Saturday, December 5, 2009

"He's Going To Be OK, But..."

We got back from an almost week-long patrol this morning. It was a good trip, with lots of diverse operations. XO and I are port and starboard, so we stood six-on-six off for the week. That means I stood watch from 0600 to 1200, he stood watch from 1200 to 1800, then I stood watch again from 1800 to 2400 and then he had watch again from 0000 to 0600. It means neither one of us got much sleep. But it was easy to keep going, especially being surrounded by the perseverance and enthusiasm of the crew as we went from port, waterways and coastal security, to law enforcement, to maintenance, to law enforcement, to search and rescue. I think I'm the one that whined the most about standing soooo much watch, because I certainly didn't hear it from any of the crew!

When we left at the beginning of the week, we left behind one crew member. This is a usual practice for us, because we're overbilleted, which means we have more crew than we have racks to sleep them all. And I won't let people hot-rack, or share racks. Life underway is hectic enough without having your own personal space, even if it is only 6 ft by 3 ft by 3 ft.

The person that stays behind is usually busy enough anyway, getting mail, answering phones, running errands and doing stuff that needs to be done at the office. And handling lines for us when we get underway or pull in. So I was a little annoyed this morning when we pulled in and there was no one waiting on the pier for us to handle lines. It meant I had to maneuver close enough to the pier for long enough for one of the other crewmembers to jump over, and then continue my maneuvering the rest of the way into position. Weather conditions were good, so it wasn't overly difficult, but I was still peeved that we had to do it anyway.

Not being there as required was out of character for the young man that stayed behind this week, but everyone has slept through an alarm or something similarly irresponsible before. So a couple guys went to his apartment to roust him, but didn't find him or his car there. At this point, I started to worry. Before I had been thinking he had blown us off, but I'm worried. XO went off to call the police and hospitals (after having been up since 10:30 pm last night, standing watch). It didn't take XO long to find him...there's only one hospital in Hilo.

So, he's going to be ok, but he's pretty smashed up after being in a car crash this morning. I don't really know any more details than that since the nurse on his floor hadn't talked to the police and he doesn't remember anything beyond sitting at a stoplight in the dark, and then waking up in the hospital with people sticking a bunch of needles in him. We'll follow up with the police on Monday to find out the whole story and get the accident details. But thank goodness he's going to be ok. A couple of broken bones and cuts. He won't be on the boat for a while, maybe at all again, since he had orders to his initial rate training (A school) starting in January...but he's going to be ok.

This was my first experience calling parents. I offered to call his Dad and let him know what happened. I started out with, "Your son is going to be ok, but he was in a car crash this morning." His Dad was calm and asked all the right questions. It sounds like he may come out here to see his son and help with recovery. I really, really, really hope I don't have to make any more calls like that one. And I'm so grateful that his Dad accepted the news so graciously. And that he's going to be ok.


Santa Maria Blog said...

One thing you learn as you go as a leader is that you sometimes have to be there for the friends and family of your team because even though you don't see them on a day to day basis or heck even know their names, they are part of your team member's life.

About 5 years ago, I received a call from an employee on a Sunday morning saying "is it true that Paul is dead?" My cell phone soon went off like crazy after that and it was true, he was killed in a car wreck which was his fault and as time went along became even more upsetting since it was caused by his own drinking, driving and not wearing a seatbelt.

It was my immediate task to inform all of my employees and co workers about the death and sort out paperwork. In the end we even called in a crisis psychologist to counsel his co-workers.

Paul was single, middle aged, rented a room with a family and was terrible about filling out his own employment paperwork. We worked for a company that had great employee benefits including life insurance. As we reviewed his employment paperwork, well he didn't fill out everything, leaving out beneficiaries for both life insurance and 401k. But he did leave a note in a safety deposit box saying he wanted all his money to go to the kids of the family he was living with. Because of the lack of completeness, only the IRS and the State of California received everything. Friend's family received nothing.

Being at his friend's house for Paul's "Celebration of Life", being there for the co-workers is so important. Like you I would never want to go through that again.

Just A Girl said...

I can't imagine that notifications like this get any easier with time or frequency. And I can't imagine what it's like to get the phone call from someone you don't know that your son is in the hospital. Hopefully, I was able to provide my crewmember's Dad with some reassurances that his son is being well looked after for the time that he can't be here.

The crewmember is stable and recovering. It's going to be a long road for him. Now that it's Monday, we should be able to get some more answers about the logistics of his recovery.

Azulao said...

Gosh, Girl. I'm really sorry. This is something we don't have to do too often in the university; we're more likely to get the news than have to give it. I'm glad that your guy is going to be okay. I'm also glad that the dad had someone like you calling him, instead of someone who was a jerk, and VERY VERY glad that the call could start off, "Your boy's okay" before getting to the "but."

Santa Maria, how dreadful. Point taken: wills, paperwork, etc., make things better not for you, but for the people you leave. Do it for them.

JulieAnn said...

Glad that he's ok, and hope that he's recovering.

When hubby was on the KISKA, he wasn't so lucky with one of his crewmembers... it was really hard. I can imagine injuries are difficult to deal with too. the ship is in my thoughts and prayers.