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Friday, August 22, 2014
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Published: Friday, 10/18/2002

Rescuers shine in handling chaotic crash scene

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Helicopters roared, children sobbed, and ambulance sirens screamed while rescue workers struggled to save lives last week after a truck slammed into the side of a school bus.

Even with the commotion, emergency crews got every seriously injured person on the way to a hospital within an hour, officials said.

“Things went together very fast,” said Luna Pier Fire Chief Jerry Welton, who also is mayor of Luna Pier. “I don't think we could've written a script that went any better.”

Everyone survived the crash. All but three of the 41 children on the bus are out of the hospital.

One child is in serious condition in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center and two others are in good condition in Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.

Those who saw the crushed bus one week ago feared the accident would be deadly. The success of the rescue effort now seems remarkable to those who assisted at the scene.

“I'm ecstatic about how everything turned out,” said Erie Township Fire Chief Mike Demski, who coordinated the emergency crews. “Everybody stepped it up a notch and did their jobs well.”

Emergency medical personnel and firefighters from seven volunteer stations took those with the most severe injuries into a vacant field next to the crash, which happened at the intersection of Erie and Telegraph roads about 10 miles north of Toledo.

As air ambulances landed, rescue workers decided where to send the injured people so that no single hospital would be overwhelmed, but everyone would get the necessary care.

“In all critically injured children, every second counts,” said Dr. James Ramseier, who rode on a Life Flight helicopter to the scene. “The crew on the ground - firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and bystanders who stopped to help - did a great job getting patients ready for the helicopters.”

Some neighbors, passing motorists, parents, and chaperones helped last week by keeping children calm and attending to the injured.

“I didn't see anybody laying by themselves,” Mr. Welton said. “It means a lot to victims just to have someone holding their hands.”

The hard work of the emergency crews and others who helped the victims did not go unnoticed. Teachers, parents, administrators, and others from Pierre Toussaint Academy in Detroit praised their newfound friends in Monroe County.

“We are just all totally impressed with how they all just jumped into action and how gentle they were with the kids,” Principal Jim Bouvy said. “It was truly an experience to see the generosity.”



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