Dealing With Tragedies

Thursday, July 13th 2006, 10:13 am
By: News On 6

Family and friends try and deal with tragic traffic accidents, but there are other, less obvious people that have to deal with these kinds of tragedies more often than they'd like. They're first responders, the paramedics who see it all first hand.

News on 6 reporter Jennifer Loren looks at their perspective.

Michael Kisler is preparing for a 12 hour shift as an EMSA paramedic. He checks out his meds and equipment so he'll be ready for whatever the day brings. But that's just it; paramedics never know what scenes the day will take them to.

EMSA supervisor Dan Oller: "When we get to a scene, originally we have a very small amount of information. But of course when we get there we realize the full tragedy of the situation."

Both Oller and Kisler have seen their share of traumatic incidents. EMSA paramedic Michael Kisler: "I can't tell you how many times I've been on the scene and had to tell a family that their loved one has died and you almost want to cry for them."

Kisler was one of the paramedics who responded to the Keenan Taylor incident. Taylor was the 2-year-old boy who died at the hands of his father. He was badly burned, a horrific case of child abuse. Kisler says it’s that incident and any incident that involves children that are hardest to deal with. “You go home and you hug your kids. That's the first thing you do."

Because this high-stress job can have a negative affect on paramedics, EMSA created a new program to help thwart that. It’s called CISM, Critical Incident Stress Management. Dan Oller: “basically all it is we go to classes and learn how to deal with the stresses of how to get through them."

The paramedic that worked Wednesday's fatal crash on the Creek Turnpike has that program to lean on today and every day she may need it. Michael Kisler: "They can't get it completely out of your mind. I mean there's just no way. It’s stuck with you forever, no matter what you do. But the thing is, they can help you to deal and cope with it."

EMSA supervisors say they've had great success with the CISM program. It’s been in affect less than a year.

And by the way, Kisler says even with all the trauma he sees, he loves his job. He says all of the good outcomes keep them coming back for more.