Emergency workers coping with children's deaths - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Emergency workers coping with children's deaths

By Gretchen Ross - bio | email | Twitter
Posted by Sarah Harlan - email

VANDERBURGH CO., IN (WFIE) - A recent case of arson and murder has touched so many lives, including the 35 volunteer firefighters who fought the fire and found the bodies of Caleb and Alyssa Lynch.

Caleb and Alyssa were killed in the fire on Fischer Road Saturday morning.

Police have arrested their soon to be step-father for arson and murder charges.

German Township Fire Department Chief John Buckman said no amount of training ever prepares a firefighter for a tragedy like Saturday, but with the support of the entire department, he said his staff learn how to move forward.

"Firefighters have the same emotions as everybody else," Buckman said. "They want to know why. They're angry. They're frustrated. Firefighters want to help people. We never say no and we never give up."

Chief Buckman said when his volunteers responded to the fire on Fischer Road Saturday morning, the house was totally engulfed in flames.

Buckman said several of his firefighters are using each other to help them through the grieving process.

"Depend on each other, and this time you learn to depend on us more because we are going to be there when we cry," Buckman said. "We are going to be there when we get angry, and we all are going to say it's okay because it is normal."

Buckman said he prepares his department how to handle fatal fires emotionally.

"We have a statement that says train as if your life depends on it because it does, and in this case you can train all you want about what happens when somebody dies in a fire," Buckman said. "You can't experience that until you actually see that."

After Saturday's fire, Chief Buckman met with all the firefighters who were on scene to talk about what they saw and how they are feeling.

"Some that were close to the scene saw things that are different from people who were farther back, but then the people who were farther back understand what they saw up front and what their feelings are," Buckman said. "Again, it's a coping mechanism."

Buckman said the best coping mechanism for his firefighters the past few days has come in a simple gesture.

"What goes on here today more than ever is hugs," Buckman said. "Even though firefighters are all macho and tough."

Chief Buckman said he will meet again Monday night with several of his firefighters to talk through what they are feeling.

Also, the Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office is providing similar services for those deputies that responded to the fire Saturday morning.

 ©2010 WFIE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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