Vigil for firefighters shocked while helping with ice bucket challenge being held around the clock
CAMPBELLSVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The four Campbellsville firefighters who were shocked while helping the Campbellsville University marching band with an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge were identified by the city's police chief during a late afternoon news conference on Thursday.
Captain Tony Grider, 41, a 16-year veteran of the department, and part-time firefighter Simon A. Quinn, 22, were occupying the bucket portion of the aerial ladder truck being used for the university's public affairs event when they crossed the "electric energy threshold" of an overhead power line, said Campbellsville Police Chief Tim Hazlette. That caused an "electric arc" to strike both firefighters.
"From talking with power company technicians, if you get within a distance of three or four feet, the energy that surrounds the high-voltage wire will actually arc over onto another object," Hazlette said, "in this case being the personnel occupying the bucket."
Captain Steve Marrs, 37, an 11-year veteran of the department, and three-year veteran Alex Johnson, 28, assumed control of the apparatus in an attempt to lower it to the ground, Hazlette said. Marrs and Johnson suffered electrical shocks from currents traveling down the extended ladder.
Grider and Quinn were removed from the aerial bucket and transported to Taylor Regional Hospital and later transferred to University of Louisville Hospital's burn unit.
Local firefighters said late Thursday they would keep vigil around the clock at University Hospital.
"We're not pushy, but having uniforms and the auxiliary here lets them know we're here for them," said Rob Dwyer, deputy fire chief at the Hillview Fire District.
Dwyer and two members of his fire district's auxiliary brought snacks and planned to support the injured firefighters and their families into the night.
The road to recovery could be long, said Dr. Matthew Benns, a University Hospital trauma surgeon.
"The first 24 to 48 hours are critical with a severe burn," Benns said. "With burns such as these, you can anticipate a pretty prolonged hospital course. This is a long process to get better, probably multiple operations."
Benns said the immediate steps would be to hydrate the firefighters, support their organs and guard against infection in the burned areas of their bodies. Because of patient privacy laws, he could not comment about whether either would need surgery.
Johnson and Marrs were transported to Taylor Regional Hospital. Marrs was treated and released. Johnson was admitted for observation.
The accident remains under investigation by the Campbellsville Police Department. Investigators from the Kentucky Fire Commission and the U.S. Department of Occupational Health and Safety Administration are on the scene along with representatives from Kentucky Utilities Company.
Late Thursday evening the ALS Association released a statement about the incident saying, "Our hearts go out to the injured firefighters and their families. Our thoughts will remain with them during this difficult time."
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