For The Record 3/12

January Line-of-Duty Deaths

Ten U.S. emergency service personnel died in January. Five volunteer firefighters, two career firefighters, one part-time firefighter and two civilian employees died in 10 separate incidents. Six deaths were health related and four resulted from accidents.

INMATE FIREFIGHTER CRISANTO LEO LIONELL, 54, of the California Department of Corrections died on Jan. 4. Lionell was participating in a training exercise at Camp San Luis when he lost consciousness. Immediate care was given and he was transported to a hospital, where he died.

FIREFIGHTER WILLIAM ELLIOTT, 49, of Pompano Beach, FL, Fire Rescue died on Jan. 6. While participating in aerial ladder training, Elliott fell from a position near the top of an extended 100-foot aerial ladder. Elliott was a 23-year veteran of the department.

EMERGENCY MEDICAL TECHNICIAN TIMOTHY SOUTHERN, 21, of Priority Patient Transport in Harrisonburg, VA, died on Jan. 6. Southern was driving an ambulance transporting a patient when the ambulance crossed the center line of Route 20 in Buckingham County and collided with a cement truck. The patient died later at UVA Medical Center from injuries sustained in the collision. Another EMT in the ambulance was injured in the crash.

CHIEF SAMUEL BUTLER, 52, of the Evans Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department in Maxton, NC, died on Jan. 8. Butler was responding to a motor vehicle accident in his private vehicle when he attempted a U-turn at the end of the eastbound I-74 on ramp at Cabinet Shop Road. According to reports, his vehicle was T-boned by a tractor-trailer. He was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash and was killed instantly. Butler was a 21-year veteran of the department.

FIREFIGHTER DAVID CRENSHAW, 63, of the Anderson County, SC, Fire Department died on Jan. 9. Crenshaw was operating at the scene of a motor vehicle accident with injuries at Porter Road and Highway 88 when he suffered a medical emergency and collapsed. He was treated at the scene and transported to AnMed Health Medical Center, where he died.

FIREFIGHTER III DUANE IBARRA, 50, of the Maui County Department of Fire and Public Safety in Kahului, HI, died on Jan. 18. Ibarra was found unresponsive in the fire station workout room by fellow firefighters. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. Ibarra was a 20-year veteran of the department.

FIREFIGHTER BRANDON LITTLE, 19, of United Hook and Ladder Company 33 in New Oxford, PA, died on Jan. 18. While responding to a structure fire in his personal vehicle, the vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree. Reports indicate that he was ejected from the vehicle and that speed was a factor in the crash.

FIREFIGHTER BRUCE TURCOTTE, 58, of Hopelawn, NJ, Engine Company 1 died on Jan. 19. Turcotte became ill while establishing water supply to interior crews at the scene of a fatal residential structure fire. He was found a short time later by fellow firefighters at the rescue truck. Immediate care was give and he was transported to JFK Medical Center in Edison, where he died from cardiac arrest.

CAPTAIN WALTER C. SUMNER, 49, of the Cranesville, PA, Volunteer Fire Department died on Jan. 24. On Jan. 21, Sumner responded to a transfer assignment in Edinboro and within 24 hours, he suffered a heart attack. He died from complications from the heart attack. Sumner was a 19-year veteran of the department.

PARAMEDIC SARAH NODURFT, 27, of the Boone County Ambulance Authority in Racine, WV, died on Jan. 25. While returning from a routine transfer, Nodurft suffered a medical emergency and died.

Jay K. Bradish


Injured Firefighter Glad to Be Home

West Haverstraw, NY, firefighter Ken Patterson is on the road to recovery after being thrown by a natural gas explosion in January. After spending a week at the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, NY, he was transferred to his hometown Helen Hayes Hospital for rehabilitation.

The 48-year-old was part of the crew that responded to a gas leak in the Village Fairgrounds II condominiums development on January 16, where workers were installing underground cable when they ruptured a gas line. Just as Patterson and firefighter Jerry Knapp were ready to force open the door to 52 Zarriello Lane, the explosion occurred, leveling the house and throwing both men close to 15 yards.

Patterson suffered broken bones and ribs, a back injury and serious burns to his face, while Knapp suffered a concussion, a fractured cheekbone, first- and second-degree burns to his head and bad bruises to his leg. Knapp – who was released from the hospital a few days after the blast – said he was glad to see his comrade’s recovery progressing.

Patterson was surrounded by a crowd of family, friends and colleagues in the lobby of the hospital just after he was transferred.

“Glad to be back home, I’ll tell you that right now,” Patterson told The Journal News. “Thanks very much for coming out for me. You guys are my family – the greatest family I’ve ever had.”


Four-Alarm Fire at Three-Story OMD Spreads to Five Buildings

Newark, NJ, firefighters responded to a reported fire at 1 am on August 13. Arriving companies found fire showing on the top floor of a three-story occupied multiple dwelling (OMD) with a commercial business on the ground floor. First-due companies rescued several people were rescued from windows via ground ladders. Heavy fire quickly extended to neighboring buildings as this became a four-alarm fire. Several ladder pipes and deck guns were put into operation as fire took control of the top floors of the buildings.
The fire tore through five buildings, including a popular supermarket. The fire was declared under control by almost 8 am. One firefighter and a resident were treated for smoke inhalation on scene. Mutual aid companies from Bloomfield, Belleville, Cedar Grove, East Orange, Irvington, Livingston, Millburn, Orange, South Orange, Verona, West Orange, Jersey City and Elizabeth assisted in covering the city. 


Suicide and the Fire Service
In light of recent tragedies, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) and National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) released a joint statement encouraging all members of the fire and emergency service to familiarize themselves with the credible and valuable tools and resources that are available to assist firefighters and their families who may be coping with depression or thoughts of suicide. Anyone who feels at risk or knows of someone who may be at risk should contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or seek emergency medical assistance.

In July of 2011, the NFFF convened a two-day summit in Baltimore to learn from the nation’s leading experts on suicide about the incidence, causes and pathways to prevention. The three organizations are working on the next steps that were identified during this gathering. The white paper from this symposium can be found on the NFFF’s Life Safety Initiatives website.

Furthermore, to better understand the complexities of this issue, behavioral health experts recommend the book Why People Die by Suicide by Dr. Thomas Joiner, of Florida State University, who assisted with the Baltimore summit. 

It is important to remember that we support each other by “Taking Care of Our Own.” Do not hesitate to reach out to one another or seek assistance from our individual organizations if you feel the need.


Helping Our Heroes

A Long Island, NY, Assisted Living Community is lending a helping hand to its local heroes in these tough economic times. The Arbors is offering current or former firefighters, police officers and EMS/EMT workers and their immediate families a discount of up to 10 percent off its monthly rental rate for assisted living at any of its five Long Island communities.

 “The Arbors Assisted Living Communities’ Heroes Welcome Program for First Responders was originated to help offset the rising healthcare costs for the many brave men and women who dedicate their lives to serve and protect,” said Christine Herting, Regional Director of The Arbors. “In this tough economic climate, many first responders and their families go without the option of assisted living due to the common misconception that they can’t afford it. Since these first responders are out there caring for us, we wanted to show our appreciation for them by making our high-quality senior care and assisted living a more obtainable and affordable option for them and their loved ones.”