Health & Safety

After the Call and the Awards, Then What? Kevin and Paula’s Story

Issue 12 and Volume 172.

By Michael J. Barakey and Kevin Wirth This article illustrates how a motor vehicle response altered forever the lives of Firefighters Kevin and Paula Wirth. Chief Michael J. Barakey, who responded as the second-arriving unit and was the incident commander of the incident, writes from an objective perspective. Master Firefighter Kevin Wirth addresses the issues from a most personal perspective (tinted copy). This is the story of Kevin and Paula Wirth before and after April 16, 2014. The horrific incident that occurred on that date will live with them for the rest of their lives. I arrived second due and was the incident commander. I assigned every responding unit its assignment, led the debriefing, and called for critical incident stress management (CISM). Kevin, a strong, hardened, and seasoned firefighter, was assigned to a busy ladder company. Kevin’s story is not unique; the fire service has many Kevins serving on every…

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