You know something is wrong when dispatches voice is shaky. It's a small town, calls like this happen once a year, if we're lucky.
"12 year old boy, asphyxiation, emergency aid needed"
I've always hated how vague the calls were. It was never enough information to properly prepare, and they were usually exaggerated.
But we all knew this was a bad one. Usually we joke around on the way over, to relieve tension or mentally prepare for whatever we face ahead, be it a broken arm or a heroin overdose.
But there was no laughing this time, no snide remarks or gossip. Just the dull screech of the sirens, and the silence in the cabin.
We were still silent as we hurried up the front steps. We had assumed the worst, and brought everything. Defib, pediatric aid bag, stair chair, suction unit, everything. Yet no amount of gauze can prepare your eyes, your brain.
The mother was wordless. She just pointed us to his room. His door was marked with warning stickers and faux military signs, just what you'd expect from a young teenage boy. It reminded me of the door to my room, only a few years ago.
The crew captain opened the door slowly. It felt like an eternity, all I could hear was my heart in my chest.
I knew what to expect. It was obvious at this point. But no amount of preparation could be enough. He had hung himself. He was 12 years old, and he had hung himself.
As a cadet, I rarely help with the actual physical treatment. I take down paperwork, interview family and witnesses and victims. Take note of the injuries, medications, allergies. But we never went over this in our months of training. And it didn't feel right to break the silence to ask for help.
I attempted to write down information, as I saw in the corner of my eyes they prepared to cut him down. I left the room, stood by the mother who refused to look. We stood together, wordless. It felt like hours.
I pride myself in my thick skin to this stuff, but lately it's been getting harder and harder.