OH Crews Relied on Training at Fiery Bus Crash

Nov. 16, 2023
West Licking Fire District Assistant Chief Joe Krouse said responders worked together at the multifaceted incident.

“We had a hazmat incident where a rescue and we had a working extrication at the same time.  We had, you know, bystanders, you know, trying to get somebody out of the bus. And they were very vocal that there’s still people on that bus was able to assign companies immediately to start extinguishment and rescue and extrication. Our crews made every effort to get on that bus.”

That's how West Licking Fire District Assistant Chief Joe Krouse described what crews encountered on I-70 Tuesday morning. 

Krouse said it was a situation unlike any other. The 9-1-1 dispatchers kept them updated on the incident and conditions as they were responding. Based on information they were receiving, additional resources were started, according to WCMH. 

One of the callers was a woman who was on the charter bus with students and chaperones. 

“We’re in a van pool, yes we are. It’s on fire, we need help and we have children still in the coach,” she said. 

“Ok. Can you get the children out,” the dispatcher asks.

“We’re trying but the back of the bus is on fire,” the woman replied. 

Firefighters, rescue personnel and EMS crews were joined by civilians as they rescued people from the burning vehicles and treated the injured. 

The Ohio State Patrol said at least three of the five vehicles involved in the crash caught fire. 

Six people, including three high school students, perished in the wreck and 18 were transported to local hospitals. 

EMS Coordinator Ginger Wortman explained: "Part of our job with the triage is basically figuring out who’s hurt...who needs prioritized, who can wait.” 

The most serious patients were transported first.  

She was at a loss to describe the heroism and teamwork by students and other motorists as well as fire, rescue and EMS crews. 

Wortman and Krouse both said the incident was unlike anything they’ve seen before. 

“We take pride in our department on how much our crews train for situations that they hope that they never have to deal with in regards to something like this. This is like wholeheartedly every single one of the responding companies that came to that incident on I-70 yesterday (Tuesday), they performed to the best of our abilities and very well,” Krouse said.