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First responders carry a heavy burden

   Unlike most of us, who run away from crashes, fires and accidents, first responders run to them.

   Is it any wonder then that the police officers, fire fighters and other emergency personnel who responded to the crash of Continental Flight 3407 in Clarence are showing signs of post-traumatic stress.

   After all, how do you deal with the deaths of 50 innocent human beings, each one of them the son, daughter, mother or father of someone left behind?

   How do you get beyond the task of combing through debris and rubble in search of human remains?

   And how do you address the sense of helplessness that comes with knowing no one will be found alive?

   Those are the questions counselors, therapists and family members will try to answer in the coming weeks as Erie County's first responders start to recover from the Feb. 12 crash on Long Street.

   Do you have a message for the men and women who sacrificed so much over the past 12 days?

   -- Phil Fairbanks

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Flight 3407
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