Chattanooga Fire Chief describes arriving on school bus crash scene

Photo of the crash scene by the Chattanooga Fire Department.

On Tuesday morning, Chattanooga Fire Chief Chris Adams spoke to us on camera in our studios about what it was like to arrive on the scene of Monday afternoon's deadly bus crash that left 5 children dead, and dozens of others injured.

The scene Monday afternoon was full of emergency responders--from paramedics, to police, to firefighters. At least 20 Chattanooga Firefighters were at the accident on Talley Road and they had the job of getting children out of the bus. Chattanooga Fire Chief Chris Adams spoke to NewsChannel 9 about what it was like for them to save children and recover bodies.

Chattanooga Fire Chief Chris Adams thought when they arrived to Talley Road they would just be checking to make sure everything was okay.

"By the time we got to where we could see it, we realized this was a pretty horrific scene. It just got worse as it went on," said CFD Chief Adams. He explained this was a dangerous situation for the firefighters.

"The bus made it very complicated due to the narrow space that they had to work in," said Chief Adams. Firefighters got into the bus through the front windshield, back hatch, and the top.

"So we went through every opening in it to look at every perspective to get the best angle we could use to free those patients," said Chief Adams. They had to use battery-operated saws, the jaws of life, cutters, and rams to push and spread medal.

"They were face-to-face in very close quarters for two hours with those children," said Chief Adams. He said that in his 30-year career with the fire department it was one of the most difficult extrications he has every worked and will likely stay with the firefighters the rest of their lives.

"They have children as well so it hits really close to home. We all suffer emotionally but we try to use all the techniques we know possible and then cope with that," said Chief Adams.

Chief Adams said firefighters are second to the military in the most cases of post traumatic stress disorder. Firefighters have a high rate of suicide because of what they see.

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