Continental Flight 3407 crashed into a home in Clarence Center, NY around 10:20pm on Thursday-February 12, 2009 - killing 50 people and changing the lives of thousands more, including mine.
I responded in the first wave of emergency services personnel sent to help restore order to the chaos that the crash created.
Frankly, I’m not ready to write about this experience at length. Not because I'm deeply disturbed by what I saw or dealt with (how can you not be?), but because I don't want what I write to be about me, despite being intimately involved.
I just didn’t want to go any longer without conveying my deep sense of pride, admiration and gratitude to the men and women and the families of the Clarence Center Volunteer Fire Company.
I’m not sure I’ve ever been prouder of a group of people than I am of Clarence Center and all their mutual aid partners right now.
As Deputy Fire Coordinator for Erie County and as part of the Unified Command team in the EOC, I am not in the least surprised by their actions, their professionalism, their respect and their caring for all those affected. I would expect nothing else.
I am simply in awe.
I’ve known all along that we have some of the greatest firefighters right here in Erie County. Chief Dave Case and his entire team have just proven it to the rest of the world.
I was there with them from the onset and we will be together until the end of this operation and beyond. I am proud and honored to stand amongst them and to call them my friends.
I thank them for their service.
Stay tuned to www.tigerschmittendorf.com for more insights into the heroic efforts of these firefighters and first responders.