MOORE, Okla. - Kyle Olsen has worked on the Moore Fire Department for 14 years. Firefighters are trained to put up an emotional wall to get the job done.
"I think it's a guy thing. You're taught when you're young to suck it up and rub dirt in your cuts and move on. That's what we do a lot of times and that works. But there's those little things that it doesn't work on. I thought it would never happen to me, but it did," said Olsen.
May 20, 2013, changed everything for Olsen. He worked at Plaza Towers, pulling seven dead children from the rubble.
"I would have nightmares. I felt responsible for a long time that it was, that I didn't do enough," he told News 4.
Fellow firefighter Terry Morrison was also on duty. He didn’t work Plaza Towers, but found himself face-to-face with the parents of the victims.
"They said, we have your son, we've identified him, is this is your son? They say he was with his best friend," said Morrison.
He said the parents of the best friend overheard the conversation and Morrison said, "the mother obviously kind of let out a shrill, guttural sound." He said the ordeal was emotionally devastating.
Morrison became a dad not too long after the tornado. And now, the memories haunt him more than before.
"I think having children now, it really hits home for me. Just the powerlessness of it, you can't do any to stop it. These parents just could not do anything, couldn't do anything to protect their children," said Morrison.
But for Olsen, the nightmares continued for years.
"I was holding it in. I wasn't letting my wife know, I wasn't letting anyone know that it was tearing me up inside," confessed Olsen.
Olsen's wife, Tori, noticed a change in her husband. "You could tell he was bottling things up inside and somewhat isolated himself at times," she said.
Olsen said eventually the thoughts took over his daily life.
"It affected my home life and that's when I started opening up and talking about my issues - the things I saw and the things that were affecting me and became better," he said.
Olsen was diagnosed and treated for post-traumatic stress disorder. And now, he knows what to do.
"Now anytime that he is bothered by a call, he confides in me. I mean, we talk about everything," Tori said.
Olsen said, while difficult, the journey changed him for the better.
"I struggled with it for a long time. And it's made me a stronger person. It's made me a better dad. It's made me a better fireman. It's made me a lot tougher. It's changed me for the better," said Olsen.
By sharing his story, Olsen has helped change the old-school mentality of the fire department by encouraging others to seek help, too.
"When I came out to the department and became public with this, a lot of guys came out after and said, you know that they were struggling with it too," Olsen said.
For more information on PTSD and where to get help, click here.