Fitting into the theme of trauma in first responders this year is the realistic and relatable short 10-33 (police code for “help me quickly”). The writing and directing team Alyssa Bruno and Teryn Lawson craft a quiet, subtle film here about a EMT experiencing the aftermath of a work-related trauma without explicitly describing the triggering event or going into any graphic visual detail (not unlike After: A Love Story in a way, now that I think about it).
I recently watched another powerful documentary (The Quell Foundation’s Sound the Alarm) about first responders that expounded upon how people who are drawn to the career are often the type who want to help others to the extent that they put others ahead of themselves and end up neglecting their own mental health. The EMT at issue in this film here exemplifies this quality. She has to continue pushing through, even when her hands are shaking, even when she can’t sleep, because there are lives to save and there’s a job to do. Any effect it has on her doesn’t ultimately matter when there are other lives at stake.
Films like this, Sound the Alarm, Bridge to the Other Side, and others demonstrate that there is a real need, probably even moreso in today’s world, to address the mental health of first responders. Our first responders encounter intensely traumatic incidents and need a space to be able to talk about the traumas they’ve endured and to acknowledge that their own resultant trauma is not a weakness but a normative reaction. Of all people we want the people who are meant to exude calm, to take our lives into their hands at times, to be able to think and feel rationally and peaceably, and it begins with their own self-care and mental health.
You can still catch 10-33 playing in Shorts Block No. 4 until 11/6: