A moment of silence was held this morning to remember those who lost their lives in last week's tragic school shooting in Newtown, CT. While much emphasis (as it should be) has been placed on the students and teachers, the first responders are left to deal with emotions from the gruesome scene they were called to. Several local first responders say that they feel for their counterparts, knowing it just as easily could have been them called to the scene.
Ben White, with Metro Ambulance Service says that,"When we go to stuff like that we plan for the worst but hope for the best. We joke and play with each other a lot, but when it's all said and done, we can get on each other's nerves, but we're still a big family in the end, and we rely on each other a lot to pull each other through." while Metro Ambulance First Responder Drew Steele says, "On our side of it, the first thing I would think of is each other. You know our crews, our fire, and our police. You know it happened right across the street from a fire station so they were the first ones there. How are they going to deal with it?"
Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Ward Calhoun responded to the Lockheed Martin Shooting 9 and a half years ago. He came upon a scene very similar to the one in Connecticut and knows first hand what those first responders are experiencing. He says that after an incident they have a debriefing, and it takes some deputies a little while longer to fully comprehend what they've just witnessed.
"Different people handle that type of tragedy in different ways. Some officers take a few days off. They go do their hobby or they spend time with their family, and then they're ready to move on."
The Meridian Police Department and the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department utilize Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church Pastor John Temple as a Chaplain. He was in Connecticut this week counseling first responders there and believes it will take them quite some time to overcome what they saw that fateful day.