Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Calls that give you grief

I was on my way to a call that I can't even remember. I had put up for it from some distance and being a basic driver was nearing it as fast as I could possibly go according to the speed limit (and taking all the routes with higher speed limits). I then got a call to divert from there and attend the local hospital. Grief, I thought, as it was put over the PR that the incident required my special skills. I speak another language and I was probably needed as an interpreter. It was grief but not as I thought.
On arrival, one of my colleagues explained what it was about. A child had been brought in and the parents did not speak English. And then he told me that the child had died from taking a fall from the stairway. Nothing suspicious in itself apart from the fact that the child had fallen from the very first step. The DS arrived and I stuck to him like glue. More information was forthcoming from the Paramedics and from the staff in Resuscitation in A&E (God bless them all). The information near the end was that it did not look suspicious. At this point, I had already phoned home about 3 times to speak with Mrs P to let her know I would be home late and also to speak to my little Princess P. The child was about 17 months old, about 8 months younger than Princess P. And then it was time to talk to the family. We went to the room where the child was and as we got there, the extended family was coming out and through the open door, I caught a glimpse of her lying on the bed and then the door was shut and I faced the father. My heart went out to him, he was being held upright and the pain was so bad that he was constantly clutching his heart. He had been crying and with the memory of the little child lying there and her father in front of me, I had to push back the tears.
We spoke and we explained the procedure we had to go through. The family asking me, 'Do you know what it feels like to be under suspicion after a tragedy?' and me explaining that it wasn't that but the fact we had to gather all evidence we could. We let the family go and went back to the station to write our notes and to book in the evidence collected. I was asked by the Guvnor if I would mind staying on and helping out the Child Protection Team as they had a few questions to ask. I did not mind at all and so went to the extended family's house where relatives had already come to mourn. Then upstairs in the bedroom, with mother and father and one relative who was also bilingual and both the CPT Guvnor and Skipper, the unbearable heat and me still in my body armour, the father told us the heart rending sequence of events of what had happened and how they tried to save their child while the mother tried in vain not to cry.
I'm glad I was sweating and I think it was that and not the tears that were stinging my eyes. And then it was over and time for us to go. I spoke to the CPT DS today and he confirmed the results of the post mortem that the incident was a freak accident and that there was no sign of anything suspicious at all.
Is that any consolation? That was the couple's only child and she was taken from them in an instant while they looked on helplessly. Even as I write this I can feel the tears in my eyes but I blink them back and selfish as it sounds, thank God that my precious bundle of joy is still here with me. My heart goes out to that family. A parent should never ever have out live their child. That call was grief.


Anonymous politicaluniform said...

Damn fine job you did. If there is one thing that his job can teach you on occasion, it is to value your own family.

Enjoy your time with them :-)

Jul 7, 2006, 4:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Another Constable said...

Sounds very similar to the first "sudden death" I ever had to deal with in my police career. A 7 month old baby. The family were Egyptian and though some spoke English, not all did, and my collague who spoke Arabic was drafted in to communicate to those at the home address (which had initially been a crime scene).


Jul 10, 2006, 12:34:00 AM  
Blogger bawpc said...

One of those situations you just don't want to think about dealing with until they arrive at your end of the radio. I can't imagine what it's like...you have to live it to know it. Well handled though, well done.

Sep 24, 2006, 4:57:00 PM  
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