Thursday, April 1, 2010

Flesh vs. Steel and Flame

Last week, I related a story about a car losing control and smashing into the rig of a neighboring agency. I titled the post Steel for Flesh and spoke about how I would sacrifice my rig for the safety of my crew, other first responders and the public.

Today, first responders in San Diego County Ca. had their worst fears realized when an EMT was struck and killed on the freeway while working at the scene of a traffic accident. The accident occurred this morning at about 7 a.m. on state highway 162 in San Diego Ca.

Details are sketchy, but it appears that Esteban Bahena, a 24 yr old EMT for San Diego Medical Services, a private company contracted by the City of San Diego to provide EMS transportation, was killed as he was placing flares at the scene of a minor traffic accident.

As he was doing this, additional collisions occurred, causing him to be struck in the process. The driver who struck Esteban had her blood drawn at a local hospital to determine if she was under the influence.

San Diego TV Channel 6 has the story HERE .

I have never met Esteban, I don't know what his goals and dreams were, but I know that before 7 this morning, he was just another Schmoe who was trying to keep wolves from peoples doors. Now, he is a huge hole in his family's and friend's hearts.

Over the next week or so, first responders from all over the county will be pulling their Class "A" uniforms out of the closet and getting ready for yet another funeral.  They will pay homage to Esteban and then go on with their jobs, fighting off wolves.

For some, they will never forget Esteban and will remember his contribution to their efforts. Rest in Peace Esteban.


I wasn't going to mention this, but a young firefighter in suburban Chicago died from injuries received while fighting a structure fire on Tuesday night.

Brian Carey, 28, a firefighter with the Homewood Il. Fire Department died from injuries received while fighting a residential structure fire. One occupant of the home perished in the fire, another escaped on her own.

Carey's partner, Karra Kappas suffered first and second degree burns in the incident. She is reported to be in stable condition at the hospital.

Dave Statter at Statter911 has all of the details.

Rest in Peace Brian, a fast recovery to you Karra.

I usually don't post these types of things, there are many blogs like The Fire CriticThe Fire Geezer and STATter911  that do a much better job than I with them..

Something about the age of the victims in these incidents struck home. Perhaps it's because I remember being 21, 24 and 28 and I always felt that it could never happen to me. Now, pushing 50, I realize that my feelings of invulnerability were misguided and that it could have very easily been me. Regardless, two young people killed, one seriously injured while "living the dream".

The other thing that these incidents bring to mind is that both of these calls were "routine" until they went bad. They could happen any time or any place. Yet another sign of our vulnerability.

Regardless we all need to remember that nothing is routine, and we need to be careful. It's hard to do.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Dear Captain Schmoe,
    I know these posts must be difficult to write. I do thank you for giving us a chance to respond to the tragedies. I like to think that our words of condolence somehow wing over to those that need them both.

    So, to the families of blood and of fire, those who mourn for Esteban Bahena de San Diego, California and Brian Carey of Homewood, Illinois, I am so sorry for your loss. Lo siento mucho para sus dolores.

    From far away, this matters to me and to everyone, that those who care for us so well should lose so much.

    Ann T.

  2. RIP Brian and Esteban. Prayers for your family.

  3. Over the next week or so, first responders from all over the county will be pulling their Class "A" uniforms out of the closet and getting ready for yet another funeral. They will pay homage to Esteban and then go on with their jobs, fighting off wolves.

    I'm so glad to hear it Joe, thank you. Around here a private EMT wouldn't get that honor. Privates and volunteers seem to be considered a lower form of life.

    Rest well, Esteban and Brian. We've got the watch.

  4. Good reflections, as always, Capt.

    I also spoke to this topic last fall, but I lack your ability to be concise, and rambled on way too long.

    Which is not to reflect badly on those mentioned who gave the ultimate sacrifice, because we have every reason to believe they were doing everything right. That just goes to speak of the disparity we all had in our younger years, between our perceived invincibility and the cold splash of reality that intrudes on our fantasy world from time to time.

    Sometimes playing by the rules isn't good enough.