The day after a deadly Anderson County house fire, an East Tennessee volunteer fire department gathered at their station for a “debrief.” It wasn’t focused on the facts of the night before, but rather, the long-term impact of what they experienced.
Authorities confirmed there were a total of three victims in a Rocky Top mobile fire Wednesday. Two were found dead inside the home, while one person was airlifted to UT Medical Center.
According to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, Gregory Paul Gremillion, 64, and Sharon Dee Worrill, 54, were killed in a mobile home fire that occurred Wednesday in Rocky Top.
Marianne Gremillion was flown to UT Medical Center and was last reported to be in critical condition.
Medford Volunteer Fire Department Captain Joe Gilliam says it’s rare, for their 20-person department, to have victims on a scene. For many of their team, this fire marked the first time they experienced death on a scene.
“They’ll think about it.. what their role was, think about what could’ve been done, what should’ve been done, if they could’ve done something else,” said Gilliam.
These realities, Gilliam says, are part of the job – but he believes every person on their team benefits from talking about the experience to cope and process it.
Gilliams calls it a “debrief,” but it could also be considered group therapy or counseling. He says the MVFD holds debriefs after traumatic events, like the house fire on Scott Brogan Lane that killed the two people.
“We let them do most of the talking, let them tell us what their concerns are… what’s happened since the fire,” said Gilliam.
Gilliam has been a firefighter for 40 years and says he still remembers scenes vividly; experiences like those never go away.
He hopes by talking about concerns, fears, experiences, and emotions other firefighters won’t carry trauma with them moving forward.