Tour Bus Crash First Responders Receive Grief Counseling

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HIGHLAND, Calif. (KTLA) — At least two dozen of the first-responders to Sunday night’s deadly tour bus crash, which left eight people dead and dozens injured, attended a meeting Wednesday in San Bernardino County to help them cope with their feelings.

Police, firefighters and paramedics, who worked through the debris of the crash scene in Mentone, tending to the wounded and covering the dead, came together to share their thoughts at Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland.

“It’s no different than grief counseling,” Battalion Chief Ron Walls of the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

“There was a time early on in my career when everyone was all into machismo, you know, rub some dirt on it and walk it off. Over the years, we’ve learned that with these events, there is a cumulative effect. If you don’t deal with it, it’s going to continue to compound and we’ve ended up with people having difficulty. This is our way of trying to help take care of the people who take care of everyone else,” he said.

Many first responders cannot talk openly about the ordeal at home, because they have children.

Even if they can talk freely, others do not understand how life changing an event like the bus accident can be for the people who work through it.

“These were the folks who were there. That’s why this is so important, so they can share their experiences with each other in a safe environment and know it’s not going to go anywhere,” Cal Fire Spokesperson said Bill Peters.

– Jim Nash Reporting

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