Kevin is a Volunteer from the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  He sheds a different light on mental health from a Volunteer perspective. I first learned of Kevin through the Objectionables page on Instagram. He was a weekly contributor to a couple weekly challenges. Late this winter I was in Maryland with a friend for the Whiskey Myers show. Sitting in a bar passing time before the show, I get a message. It read “Hey brother, if you’re around there’s a ticket waiting for you at Will Call”. Turned out we were in the same place at the same time. I moved my pre-game to the spot where Kevin and his twin brother were hanging out. We talked for a bit then went on to enjoy the concert. It was a pleasure getting to know Kevin some and we’ve stayed in touch since.

Stack: thank you for joining me for another episode of the things we all carry today, I’m joined by Kevin. Kevin’s a volunteer from the Eastern shore of Maryland.

He sheds a different light on mental health from a volunteer’s perspective. I first learned of Kevin through the objectionable page on Instagram. He was a weekly contributor to a couple of challenges. I would hold late this winter. I was in Maryland with a friend for a whiskey Meyer show, sitting at a bar passing time before the show, I get a message. It reads,

hey brother, if you’re around, there’s a ticket waiting for you at will-call turns out we were at the same spot, the same place at the same time. And moved my pregame to the spot where Kevin and his twin brother were hanging out. We talked for a bit and then went on to enjoy the concert. It was a pleasure getting to know Kevin some, and we’ve stayed in touch since. A quick reminder to please help us build a community which not only recognizes, but supports each other through the struggles and recovery, reach out through Instagram.

At the things we all carry. Or email my to offer support and share your story. Please remember to leave a review on iTunes and give a shout out to any first responder you’d know, love or care about. Enjoy the show. You don’t have to, we don’t have to wait till then, because on Instagram, you’re @the_unpaid_professional, correct.

Kevin: Yes. At the unpaid professional. Yep. All right.

Stack: Let’s go ahead and get this thing going and we’ll talk. You ready? I’m ready.

Kevin: all right. Thanks. Thanks Stack I appreciate you having me on and. I’m happy to share my story with you and just hope that it, it helps someone out there to Not feel alone. Yeah.

Stack: Yeah that’s definitely the goal is to connect with other people. So other people realized what’s going on.

Kevin: Exactly. Exactly. There’s too many people that, that are, I think they’re going through things alone or that, There. Their traumas are unique but everyone’s struggles and I don’t want anybody to feel like career or volunteer that the things you’re going through or the feelings or feeling. They’re the only ones who’ve ever felt that way, because they’re not.

Stack: So why don’t you tell us a little bit about your family? I know that you’re close to your family and you live where you live because of your family.

Kevin: Correct. Yeah. Mom and dad. They celebrated 50 years. Last year marriage. So still together and Very supportive of myself and my twin brother. Growing up. Afforded me a lot of opportunities. That I wouldn’t have had they not worked. As hard as they did to To support my brother and I. And Luckily, he was able to go to college and got my degree and came back home and. Started making a life here on the shore. So I got into the volunteer service at 25, which is late for most Vollies most guys here that volunteer start. As a cadet and work out, but

As you’ll find out there. I moved back and was kinda looking for a sense of purpose and feeling a community. And It the volunteer service. He allowed me to do that. And I’ve continued to do that. And I feel like. Through our service, we’re able to give back to our communities and Help those around us and. At the heart of it. I think all of us career. Volunteer. I just want to help people. We’re helpers.

Stack: Yeah we’re all definitely helpers and we all think we can fix it.

Kevin: Yes. Yes. That’s it. Helpers fixers. A lot of volunteers have skills or. In. Unsure prior to in a career service. A lot of the career guys had skilled jobs, whether it be. Carpenter or welder or what have you. So we’re working with our hands and you. We’re trying to fix things and, I feel like that. Innately, we bring that fixer aspect into the fire service. I just.

Stack: And I’m going to digress here a little bit, because I just had this conversation at work yesterday. We do have a number of people that, that had. Had skilled jobs and I think any job is really skilled, to be honest with you, but they had this, the trades. And And then we have a cup. We’ve had rookies come in and had no experience, no life experience, no job experience. And you’re able to kind of mold them the way you want to mold them. And then. I there’s a subset, I think as well, because I didn’t have a trade, but I had, I worked with I worked with kids and adults with autism, so I worked with people. And so in a sense, I was still trying to be a fixer. I just didn’t fix with my hands. I just fixed with these. His kids in these families. So it’s it. It’s a very interesting point. So. I liked that you made it.

Kevin: In and hats off to you. My, my wife’s a special ed teacher, and she deals with a lot of kids, be all across the spectrum, but she’s got a couple that are definitely on the autism spectrum. And. And look dealing with people is still a skill. And whether it be people with disabilities or. Just people in daily life, and, from working with. Those with autism and on those things is how quickly they can escalate. So our calmness and. And the way we handle and conduct ourselves is even more important. Yeah.

Stack: I agree with that completely.

All right. So where were you about your family history?

Kevin: So now mom and dad still, still married, happily in. I’m fortunate in that regard that there. Here for. Me and my wife and there’s just an awesome resource. I can’t thank them enough with that.

To really, no outline. Traumatic family events or anything. Very loving, supportive family and. And we all have our little quirks, but overall, I’m blessed. Yeah, my brother. Twin brother is also in the fire service. We joined together in 2009 and the volunteers and he, since. Works for a paid department. Both of us being in the fire service together has also been helpful because we are able to be there for each other and understand each other. So automatically you having someone to a. Navigate. Tough colos and. Thoughts and feelings with It is definitely helpful. And he’s my ACE in the hole. In that regard.

Stack: Tell me a little bit about your town, your living, because I know that plays a part in your fire service.

Kevin: We are. Small town and 896 people roughly. I think our. Our population is roughly the same size. It was. In the 18 hundreds.

I hate to say the cliche one’s born and one dies. But, We’re about the same words were. About 20, 25 minutes from everywhere. Yeah.

Larger cities and it’s a turned into a bedroom community. I was once a ship building. An agrarian economy and now we’re a bedroom community. In that regard and just a nice, quiet place to live down by the water.

Stack: How did you find well, excuse me, before we get into that. Cause I was going to discuss the fact that how long your family has been in the area. Cause I think we talked about that last time. Yep.

Kevin: Yeah. So there’s records of people in my family being in this area. All the way back into the 1860s.

And we fair find that through historical documents and. Matchmakers. Put out an Atlas of landowners of the area. It was published out of Philadelphia and we’ve got a hard copy of that and it was astounding. To be able to find that and trace that. We need to try and bag.


You said you went to college. What year did you go to college?

Kevin: I graduated in 2007. Yeah, with A bachelor’s degree in communication and a minor in business admin. So where do you go after

Stack: you graduate college?

Kevin: I moved. Back to the shore and substitute taught for a little while. And ended up landing a job with a local beverage distributor in middle-management. And I was there. I started there in 2008. And I’ve substitute taught three or four months. And ended up landing that job. And Yep. While I was working there is a. When I got into the fire service.

Stack: Okay. So let’s jump into that. How did you find yourself into the fire service?

Kevin: So December 23rd, 2009. I was. There. At my house and I was getting ready to go to work. And it was coming to the end of a road and my relationship with my longtime girlfriend at the time. High school, sweetheart type thing. Thought we were going to settle down and get married together and And that came to an end. And

The the Christmas tree went out the front door with me and Christmas got canceled that year.

Stack: So you left the house and took the Christmas tree with you.

Kevin: Drug and right down the stairs. Okay. And And probably not one of my shining moments, but That’s how I went down and we had been trying to. Put lipstick on the pig, so to speak and it just wasn’t working out. And it came to the point where, someone had to pull the trigger and it was, it. It was that day. It was me. Yeah. I don’t think she was capable of it. And I was just like I’ve had enough. You. Yeah. And Then my fire service parallel with that day. Was that. Evening late in the evening. There was a little girl in the area that was abducted by a. Acquaintance of the aunt and we, this was all just found out later. Of course good. Chris receive law enforcement kind of search and what’s going on leads and Christmas day, 2009, they put out a call for volunteers. To look for this young girl. And

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen. Thousands of people in a stadium lined up to go do a search for a missing kid, but it’s pretty powerful. Yeah, you could definitely feel a desperate hope. In that crowd. Of all the people who would, pretty much said. It’s not about me today. It’s about finding this little girl and trying to bring her home. And we did. We went out and. Did a area search.

I was wearing chest waders, walking through ditches and through briars. And we were desperately looking to a. Find this. underaged female. And

We searched everywhere. And when we cleared our grid I was like, man.

I don’t know what to do cause we, we didn’t find any sign and Ended up. Going back to the staging area. In

I went, I found a Sheriff’s deputy that I knew and actually got up on the mobile command post. And I was trying to talk him into letting me go out again with another group. And we were trying to find another grid hadn’t been searched. And It tapped us on the shoulder. Hey look Yeah, we’re going to suspend the civilian search and we’re just going to go ahead and keep it to law enforcement and fire. And okay. I was my brother and I were walking out. And saw some guys that we knew that were local and they were all there with the fire department and they said, Hey, where are you guys going? I said they’re sending the civilians home. And today you’re with us. And I was, I hit me like, wow. Like I’ve known these guys on my life, but They’re taking us in. So we literally go in and Stage with them. And

It was at that point that we stood around for probably 20 minutes. BS’n and waiting. And They call it and they said, we’ve got one area we’re going to send. The just the law enforcement back out to, and they ended up finding her. And knowing what I know now. And the condition she was, she just found, I’m glad that we didn’t find her that way. She had been

raped and set on fire. While she was still alive. When they located her, they determined that post-mortem through autopsy.

Stack: That’s a, yeah, that’s a hell of a thing to take in.

Kevin: It was. And not so much through. You know anything. I walked through the woods. But. I feel. I feel bad for the guys who who had to find her in that state.

It was heavy. And it was powerfully moving to see so many people there from all over. And dogs and four wheelers and ATVs and think. Probably the three closest air assets in the air hovering, locating, and.

Powerful to say the least.

Yeah. Let’s say our asset service

At least one man in the state police chopper and at least one DSP trooper. A unit. Actually, I think they had both of them out there. So it. It was a lot, man. It was intense. That was a.

And of course then what do you do when it’s over? She’s been located. Now what. And then you go home. And that’s how you spend the rest of your Christmas day. Yeah. There’s thinking about it and me. Newly alone. I can’t even room. Remember what I did after that? Cause After that. And it didn’t really matter to be honest, that was the vibe of the day. There’s no eggnog. That’s going to pop you back from that.

Yeah. That was a. Christmas in 2009. And after that, my brother and I looked at each other and we’re like, man, What do you think about the fire department? And he called me, I think, and he’s Hey man. I was thinking. Okay. I’ve been thinking too. And it was almost like we almost finished the sentence for each other. And yeah, let’s do it. And so applied and was accepted. Loaded in and went through. Got. Pump operator training and firefighter one, two. Has Matt. And technical. High-angle and vehicle. Rescue. Instructor one. AMR all those classes. And of course going through. Of course while running cars and learning what my station and training the guys. And It was exactly.

What I needed. The fire service was exactly what I needed at that time. They give me a sense of purpose and belonging. At a point in my life where. And I really felt like besides going in and putting in time. For the company I was working for. I was laundry and I felt like I didn’t have a purpose and it’s. Shaped my life thus far. Yes. It’s. It’s a lot, it’s you’re able to be calm with, anytime you’re available and, trout. Family dinners or birthday parties or. Yeah. Denon with the wife to, to go and serve others. And I mean for me, I think of the ability to serve. Our community and the Navy neighboring community. To me, that’s an honor.

To be entrusted with that.

Stack: So how long was all the training for you?

Kevin: So the training is done. Through. MFRI. Maryland fire rescue Institute. Firefighter one in Maryland is 120 hours was when I went through it. And then firefighter two is an additional. I can’t remember the course requirement. So it’s done. Nights, weekends nights, weekends. And Could she get that certification through their free, which you can then take on and. And go ahead and have, certifications for your classes. But that’s how the training has done. So in midwifery has streaming sites throughout Maryland. Burned buildings. All the things you would see at a training site, it’s just. Nights and weekends instead of an academy style.

Stack: Okay. Okay. So that’s your training? 2009. When does that finish for you? When are you a functioning member of the company?

Kevin: So once once I got my firefighter one, I was able to go ahead and actually do. More than support activities. And then of course, as the class comes available, you can take it and you build onto that cert. I’m trying to remember when I took. And I’m almost ashamed to say. I’m trying to remember the end date of the last class I took, but you can always add on those certifications and an add on. More. Certification. So I, the first class I got was far, one. Then you take fire to you. Take pump operator. I had CDOs already coming in. So actually I think the first class I took was pump operator. Yeah, because I already had CDOs and. My justification to the chief. I took it was, Hey, I may not be able to go in there yet, but I know how to drive that. And I want to know how to get water for you guys. That way we can do that. And Yeah. Again, any way I could. Just to help. And then final one final two. Rescue tech for vehicle machinery has met awareness and operations level. And just. Continuing to go on. As the class becomes available, it’s set up like a college schedule because. It’s administered out of college park. The volunteer service is different in the regard that. You have to make the time to take the class and the schedule. And I took leave time. With the job I’m just working initially to actually even be able to get my shirts and to be able to To do the live burns on the weekends and stuff like that because my work hours included weekend hours.

Stack: That’s quite a

Kevin: commitment. Yeah.

Stack: All right. So let’s talk about your time at the volunteer house. How does that progress?

Kevin: Really. Volunteers as needed. My, my joke with our newly hired medic was. There, there are two. There are two speeds here. It’s bullshit or its Oh shit t hat’s a lot. And it said in jest, but it’s true. We joke. In a small kind of, but either it is, And I hate to lessen anything by saying, BS are mundane, but it’s a. Yeah. It’s a run of the mill. It’s a medical or. Holy crap. That’s what she’s getting ready to respiratory arrest or allow, That’s a minor. Auto accidents, a fender bender allow that’s a, a. We’re all over with partial with Jackson or, and that’s a working fire. There’s not a lot of in-between here. So quite a bit

Stack: of feast or famine.

Kevin: Yeah. Yeah. When it’s on and you know it, and. You almost have to.

You gotta be ready for it all the time and not that anyone’s. Not ever ready for it, but it’s gotta be right there in the back of your mind. Hey, don’t sleep on this because we may get here and it may be totally different than then what dispatch is portraying. And I feel like. All of us are in that regard, but. You better be ready? Yeah. Because you may have mutual aid coming from a ways out. May have. You may not have staffing. You don’t have a guaranteed staffing level. So you may have. Three guys on the engine, or you could have three rigs rolling full. It just depends on time of day and work schedules. And who’s around.

Stack: And I know you identified some calls that you wanted to talk about and how they affected you. And so why don’t we just talk about some of those calls right now?

Kevin: Yes. And. We had talked a about the glass analogy and and I’ll talk about. You know how that came up, but these calls. Our highlight not to try and. Highlight my service. I’ll go look at the things this guy seen. Th these were the things in my glass. When I realized that my glass was starting to slow. And I’m very thankful when I’m there. I’m very fortunate to To have been given that analogy and to be able to take that and use that as a tool. For my own introspection and analysis and saying, Hey, where am I at? The first call. remembered. Sticking out. And my time came in 2010. So I hadn’t been in real long. It was reported. As a single non-breathing. And we happen to have. Fire department, fundraiser, softball tournament going on. Most of the guys were all together in a two and a half blocks from the station. And this call comes out front of mine. Who’s a paramedic. And I will jump right in my truck. And we started heading up the street towards a firehouse and I looked at him, I said, do you want to get. The rig or do you want to go direct to the scene? And he said, now when you stop at the stop sign my friend was in the back. He said, he’ll hop out,

so we roll in and pull up

just pass the address and in the yard. There’s a four year old girl. Approximately four. And the words I hear her saying standing in the front yard is mommy. Won’t wake up.


So make our way into the house and. Get upstairs and find. Female patient. Laying on the bed and she’s gray, but she’s warm. And our medic. Starts immediately. Pulls her from the bed down to the floor and starts doing chest compressions. And our first thought. Was CO. Yeah, we’re not thinking at this time. Of opioids or anything like that, or. Prescriptions or anything like that. First thing I did was crack a window open and there was a, probably a 90 pound Labrador. Wandering around upstairs and a grand Tam. I locked the dog in the bathroom. And about that time. Our on duty paramedic, arrived from the station. The ambulance with with my buddy who had grabbed it. And They checked one of the back bedrooms downstairs. And found a second unresponsive patient, adult male. And they hollered. Hey, we’ve got another one. And. swapped compressions and just keep working. And Out of that. The male subjects lived the female then. We were unable to get her back. And it ended up being a, a. Prescription overdose. And that was, I. I 2010, you figure the opioid crisis. Here that was the first time it became a reality and a. The four year old girl in the yard. I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Her face or just her little voice saying, mommy, won’t wake up. Now maybe won’t wake up. And I was because. I had a cousin who was battling those demons at the time. And I remember very vividly. After that call just thinking. I hope that’s not. Something that I have to deal with for him and Ellen. One of the things in the fire service that one of my instructors told me very early on in. I laughed it off, he’s you will respond for people,

as a volunteer and even it’s paid, but more so than a volunteer service where you’re serving. Where you live. And That was the first one that I was like, man. I stuck with me and it

It lingered. And

Stack: then. And I think that’s why. I specifically asked about where you live because. That does affect you. And that’s exactly what I was referencing is the fact that, because you’re so entrenched in the area, you. You have the connections and you have the knowledge of people and. And there is a higher risk that you’re going to run somebody that, you know,

Kevin: Absolutely. Absolutely. And You have to be able to. Provide that same level of service and then process the personal and later as. I don’t want to say cold, but it’s a reality because at that point, even though there’s people are known to you, they need you for. Every skill that you guys are taped up just at that point or counting on you.

Yeah, definitely. Definitely that’s reality. Hit home there. And then

Kind of the second event that That’s been a, an impact for me was February 26th, 2011. My. The person I consider my considered my mentor. And the fire service. Was killed in a. Motor vehicle accident. That actually our department got called to respond to. And.

Just. He was one of those guys. If you had a problem. Handling when you walked in the door. And he’s like man, talk to me. Hey, what’s up. And joining the fire service, where I did and the point I was in, in my life. He helped me a ton. He I’m not. Ashamed to say it. I had some suicidal thoughts. And in my dark time. And. It was his words that kept me from. From. ending it. And when that call came in I was getting ready to go to work and we had kind of a. Rash of false alarms and, being canceled on the response from that jurisdiction. And I was like, Aw, man, it’s just, it’s another BS call. It’s another BS call that. We’re going to end up getting canceled on and

I remember. Squelching the pager. It was an old minute at two, and I hit the button on the top. Squelched. And went back to sleep. Or tried to, and Ended up getting ready and going into the office and get my guys writing and get them going. And

Probably about seven o’clock in the morning, as soon as about two and a half hours after initial call. . My phone rings. And it’s the girl. I’m dating at the time. My wife now. And she said, are you sitting down? And I remember thinking. Yeah, I, yeah. I’m walking to my truck, what’s up, I’m gonna go out and hit the road. And Yeah, I’ve got customer visits and things like that I have to make. And she said, That call this morning, she said, It was Rick and I was like,

My knees.

My knees buckled and

I cried on my knees in that parking lot for. It was probably. Two two and a half minutes. And I got my, got myself together. And. Walked in the office and our division manager happened to be there, which was odd. And he could tell immediately that something was wrong. And he said what’s going on in. I told them a friend of mine had been killed and. He said, go ahead and split up what you were going to do today and just go ahead and take the rest of the day. And

I got in my, I got in my. Vehicle in. What home and. Crawled up the stairs to my apartment. And it just the emotion that hit me like new and N no. Walking into that. I was going to have to see her at known that she had just made.

One of the toughest phone calls. She had ever made. I’m sure. That. That was hard. And then the next 10 days were a blur until Until we got him laid to rest and the. The guilt about. Having not responded. And I remember that I came home and changed clothes and got up to the station. And

Walking into the fire and I was in. Hearing the sound of your brother’s sobbing. At different corners of the firehouse.

That’s. That’s a hard one.

That’s a hard one. And then. I have an, and we’ll carry the guilt that said I never got to tell him that he saved my life.

That’s a.

That is one that I carry.

And always will. I was able to tell his father. He and I are close. And I see him often. And I just try and. Impress upon him. What. What a gift is his son wants to me and would he mentally. As a friend. And it meant a lot to everybody in our department. Eva’s. An outstanding leader and a good friend. Yeah we miss it very much. We still want to gather on the 26th of February.

Every year.

Stack: So when a.

‘ trying to frame this question correctly.

It occurred apartment with something like that happens. They at least give lip service and they give a hot wash as. They like to call it. And we, you give people the chance to talk. Not everybody talks, but what’s it look like for volunteer unit? When something like that happens or when something like the the four year old, same mommy won’t wake up. W is there an opportunity for that or so where do you do their lives.

Kevin: We have a. Our chief God loving. He is, he’s been pretty proactive in that incident and as well as. The other traumatic incidents, as far as having the critical incident stress management team come in. And. These people are, they’re people you don’t know, they’re not members of your department, the wrong. Fire service, eMS or I don’t think any of them were law enforcement, but And they all. I’ve gone through the citizen training. And yeah they shut us down. We had mutually coverage. Our our mutual aid station that we run a lot with there. They were here. Probably.

They were here before lunchtime. It was like, they threw a crew guys together and got over here and they shot us down. And we were. Guys we’re sweeping. And cleaning and.

Trying to keep our hands busy. Because if our hands were moving and we had something in front of us, then we were. We weren’t necessarily thinking maybe we were. I was just doing a task. Having something to do felt. At that time. And luckily those guys came in and it was just like,

Go wait for the CISM team. Like we, we got this. And every department that came in. Was absolutely outstanding.

And the CISM team.

Let us all talk and. share things about. Our brother. We were thinking that we were feeling. And everyone was able to speak and share and. It was a wonderful tool at that time, especially having, having not had anything like that, go on. And I think after that we’ve been more. Able to use the CISM team. And feel like it’s a viable resource. For us, so that. And that’s appreciated from everyone. That’s the feeling I get. Anyway, I don’t get anyone that’s ever walked out of a citizen. Briefing or debrief, whatever you want to call that and send me. And that was horse crap. Like anyone who’s felt. Generally in, in shared genuinely, I feel like it’s helped. And, we all continue to. Be there for each other, but that CISM team really just lets everyone. Pour out that raw emotion, right then. I think

Stack: what something you said in there is key. And I want to talk about it. It’s not, I don’t necessarily think it’s this. The format it’s the CISM itself. I think. I think it’s what you’ve said. It’s. They share and they share honestly, and openly.

And correct. I think that’s the key. And. That or therein lies the issue because. You don’t always get that when people want it or what people want to do, a debrief, a CISM or a hotwash. You don’t always get that openness. And I think that’s what we want to encourage.

Kevin: Definitely. And I think that our ability to have that openness and to utilize that tool. Come just with our own ability to own our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Oh,

Stack: definitely.

It’s all a process, obviously, and we all need to learn how to do it. I. I damn well need to learn myself how to do it still. So I agree with that.

Kevin: In. And it’s about. Being. Internally going. Am I avoiding this or am I just. Maybe me sharing like sharing. Our stories with you. I hope it motivates someone else to say. You know what, even if I don’t go on a podcast and talk about these things, maybe I share it with someone else. And by sharing it we own that. And we’re able to accept it. And. Cope. And move on. Yeah, no different than speaking with a therapist or. Any other mental health professional, because in, until saying, when you say it, you have to own it.

That’s the tough part. And it’s owning that. I feel this way, or this made me feel this way.

Stack: I think. Ownership and stuff, but I. In many cases, I think identify identifying that feeling as tough.

Kevin: Absolutely.

Stack: So I know there’s another call. It was, I believe July of 2012.

Kevin: Yeah. And July, 2012. Being on the east coast, you know what summers are like and hot in the days and yeah, just

Stack: nasty.

Kevin: Yeah. And you feel like you could ring the air out and it was one of those kind of days. And we got called. We do have a Marine component and a dive team. We got called to help. And what we knew ultimately would end up being a recovery. Of Three. Boys swimming in the Creek. And one went in they all were swimming in one head trouble and He ending. Unfortunately, they all tried to save each other and everyone unfortunately perished. And so we came in. With our dive team and set up across this This It’s a Creek at that point, it’s narrow, but it ends up widening out. Further downstream. And we set up right by there. The clothes are still on the ground. Everything was still right there and we literally put a ladder down in for that. The guys to walk down into the water and sat in our lineup. And one of the. Divers kicked back to see this fins and adjust them. And the last missing young man floated up. And just about hugged him arms out, face down. And So I. 2012. I was. I’m not a diver, I’m not a member of that. But I was on shore support and We lower the Stokes basket down into to get him out. And as we’re pulling him up. He’s so little, he starts to slide out. And I had to, I was at the foot and had to set the foot down and grabbed his ankles to keep them from sliding back. Down the bank towards the body of water. And when I did. I grabbed this. His articles and feeling that warm but, Going skin. And I L. I instinctively just looked down in his eyes. And just the look of terror on his face. It was a. Something. I definitely won’t forget. And And I learned my lesson that day about the drowning victims and. I’m not looking in their eyes, just the look on his eyes and in his face was, it was not peaceful. And that one.

He came back probably. A month later. I want to say he came back. I was at a fundraiser and a.

It was a ride that was running and I, there was a little boy on the ride and he’s saying mommy, look at me. But Not seeing him. I ended up seeing the. The face of the Young man who passed away. On him. And I just remember thinking. Wow. That’s, it’s odd.

That one came back like. None of the calls the previous ones I had mentioned it really stuck with me, but this one. For me to see his face again. It had never happened before. I was like, oh, wow.

That’s That’s odd. It was the first red flag and I didn’t.

I didn’t pursue it any farther. I was just like, kinda maybe. Maybe this isn’t normal. Maybe this happens. Deep down inside knowing it wasn’t normal, but not really having a frame of reference was a.

Yep. Just packed it up and kept moving on. And

  1. I’m sorry, 2012. October, 2012. My dad and my brother got SHEEO poisoning and responded to that. Neighboring departments call. Of course calling down. We were having a hurricane at that time. I can’t remember which one it was named storm. That affected the area heavily with a lot of flooding and

My father had a generator running and he thought he had it validated well enough. And we went to check on it and My dad went down. My brother was able to get him out. Before he then. We went down and I ended up responding into that and Finding my. My dad and my brother, and I’m

in the house, waiting for the ambulance. The neighbor had heard my brother Howard for help. And his wife at the time, it heard. Him holler for help through this storm. I don’t know how. But they were able to get them. And into the house and go ahead and call nine 11 and get them there and surreal. And you pull up at the place you grew up. You have so many happy memories and you’re responding there. For your loved ones. And

Once we got them loaded. I looked at the chief at the time. I was actually running with two departments. This neighboring department, I was riding with them as well. I looked at him and I’m like, Hey, give me a bottle. I’m like what? And I’m like, give me a bottle. I need to go in there and shut this down and I need to go in there and get SHEEO readings. Let’s go. Let’s go to work. And we were able to get those readings and that I went on. Not a member of the hospital.

Stack: And again, that goes back to what we talked about earlier with the The fact that you’re volunteering in your community and that’s where your family lives.

Kevin: Absolutely.

Stack: And absolutely. And I know that from talking to you that this story ends well because your brother and your father both recover. But

Kevin: they went. Yeah,

Stack: but that still takes a toll because a, you responded to them and B the, what if.

Kevin: Oh, absolutely. Aye. I remember distinctly, my brother was. He was in the ER and

Being a provider himself, Just being critical of the staff there. And I just remember feeling like. Nan, what are you doing? So I walked out and I grabbed the charge nurse and I looked at him and I said, Hey, Based on his shield levels that we sent to you over the radio, how much longer? So what I said, how much longer did he have before he was out to. He said. Five minutes, maybe. And

Just the relationship that my brother and I have.

Cut right to the chase with each other. And I remember looking at him, I remember going, Hey asshole, what would you do with five more minutes? Basically what I said. Nurse says that’s about how long have you got so calm down. And think about your five minutes.

And He doubted back from 10 to about seven, but yeah. Yeah. That’s a

Stack: seven still. Pretty much an asshole level. And I’ll say that just cause I met your brother.

Kevin: Yeah. And he’s not always that way. I apologize for that, but yeah, he’s

Stack: no, you don’t have to apologize for him at all.

Kevin: But yeah. Yeah, so definitely, Responding in the area live, definitely gives you a, a. A different a kind of appreciation for. The people in your area and your service to it. And For me, ultimately the gratitude to be able to do it. Unfortunate in that regard. That. That I am able to help. Those around me and

Not to get off track. But. It goes to the we’re talking about my uncle who was allowing that. And served. With the Army security agency and supportive Mack V Which was military assistance, command, Vietnam, and song. The guys who are going into Cambodian lodged. As a radio operator for them. Shortly before he died. He and I were just talking. In his yard and he looked at me and he said, I don’t envy you. That’s the, why is that? He said my war ended when I left Vietnam. Yours is every day. You never know. And that hit me like a ton of bricks. I was like, what? For a guy that I had always held in. In such regard to say that to me was. Was humbling and as I. I looked at it more on I just write for first responders are worse. It’s every day.

Not the down player or less than the military service in any regard, but. We just don’t know. And. If you don’t think about it in that regard and stay mindful that, there will be things that kind of creep back in. Then you can quickly find that glass overflowing.

Stack: So I know we’re going to talk about that glass. Cause I think that glasses. It’s a powerful analogy. I believe there was one more thing you wanted to talk about. I think it happened in 2015, if. If I’m not

Kevin: mistaken. That’s right? Yeah. This is the one that That kind of helped me see that my glass was. It was getting fuller or filled my last up to that point. March of 2015, we get called Dispatch here, calls it out for ALS assist. So we know they need a paramedic. And that was one of those nights where.

You just have a night where sometimes you’re like, man, I’m on edge. I don’t know why I can’t sleep. I’m up. I’m just cleaning my refrigerator. I was taking everything out of my refrigerator at two o’clock in the morning. And. Cleaning it. Deep clean, just like it was. Two o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. And the call comes out. For. Mutual aid medical. And so we get to the station and rollout on the medic unit. And. Heading down a bad country road and not really seeing anything, checking Fran addresses and

I remember getting close and being like, I don’t know, man, all the houses of dark here. We must be getting close. And sure enough, you pull off and there’s a pole that’s cut off and we can see that. And it’s arcing. That blue, just electric, blue transformer arc. And it’s, it seems going from just the headlights and the kind of the ambo lights, this really bright, intense blue light. And we hop out and start walking up and I understand the car that from the front looks fine and I’m like, Okay, why are we here? This seems mundane. And as I come around the front of the car, The first thing I saw was the B pillar. And there’s probably. Eight to 12 inches of intrusion. On that B pillar. And I remember seeing.

Blood. Blood than the down the side of the car and a gray matter. What I found out loud later with screen matter. And that’s the first time that I heard. Are female. She’s going, is she dead? Is she dead and I look up. And I, she, her. Standing. Next to law enforcement officer. And he’s got one man in handcuffs. I’m like, okay, it’s just interesting. Look to the right and there’s three more teenagers. Separating a different group and I find the mutual aid. Ambulance crew they’re over on the other side, the guy she would call for us for ALS. And you’re standing by the side of the road and I’m the first one that walked up and they said, can you pronounce that in front, around the point, medic. Now I can’t. But he can’t. And As he walks over, they rolled the sheet back and her head I was just absolutely smashed. And we found out later that her head had been. Between the pole and the B pillar as best we can figure. With these six kids riding in a car, she was sitting on her best friend’s lap. And the best friend was the female who was standing next to the wall. Law enforcement officer and her. Chorus of. Help my friend changed to. Is she dead? Is she dead? Is she dead? Is she dead? And.

When our medic pronounced it. Just. Crying. Screaming. Just. Absolute. Pandemonium. When that happens. I noticed that she is covered in blood. From her waist down. Where her friend had slid down underneath the driver’s seat at her head. Had been in her lap. And we.

Loaded her and transported her today. We would call it excited delirium. In our protocols, but transported her to the hospital. And just so she could. Get some help and some intervention there. And that was a 27 minute transport time. As we’re a little farther out from the hospital. And That course of. Oh my God and help my friend and. I can’t believe she’s gone. Definitely continued the entire time. You couldn’t have shot a better problem promise video. If someone had told me about it, I said, man, you’re lying. That’s something that would be staged now that. I was at. And

I just remember. Getting back from the hospital and sitting there with. One of the EMT. So he went with us and sitting on the bumper of the engine and screaming you. I went home and he goes, nah, I’m going to wait for sunrise. And wait for my daughter get up and we just sat there together on the. On the engine and Just what we need to do after that. Yeah.

Stack: I think what he said was perfect. No, I’m going to wait for sunrise again. Wait. Until my daughter wakes up.

Kevin: Yeah. Yeah, because his daughter was about that same age. You, again, you find a lot of personal connections, even sometimes unintentionally in these calls that we run that. I don’t know. Give it meaning for you. And I just remember all that next day we went to.

Went to a fundraiser for another department and

There were drinks and beer and all you could eat. Beef and everything else. I just remember wandering. Through that day.

And that night we came home and I didn’t even drink. I didn’t want a beer. Like I tried one and it just did. I’m like, nah, I can’t. I can’t even I just was not. In the mood for that. And

I sat. And I sat and I’m like, there’s no way I can sleep. I just, I can’t. Process this. Wasn’t thinking of hurting myself or anything like that. I just. I couldn’t process it. And I pulled out my phone and I just Googled first responder hope and 800 safe call. I found them and I looked at the number for awhile and I’m just like it is this going to help? Are these people going to tell me just to suck it? From new phone or whatever. What’s going to happen and I’m like, you know what? Forget it I’m calling and I called. And spoke with a lady from Washington state. She was. At the time. She had retired. Law enforcement. And had 25 years on the job. And she said, Kevin, Your glasses for. And that hit me. Me him and like a ton of bricks. I’m like.

Yeah, I had out, I thought I’m just packing stuff up. into the neat little boxes, but. In reality. My glass was just filling up and. My glass is my own your glasses, your and. Everyone’s glass is different. And. That’s the call that. It things just started to overflow. And I think we talked for. Two or two and a half hours. And talked about. The. The little boy. And my mentor and. That glass has been a huge gift to me. And being mindful of my glass. And processing. My thoughts, feelings and emotions. As allowed me to continue on and to continue to serve my people here. And allow me to

To be viable and give back to my community. And I can’t imagine not being able to do that. So I’m extremely grateful to those people. For what they do. All right. It. I’m sad. I can’t remember her name so I could give her. Credit for giving me that gift, but I really, if she hears this, I appreciate you. I do.

Stack: Let’s talk about that for a second. Cause you said that The last they teach you about the glass. And they teach you that it’s full and that anything you add to it is going to spill over. Correct.

Kevin: Correct.

Stack: Okay. You learned that, but what do you do with it at that point?

Kevin: So for me. And processing mine. It’s really been about. Where am I at? How am I feeling? And like we spoke about before, if I’m not honest with myself about how I’m feeling and where I’m at, then. And then I’m not going to be able to truly gauge. W where my glasses. And it’s

Thinking about and truly.

Owning that and how it made you feel. So you don’t just pour it in the glass and let it overflow. And for me, it’s also been about finding outlets to. Pour my glass out. For me, Yeah. My mindfulness introspection. Speaking with trusted friends and other guys in the department. And. And having that. Openness or relationship? To say, Hey man. I got one that’s bothering me like this is bothering me. Writing, I think fishing, and if I found.

If one really stuck me up. And I’ve got. An ACE in the hole. My father-in-law is a, is a. Mental health professional.

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