There are days when I absolutely love my job. I get to tell unique stories about groups and organizations that are doing amazing things, have received great recognition and are making a difference impacting the community of Spencer.
It's something new everyday.
But every so often - and not too often thankfully - I find myself in the middle of a story that just tears you up inside.
Such was the case this week when a call came across the emergency scanner in the newsroom, suggesting a possible drowning victim at the Spencer Family Aquatic Center.
I was on the phone Monday, shortly before 2:30 p.m., waiting for an answer on the other end of the line. I was supposed to interview Rev. Roger Linnan regarding his recently celebration of 50 years in the priesthood. I was also about halfway complete with a movie review - a pair of potentially fun projects. The scanner goes off and I listen as the call for response comes in. Rev. Linnan answers the phone, we exchange brief pleasantries and then I excuse myself, apologizing and explaining that I have to go cover an emergency in Spencer. He understands and I grab the camera, heading out with a knot in my stomach and a sense of dread.
I make a quick call home to check and make sure both of my young boys are home and not at the pool. I walked up on an emergency scene once where my own child had been in a serious car accident. Didn't want to do so again without some possible forewarning. They were both home so I drove to the pool complex with that knowledge.
This is not a story you want to cover. It would have been much more pleasant to do the happy, feel-good story with Rev. Linnan. Nobody wants to talk about a young child in a life threatening situation. But unfortunately, like everyone else from the emergency responders and law enforcement officials who are doing their job, I too had to gather information to provide to the reader. We have a responsibility to let the people of the community know what's going on - the easy to swallow good and the tough to handle bad.
You stay out of the way, let the official personnel do their jobs and try as hard as you can not to be intrusive. While it's a job for me and other members of the media, these moments are deeply personal and painful for those close to the situation: the lifeguards, family members, the pool staff, the responders who attend to those in need of care, and the witnesses. This isn't a story to them, this is their life.
And it was a tough story to cover, I promise you.
Sometimes I find it difficult to head home and leave the job behind, especially when it involves a child. You don't sleep well. You don't feel like eating. You really don't feel like doing anything besides hugging your own children. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who watched the scene unfold Wednesday afternoon feeling that way when they went home that night.
The paper takes no pleasure in a story like this. We're not attempting to sensationalize a family's pain and suffering. We've continued to keep the child's name out of the paper for the time being as per the family's request.
My heart goes out to all involved in this horrific accident as we await word on the continuing efforts to help this young man recover. I want to recognize the heroes who did everything they could to help the young man hold on long enough for transport to the hospital and the air-flight. We pray for those involved and the family as they face what must be agonizing choices and painful waiting.
This is not the time to try and assign any kind of blame. I'm not certain, from what I've heard, there's any to be assigned. It's an accident with tragic consequences, and sadly, as the community's historical journal, we have to cover the news, good or bad.
I hope in the future, the good days continue to outnumber the bad.