The first thing he said when I answered the phone was, “I just shot myself in the heart.” Given that he was still speaking, I figured he probably didn’t hit his heart, but the point was pretty clear. I established that he had in fact shot himself in the chest about 30 minutes before he called. He waited to call because he was not sure if he really wanted to live.
He gave me an approximate location, but was in the woods. I was able to discern his location using the location he said he parked his truck, a nearby address, the presence of a trail, and his phase 2 location. The officers were not in the area when the call came in and it took some time to get to where he parked his vehicle, and then to walk the trail to locate him. I don’t really know how long I was on the phone with him, but it seemed like awhile. During that time he kept making requests about who he wanted to say good bye to, and how sorry he was.
He was able to slow the flow of blood by using the jacket he was wearing to apply pressure. Before the responders got there, his phone died. Prior to losing the call, his voice was trailing off and it was clear he was near unconsciousness. Responders were able to find him shortly after, and he was still alive at that time.
Knowing that the words he spoke to me may have been his last is a strange feeling, but its one of the things everyone in this profession is at risk of being a party to at some point in their career. Its a risk we all take, incurring psychological trauma, when we pick up that ringing line. Hopefully not too many of you out there can directly identify with this, but for those of us who have experienced it, its something that sticks with you.
Unfortunately, we don’t tend to get a lot of closure, so I have no idea if he lived or died. All I know is that I at least helped to give him a chance. Hopefully I was able to give him some comfort in those moments, to at least be a voice to hang on to for what time there was until his phone gave out. Sometimes that’s all we can do, and at the end of the day that’s the reason we’re here.