I guess it was meant to happen--or was it? I just didn't expect it to affect me the way it did, so close to home.
It happened on a quiet June day. On a Sunday night. It was about quitting time for me and two of my partners, George "Goose" Guzman and Patricia "Pat" Eileen Moss. We were about to clock out for our shift when the emergency tones sounded. Groaning, we got our gear and headed out for the rig (our ambulance).
The call was for a child down. Apparently, the child had been shot by her father when she tried to break up an escalating argument between her parents. She was lying on the floor in a pool of blood, and she was unconscious, according to the first responders on the scene.
We knew we had to get to the scene immediately if the child was to have any chance of surviving. We got to the scene within a matter of minutes.
The child's mother met us as we pulled up. She was crying hysterically, saying her baby was lying dead on the kitchen floor and that there was blood all over. We steeled ourselves for what would greet us once we made it to the kitchen, where the child lay. The father was being led out the front door by two burly policemen as we muscled our way to where the child was still lying on the floor. We knew it had to be bad; we just didn't know how bad.
The child, a little girl of no more than six years in age, was lying on her left side, a puddle of dark-red blood seeping from a huge hole in her back. The child's eyes were closed, and her body was paper-white. Apparently she was on her way to checking out.
I yelled at Pat to grab a small spine board while "Goose" and I tended to the child. She was not breathing. She also didn't have a pulse, and she had no blood pressure. Asystole. The kid was in grave shape; if we didn't do anything pronto, she would more'n likely be dead in moments.
"Goose" breathed for the child while I pumped her small chest with the heel of one hand, rhythmically pushing on her heart, to try to will it into beating again. We carefully but quickly put the child on a gurney, then rolled her out to the waiting ambulance and put her in the back. "Goose" and Pat continued resuscitative measures on their small patient while I sat in the front, in the passenger side, and took the report. I told the driver to floor it with full lights and sirens while we rushed the child to the nearest hospital, which was Nashville Memorial.
At the hospital, the little girl was rushed into Trauma while we gave the ER team information about the little gunshot victim.
Unfortunately it had been too late wh en the child had been brought in: as she was being transferred from the gurney to the table, she arrested. No matter what they did to her, they couldn't save her. Not even ten minutes after she had arrived, the child had been pronounced dead by the ER doctors. She was only six years old, far too young, an innocent victim of a senseless argument.
The father was charged with the shooting; the mother, meanwhile, now has to live without her precious daughter. It was a senseless tragedy that could have been avoided.
This happened two years ago, yet I still see that kid's cherubic little face; that beautiful face continues to haunt me even now in my dreams. I wonder if there was anything we could have done differently to prevent this child from dying the way she did; I wonder if the mother will ever move on with her life; I wonder if the father will ever be repentant of the crime he committed against his very own child.
It is during these types of calls where I question the career I've chosen: I have seen far too much in the way of death, tragedy, heartbreak. Here was a child who didn't have to die in the manner that she did. It just makes me want to hug my own small children, sons, all the more; something of this magnitude has changed, prioritized my whole outlook on life, particularly in the case of my children.
I will do anything humanly possible to protect them from harm and danger.
~As reported by Kendall V. Smith, Paramedic/EMT, Nashville, Tennessee.