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First Responders Cope With Tragedy

February 20, 2008, 9:37 PM by Kelli Grant

First Responders Cope With Tragedy
Courtesy: Marshall Independent

The tragic accident is difficult for everyone in the community, but it's especially hard for those who were first on the scene, including the emergency crew members who knew students on the bus, but still got the job done.

KELOLAND News spoke with Cottonwood's Volunteer Fire Chief who says he's never experienced such a tragedy. 

Amidst the debris of the crash, including medical equipment and a child's shoe left behind, Wednesday afternoon authorities began to recreate what led to the deadly accident. It's a scene Cottonwood Fire Chief Dale Louwagie won't ever forget. 

He says, “It’s a fireman’s or EMT’s nightmare when you come up on a bus accident.” 

He says it's especially difficult when you know the bus is carrying kids home from a day at school.
Louwagie says, “You know more than likely you're gonna know some of the students on there and quite frankly they could be your own.” 

And some were. Louwagie says two firefighters had children on the bus, and still they helped all they could. 

“You know he knew his son was going to the hospital and eventually he did go. The other one showed up and he took his son with him and the other went in the ambulance and they went to the hospital,” he says. 

Those first on the scene will debrief Friday, to talk about what they saw, what they heard.

Louwagie says, “Chaotic as far as kids screaming - I didn't hear a lot of that. It was quiet. It was more of the bystanders who were yelling.” 

Louwagie says it's important they get together, to start the healing process.

“That's the biggest thing that we tell guys to talk about it. Don't keep it inside of you,” he says. 

By talking about it, he expects the tragedy will only bring the community closer together.

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