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A Journey with PTSD

£12.00

By Scott Blake

ISBN: 9781847478931
Published: 2009
Pages: 82
Key Themes: fire service bravery, PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, attempted suicide, recovery

Description

The author’s vivid description of life at the sharp end during the fire service strike of 1977/78 is disturbing. Having been given the responsibility for search and rescue, Scott tells of his efforts to rescue a family from a house fire. This incident in particular was to have devastating consequences. What followed was a life of alcohol abuse, only to be replaced by him becoming a workaholic, all to prevent the memories of the strike period affecting him.

16 years later when struck down with mental health problems Scott was thrown into a world where reality and hallucinations merged into one, re-enacting his perceived failure to save a young family. After years of psychiatric hospitals, a broken marriage and the incapacity to work he had a near fatal attempted suicide.

Scott was diagnosed with PTSD in 2002. Using his diaries and prompts from his second wife, Sara, he has managed to piece together his life of suffering with PTSD and shows there can be hope, however small, and that life can get better.

About the Author

Scott Blake grew up in the hard-lands of Merseyside. Never fitting in at Grammar School or at home, he joined the Armed Forces at 17. Gradually he progressed through the ranks to become an Officer. He left the Armed Forces after the Falklands War and made a career in electronics. He became a company director in 1990 but after four years suffered a sub- arachnoid haemorage and subsequent mental breakdown. The ensuing mental health problems totally changed his life.

Scott has four children from his first marriage and now lives in the south of England with his second wife Sara. He is in the early stages of developing a self help group for sufferers of PTSD.

Book Extract

“Don’t go in there son, you’ll be killed!” shouted the on strike fire officer, but of course, I did and so began my life of torture.

It was a dark, freezing, January night and there was snow on the ground. We had been called out to attend a house fire. The year was 1978 and the fire service was on strike. The armed forces had been put into place to do a job that required a high degree of training and, just as importantly, they always wore flame retardant clothing. Us? Well, we wore combat gear with anti-flash gloves and hoods, pretty useless when wet.

It wasn’t the first fire we had been called out to on our period of duty and it wouldn’t be the last. But this fire would have far reaching consequences on my life.

On arrival at the scene we were informed there were children trapped in the house and they needed to be saved; there wasn’t any argument in my mind, it had to be done. With my breathing apparatus on, I carried a hose pipe up the ladder to the bedroom. The flames were licking me from the ground floor, it looked like an inferno in there, but I couldn’t think of that just then, one battle at a time. Struggling with the hosepipe, I managed to climb into the front bedroom. The glass had long since been blown out. Inside the room was thick dense smoke. I waited for my number two to arrive. He didn’t look like he fancied the look of this, so I carried on regardless. Saving the children was all that I thought about.

I could see the roof burning fiercely, the timbers plainly exposed and smoke billowing all around them. I lay the hose on what I felt was a bed, it was too difficult to move around the room and search for survivors as well as try and put out the flames. My vision was limited, the smoke intense.

Walking around (I walked in a clockwise direction to try to stop myself getting disorientated) there was an obstacle in my way, it was a single bed. Fumbling around the top of the bed I couldn’t find anybody in there – so far so good – maybe they had escaped and not been noticed in all the chaos outside – unlikely but I hoped.

Underneath the bed was another matter. There was obviously someone there, curled up in the foetal position. I reached up for the neck and tried to check for a pulse – nothing. I didn’t trust the anti-flash gloves I was wearing they were soaked through and pretty useless. I took one off and tried again – no sign of a pulse. Was she dead? (She had long hair), I couldn’t risk it, I pulled the body (please don’t let her die), out from under the bed. This was going to be very difficult, carrying her down to the waiting ambulance outside. We had never been trained for anything like this but I had to do it. With a tremendous effort she was on my left shoulder – carefully does it – we managed to get down the ladder.

There was screaming from the on looking crowd. I had to block that out, couldn’t let my emotions kick in. I lay her down and took my mask off. “There’s somebody trapped in the back bedroom – hurry, they are by the window!” shouted someone from the crowd.

I rushed around to the back of the house, guided by some of the men onlookers. Once in the garden I could see things were in a bad way. The fire had taken a major hold, downstairs was totally ablaze and there was flames and smoke billowing out of the upstairs rooms.

“There’s a boy up there and a baby!” shouted one of the blokes. “Thanks!” I shouted in reply and once again made my way up a ladder that was being licked by flames from the downstairs rooms.

My mask back on, I thought that it would be difficult for anyone to breathe upstairs, the smoke was too thick. Out of nowhere, a young boy appeared with a white bundle of clothes. “Take the baby!” I tucked the small bundle under my left arm and descended the ladder. Once on ground level I gave the baby to the nearest onlooker.

I grabbed hold of the ladder again and looked up; the boy was in the window. “Stay there!” I shouted, but I doubted he would hear me from my mask – everything was muted. Reaching the window, there was no sign of the young boy. I climbed into the room. This was far more serious than the front room. Not only was the room smoke filled but it was very hot, there were flames from the furniture.

I shouted out for the boy – but no response.


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This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 01 April, 2009.