Emotional Reaction From Emergency Workers Who Responded To Crash - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/10/04-Smith County

Emotional Reaction From Emergency Workers Who Responded To Crash

Monday night's fatal crash is not only difficult for the families who lost their loved ones, but also for the emergency workers who responded to the scene.

East Texas firefighters who arrived to help last night are calling it the worst accident they have ever seen. One day later, many were still trying to cope with the images from the crash.

"It hurts to think you know that these seven people lost their lives and now their surviving family has to deal with the situation," said Flint-Gresham Firefighter Kevin Sobotka.

Their duty is to respond to danger and even the most horrific situations, but at the end of the day, firefighters are only human.

"There were several fatalities on scene which is hard to deal with," said Sobotka, "and we had to extricate the victims out of the vehicles."

In all, five Flint-Gresham firefighters responded to the accident. Tuesday, Sobotka, an eight year veteran, was still reeling from what he saw.

"It's hard because we had some young victims that were involved all the way up to elderly victims.  It's just emotionally hard to deal with that sometimes."

Sobotka said the other firefighters talked through their emotions. It was a similar situation for Bullard Fire Chief Kevin Newburn and his staff of volunteer firefighters, many of them still teenagers.

"I'm concerned with how this will affect them," said Newburn. "At the time the scene was still going on, everybody's focused on the job at hand. It kind of catches you towards the end when you have a chance to sit down and think."

Both Flint-Gresham and Bullard Fire Departments offer post trauma counseling sessions to help workers deal with the shock.

"We have a group of people who are trained to deal with these situations, any type of mass casualty incident," said Newburn.

We also spoke to officials at the Department of Public Safety. They said they also offer counseling to any troopers dealing with post traumatic stress.

Maya Golden, mgolden@kltv.com

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