“All the training you do still doesn’t prepare you for what really is happening,” first responders recount chaotic moments after bus rollover

Local News

WEEDSPORT, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Weedsport Fire Chief David James was carrying about his Saturday afternoon like any other until the call came in.

“I was actually home mowing my lawn and I heard the dispatch and at first I was like no he just didn’t really say that,” James said. 

Shock was his initial feeling. James and his crew were the first on the scene of the tour bus that rolled over on the New York State Thruway just before 1 pm on Saturday afternoon. The JTR Transportation bus was carrying 57 passengers who were on their way to Niagara Falls from Poughkeepsie. 

“I always thought this day would happen and sure enough it did,” he said.

The department immediately jumped into action helping those on the bus get the medical attention they needed, luckily there were no fatalities in the crash.

“You train and train and you try to put up all different types of scenarios for incidents similar to this or like this, mass casualties incidents, but all the training you do still doesn’t prepare you for what really is happening,” James said. 

According to James, 24 ambulances from Cayuga, Seneca, and Onondaga counties responded to the scene with seven fire rescue units and other state and local first responders. 

Bus passengers were transported to area hospitals, some with more serious injuries than others. 

Dr. William Paolo, interim chair of emergency medicine at Upstate Medical University was one of the doctors treating patients as they were arriving. 

He said their incident command was activated and multiple units responded to keep up with the flow of patients. By close to 10 pm that night the hospital had received nearly 30 bus passengers ranging in age from small children to middle-aged adults. 

“We saw a lot of broken bones, a lot of injuries to the lungs and we saw a lot of scrapes, bruises, cuts and then a mixture of some internal injuries and some people with internal bleeding,” Paolo said.

One thing that remained constant throughout the day was the heroic team effort by everyone involved.

“Everybody whether you work together day and day or you see them once every year or you don’t see them until this stuff happens, everybody just comes together they just work together we’re all in this for a common goal and a common purpose and you know it works, you get the job done,” James said.

An investigation into the cause of the accident is still ongoing.

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