First responders discuss grieving after seeing crash scene

October 09, 2018 07:19 PM

Lots of counseling services are being offered to friends and family of the 20 victims killed in Saturday's crash. As NewsChannel 13's Benita Zahn reported on Monday, those same resources are needed for and being provided to the first responders at the scene.

Two local fire chiefs say Saturday's crash is continuing to affect their personal and professional lives.

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A debriefing is taking place at the Schoharie Volunteer Fire Department Tuesday evening to give first responders resources to help them grieve. Esperance Fire Chief Matthew Deffer said that social media and media coverage in general makes the grieving process more difficult for first responders.

Of course, everyone wants answers as to how and why this horrific crash happened, but the responders can't un-see the crash. Now, they're seeing pictures of those 20 people before the crash. 

"You see different things on the media -- Facebook, of these precious families that have kids of their own, that were just married," Deffer said. "You know, that's what really breaks us down. Seeing this and wishing that there was something more that we could do...We are human you know sometimes you try to be tougher than you really are and then it all at once it comes crashing down."

Deffer said he heard the limo pass him at a gas station about a half hour before the crash.

“It just caught us off guard you hear this loud vehicle come through the intersection I just turn around and look and realize that it’s a limo that sounded just horrible,” Deffer said. “I just thought to myself well hopefully they’re going to get that thing repaired.”

Then Deffer got the call. He didn't know it was the limo, but he knew it must’ve been a serious crash.

 “I mean we’re about I would say 8 miles from Schoharie and they called us and for assistance and we knew it had to have been bad because usually departments don’t reach out too far,” Deffer said.

Deffer was set to use the same service for his own wedding weeks before. Their reservation was ultimately canceled.

“It’s scary, it is very scary you know, luckily we went a different route,” Deffer said. “I guess you just don’t know today.”

There’s a meeting being held at the Schoharie Volunteer Fire Department on Tuesday night to help first responders get the services they need.

“For somebody to have to go through this they, know that they do that when they sign on the job, I mean we are volunteers but it is a job that we all take seriously and professionally and it does happen from time to time but nothing of this magnitude,” Schoharie Fire Chief Marty Pierce said.

If any of the first responders need more counseling after Tuesday’s meeting Pierce and Deffer said they get them the help they need.

Fire companies from across the state and beyond have been reaching out and offering their help, something both Pierce and Deffer said has been extremely helpful during this difficult time.

You can text 741741 for free help if you need to talk to a crisis counselor.

Another vigil will be held Wednesday night at the Schoharie Central School District at 6:30 p.m.

Stay with NewsChannel 13 on-air, online and on the app for the latest on this developing story.


Emily Burkhard

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