Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login
Posted: 9/8/2010 10:08:47 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/8/2010 10:10:34 PM EDT by tuccioc1]
Link Posted: 9/8/2010 10:14:10 PM EDT
Just did one last week, I am a Sergeant so I do them a lot, it is policy where I work. I swear it took a year off of my life, I had to wake up a mom and dad at 2 am to tell them that their 23 year old son was dead as a result of a motorcycle accident. Worst notify I have ever done. Only people who have had to do it can possibly understand. Thanks for the article.
Link Posted: 9/8/2010 10:16:33 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/8/2010 10:22:31 PM EDT by tuccioc1]
You're welcome boss... I figured those of us in either line of work could learn or take something away from it. You work NYPD or upstate?
Link Posted: 9/8/2010 10:19:44 PM EDT
Sheriff's Office in Western NY area. 22 years and counting...
Link Posted: 9/8/2010 10:32:39 PM EDT
Back when I was in the Navy, they trained the officers of the command, me included, on notification of the family for a service member who had died. Our area covered my command, the surrounding commands, and a large area in between commands. It was a job that through fate, the job never fell on me.

The instruction, as I recall, covered more on what to say, what not to say about "arrangements" and not so much of the psychological approach to the issue. Me being security, I recognized the possibility of how the situation could turn worst, from a family member doing harm to themselves or to the notifying officers. It was suggested, recommended that we take a Chaplain with us and I just had visions of:

Me: "Do you have any combat training, Sir?"
Pictured Chaplain: "No."
Me: "Then if anything goes down, if it gets violent, you get out first. I'll cover you and then I'll get out." (cover as in hand to hand)

Equally, an example was brought up of the father coming to the door and slugging the officer right off because he knows the reason why the Navy sends officers in dress blues to the home. Hence from my standpoint, have the tougher (able to absorb or dodge the punch) notifier upfront, ring the bell.

There are lots of things to say and to avoid to say and hopefully, one's department has guidelines at least for such.

As I said, the job never fell to me. One of the other recommendations was to take a car out of the motor pool as oppose to one's personal vehicle. Enough was going on in such a situation and if anything else happened, better it would be for it to happen to an official car.

If you have to do it, good luck.
Link Posted: 9/8/2010 10:51:37 PM EDT

Originally Posted By pspencer:
Just did one last week, I am a Sergeant so I do them a lot, it is policy where I work. I swear it took a year off of my life, I had to wake up a mom and dad at 2 am to tell them that their 23 year old son was dead as a result of a motorcycle accident. Worst notify I have ever done. Only people who have had to do it can possibly understand. Thanks for the article.

As a Sergeant, it was protocol for my Father in law to deliver death notifications, and there had been an accident in the next county.. Communications patched through the call to him, the neighboring county gave him the name of his sister-to be notified of his nephew, her son's death in the construction accident..


Link Posted: 9/9/2010 2:29:25 AM EDT
I have done a couple. They suck.

The worst one was involving a six year old who had been staying at her mom's, and I had to notify the dad. He went positively apeshit and punched me in the chest so hard that I broke two ribs, even with a vest on. That was six years ago and it still hurts if I cough too hard.
Link Posted: 9/9/2010 4:38:54 AM EDT


A buncha years ago I went had a death notification with a rookie officer. He asked if he could do the notification and I stand by incase I was needed. I didn’t turn him down.

We went to the door and knocked. A lady answered the door and said, “They’re dead, Aren’t they:? We didn’t know what to say.

She asked us in. She was watching the news about a semi crash with two fatalities. She recognized the semi. Her husband and son died in the crash. They drove truck together.

That lady was the strongest woman I knew besides my mom.

None of them are easy. Not a good part of the job.

Link Posted: 9/9/2010 5:29:32 AM EDT
It's the one thing that never gets any easier, no matter how many times you do it.
Link Posted: 9/9/2010 9:53:27 AM EDT
I agree, and the article is more geared towards EMT/Paramedics. But once they leave it could be up to us or the fd who is still at the scene to have to break the news.
Link Posted: 9/9/2010 10:32:49 AM EDT
I have done more than I can remember.

They never get easier.

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 9/9/2010 11:02:19 AM EDT
Never had to do it (EMS), dont want to do it, but if its something I must do I will.
Link Posted: 9/9/2010 2:28:02 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/9/2010 2:28:15 PM EDT by Tango7]
Link Posted: 9/9/2010 2:56:32 PM EDT
As a Deputy I did several. Once I got on at my current agency the policy is for the Sgts to do it. I worked midnights for years and my Sgt at the time absolutely hated doing notifications. Guess what, he made me do them. We have an on-call chaplain's list so we always go with a minister/priest which doesn't help any. When the Police and a Minister knock on your door at 0230, nothing good is going to happen and everybody knows it.
Link Posted: 9/9/2010 3:12:42 PM EDT
Originally Posted By pspencer:
Just did one last week, I am a Sergeant so I do them a lot, it is policy where I work. I swear it took a year off of my life, I had to wake up a mom and dad at 2 am to tell them that their 23 year old son was dead as a result of a motorcycle accident. Worst notify I have ever done. Only people who have had to do it can possibly understand. Thanks for the article.


My first, after only a little over a year on the job, was a single car into a tree, killing both 18 year old's inside. The two had just graduated high school a few days prior, no alcohol, just too fast on a dangerous road, wrapped the car around a tree. I had to do the death notification for the driver at 3am, with a Chaplain from the FD. The whole thing didn't really hit me until I was ringing the door and the mother and father were answering it.....that one stuck with me for a while. Found out the son was just getting ready to start his mission work (Mormon). I think the only thing that made that one a little easier is the father was pretty high up in the Morman church, so his faith made the news a little easier to deliver.

I've seen and done alot of things in my career since then, but that one thing will probably always stay with me.
Link Posted: 9/9/2010 3:30:58 PM EDT
I would rather take any call or work any crappy case than give a death notice. I've done several and it's the only type of call that sticks with me for days afterward.
Link Posted: 9/9/2010 4:03:23 PM EDT
You guys that have done this and feel remorse every time, I owe yall alot. It worries me when people become emotionless doing such things. Thank you for remaining human.
Link Posted: 9/9/2010 6:59:08 PM EDT
Very hard to read.
Link Posted: 9/9/2010 7:51:57 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/10/2010 7:21:23 PM EDT by pondfly]
While I have not made death notifications to family, I have had to notify the department once and then another time a chief who was a great friend of the diseased, both were LODD. It's the worst feeling in the world, and wouldn't wish it on anyone at all.
Link Posted: 9/9/2010 11:58:35 PM EDT
Thanks for the post.

It'll help just as much at unattended deaths as well.
Link Posted: 9/10/2010 3:31:48 AM EDT
It sucks telling someone their loved one has passed.
Link Posted: 9/10/2010 10:03:41 AM EDT
My only fatality call was a PNB on scene and the wife rode shotgun in the ambulance. It was only my second day so I was too busy trying to do patient care to talk to anyone. Once the medics intercepted I drove their ambulance. I don't think he made it and hospital took care of notification. I dread the day I have to do it. Oh yeah, next department meeting we were told that family is forbidden in the ambulance except in EXTREME situations and then the door to the cad MUST be closed. I couldn't watch someone work my wife, I don't know how the wife watched us work her husband.
Link Posted: 9/10/2010 10:17:18 AM EDT
Originally Posted By pspencer:
Just did one last week, I am a Sergeant so I do them a lot, it is policy where I work. I swear it took a year off of my life, I had to wake up a mom and dad at 2 am to tell them that their 23 year old son was dead as a result of a motorcycle accident. Worst notify I have ever done. Only people who have had to do it can possibly understand. Thanks for the article.


I am not LEO but I read this subforum a lot.

My best friend took his own life two years ago, at age 21. He did so just before 4am in his apartment. 6:30am the police arrive at his parent's house, two officers go to the door. Ring the doorbell.

His mom answers and is quickly joined by his dad, and his two 12-year-old twin sisters were sitting ten feet from the door getting ready for school when they hear " We are sorry to inform you, your son has fatally shot himself"

For the longest time I have only focused on how hard it must have been for my friend's family to hear this news. I've never thought about how tough it must have been for the officers.
Link Posted: 9/10/2010 10:40:26 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/10/2010 10:40:49 AM EDT by JustaGunNut]
My first and so far only death notification was when I was 18. I had just worked on the patient, CPR etc. flight medics ended up calling it after a long talk with medical direction.

We left some gear at the patients house, one of my supervisors asked me to go retrieve it shortly after we finished with the patient. The wife was still there when I arrived and asked what hospital the patient was being transported to. No one was thinking of her at the time and everyone totally forgotten about the wife.

I was totally unprepared. It really sucked.
Link Posted: 9/10/2010 10:47:30 AM EDT
I have been on the receiving end................I don't think I could do what you guys and gals do.
Link Posted: 9/10/2010 11:16:55 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/10/2010 12:23:00 PM EDT
Only one so far that's made me think twice was being in the ER after turning over a 4yr who had a form of brain cancer who coded while his dad was getting him dressed. We were in the station and got there in less than 3 mins.
Worked him from the couch all the way to the hospital. Probably 25 mins total.
Stayed in the room when the Dr pronounced him and told the dad he was sorry. It's like the life went out of him and he started crying even harder than before.
Link Posted: 9/10/2010 3:44:16 PM EDT
most are pretty forgettable (messed up to say I know, but true)

the other week I had to tell two girls (early teens) that their father didn't make it...wasn't easy.
Link Posted: 9/10/2010 3:47:12 PM EDT
Anything to do with kids is always the worst for me but I haven't had to do that for years thankfully, and I don't miss that part of the job at all. On air support we provided a basic scoop and run capability which was mainly trauma cases, last ditch stuff, casualty, paramedic and essential equipment only. Once I had to physically seperate a mother from her her critically ill teenage daughter as gently as I could in the circumstances, explaining we simply couldn't carry her in the aircraft as well. The daughter died shortly after we got her to hospital. I insisted on being the one to tell the mother as I had been the one to part them, but I was dreading her reaction. She simply held me for a minute and thanked me for being with her daughter. I had trouble holding it together.
Link Posted: 9/10/2010 3:55:04 PM EDT
They do suck but my last one earned my a commendation letter. An 85 year old lady passed away and the son and daughter were both out of state on vacation. Well, I am on scene and the coroner wants to know if the family has been notified as it was obviously a natural death and we try to get the family to contact a funeral home instead of having the body go to the coroner's office.

I unfortunately had to contact the daughter by phone and ruin her vacation. I ended up relaying most of the info through her husband as she was understandably upset. About a week later my Lt. shows me the commendation letter from her saying how compassionate and helpful I was. That made me feel pretty good.
Link Posted: 9/10/2010 7:06:46 PM EDT
I hate these.

Theres two in particular of all the ones I have done that stand out still.

My first one ever was a suicide by hanging, in which the guy (Former Army) had called 911 and told us to come get his baby girl...then open line. We got there in less than 2 minutes and cut him down, did CPR until EMS/Fire arrived and took him away. I then picked up his 6 month old beautiful baby girl and gathered up her birth certificate and SS card, and kept her with me since we could not locate the mother. About an hour later we got the call that he had passed, and about 20 minutes later I was able to find where his mom lived. I then had to go tell his mom and sisters what had happened, and I had to bring her her only grandchild who had been there the whole time....It was really rough. I still stop in and check on her and the baby from time to time.

The second was a major car vs. tree accident. I was first there, climber in through a small opening in the wreckage and found an obviously deceased occupant. After about an hour of cutting FD got him free and we pulled him out. I then got his ID out and discovered that it was a friend that I played college football with. I wasn't able to tell at first who it was... I knew his family, and had to deliver the news. That one sucked too.

Never gets easier, but it is necessary, and how it is handled can have either positive or negative long term consequences for the family.
Link Posted: 9/11/2010 3:55:59 AM EDT
I've been on both ends. Had to have someone tell me my son was killed, and I have had to tell others they lost their child. Much much more difficult now and if it's a child I do my best to opt out of it.
Link Posted: 9/11/2010 4:03:40 AM EDT
I've never been a fan of it. Being in EMS I've been involved in the process more than I'd like to be. Whether it's working someone and it's called at the hospital or it's called on scene, it's never something I'd wish on anyone.


I miss being on the ambulance sometimes..but other times, not so much.
Link Posted: 9/11/2010 4:28:15 AM EDT
Well, two things now I think of it.

The first was when I was home on vacation with my mother. Dad was terminally in a nursing home. I had taken the two dogs over to the vet that morning to have their teeth clean. I was sitting at the breakfast table with Mom, answered the phone expecting it was the vet telling me I could come pick up the dogs. Instead it was him to tell me that one of them, Dad's dog, had had an anthesia reaction and had died.

Mom was looking at me happily questioning, probably wondering about the phone call and my change of mood to neutral, and all I could say was, "(Chester) is dead."

She absolutely went to pieces with a loud "NOOOOOOOOO!" She was crying and weeping and for about two hours there, I thought that I might lose her, too.

Part of it was that "Chester" (not the real name) was the dog that my father had picked out, the one that he took for walks, that we had a stuffed animal representation of in his room, and she took that as that she had killed his dog. The other part of it was that the time was extremely stressful for her and "Chester" was her salvation each morning with "Hi there! Isn't this a great day!" and now that was gone, too.

In the immediate moments, I wondered if I could have broken it to her any easier, but afterwards, concluded there probably was not a way. What I did do was started calling up all her friends, including my ex sister in law, was rather clutching at straws, to be with her.

.................and took the rest of my vacation plus a few extra days to drive her around through the region to animal shelters.



Now on a positive note, once, after I had been a safety diver for a mother and children, the father came up to me and personally thanked me for taking care of his family.
Link Posted: 9/11/2010 9:28:42 AM EDT
We've had a fatal and then a single vehicle triple fatality in the last 36hrs. This is apart from the two X50s in which the occupants should have died. This week has sucked.
Link Posted: 9/11/2010 11:34:29 AM EDT
Originally Posted By DangerJ:
Originally Posted By pspencer:
Just did one last week, I am a Sergeant so I do them a lot, it is policy where I work. I swear it took a year off of my life, I had to wake up a mom and dad at 2 am to tell them that their 23 year old son was dead as a result of a motorcycle accident. Worst notify I have ever done. Only people who have had to do it can possibly understand. Thanks for the article.


I am not LEO but I read this subforum a lot.

My best friend took his own life two years ago, at age 21. He did so just before 4am in his apartment. 6:30am the police arrive at his parent's house, two officers go to the door. Ring the doorbell.

His mom answers and is quickly joined by his dad, and his two 12-year-old twin sisters were sitting ten feet from the door getting ready for school when they hear " We are sorry to inform you, your son has fatally shot himself"

For the longest time I have only focused on how hard it must have been for my friend's family to hear this news. I've never thought about how tough it must have been for the officers.


I don't think I could have done that.
Link Posted: 9/11/2010 12:30:16 PM EDT
I've had to do it a couple of times, but luckily for me, it's not part of my regular duties. The Coroner's Office is tasked with doing them on most incidents. The times I've had to do them is when family shows up on scene. I'm not the kind of person that can stand there, look a family member in the eye and say "I don't know," unless it's necessary to the investigation.
Link Posted: 9/11/2010 1:12:45 PM EDT
I have had to this more times than I care to count. By far, the worst one ever was earlier this summer. I received a call from a family member that they received word that my cousin received divorce papers and threatened to kill himself. I contacted the agency that serves his community only to discover that they were working a suicide at his house. I drove over and spoke to their OIC and learned that my cousin had shot himself. I returned to the family to relay what they already guessed. The coroner and a chaplain picked his mom up from work and brought her home, but didn't tell her why. When she walked in and asked what was going on, she keyed in on me and came right over, pleading to tell her what was going on. I had to tell her that her youngest son had killed himself. She screamed and cried and collapsed. I caught her and set her down in a chair. She clung to me and just wailed. He was family, I wept with her.
Link Posted: 9/12/2010 8:52:32 AM EDT
I have had to do it many times, but the worst one was having to give it to another officer (different agency) about his sister. He was on duty. We then assisted him with telling his mother, who was babysitting the deceased sister's 6-month-old daughter. That was rough...
Link Posted: 9/12/2010 4:37:47 PM EDT
I have done them, and have been on the other end too. A good friend of mine, who is Sgt. Had to call me when my mom went into arrest this past spring....Being on either end is damn crappy.
Link Posted: 9/13/2010 4:52:35 PM EDT
Top Top