There are a lot of things that make my job stressful. I've seen it wear on coworkers, physically and emotionally. I've seen it in my own reflection at the end of a rough shift.
One of the toughest calls I've had to take recently came out just as I had left the area it occurred in. I was on my way to a verbal disturbance when the tone alert sounded. A two year old boy was found in the pool, unknown time lapse. Clearing a median to get around traffic, without even skimming the hedges, I hit the lights and sirens. I always think the A/C drops out when my car goes into emergency mode, but I'm pretty sure my adrenaline has something to do with the sudden temperature change.
Traffic in this area is frustrating on a slow day, even more so when the cars just STOP right in front of you because they panic when they see blue lights. It reminds me of Frogger trying to cross over the main road. CAD updates, the little boy is out of the pool and the caller had given rescue breaths. The little boy was breathing and could be heard crying in the background.
As I pulled up and ran to the door a young woman opened it, hair soaking wet, eyes full of tears, and her arms wrapped around her son. He was responsive but kept trying to fall asleep she said. His eyes would close and head fall to her shoulder as she hurried around the house trying to focus and gather what she needed to get him to the hospital.
It was then I had to stop and make her sit down. She took a deep breath, pressing her lips to his head trying to hold back her tears. I held his hand, rubbing his fingers and arm to keep him awake until Fire Rescue arrived. Softly saying his name to keep his attention, she hugged him. She squeezed my hand and closed her eyes. In that moment I felt the pain a mother feels when her child is hurt. Helpless and vulnerable, even a little angry.
Fire Rescue came in and assessed the little boy. He was breathing on his own, but they were concerned with his vitals and needed to transport him. The greatest sound heard during the ordeal was him screaming when they put the IV in his arm. Even his mother seemed relieved with the outcry from him, a sign of hope in her mind.
The investigation showed he was just a fast little boy that got away from his mom while she was busy in the house. The safety precautions were all in place for the pool. A curious little boy just figured out how to get around them. The mom was very brave and acted fast to save his life.
The dad rushed from work to meet them at the hospital. The grandparents and other family arrived shortly after. I was standing by as the agent finished speaking with the parents, and kept peeking in to see the little boy. He was all smiles and talking by then. Even with his improvement the doctor wanted him to be admitted to Arnold Palmer in Orlando. The family surrounded him as I backed out of the room and waved bye. He gave me a thumbs up and smiled. I was sure he'd be fine, but we never know the full outcome. It's the nature of the beast. You do what you can at that time then shake it off and move on to the next call.
This time I got to see the outcome. A few days later while on scene at a retail theft the loss prevention officer said someone was outside the office asking for me. When I opened the door the dad and little boy were standing there smiling. His son had seen me when I walked in and wanted to say Hi. His dad said they were doing great and would be moving into their new house soon...one without a pool! Seeing the little boy smile and getting a hug from him made every ounce of the day worth it.
There were plenty of calls I've been to where the difference between life and death was in my hands. This was not one of those calls. I did nothing more than hold a mom's hand and reassure a little boy he'd be fine. As law enforcement we are often disliked, lied to, and targeted. It's calls like this that humbles us and shows us that what we do makes a difference. To us it's a job, but to others we're the first hope they have when they call for help. It's worth it.