First Responders talk about dealing with tragedy

Emergency medical technicians and firefighters are usually the first on deadly accident and fire scenes.

Scenes liked Wednesday’s crash on Interstate 16 which left 5 people dead.

“When the first units arrived on scene in the morning they instantly called back and said to the other responders slow down we already have five confirmed fatalities,” said Chief Benji Cowart from South Fire and EMS. “To hear that radio traffic is quite eerie.”

Its a feeling first responders like Southside Fire Chief Benji Cowart have dealt with too many times in their career.

“Its a helpless feeling that there was absolutely nothing those medics could do for those unfortunate victims this morning,” said Cowart.

Cowart believes that’s the goal of every EMT to get to the victims fast, and try to help.
Its when they can’t that makes this difficult job even tougher.

“We grieve just like the family does,” explained Cowart. “When there’s nothing that we can do its tough to walk away from.”

“When im on a scene its all business i’m all business,” said Darren Pelham. “Afterwards its when it hits you, you start thinking about things, family.”

Southside FTO Darren Pelham has two families, one at home and one here at Southside. But he says its the other families he meets for a first time that affect him the most.

“Lady running at me with her dead child saying save my child,” remembers Pelham. “And realistically there was nothing i could do but i still did my job i still gave 110% to save that child.”

That’s the day, the moment of his career FTO Darren Pelham will never forget.

He admits to needing, and getting some help from a chaplain and his fellow medics at Southside.

“You think about your own kids. What you would do.” said Pelham. “Give 100% because that mom is hoping you can do something to save her child.”
“Makes you hug them a little harder?”
“Oh yeah Call my kids, text them.. its hard.”

Both Cowart and Pelham said the toughest part of the job is when they get on scene and can’t do anything to help, just like Wednesday morning.

Even if the patient dies on the way to the hospital, at least the EMT knows they tried.

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