Children Visit NAS Whiting Field Firefighters Following Accident

Published on July 18, 2014 with No Comments

Firefighters at Naval Air Station Whiting Field witnessed the resiliency of children first hand Tuesday, Jun. 24 when two, young, kids they helped treat following an multiple car accident near Allentown in early June came by for a visit.

The children were smiling, scampering around on the fire trucks, eating cupcakes, and joking with the firefighters in a manner that may have been more cathartic for the station crew than it was for the youngsters.

“We hardly ever get to see the kids again once we say ‘bye.’  It’s rare to get any follow up after the incident, and it is good to know we did well,” Station Chief Steven Welch said during the visit.  “It was a scary accident with some pretty serious injuries, and it’s just great to know they are doing well.”

The station was called to the three car crash Friday, June 6 as part of a standard mutual aid response.  When they arrived, they worked with the Allentown Volunteer Fire Department who had taken control of the scene.  Four children had already extricated themselves from the vehicles, but other family members were trapped in the vehicles and the five-person Station #1 team used the Jaws of Life and other equipment to extricate them from the vehicles and prepare them for transport to the hospital.

“It’s always tough going when you have kids involved in an accident,” Welch stated.  “We have to focus on the job and get them to the hospital.  We have to work really hard to teach the kids that we are the good guys and that the firemen are there to help.”

When the time came to transfer Shelby, 11, Josh, 8, and Sky, 7, to the hospital in an ambulance, Josh didn’t want to go. Lt. Steve Hudson explained that an ambulance can be a pretty frightening place for a kid, and without their parents with them, it’s common for the children to balk.  So Capt. Steve Banks asked around for anyone who might have a small toy he could give to Josh.  A bystander gave him a pink bunny rabbit which he, in turn, gave to Josh with instructions to give it to his grandmother (who is still in critical condition) at the hospital.  The task calmed him down enough that he got into the ambulance.

Normally that would be the end of the story for the firefighters.

However, Hudson knew the children’s uncle who had seen a Facebook post about the accident.  The uncle made contact with the family to extend the offer of a visit.

“We wanted to give them something positive.  They had been through so much that they deserved something good and fun,” Hudson said.

Mission accomplished on that count.  According to their grandfather James, the family didn’t tell the children until earlier that day.  The kids were excited and when he picked them up, the only place they wanted to go was Whiting Field.

“When they found out they were coming it was ‘on’,” he said.  “When they saw the flashing lights, well it was really ‘on’ then.”

The visit included letting the kids up on the ladder truck, taking a ride in one of the fire engines, getting to wear firefighting ensembles, and the station crew even broke out a few shirts and mini fire helmets for Shelby; Josh; their sisters Brittany, 13, and Sarah, 12; and for them to take home to Sky who is still in a cast.  They finished off with cookies and cupcakes in the station house.

Despite the threatening rain, it was a much brighter day with better memories for all involved.

“The visit helped us out tremendously,” Banks stressed.  “Most of us have small kids at home ourselves, and this kind of an accident really opens our eyes.  It is really good to see them bouncing around.”

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