BONNER SPRINGS, Kan. - In a sunset ceremony, the city of Bonner Springs, Kan., declared Monday "First Responders Day" in honor of the more than 60 men and women from nine different agencies who rushed to the scene of last week's school bus crash.
Some two dozen of those first responders, including fire rescue teams, police and paramedics-- as well as civilians-- were on hand Monday night to receive certificates and the thanks of a grateful community.
Many recounted their experiences from last Wednesday for the first time, including paramedic and mother of four Dawn Brooks. She said she immediately felt for the parents of the girls involved in the crash, but let her training take over.
"We do train for that," Brooks said. "It is what we do. It doesn't happen very often so we don't have very many live practices."
Training couldn't ready volunteer firefighter Travis Hubbel for what he saw when he arrived on the first rescue truck.
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"A situation like that is hard to prepare for. It doesn't matter what kind of training you do, when you see a bunch of kids. Kids are always-- I believe -- the hardest call that we have to run," he told 41 Action News. "I've never seen a wreck like that and a lot of people haven't.”
Neither had the department's chief, Dennis Hubbel. A 29-year veteran of the department and Travis' father.
"Hearing [the dispatch call] to begin with sends chills down your spine and just ready to react," the elder Hubbel said. "Hearing that it was full of kids just sends the adrenaline flowing."
Despite the lack of experience in dealing with such an accident, the departments involved have been roundly lauded for a rescue effort that counted every person aboard the bus as a survivor, with few serious injuries.
The younger Hubbel said he hadn't talked about the accident with his father yet. Perhaps after so many firefighters opened up to reporters for the first time, he will.
"I've been volunteering here for almost eight years and we have been in a lot of hairy situations together and I think it's just what we expect of each other," Travis Hubbel said.
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