Horrific Scene Takes Toll on Sandy Hook Responders

Horrific Scene Takes Toll on Sandy Hook Responders

News Dec 18, 2012



The (Westchester, N.Y.) Journal News

NEWTOWN, Conn. -- For Ray Corbo, first assistant fire chief at Newtown Hook and Ladder, the horrific images from Friday's shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary have taken a toll.

There was the Newtown police officer who ran by him in the school's parking lot, carrying a boy, limp in his arms.

"The police officer's uniform had blood all over it," he said.

There were the teachers, who despite the chaos, kept order as they led their students away from the school building to the Sandy Hook firehouse.

"Every few minutes, you'd see one class of kids with a teacher and a police officer, all holding hands coming down the street to the firehouse. A lot of them were visibly upset. A lot of the kids were crying."

And there were the parents that flocked to the Sandy Hook firehouse, anxious for news about their loved ones.

"There was nothing I could do for a hysterical parent that was looking for their child," Corbo said. "Parents were coming from every direction. They were abandoning their cars and running to the scene. You could see the panic on their faces."

Continue Reading

Now, Corbo and 13 other volunteers from his department are left to process the scenes from a shooting rampage that left 27 people dead. A debriefing was being held Saturday afternoon at the Sandy Hook firehouse, where counselors, clergy and police are expected to be on hand to talk about the incident and answer questions.

"I think it's important," said Corbo of the debriefing. "Everybody leaves the scene with a lot of questions, and if you can get those questions answered, it makes it a lot easier."

Corbo and his colleagues were dispatched at 10 a.m. Friday and assisted Sandy Hook firefighters, setting up a second triage area, roughly 300 yards from the school in a parking lot behind the Sandy Hook firehouse. Corbo worked at the command post about 100 feet in front of the school building, where the first triage area was set up.

He knew early on there were numerous gunshot victims, he said. But there were few to treat. He only saw one other victim -- a woman with a gunshot wound to her foot.

"We had a huge area waiting for many victims and there was one," he said. "At some points, you're wishing that it was full of people that are alive."

Firefighters will depend on each other to get through the tragedy, said 40-year-old Corbo, a lifelong resident of Newtown, who is married and has a 7-year-old son.

"When you get into the work mode, you're at work," he said. "After the fact, you think about it and you can count on your brother and sister firefighters and that's who you talk to about it. Talking about it seems to help most people."

Jason Rivera, the department's chief, was working at his full-time job as a Stamford fire captain Friday morning but kept in touch with Corbo over the phone. He dealt with the stress of worrying about his colleagues without being at the scene to help early on.

"I just asked (Corbo) to keep me updated on the situation and keep our guys' safety and best interest in mind," he said. "There was a lot of conflicting information, a lot of unknowns. So, I wanted to make sure our safety was paramount."

Rivera, 35, whose department has 40 volunteers ages 17 to 55, who live or work in Newtown or Sandy Hook, responded to the Sandy Hook firehouse Friday night. He strongly encouraged colleagues at the scene to attend the debriefing. Rivera, a father of two young boys, said he stayed up late talking to his wife about the tragedy.

"It's the worst tragedy that I've ever seen in this town or I've ever personally been involved with," said Rivera, who moved to Newtown eight years ago because of its reputation as a safe community with excellent schools.

"It takes a toll on you. It's a very stressful situation. This is something that sticks with you for weeks, months the rest of your life."

He said it won't be easy for the community to move forward.

"It's gonna be a long road ahead. Everyone's gotta come together and mourn and work together to get through this."

Copyright 2012 Gannett Company, Inc.All Rights Reserved

Gannett News Service
Leaders want to provide first responders with guidelines to follow when handling calls relating to human trafficking.
The study will assess Florida's Division of Emergency Management's response to Hurricane Irma and determine the lessons learned.
The state funding will provide 120,000 doses for first responders, including Pittsburgh park rangers.
The budget cut allowed the department to cross-staff, using firefighters to staff ambulances due to medical calls outnumbering fire calls.
Starting next year, the insurer will reimburse treatment that doesn’t require the emergency department.
One of the two Northern California wildfires have been fully contained due to cooler temperatures and light rain.
Kenneth Scheppke challenged longstanding traditions in patient care that have not withstood current scrutiny.

EMTs and other first responders who treated the wounded on scene of the Vegas shooting could be at risk for post-traumatic stress.

All EMS, fire, and law enforcement agencies in the county will participate in the drill along with 100 volunteers portraying victims of the shooting.
As the state begins facing the effects of the opioid crisis, medical professionals, law enforcement and prosecutors join the national discussion on possible solutions to the epidemic.
Only one of three in the country, the "rapid extrication team" assists in rescuing injured firefighters while local crews battle the forest fires.
The paramedic-staffed chase car would respond to ALS calls in a timelier manner and help alleviate several local fire departments' calls.
Las Vegas and Orlando massacres set a solemn tone for the normally festive event.
In a project to raise grant funding that began a year ago, the Richmond Ambulance Authority and VCU Health teamed up to provide 35 of Richmond’s Public Schools with Bleeding Control (BCON) equipment. 
Mercy Health's new two-story, 29,000 square foot center features a Level 1 trauma center, an expanded surgical area, and more comfortable patient and visitor access.