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Bus crash put response plan to test

Liberty Twp. fire chief: ‘You train for it and hope it never happens.’


More than 130 emergency response workers from across southwest Ohio responded to the scene of a Greyhound bus crash that injured nearly 40 last Saturday.

First responders are calling the single-vehicle accident one of the most well-staffed response operations they’ve worked.

“I’ve never seen so many emergency vehicles on a highway crash,” said Sgt. Charlie Scales, who has worked for the Ohio State Highway Patrol for 21 years and responded to the scene Saturday. “In terms of a one-vehicle crash, you just usually don’t get that many (responders).”

More than two dozen agencies and departments from four different counties responded to reports that a bus, carrying 51 passengers and traveling down Interstate 75, had crashed into a Liberty Twp. cornfield.

Early next month, some of the first responders who worked the scene will gather to review their performance at the accident during an “after action conference.”

“We’ll get everybody’s feedback,” said Paul Stumpf, the Liberty Twp. Fire Chief who was the incident commander for the crash. “We’ll see what went right, see what went wrong.”

Emergency crews who responded to the Greyhound crash, however, said not much went wrong.

“We had more resources than were necessary. We had people coming into the scene that were ready to go,” Scales said. “The response was quick and there were a lot of red lights that night.”

State patrol sent 17 troopers to the scene last Saturday, Scales said. Ohio’s highway patrol typically tends to roughly 230 commercial bus accidents involving injuries or fatalities every year. Few of those accidents, however, are as serious as the one responders handled last week, officials said.

“Most of them, you might have a fender-bender involving the bus,” Scales said. “It doesn’t require a large response.”

Crews from Butler County’s Emergency Management Agency manned the control center and acted as a liaison for emergency responders during the accident, said director Jeff Galloway. He said the Greyhound bus accident was only the second time the county officially deployed a small Incident Management Assistance Team for an emergency to assist the fire and police crews on scene.

“We helped with administrative roles out in the field,” Galloway said. “It worked well. It took the strain and a lot of responsibilities off the instant commander.”

Stumpf said he is still working to determine how many local law enforcement workers responded to the scene. He said 24 ambulances were on the scene to care for victims and 12 people staffed four medical helicopters that were sent to the scene.

The crash was the “most-involved” emergency his department has directly handled, Stumpf said.

“There’s a lot of people who many never experience this in their career,” Stumpf said. “You train for it and hope it never happens. The real thing — it’s a little different.”


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