KNOXVILLE, TN (WBTV) - A first responder, who was on the scene of a deadly church bus crash in Tennessee, says injured church members were 'selfless' after the wreck - more concerned with others, than their own injuries.
Powerful images from Wednesday's bus accident in East Tennessee are clearly etched in our collective psyches. Flames on the ground, views from the sky, and challenges faced by those who answered the 911 calls.
Not far from Interstate 40, Brad Phillips heads up the Office of Emergency Management for Jefferson County, Tennessee. He got there in less than 10 minutes, and immediately took on the task of finding needed back up.
"We're were doing that on the way, as the reports came back with the first units," Miller said. "In my 22 years of experience, this is one of the most taxing incidents we dealt with here."
Once the highway reopened, locals also displayed their caring for the dead and injured of Front Street Baptist. Amid the charred debris, eight crosses have been left behind.
Each one represents a life that was lost at the accident scene.
Before it was all over with, 20 ambulances came and so did four helicopters.
Once everyone got to the hospital, a new relationship was established between first responders and those in need.
Prior to speaking with the media, Pastor Tim Stutts was able to spend a few moments with Jefferson County's first responders.
"He's a very strong spirit, a strong faith that's really the greatest thing," Phillips said.
It is that kind of faith that Phillips discovered from church members on the side of the road.
"The people that were injured weren't worried about themselves; they were worried about next person that was laying next to them, their friend," he recalled." I'm fine even though they may have had broken bones, severe injuries. They were worried about the others."
Phillips added that's the kind of selflessness that inspires hope to those are committed to a career of public service.