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What Is Your Worst Call?

What Is Your Worst Call?

Kristin Winters

The Worst Call: Nightmare Bank

When people find out what I do for a living, I get asked the same question time and time again:

What is your worst call?

Many thoughts run through my head when I am asked this. What constitutes a ’worst call’? A parent’s reaction when I tell them their child has died? Having treated a 12 year-old rape victim? A seemingly healthy 27 year old—whom I couldn‘t have saved—who arrested in front of his children? The 17 month old who seized so long he stroked, and eventually died? The parent who purposely overdosed his child? The teenage girl who was literally one big bruise, brought on by abuse?

Sometimes I voice these thoughts, and usually they are met with a horrified reaction. Just recently, someone brought to my attention that none of these calls involved blood, car wrecks, or shootings. That realization left me speechless.

Let me digress for a minute. I have heard fellow co-workers refer to this as a ‘nightmare bank.’ Calls that make you lose sleep. Calls that come back to haunt you. Calls that, for some reason, will make you second guess your actions 3 years later. We all have them. The medic who denies it, in my opinion, does not have a strong hold on his emotions. Nor does she have the capacity to realize what an awesome responsibility the job entails. Any medic, who can be honest with himself/herself, will admit to a nightmare bank.

All of the examples above happened to me in my first year as a medic. Two of the calls made me lose sleep. One of the calls I struggled with so much, I eventually sought help for it.

Why am I writing about this? Because just recently I woke up in a cold sweat. After 3 years I can recollect every second of that call. Every word that was said. Every treatment that was given. And I have no idea why.

Different calls affect each of us differently. This particular call did not affect the others involved. However, each of them was supportive when I had a hard time with it. (This was one time I was truly thankful that I was seen as ‘one of the guys’). Likewise, I am always empathetic when a call affects my partner. You never know what will affect you, or your co-workers.

I personally choose to not talk about ‘my worst call’ to people who can’t understand where I am coming from. An acquaintance of mine doesn’t need to know the particulars of that day. They don’t need to know what I witnessed, what I did. Very few people know the story, or know the feelings, That Call invokes. I don’t deal with it by discussing it with everyone. I deal with it in other ways, ways that work for me.

Remember, don’t pass judgments on your partner. These moments do not make us weak, but make us human.

Tell Us: What was your worst call?