Twelve emergency personnel recently died in the line of duty. Six career firefighters and six civilian employees died in six separate incidents. Six deaths were the result of accidents and six deaths were the result of direct fireground operations. One incident, a structural collapse at the scene of a fire, claimed the lives of four career firefighters. Three responders died in a medical helicopter crash and an ambulance crash claimed two lives.
FIREFIGHTER BRAD HARPER, 23, of the Phoenix, AZ, Fire Department died on May 19, a day after he was pinned between two fire department vehicles while operating at a mulch fire. He was treated at the scene and transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he died.
FIREFIGHTER STANLEY A. WILSON, 51, of the Dallas, TX, Fire Department died on May 20. While operating at the scene of a fire at the three-story Heartwood North Condominiums, Wilson became trapped when a portion of the building collapsed. The fire eventually went to five alarms, destroying more than two dozen units.
EMERGENCY MEDICAL TECHNICIAN TOM GRUEN, 46, of the Tunkhannock Community Ambulance Service in Tunkhannock, PA, died on May 23. A day earlier, Gruen was a passenger in a private vehicle responding to a traffic accident with another EMT when the vehicle left the roadway on Route 92. According to reports, the operator of the vehicle lost control during a rain storm.
Four members of the Houston, TX, Fire Department died on May 31 in the deadliest fire in the 118-year history of the department. Firefighters were operating at the Southwest Inn when they were trapped by a structural collapse. According to initial reports, Fire Chief Terry Garrison stated that approximately 14 minutes after arrival, an early and catastrophic failure of the roof occurred trapping the four firefighters. Killed in the incident were CAPTAIN/EMT MATTHEW RENAUD, 35; ENGINEER OPERATOR/EMT ROBERT BEBEE, 41; FIREFIGHTER/EMT ROBERT GARNER, 29; and ANNE SULLIVAN, 24.
Two emergency medical technicians of the Coffee County, GA, Ambulance Service died on June 6. EMT TERESA ANN DAVIS, 44, the driver of the ambulance, and EMT RANDALL WHIDDON, 56, died in the crash of the ambulance on Highway 32 near Ocilla, GA. A tractor-trailer truck traveling west jack-knifed in front of the eastbound ambulance. The patient in the ambulance also died in the crash.
Three crew members from Air Evac Lifeteam died in a helicopter crash on June 6. Killed in the crash were PILOT EDDIE SIZEMORE, FLIGHT PARAMEDIC HERMAN DOBBS and FLIGHT NURSE JESSE JONES. The crew was returning to Manchester, KY, after transporting a patient to a hospital in London, KY. The helicopter crashed in an elementary school parking lot.
—Jay K. Bradish