I have written before about the senses in EMS, the things we see, smell and feel. I was prepared to write about the worst things we hear when I read an article that stopped me in my tracks. I had to sit down here in the house and collect my thoughts while fighting back tears and I am on the far end of the world compared to Orlando.
Paramedics, Firefighters and Police hear some of the worst things imaginable. We hear vitriol spewed from the darkest souls imaginable, often geared towards us or our female relatives. We hear families torn apart by violence cry to their Gods to bring their loved one back. We hear the pleading of a husband for us to please help his wife to live again. “Please. Please do something!”
It may be cliché but the worst thing I thought I could ever hear was the silence of a dead child.
This morning has me thanking those same Gods that that is the worst thing I have heard because our Brothers and Sisters in Orlando are hearing far, far worse in the aftermath of the murderous rampage by a creature so twisted I will not refer to it by name or by species.
The teams searching the Pulse nightclub for survivors, treating the wounded they found and especially later, cataloguing and sorting the bloody mess that remained had to suffer a sound so simple, so common that you may need to take a moment to imagine it.
A phone ringing.
For years these rescuers will hear the echo of a phone ringing in their nightmares.
You see, as the event unfolded, friends and family frantically called their loved ones to find out if they were OK, hiding maybe in the bathroom or made it out and sought refuge in an alley.
50 bodies in the building. Likely all with phones. Likely all of them ringing.
Ringing nonstop as multiple people tried to call. Ringing nonstop as more and more phones began to call out to their deceased owner and no answer would come. Ringing nonstop as rescuers sort through the chaos in the hopes that one of the phones could soon be answered by someone who can say to the caller, “I’m OK, they found me!”
Another 53 were wounded in the small club, I don’t know how many were pulled out by other club goers or rescuers, but their phones were likely ringing as well. Some too injured to answer while those that could answer were likely unable to speak after seeing the tragedy unfold before them.
Songs and tones, sounds and voice clips, each one as original as the person lying in the blood, unable to answer.
That is a sound that chills my spine just to imagine it, but our Brothers and Sisters will never be able to unhear it. That sound will echo in their minds and their hearts the rest of their lives.
Of all the things we hear, I thought silence was the worst. I hope it remains that way for me, and for you too.