Walking the Line

I generally don’t share too much of my personal life online [believe it or not], just the ‘front-line’ happenings that most people would see anyway. This past work week was a rough one, though.

I started the week out normally enough, but by my Tuesday night I had nearly sparked a missing person’s search by finishing up my campground rove an hour late. Luckily, most of law enforcement was busy with a real emergency, so not a lot of manpower was wasted on my negligent behalf [P.S. ‘turn on your radio’ was the moral of this story].

My Wednesday went quietly enough, besides the ribbing about the previous night. Thursday seemed like it was going to be quiet, but a rove with a coworker turned into us helping to respond to a medical emergency at a remote campground. While my medical skills are low, I am not bothered by the scene I saw. What got to me the most was the emotional toll that the family had to go through during their 6 some hours at the park. The images that haunt me from those 6 hours are not gruesome ones, but of tears running down someone’s cheeks.

By the time Friday rolled around, confusion was the color of the day. I decided I much rather deal with the petty stuff like printing off more permits and trying to sort out mixed up locks with visitors staring over my shoulder at a gate than watch innocents deal with the emotional strife that goes along with family tragedies.  That kind of drama coupled with the generally happy setting of a park’s campground redefines the extremes of a family vacation.

I thought about the family as we drove out that road and past the campground on my Saturday. Pounding out 7 miles on a trail would be of some benefit, I reasoned. Stopping at the gate, I spoke with someone who had been there, too. I was relieved to know that it sounded like all was going to be okay with the family, but I was troubled to hear that the person I was talking to was still shaken up a bit also.

My group and I headed out on the trail. We talked a little about hypothetical trail emergencies and tsunami routes, mountain lions, elk, moose, and bears. I got to thinking about how law enforcement folks deal with all that stress on a daily basis. I’m not an adrenaline junkie and I don’t feel that I need to be involved in the big dramas of the day, and while I understand wanting to help people, I can’t fathom a week in that line of work.  And to be honest, empathy is probably one of my bigger faults. After 7 miles, I’m still  not able to wrap my head around how much there is to deal with when being the line between life and death.

I’m hoping for a quiet spell this coming week. Of course, Robert Burns summed it up well in 1785:

“But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blest, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!”


One thought on “Walking the Line

  1. Wishing you some closure and peace. Being an empathetic soul can make one more vulnerable to the stresses, and having to have a emotional shield is necessary to protect oneself from being traumatized by the repeated stresses.


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