For first responders, going to the scene of any serious accident can be challenging. But when a Shandaken ambulance driver arrived at a vehicle collision involving his wife and children, rising to the occasion was his only option. Our John Wagner explains how he got through it.
ULSTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- "It took the breath out of me to say the least," said Jesse Cowan, Town of Shandaken Ambulance Service.
As Jesse Cowan pulled up to the scene of a three vehicle crash, he came upon a first responder’s nightmare. The first thing he saw was his wife's minivan, crushed, off the side of the road.
"Went into autopilot basically, I could say emotionally, because it was so stressful," said Jesse Cowan.
“It's the same thing here at the house when kids are bleeding and he knows something is wrong, then all of a sudden he's ‘all right lets wrap it up, we gotta take him to the hospital, everything’s going to be fine,’" said Concha Cowan, who began dating Jesse in seventh grade.
Jesse first made sure his four kids, ranging in age from 18 months to 14 years old were okay, and raced them to a Kingston hospital. Most EMTs in a similar situation are given the night off.
"Jesse came to me and said I really feel that I need to do this, this is my job. And that's really what sets him apart," said Capt. Richard Muellerleile, Town of Shandaken Ambulance Service Captain.
The accident totaled the family's minivan, but none of the kids left the hospital with more than bumps and bruises. Knowing it could have been worse, this Father's Day means so much more.
"An eye opener to what a great father I have and how he's just always there for us every day in every single way and there shouldn't just be one day to honor him," said Samantha Cowan, 14-year-old daughter.
"They keep calling him a hero, daddy you're our hero, thank you, but it's all normal for us, he's always been the hero for the family. It's the same Father's Day, he's just happier to be here,” said Concha Cowan.
The 29-year-old heavy equipment operator for Shandaken has volunteered 12 years as a local firefighter. He started as an ambulance driver earlier this year.
"He's the hero from bedtime stories that without falter, hesitation that comes and saves everyone," said Samantha Cowan.
"He's always the person that we go to whenever the kids get hurt, whenever anything happens, he's the expert in our family,” said Concha Cowan.
The Hallmark cards, the gifts...can't compare to the real present - a dad full of joy for his healthy family.
"This has been the best Father's Day ever... it makes me really love my family that much more,” said Jesse Cowan.