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First responders in Orlando are doing the unimaginable

Responders will do their best, get through it and go home when they are through, but home will never be the same


The Pulse mass shooting, the worst in recent U.S. history, will have lasting impact on those who responded. (AP Photo)

AP Photo

By Michael Morse

There are 50 people lying dead on a dance floor in Orlando, and a few people doing the job that nobody can imagine doing, except those who have done it.

Cell phones are ringing from the pockets of the dead, frantic family members holding out hope, each ringtone different, breaking what must be morgue-like silence with the heartbreaking signals. And through the gore, our people do their jobs and carry on in unimaginable conditions.

How quickly it all ends: people dancing, loving life and each other, expressing themselves in one of the few places where they can be themselves, free from the judgment of family and society. Free to just be.

Hours later, other people on the same dance floor, responding to what for them will be the defining moment of their careers. Some will last, some will not. I wouldn‘t, that much is certain.

War and work are two different existences. Combat soldiers survive horrific things, witness carnage and cause it. They do their job and move on. Few of them expect to do so for 20-plus years and of those few, fewer still can.

Paramedics, cops and firefighters go to work, not war, keep the peace, put things back together and go home. Their skin is thick and they are experienced with what comes with sudden death.

The families of the victims need strong men and women to sort things out and process the bodies of their loved ones. They will do their best, get through it and go home when they are through, but home will never be the same. Life for them will never be the same.

As for the rest of us? I guess the best we can do is understand that we will never be able to imagine what our colleagues are experiencing, unless it happens on our watch.

Sincere condolences for them, the victims and their friends and families.

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