Saturday, February 18, 2006

A Job That Can Really Sink It's Teeth Into You

Story time, lady & gent - both of my lovely readers out there.

I work the night shift in a residential treatment facility for teens with behavioural and emotional problems ages 10 to 17. The cottage I started out working in was a temporary shelter for boys and girls - 8 girls, 4 boys. I was doing 12am - 8am Wednesdays, basically 9am - 12midnight Thursdays, 12am - 12pm Saturdays and 12am - 9am Sundays. I always (supposedly, anyway) worked with another staff.

This Sunday morning in May two years ago, I was working with Lydia, a really nice lady who was fairly new and not yet trained on how to restrain the kiddos. Well, she was trained but in the new method we were not allowed to use yet (TCI), not the one we were still using at that time (MAB). Two of our girls were on the run, but brought back by the police in the wee hours of the morning.

At 2 in the flippin' morning, we suddenly hear yelling, screaming and all sorts of cussing coming from a room upstairs. I go up there to see what is going on and the story I get is this: Girl A, who had just gotten back from running, was wearing an article of clothing belonging to her roommate. Girl B, the roommate who had not run, was wearing an article of clothing belonging to Girl A. Both girls wanted their own stuff back but didn't want to give up what they had on. This proceeded to turn into a fligging-stuff-at-each-other mess, with me & Lydia trying to kep them away. I was doing everything I could to keep this from escalating any further, due in part to not having another staff who was supposed to restrain.

I eventually got Girl A to walk downstairs with me to the time out rooms. Girl B started flinging shoes at us from the balcony. (Yeah, this place has balconies - it wasn't designed for this level of care when it was built.) Girl A did fine until B came downstairs yelling stuff about A's family. Nasty stuff that until then I never heard from anyone - let alone an 11-year old girl. From there it went to h*ll in a handbasket. There we were, in a small hallway, trying to contain two wildcat 11-year-old girls.

We have two seclusion rooms. The locking mechanism is magnetic. Unbeknownst to us, the fire alarm had been pulled earlier that evening and nobody on shift knew how to reset it. So, we were unable to toss the girls into seperate rooms and seclude until they stopped trying to kill each other.

This whole fighting thing went on for about 45 minutes. I finally told Lydia to do a small child restraint and if she got in trouble for it, I'd take the blame. The only problem was, both girls were wiry, skinny little things. You'd think that would make it easy to grab onto them. Yeah. Right. I swear they turned into octopi. There were arms everywhere.

I got Girl B into a restraint, but that only made her more susceptible to punching from B. So I turned and pushed her into a corner so B kept hitting me instead of A. Both girls were still screaming disgusting, inflammatory things about the other's family.

At one point A came over and, while trying to punch B (who I very, very badly wanted to shut up by slamming her head into the wall - I didn't though. I refrained.), socked me in the face. This was when Girl B, the one I had in a restraint, bit down hard on my upper arm. I released the girl, ripping her teeth out of my arm, and grabbed the other one. I picked her up and carried her through the cottage, outside and across the yard toward the next cottage.

My intention was to seclude her in the other cottage's time out room, but halfway there, she was fighting so much I had to stop. She eventually stopped fighting and calmed down. We talked about what had happened - I don't really remember what all I said. When I thought she would stay calm, we went inside to find that Girl B had calmed as well. They completed their time outs and went to bed, one in a separate room to keep the drama from starting up again.

Lydia got me some ice and we went on about our business for the rest of the night. When I got off work in the morning, I went home, told Mom, cried a little and then cleaned up. I went to church, helped in the Sunday School class and then it all started to hit when I sat down in church. Mom took me to the campus nurse and she said to go visit the ER. They tested me for all the lovely crap you can catch from a rabid kid and started my Hepatitus B shots, just in case.

I ended up with a lovely bruise, all dark purple and red, larger than the palm of my hand. And my hands ain't small, folks. You could see the imprint of every single tooth that girl had. I am not kidding. We took a picure but have no idea what happened to it.

The overnights actually have it pretty easy. We don't deal with that stuff on a day to day basis like second shift and even first shift do. There are staff that have been bit and kicked and hit so many times, they've lost count. However, when you are on night shift, you are without resources. There isn't always someone there to help you and half the time you can't get ahold of a nurse. I will say, though, that things have gotten better on campus since this incident.

Anyway, that's my one exciting story from this job.

The End.

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