When said dead people are literally scattered piece by piece on a train track stuck between rocks, screws and the train it became even worse. We picked up brain matter, we picked up an ear. We even picked up a lot of teeth. I still see everything like it was yesterday. I still see myself picking the things I couldn't even identify off the ground and placing it in that coffin thing....

End of the Graphic bit


This is just one of the things I now see in flashbacks. How do you explain stuff like that to the people you love without breaking them ? I still haven't figured it out, but I think writing it all down like this is the best way for me. 


If you want to support me, please join me on my facebook channel, or leave a comment below. If you just want to talk feel free to use the contact form and I'll get back to you asap.

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