The Dispatcher chirped out an assignment for Officer Robert. A vehicle versus pedestrian incident; another vehicle versus pedestrian he thought! It’s the 5th one in two months and the 2nd one this week!
He feels his heart rate spike and fingertips tingle, so he pauses before keying his radio. He knows if his stress is betrayed in the tone of his voice, it will send a shockwave of concern to his partners. Officer Robert projects his voice calm and controlled, concealing his fragile emotional state.
Now that he has acknowledged his assignment, he activates his overhead lights and siren, then flips a U-turn. His body is energized to face the challenge ahead, but he knows he must wrestle his emotions into the caged back seat of his patrol car as soon as he arrives on scene. If this was his first vehicle versus pedestrian assignment, there would be a level of unknown, maybe intrigue, but it’s not. This is going to be another scene he wished to God he didn’t have to see.
The traffic is heavy this time of evening, so Officer Robert is extra careful not to create an entirely new set of problems as he speeds across town. He arrives first on scene and it’s quite chaotic. He stops his patrol car diagonally across two lanes of the roadway to create a safe zone from the moving traffic so he can aid the downed male pedestrian. He hopes his makeshift blockade allows him to get to work helping the victim.
A crowd of people have erupted onto the roadway to see the poor spectacle of a man thrashing in pain. With just one glance, Officer Robert can tell the man’s injures are significant and knows, no matter what he does, it won’t be enough to save his life.
He feels the peering lenses of cellphone cameras from the crowded sidewalk critiquing his every move, but he must shove those thoughts aside to do what he has been trained to do – take control of the situation and offer his best.
Aware that Fire and Medics are still a few minutes away, Officer Robert is deliberate in his movements, grabbing the basic medic kit from his trunk and moving swiftly toward the victim. As he draws close, the gruesome sight penetrates all the way to his soul. Everything is real-time, but to him it feels like slow motion. Tourniquet he thinks, the only possible hope.
Officer Robert didn’t become a cop to serve as a combat medic but at the moment, he MUST become one – he has no choice. He attempts to install a tourniquet, but the severity of the wound won’t tolerate its use. Nonetheless, he struggles to do all he can.
In the midst of the chaos, he notices he is wearing his new uniform and now it’s covered in blood. He puffs his exhale in an attempt to blow off some stress and realizes the only thing good about this moment is at least his shirt is long sleeve. He’ll take the tiny simple blessing – it’s all he has in the moment.
It wouldn’t have mattered if Officer Robert was a veteran cop or if this was his first year on the force. Scenes with these types of violent injuries and dismemberments scar your mind and heart. There is no immunity. If unaddressed, traumatic events like these can build, compounding on the next, and creating a sea of distress and internal suffering.
Officer Robert knows he will need help from his peers, close friends, the chaplain, and possibly a therapist to help reorganize his thoughts and bring his mind back into a centered and balanced place.
Our police officers willingly step in and serve wherever the public has a need. Whether it is part of their skillset or not, they do all they can to make terrible situations a little bit better.
Next time you see a cop, pause and say a prayer for them. Thank God for their willingness to be whoever is needed in the moment and to bear the weight of trauma in their heart for the sake of others.
God Bless Officer Robert for his bravery, commitment, and willingness to stand in the gap.