The worst thing?


I occasionally encounter someone who asks “what’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen?”. If it’s some random stranger on the street, I simply shake my head and say “why would you ask that?” and walk away. Now, if I’m at a social function and someone asks the same question then I think they are at least entitled to an opportunity to think about the impact of asking such a question of me, or any other emergency services worker.

I politely tell them that I will never tell the story of the worst thing I’ve seen, because to do so is asking me to relive that horrible experience just so they can satisfy whatever urge compels them to ask such a question.
More often than not, I’m confronted with a blank look or they suddenly find that the floor is incredibly interesting to look at. However, I persist and this is the story I tell. Save for any small lapses of memory, every word is true.
It was mid evening when my partner and I, whom I’ll call Nik because, well because that’s her name, were dispatched code 1 (lights and sirens) to a suspected DOA (dead on arrival). On board we had a young army medic as an observer doing some pre-deployment clinical placement time with us, prior to his being sent to Afghanistan. En route to the job Niks phone rang, it was our comms supervisor. He wanted to give us a heads up on the job we were heading to. He advised us to use caution as the person who made the call asked for an ambulance to be sent to the address. When asked what was the emergency, he replied with words to the effect “I’ve just killed my mum and dad”. Needless to say we were a little apprehensive and a little sceptical both at the same time.
On arriving at the unit complex, nothing appeared out of order. People were sitting in their lounge rooms watching TV, or watering their gardens. Not exactly the scene of a killing we thought. After locating the unit we approached the front door, which was ajar. The porch light was out, but the lounge light was on and we could hear the TV in the background. It was Niks job so she approached the door with me close behind. As she neared the door she called out “hello, ambulance” as is usual, and half knocked, half pushed the open. Then she stopped dead in her tracks. As I was so close behind I couldn’t see what she could. She spun on her heals, her eyes as wide as dinner plates and said “holy fucking shit!”. I pushed past her and the scene confronting us would not have been out of place in a Steven King novel.
Roughly a meter inside the door was a male wearing only shorts. He had a single stab wound to his left chest. A trail of bloody footprints lead from around one of the lounge chairs to where he now lay. His, or the killers? Except for the footprints, there was very little blood around this body.
A further two or so meters past him lay the second person. A female, at least that what it appeared to be from where we stood. There was so much blood on and around her that until we did a thorough examination, we just didn’t know.
I immediately turned around to the young army medic and told him not to let anyone in, regardless of who they were unless they were our backup or the cops. I then confirmed with comms by radio that the police had been dispatched and we tentatively entered. At this stage our backup arrived.
I knelt next to the male and checked for a carotid pulse. I could feel my own blood throbbing through my fingers and had to double check that it was my pulse I was feeling and not his. He didn’t have one. Nor were there any other signs of life. A quick secondary survey confirmed only one stab wound to the chest, right about where the heart is.
Nik was kneeling next to the woman and had already cut her T-shirt off and was recording the number of stab wounds by the time I moved over there. Although thorough in her approach, Niks tally would fall short of the final number giver by the coroner. This poor woman had so many stab wounds to her torso that I can only describe it as the result of pure, psychopathic rage. The full energy and fury of whoever stabbed her is still difficult to comprehend today. There was so much blood. On the floor, the furniture, the walls. Everywhere. And the smell, the smell of blood. That sickly, coppery, almost indescribable smell permeated everything.
The police arrived sometime after, I can’t really remember when. It wasn’t until then that we realised the killer could still have been in the house! Possible, but not likely. Still, we should have taken that into account.
They were husband and wife. They died meters from each other, most likely in a frenzy of pain, terror and sadness.
We walked out leaving the place to the cops and set about completing our paperwork and hanging around waiting for the detectives to clear us to leave. By the time we left, it seemed like half of the police force was there and all of the media too. It turns out that the guy who did it ended up handing himself over to the police.
I get a funny feeling every time I drive past that unit complex, even today.
So that’s the second worst thing I’ve seen in this job.


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