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Book Image Not Available
Book details
  • Genre:HEALTH & FITNESS
  • SubGenre:Healthy Living
  • Language:English
  • Pages:100
  • eBook ISBN:9780988131613

56 Seconds

by Sylvio Gravel

Book Image Not Available
Overview
It had only taken fifty-six seconds to go through the entire incident from the moment I received a description of the armed robbery suspects to the moment when I called for an ambulance because I had shot a man. After those brief fifty-six seconds, I was no longer the man who had first joined the police service. I now had a different perspective, based on hard-earned experience that I never had before. I became a changed man and I lost who I had once been. I had hit a solid wall that I could not go through or pretend did not exist. Although I tried to circle back to find my original path in life, I couldn’t. I now needed to learn how to continue my journey through life differently than how I had started. I now had the added weight of those fifty-six seconds of experience and memories as part of who I had now become. Not everyone who is involved in a fatal or near-fatal incident suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder. I have spoken to many officers, who have had to shoot a suspect, and some were able to walk away unscathed, knowing that they had done the job expected of them. For there to be a trauma, there has to be a shock factor of some sort. There has to be an unexpected component that jars the involved person out of their ability to control their view of life. For me, it was making a decision to react a certain way, based on a mix of a split-second accumulation of facts and assumptions. The end resulted in a man dying. His death was based on assumptions I made from his actions during the incident. However, what he appeared to be doing at the time was not, in fact, what I had interpreted his actions to be. As a result, I experienced shock and post-shooting trauma. It has taken me twenty-five years to share my story and this has not been easy to do. I have written this to help others understand the healing process and the steps I took, which have helped me to survive and which are now part of who I am. This is my story of how it happened to me and how it can happen to you.
Description
It had only taken fifty-six seconds to go through the entire incident from the moment I received a description of the armed robbery suspects to the moment when I called for an ambulance because I had shot a man. After those brief fifty-six seconds, I was no longer the man who had first joined the police service. I now had a different perspective, based on hard-earned experience that I never had before. I became a changed man and I lost who I had once been. I had hit a solid wall that I could not go through or pretend did not exist. Although I tried to circle back to find my original path in life, I couldn’t. I now needed to learn how to continue my journey through life differently than how I had started. I now had the added weight of those fifty-six seconds of experience and memories as part of who I had now become. Not everyone who is involved in a fatal or near-fatal incident suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder. I have spoken to many officers, who have had to shoot a suspect, and some were able to walk away unscathed, knowing that they had done the job expected of them. For there to be a trauma, there has to be a shock factor of some sort. There has to be an unexpected component that jars the involved person out of their ability to control their view of life. For me, it was making a decision to react a certain way, based on a mix of a split-second accumulation of facts and assumptions. The end resulted in a man dying. His death was based on assumptions I made from his actions during the incident. However, what he appeared to be doing at the time was not, in fact, what I had interpreted his actions to be. As a result, I experienced shock and post-shooting trauma. It has taken me twenty-five years to share my story and this has not been easy to do. I have written this to help others understand the healing process and the steps I took, which have helped me to survive and which are now part of who I am. This is my story of how it happened to me and how it can happen to you.
About the author
Syd Gravel was a police officer with the Ottawa Police Service for over thirty years. During his first twenty years, he was a frontline officer in a variety of patrol functions. For the last ten years, he was involved in training and recruitment. He retired from the Ottawa Police Service with the rank of staff sergeant. Syd is one of the founding members of the Robin’s Blue Circle, a post-shooting trauma team that assists officers in working their way through the trauma of death or near-death, work-related incidents. Over a period of twelve years, he has personally assisted over forty officers to survive near-death incidents. His work has been recognized and his projects have received the following: the 2006 and 2008 Top Ten International Innovation in Diversity Awards, from Profiles in Diversity Journal, Cleveland, Ohio; and the 2007 International Chiefs of Police Civil Rights Award, New Orleans, Louisiana. In January 1999, he received the police Exemplary Service Medal from the governor general of Canada, His Excellency the Right Honourable Romeo LeBlanc. In January 2007, he was inducted as a Member of the Order of Merit (MOM) in Policing and invested by the then Governor General, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean. Syd was also a keynote speaker at the First Canadian Forum on Traumatic Stress Conference, held in Toronto, presenting on “Surviving Post-Shooting Trauma,” and a guest lecturer for Correctional Services Canada, in Kingston, lecturing on “Wellness and Traumatic Stress.” He was also the keynote speaker at the International Conference on Conservation Officers, held in Ottawa, and titled, “Stress Management and Its Realities.” Since 2008, Syd and his Montreal workshop partner, retired Corporal Merritt Eaton, have facilitated at annual workshops at the Dialogue for Life Conferences in Montreal. These are attended by First Nations’ police officers and organized by the First Nations and Inuit Suicide Prevention Association of Quebec and Labrador. These officers began to form their own First Nations Police Officers’ Peace Circle, modeled after the Ottawa Police Services’ Robin’s Blue Circle. The First Nations police officers, who attended, were from the Montagnais, Atikamekw and Cree Nations. This work is ongoing.
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