“We deal with sick people all day long with detached efficiency, but when it’s one of us, the reality of our vulnerability hits home. This job has a way of making us feel invincible, untouched by the sickness and suffering that surround us daily. It seems inconceivable that one of our own may have succumbed. . .” —Lt. Michael Morse, Rescuing Providence
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks at work. Two weeks ago I worked a swap to get my Friday off. Early Friday morning, about the time I should normally be coming on duty, we ran into a crew from another company who asked us, “Did you hear about the fatal crash in Woburn? Channel 7 said there were EMTs involved.”
We activated the grapevine, and before I left for home that morning I learned that I had indeed lost a coworker.
Kristin Abreu was not a close friend; she spent most of her time in the other division. She was still one of us. We were all stunned.
By the nature of our business, we have a good idea what goes on at an accident scene. Our imaginations are fully capable of filling in the horrors. The few details I’ve heard only make it worse. I don’t know which is worse, knowing or not knowing.
Slightly more than one week later, the hammer fell again. We learned that Salisbury FD Lt. Tim Oliveira was seriously injured while performing preventative maintenance on a department SUV. Again the grapevine was activated; again the news was not good. Lt Oliveira survived for about 48 hours in the hospital before succumbing to his injuries.
Again, I did not know him personally but good friends did. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to a line of duty death, and it’s too close.
An off-duty car crash, and routine maintenance. It all seems so senseless. I’ll be on the porch with my dog and a beer if you need me.