So Others May Live

By Michael J. Legeros

Last week was Fire Prevention Week.  Home escape plans were check-
ed across the country, to ensure that parents and children could
(a.) get out of the house and (b.) knew where to meet, once *out*
of the house.  Battery-powered smoke detectors were tested en mas-
se, while directly-wired devices were checked for battery back-ups.
(If your power goes out, be sure your smoke detector doesn't stop
working!)  Banners were hung and bays were scrubbed as the fall-
flavored, it's-that-time-of-year-again-for-fire-safety ritual was
again underway.  Alas, another ritual was also underway during Fire
Prevention Week; a ritual of loss, grief, shock, and sadness that
is all too common *throughout* the year.  Three firefighters were
killed and nine were injured in four separate line-of-duty (LOD)
incidents between October 3 and October 10.  The details of their
supreme sacrifices are as follows...

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 5 - Veteran Texas City, TX, fire captain William
H. Bethune, 52, was killed when a car pulled into the path of the
pumper he was riding, while he and his crew were responding to an
emergency medical call.  The pumper struck the car and then the
column of a bridge overpass.  Bethune was thrown through the wind-
shield.  Two other firefighters, William Fattig, 33, and Craig Al-
an Paterson, 37, were injured.  Fattig was treated and released;
Paterson, the driver, was in critical condition as of Wednesday

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 5 - Four West Haven, CT, paramedics and their 8-
year-old patient were injured when their ambulance collided with a
car near Yale-New Haven hospital.  The collision knocked the ambu-
lance on its side.  Three of the paramedics, James Woodman, 37,
Steven Dillman, 29, and Donald BiBianco, 40, were treated.  Wood-
man was in critical condition on Tuesday.  The patient was being
transported as a precaution after a car-pedestrian accident at a
school bus stop.  She was also in critical condition on Tuesday.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 5 - Firefighter Gregory Pacheco, 20, died from
massive head injuries sustained two days before, from a falling
boulder that struck him while battling a wildfire in La Jolla, CA.
Pacheco, a member of the "Penasco Five" Indian Hand Crew from the
Carson National Forest in New Mexico, was on life support and nev-
er regained consciousness.  He was one of 900+ personnel assigned
to the 7600+ acre fire.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 4 - West Plains, MO, firefighter Jeff Thompson, 20,
was electrocuted after coming into contact with live wires while
fighting a grass fire in rural Missouri.  Two other volunteer fire-
fighters, Mark Doss and Ella Stevens, were injured.  Doss was up-
graded to good condition on Tuesday, but Stevens remained in crit-
ical condition.  Other arriving firefighters found them down and
reportedly started CPR on all three.  According to fire officials,
all three had pulses when they were transported from the scene.


Copyright 1999 by Michael J. Legeros


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