Two years ago, I realised that I was struggling with my mental health. I had been working away for long periods, working long hours and I was exhausted. I hadn't realised that my resilience was dropping until I dealt with a serious incident. The incident wasn't a Coastguard incident which is probably partly why it caught me out.
I was travelling in my marked rescue vehicle when I came across a serious road accident. Driving a blue light vehicle means that the public have an expectation that you will help. I stopped at the accident and administered what first aid I could.
Despite my efforts, and those of the other services, two of the occupants died at the scene. I had been talking to one of them for over an hour. When he was extracted from the vehicle, he went into cardiac arrest and could not be saved.
Normally at a Coastguard incident, I would have had a debrief with my colleagues, we would have discussed what had happened and that would have diffused the situation. Unfortunately, on this occasion, I ended up stood in the middle of a dual carriageway, waiting for the police to take my details whilst the ambulance and fire crews completed their hot debriefs. I felt like I was completely on my own.
I gave my details to the police and headed for home. I didn't get very far. I had to pull over as I couldn't hold my feeling back anymore.