Newtown EMTs continue working despite grief

Newtown EMTs continue working despite grief

Newtown EMTs continue working despite grief

Whether emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are responding to a car accident or a burning building, they never know how bad the situation will be until they arrive on the scene. EMT training can certainly help first responders better manage their reactions and keep their cool, but certain scenarios can truly test EMTs’ mettle.

This was the case for many of the EMTs who arrived at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14 – the date on which 20 children and six adults were killed in a deadly shooting at Sandy Hook. For those who currently hold EMT jobs or hope to one day, the men and women who did what was expected of them, despite whatever emotions they were feeling at the time, serve as an example of the sometimes harsh realities of this important line of work.

Feelings of helplessness
Members of the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps responded to a call at Sandy Hook, not sure if there was one or more gunmen still at large on the school grounds, NBC News reported. As time passed and more information came to light, these rescue workers soon realized their knowledge and skills would not be of much use.

“We’re waiting there with a triage area set up to take care of all of these patients … and when the call came over the radio to release all of these ambulances from surrounding towns and just hold the Newtown ambulances at the scene, that was when I think it hit most of us that our services were not going to be utilized at that point,” James Wolff, an EMT who responded to the call, told the news source.

Wolff and his fellow volunteer EMTs were in a difficult position, as they did not have an opportunity to put their skills to good use with the majority of those injured in the shooting already dead. Seeing the emotion on the faces of those on the other side of the police tape at the crime scene only made the rescue workers feel worse about their inability to do any good.

Coping with tragedy
In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, several of the EMTs are still torn up over the fact that there was nothing they could do help the 26 victims of the school shooting. According to WPIX-TV, 90 percent of Newtown’s volunteer ambulance corp is now in counseling.

“You wish you could do more,” EMT Sharon McCarthy told the news outlet. “You have all this training.”

Despite whatever troubling thoughts they may be wrestling with, Newtown’s responders are still prepared to respond to calls, as they typically receive around 2,500 a year.

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