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Media insensitive about van crash

Lisa Domer

Dear Editor,

First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt sympathies and blessings to everyone involved in the tragic accident that claimed the lives of the Oregon firefighters on June 21.

I have always thought the duty of the media is to report information in a timely, accurate and professional manner. I was wrong. It seems that in a time such as this, the media showed a lack of compassion, a lack of morality and ethics.

Working in the emergency room, I received a call Friday night, mere hours after the accident. The man identified himself to be from Channel Eight News in Denver. Let me paint a picture of the scene this person interrupted.

My ER receptionist, who by the way is eight months pregnant, had just taken her first break since the accident came through our door. I pulled off bloody gloves to answer the phone for her, my scrubs still painted with blood and various other substances.

Doing his job, as he should do, he asked me for information about the accident victims. I explained politely that information was not being given out at that time. I was not rude. I had no energy to be rude as it had just been consumed in trying to save lives. After I explained who he should speak to, he laughed at me.

While he found humor in the fact that I would not release information, while he laughed, I was looking into the eyes of the remaining firefighters who were standing in front of me. Please continue with this visual. I watched their faces as they saw their fallen brothers wheeled out on gurneys, covered with sheets.

I saw their pain, their tears and heard their cries as they mourned the loss of their comrades. This was as the reporter was laughing at me and reminding me, as if I didn’t know, that we would be inundated with calls the next day.

I wonder if this person could possibly have any idea what it is like to not be able to save the lives of firefighters who were here to save our state from ruin. And then have our efforts mocked not only by this person from Denver Channel Eight, but by the media as a whole.

The fire department in Rifle held a debriefing the next morning and had to have police escort to leave the building when responding to calls. The reporters attempted to invade and cash in on the grief of those trying so desperately to cope with such an enormous loss. When the reporters were told they could not come into the debriefing, they begrudgingly left and set up across the street, filming the fire house.

I understand needing to do a job, we all do. And don’t get me wrong, I’m sure we all appreciate the concise information the media relays to us. But in a time such as this, a time filled with shock and overwhelming sadness, our grief, our pain seemed used against us.

After I hung up from this laughing phone call, myself and several others put on a brave front and continued on with our work, providing the best care for those who came to us, no matter what we felt inside. This is the picture I would like this person to remember, as well as all the media as they report on yet one more tragedy that will sadly, ultimately occur.

Thank you to Parachute and Rifle Fire Departments and Silt ambulance for your outstanding show of courage and professionalism, your rapid response and quick, level-headed thinking. Thank you to each member of Valley View Hospital and Clagett Memorial Hospital who worked so hard to save the firefighters, and who despite the sorrow, the holes that were left in our hearts, gave 150 percent to every person they saw that night.

I am proud to be part of a community where over the years we have proven to pull together in a time of need.

Sincerely,

Lisa Domer

nurse and firefighter

Glenwood Springs


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