The Story Of Jang Hak Su

Whenever there is an emergency, Fireman Jang Hak Su is called upon to protect the lives and safety of people. The horrific scenes at these accidents and fires resulted in his suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). By subtracting his mind, Mr. Jang says he was finally able to be free from the restraints those memories put on him. “Now,” he says, “I am just grateful that I can help someone.”

When the alarm bells ring my body just automatically starts running, because I must get to the scene of the accident with the ambulance as quickly as possible. In the beginning I was really worried about responding to a call. Never knowing when or where the next one would come, the uncertainty made me constantly nervous. In saving lives, time equals life. But once a precious life is saved, the pride and joy one feels are beyond description.

The hardest thing for me was seeing the horrible scenarios of the various accidents. The first time I saw death was after a traffic accident. I had to transport the dead body of a middle age woman. That remained in my mind for a long time. After I received my certification as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in 2005 and began to handle more serious calls, things got even worse. I began encountering death from every kind of accident: falls, suicides, traffic accidents, and more. Somewhere along the way every scene became stamped on my memory. These scenes would occasionally surface while I was working, and also in nightmarish dreams. When I visited a place that resembled the scene of one of the accidents, the memory of that incident would come to mind, and it was so painful. I really wanted to live without seeing these images in my mind, so I thought about changing my job. Occasionally, my life was endangered as well. Once there was a tremendous fire in Cheong-yang that covered a large area, even extending up Ye San Mountain. I went to put out a fire in a small temple halfway up the mountain. Suddenly the fire was all around me, surrounding me and cutting off my escape. I was almost killed, when a firefighting helicopter appeared and subdued the fire. Without realizing it, after answering all those calls for accidents, I began to feel fear and was scared whenever the alarm bells would ring.

In the Cheong-yang police station I worked by myself for three years, and started suffering from depression. The only chance I had to see anyone was when there was an alarm and the fire truck went out to put out the fire; or I had to transport patients to the hospital in the ambulance. I could only see people when the shift would change, and I always hoped that someone would come and sit next to me. I began to have doubts whether I should continue in this job, not only because of the burden of working alone, but also because of the loneliness, fear and lack of motivation.