Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Munson Fire Chief Expresses Gratitude for Help with FD Accident
March 19, 2015 by Ann Wishart | No Comments

It astounds me how fast it went up on social media. Mark LynnIt was a nightmare I just kept trudging along with the trucks. Mark Lynn

Munson Township Fire Department Chief Mark Lynn was headed south out of West Virginia on his way to North Carolina March 5 when he heard about the fire truck accident on Wilson Mills Road.

His trip had taken him through Winter Storm Thor and he was just getting into better weather when he talked to his assistant chief, Michael Vatty.

Once he had confirmed injuries were minor, his mind turned to the impact on the families of his three firefighters and the drivers of the other two vehicles, he said last Tuesday at the Munson Township Trustees meeting.

“I said ‘Don’t let anyone put it up on social media,'” Lynn recalled. “But it was way too late. It astounds me how fast it went up on social media.”

Cell phone photos and eyewitness accounts were already flying around the county, then the state. A helicopter from WJW Channel 8 was on site and other news organizations wanted interviews with Vatty.

By the time Lynn got turned around to do battle with Thor again, he was getting calls and texts.

“I was just inundated,” he said, adding he let them pile up as he followed semi-trucks through ice, snow and wind back up Interstate 77.

“It was a nightmare. I just kept trudging along with the trucks,” Lynn said.

After driving 10 hours, he had to stop for rest. He pulled off the road and called Vatty, who reassured him everyone was fine.

Trustee Andy Bushman called as well to warn him the weather farther north was even worse and they decided Lynn should wait until the storm cleared, he said.

Lynn arrived March 6 to find the ladder truck had been towed to the lot at Interstate Towing Company in Chardon after dark March 5. There it will stay until it can be inspected by insurance adjustors and Warren Fire Equipment, who sold the township the KME ladder truck, he said.

Once the paperwork is done, it will be transported to the garage near Harrisburg and gone over with a fine-toothed comb to find out if the frame is bent, Lynn said.

“We’re just waiting for everyone to contact everybody,” he said. “The most important thing is my guys are safe.”

When a GMC Acadia, driven by Sanja Medved, 34, of Chardon, careered across the centerline after rear-ending a Dodge Grand Caravan and ran into the truck, the firemen were shook up and bruised, but only the driver, Mike Bennett, was injured. Once the jaws of life got him out of the truck, it was determined he had broken his wrist.

“He’s lucky that’s all he had happen,” Lynn said, adding the fracture will require surgery, including pins and plates and three to four months of recovery time.

By March 7, Lynn was ready to tackle his email, which was overflowing with notes of concern.

Besides local folks wanting to send their best wishes, Lynn got emails from out-of-town fire chiefs and doctors asking if there was anything they could do to help.

“It was overwhelming,” he said, but he answered every email, thankful for the concern.

Local fire departments and law enforcement were all poised and ready to help the afternoon of the accident.

“Hambden (Fire Department) sent a squad to the station to man it,” Lynn said. “It’s amazing, the brother(hood) and sisterhood of the fire departments. Everybody came to help.”

Russell Fire Department personnel arrived at the scene without a call, as well as firefighters from Chester, Kirtland and Mentor departments, he said, adding that Geauga County Sheriff Dan McClelland and Chief Deputy Scott Hildenbrand were at the scene and many others.

“I cannot thank everybody enough. It shows the fire services are a very tight-knit family,” he said.

Lynn also commended his firefighters and emergency medical teams for their quick work in securing the scene and rescuing and treating everyone involved in the accident.

“My guys are good. I’ve got 24 of the best people in the world,” he said.

Getting a report will probably take another week or two, but the department still has two trucks with a new one almost ready to be put into service, Lynn said.

“I’m in no big hurry for it. There’s a game plan and we’re going to stick with it,” he said, adding the less salt the new truck is exposed to, the better, and he hopes to show it off at the Geauga County Maple Festival.

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