Dispatcher in East Haven Recalls Moments After Plane Crash

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Stephen Johnson a 911 dispatcher and chaplain for East Haven Fire Department was working the morning the plane crash occurred and talk exclusively to NBC Connecticut about what the morning was like. (Published Monday, Aug 12, 2013)

    When the plane went down in East Haven on Friday morning, crashing into two houses, dispatcher Stephen Johnson was alone at the 911 center.

    He quickly knew where rescue crews needed to go and his quick response has drawn praise.

    "So I saw Charter Oak Avenue, Charter Oak Avenue … Charter Oak Avenue," said Johnson who has been on the job for about a year in East Haven. "When 911 rings, the screen lights up and it lit up like a Christmas tree. I had never seen this thing so bright."

    The neighborhood is not far from Tweed-New Haven.

    Johnson, who is also a chaplain, said he was receiving information from callers on the ground as well as from officials at Tweed-New Haven Airport, who said they had lost sight of a plane.

    At first, Johnson didn't know how many people were injured or if the houses were occupied. Hours later, it would be revealed that two young girls in one of the houses were killed, along with the pilot and his 17-year-old son.

    Once East Haven crews were on their way to the scene of the crash, Johnson's next call was for mutual aid from neighboring New Haven and Branford.

    He then knew he had to continue to protect his town.

    "To make sure that if a routine medical emergency comes in, people still have difficulty breathing, chest pain and other mass incidents are going on," Johnson said.

    Luckily there were no other incidents and Johnson, serving in his role as chaplain for the department, made his way to the crash scene.

    "You're not giving answers. You're just listening and doing what you can to serve," he said.

    This included providing support  on Saturday night during a vigil for the victims.

    Johnson is grateful he could help out in both a physical and spiritual way.

    "God always comes first to us in the form of a servant and, so that's what I think people do in the fire department and the police department and EMS ... is somewhat Christ like because they show up and say what can I do."

    Johnson is also a volunteer EMT in Shelton who said he loves public safety work.