Thursday, February 26, 2009

Officer Involved 11-79... or Dealing with Stressful Situations...

11-79 means a collision with an ambulance enroute.

It's a very difficult thing to hear over the police radio that another officer is injured.

It's even harder when you have to make a decision to either go help that officer, or respond to help other officers who are in a foot pursuit with a robbery suspect. The officers the injured officer was on his way to help.

I had to listen to my radio for a few minutes to hear what was going on. I was only getting bits and pieces over the noise of my siren, and the wind rushing over my light bar at 105 miles per hour. Not to mention all the cussing I was doing at the stupid idiots who wouldn't move their stupid cars out of my stupid way. What is it with you stupid people!? I assure you my actual words were a LOT more colorful than just "stupid".

I managed to piece together that the injured officer had stacked his car into a tree while he was rolling Code 3 cover for the foot pursuit. Four officers were now going to the foot pursuit, but only one was going to the crash. I decided to be number two and went to the crash.

When you're on your way to help an injured officer, you tend to drive just a little bit faster than normal. I found this out as I took the freeway off ramp and realized I was taking the curve just a tad fast, my tires squealing in protest all the way down the ramp. I made it, but my tires weren't at all happy with my abuse.

When I hit the intersection at the bottom of the ramp, wouldn't you know it, the light was red. Even with my siren blaring away, people still kept on trucking through the intersection, not yielding to my police car. More cussing and yelling. WHAT IS IT WITH YOU PEOPLE?!

Two more blocks found me arriving on the scene. I saw the patrol car and I immediately thought "Oh shit". Those are quite common words in law enforcement believe it or not. The car had gone into the tree left side first, caving the driver's door in. Never good.

I got to the driver's window and found a wee bit of relief. The good part was that the officer was talking to me. He wasn't entirely with me though. It's quite strange to see someone you work with on a daily basis, someone who is normally very clear headed, who can tell you his name but not much else.

What day is it? Uhhhhh, Wednesday. (It's Saturday).

Where are you? At work. (Okay smart-ass, that was an easy one).

What happened? I think I crashed. (Dude, really?! LOOK AT YOUR CAR! You THINK you crashed!?)

How fast were you going? I don't know.

Were you wearing your seatbelt? I don't know.

How do you feel? My head kinda hurts. (No shit.)

Do you know what time it is? No.

His bell was rung pretty good, but at least he was talking. Getting him out of the car was a challenge. Two of us hauled on the driver's door, but we couldn't open it. I finally went around to the passenger side and opened that door. He had to climb out over the console that holds all of the radio and emergency equipment.

He was pretty unsteady on his feet, and still wasn't quite right.

Once the ambulance showed up and the medics started checking him over, the officer "manned up" and said he didn't need to go to the hospital.

"Bullshit!" I said. Don't be a pussy! Let these guys take you down there and get you checked out right. I may have even threatened to knock him out if he didn't go, but I don't remember my exact words. Something about if you think your head hurts now, just wait til I'm done with you... or something to that effect.

It's funny how challenging a guy's manliness will make him see things your way. He went to the hospital.

He ended up returning to work a few days later, and has been fine ever since, but still...

You never want to hear that another officer is injured. But when it happens, and it most likely will if your career spans any length of time, you have to attend to business. You can't let it get to you right now. Later, after it's all over, you can run around in circles screaming like a little girl if that's what blows your kilt up, but right now that officer is depending on you.

As a side note, it's quite interesting that Mrs. "Smith" performs exactly the same way under stress, and she isn't even a cop. When one of our kids gets sick or injured, she tends to them and deals with business. Cops and firefighters have asked her with not a small amount of incredulity, "You're the mother?!", not believing how calm she was while her child had just had a seizure and bounced his head off the concrete when he fell.

Hours later, when we're home, the boys are in bed, the lights are out, the guns are unholstered and all is once again right with the world, only THEN will she curl into a ball and cry on my shoulder for a while.

I admire that about her. Among many other things.

It's really interesting how much alike we are, even though we are so different...


Gigi said...

The most stressful situations I have dealt with as a dispatcher is when one of my officers are hurt on the road. That said, I can only imagine how stressful it is to the other officers in the situation.

Anonymous said...

I understand what you are saying.
While with the D.O.C. When I heard the call officer down. It is a bad feeling.

MeadowLark said...

Husband was involved in an off-duty altercation while checking on our adult daughter who was being harassed in a parking lot.

During the "conversation" daughter called out "Daddy" and right then the guy clocked Husband who hit the dirt. Meanwhile BabyGirl is on the phone to dispatch... "This is officer so-and-so's daughter. He hit my dad!"

Apparently guys ran out of the department pushing and shoving to get into cars to get to the "event". Husband ends up taking the guy down and holding him until other officers arrive.

We laugh about it today. At the time, not so great.

And good lesson - even if you're on the way to the gym, keep cuffs with you.

OldCop said...

In the county I work, everybody rolls, the towns, the county, the state, conservation and even excise.

Leslie said...

Glad he was okay! :)

TheBronze said...

Glad everything turned out okay, Smitty.

MJ said...

Glad that he is ok!

Mad Jack said...

at the stupid idiots who wouldn't move their stupid cars out of my stupid way. What is it with you stupid people!?

You don't really want to know, but I'm going to tell you part of it anyway.

First off, anyone with the intelligence of a ceiling fan can pass the operator's license exam in any of the fifty United States. There is no time limit for the written portion, and the comprehensive driving part is based on the luck of the draw. The examiner isn't held accountable for allowing unqualified residents to obtain a driver's license.

Secondly, driving is not about you or anyone else getting where they want to go. It's all about me arriving at my destination unimpeded by you. My big hurry is much bigger and more important than your big hurry. I see no reason to share my space with you. After I'm finished driving, you may do as you like.

Please note that I'm not using 'me' as my literal self-identification. Rather, the 'me' represents the individuals on the road.

Third, driving is competitive. The person in front of me is an obstruction, as are red traffic lights and pedestrians. Even if I scrupulously obey traffic laws, when the traffic light turns green the right of way that I've been patiently waiting for is now mine to enjoy. Your arrival is depriving me of what is mine, and for no good reason. Your lights, siren, badge and gun do not give you the right to take what's mine. Go somewhere else and bother someone else.

Finally, accept that there is no where to go. If I try an yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle and as a result get into a fender bender, I suffer for it. That may not be fair, but that's what happens.

Note that this is not the way I, personally, think about driving. It's a conglomerate of the way people think when they drive. The good news is that it could be fixed, and the bad news is that it's not likely to be fixed anytime soon. Certainly not in my lifetime.

Officer "Smith" said...

Sadly, Mad Jack, that is how the majority of drivers seem to think. I am somehow inconveniencing them by annoyingly using my lights and siren to disrupt their blissful drive.

I have no hope that this will ever be fixed.

Oh, and I'm glad you specified that the "me" to whom you refer is not, in fact, you. I was about to give you a piece of my mind!!

Teri Kathleen said...

First, I'm glad that the officer is okay.
Second, I'm not a cop and I cuss out those who won't yield the right of way!
Third, could your wife please be the Yoda to my being Luke? Teach me the ways of being calm in a bad or scary situation?

David B. Woycechowsky said...

Was he wearing his seatbelt?