Pandemonium: wild and noisy disorder of confusion; uproar
The call came out as a deceased person as squads began responding to a suicide call that broke over the radio two minutes before my shift officially started. Yet things are never as they first appear, and sixty seconds later our dispatch gave us an update that the person may still be alive. A young man had tried to end his life by hanging himself from a tree. A few inches suspended him between life and death as a loved one looked out the window and saw what was happening. The strap was cut, the man fell to the ground and the emergency call was made.
Spring was coming. The piles of snow were slowly melting causing the dirt roads to be slushy ponds of mud. As my squad car pulled into the scene I put it in park, opened the door and stepped into pandemonium. Two police officers had already arrived and were huddled over the man. The ambulance had arrived just in front of me and I began helping them grab equipment. People had heard the initial scream and come out of their homes to see what was going on. I could hear yelling and crying as I waded through one mud hole after another.
Plastic bags containing sterile medical equipment were being ripped open. Needles were being stuck, an air bug was being pumped, paramedics were giving directions to us, pictures were being taken, witnesses were being gathered and some semblance of organization was trying to be established amidst the pandemonium. Mud stuck to our boots and pants and equipment. My squad car was no longer white but a dark, earthy brown.
A landing zone was set up for the helicopter at a nearby intersection on the dirt road. The man was put on the stretcher, wheeled over to the ambulance and transported to the helicopter. I looked back at the tree before following the ambulance to the landing zone. I saw the strap that had been tied to the branch and the knife laying on the ground used to cut it. Surrounding the knife were the remnants of plastic bags and discarded tubes that had been used to save the man’s life.
Saved. I learned a few weeks later that he had not died. I prayed for him at the time of our efforts to restore life to an ashen face and I prayed at the hearing of his recovery. O God, open his eyes to see that you are stronger than any problem that could push him to the brink of wanting to take his own life.