For Ray Corbo, first assistant fire chief at Newtown Hook and Ladder, the
horrific images from Friday's shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary have
taken a toll.
was the Newtown police officer who ran by him in the school's parking lot,
carrying a boy, limp in his arms.
police officer's uniform had blood all over it," he said.
were the teachers, who despite the chaos, kept order as they led their students
away from the school building to the Sandy Hook firehouse.
few minutes, you'd see one class of kids with a teacher and a police officer,
all holding hands coming down the street to the firehouse. A lot of them were
visibly upset. A lot of the kids were crying."
there were the parents that flocked to the Sandy Hook firehouse, anxious for
news about their loved ones.
was nothing I could do for a hysterical parent that was looking for their
child," Corbo said. "Parents were coming from every direction. They
were abandoning their cars and running to the scene. You could see the panic on
Corbo and 13 other volunteers from his department are left to process the
scenes from a shooting rampage that left 27 people dead. A debriefing was being
held Saturday afternoon at the Sandy Hook firehouse, where counselors, clergy
and police are expected to be on hand to talk about the incident and answer
think it's important," said Corbo of the debriefing. "Everybody leaves
the scene with a lot of questions, and if you can get those questions answered,
it makes it a lot easier."
and his colleagues were dispatched at 10 a.m. Friday and assisted Sandy Hook
firefighters, setting up a second triage area, roughly 300 yards from the
school in a parking lot behind the Sandy Hook firehouse. Corbo worked at the
command post about 100 feet in front of the school building, where the first
triage area was set up.
knew early on there were numerous gunshot victims, he said. But there were few
to treat. He only saw one other victim — a woman with a gunshot wound to her
had a huge area waiting for many victims and there was one," he said.
"At some points, you're wishing that it was full of people that are alive."
will depend on each other to get through the tragedy, said 40-year-old Corbo, a
lifelong resident of Newtown, who is married and has a 7-year-old son.
you get into the work mode, you're at work," he said. "After the
fact, you think about it and you can count on your brother and sister
firefighters and that's who you talk to about it. Talking about it seems to
help most people."
Rivera, the department's chief, was working at his full-time job as a Stamford
fire captain Friday morning but kept in touch with Corbo over the phone. He
dealt with the stress of worrying about his colleagues without being at the
scene to help early on.
just asked (Corbo) to keep me updated on the situation and keep our guys'
safety and best interest in mind," he said. "There was a lot of
conflicting information, a lot of unknowns. So, I wanted to make sure our
safety was paramount."
35, whose department has 40 volunteers ages 17 to 55, who live or work in
Newtown or Sandy Hook, responded to the Sandy Hook firehouse Friday night. He
strongly encouraged colleagues at the scene to attend the debriefing. Rivera, a
father of two young boys, said he stayed up late talking to his wife about the
the worst tragedy that I've ever seen in this town or I've ever personally been
involved with," said Rivera, who moved to Newtown eight years ago because
of its reputation as a safe community with excellent schools.
takes a toll on you. It's a very stressful situation. This is something that
sticks with you for weeks, months the rest of your life."
said it won't be easy for the community to move forward.
gonna be a long road ahead. Everyone's gotta come together and mourn and work
together to get through this."
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