Sunday, July 29, 2012

Irony of Ironies

Posted by: Blue

We were dispatched to a Motor Vehicle Collision.  Two persons en route to hospital.  One unstable.  One critical.  Both elderly.

It turns out that they had run a stop sign.  A young male had t-boned them on the driver's side.  They were just coming from a family BBQ at their grandson's house.  Alcohol was not a factor.  Nor was medical episode.

The elderly male driver and the passenger, his wife were in rough shape.  He had a massive brain bleed, fractured legs and spinal damage.  At 80 years old, his chances of survival were very low, let alone recovery.  She had a collapsed left lung, and a ruptured bowel, the contents of which the doctors were finding well into her chest cavity.  Due to her blood thinners, it was a difficult task to operate as she would not stop bleeding.

He was unconscious and already in treatment when we arrived.  She was still conscious and able to answer my questions through her oxygen mask as she waited for the trauma room to be prepped.  She was polite, coherent and very sweet, even in her agonizing state.

My partner and I sat and watched as the doctors and nurses went about trying to save the couple.  We sat and watched as the family made the difficult decision to remove the life support from their father.  We sat and watched as he slipped away.

The medical staff were still furiously working on her when another trauma victim came into the room.  A stabbing.

The male was gang related.  Drunk.  Full of tattoos.  Missing teeth.  A record as long as my arm.  He had lived a life of misery and crime.  He had made all the wrong choices, which, combined with his poor upbringing and home life had left him destined to walk in the shadows of sorrow.  There was no one with him in the hospital.

He had been stabbed.  As he lay in agony, asking for help, two passers-by rolled him for the $180 in his wallet (payment for the 6 hours of work he had done that week).  The next people to pass were more generous and called 911.  The wound was not severe or life threatening.  Just messy.  He had a warrant and he would be going to jail after he was stitched back up.

He cried and complained.  He swore and shouted at the staff.  He made an ass of himself.

There they were, all in the same room.  The two frail elderly patients on the brink of death, polite and stolid even as they lay dying.  The third, a sloppy mess of a human, blubbering, drooling in his drunkenness and lashing-out at all of those who were trying to help him.  And I thought: "The irony, is that the fool will live, and the remaining elderly female will likely not make it."

I suppose that it makes sense in a way.  I suppose the gang member needed another chance to make a different choice.  I just pray to God that he does.

In my opinion, there are a myriad of reasons that people end-up on the bright side of life or on the dark side.  Poverty and mental health issues, combined with addictions and a social system which is designed for failure and generations of parents who are ill prepared to care for children provide a seemingly impossible hill to climb.

But I wholeheartedly believe that a person can be redeemed.  I believe that a person can change.  There is a part (a small part) of me that is an optimist.  The larger part is a realist.  At times I border on cynicism.

Each of us has choice.  A free will.  Each of us must choose repeatedly and continually what sort of person we will be.  We will all make mistakes.  The issue is that we are creatures of habit, and we will invariably fall back on what we practice.  A lifetime of practising poor choices will put us in the habit so that even when we wish to make the right one, it will be against the grain that we have established for ourselves.  In the same way, a lifetime of making choices based on others' best interests and based on morality and ethics will cultivate a generous and integrity-driven individual.

I entered into this career intending to help people.  I believe it is difficult in this era to affect people in a positive way as an officer.  Our hands are tied in almost every way.  We are held to impossible standards, and the system of "justice" stands so squarely on it's head, that it seems at every turn that police are the ones on trial, not criminals.  Accountability for law enforcement has been transformed into distrust and unease.  We are our own worst enemies.  Many believe that to enact true justice, police must exaggerate and misrepresent the facts to garner convictions.  This can be true, as the law has been perverted and changed from being a system of rules which express a spirit of ethical and moral behaviour to being a system of do's and don't's which attempt to erase the lines of right and wrong.  The individual's (criminal's) rights are held above those of the public (victims).

All this being said, I am adamant that I am able to make a positive difference as a police officer.  However small.  However difficult.  I am in a position where, by practising good choices, people will be helped in a very real and tangible way.

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