Traumatised firefighter hospitalised

A young firefighter has been hospitalised since last week after being traumatised from a search and rescue operation, to find a father and son who fell down a ravine, at Tiapapata. 

Edward Peseta, of Matautu and Papauta, has been admitted at the Mental Health Unit at Moto'otua to undergo counseling.

Five other firefighters, including one who sustained injuries from fallen rocks from the cliff, were discharged later last week.

This followed the operation to recover the bodies of a father and son. 

A senior firefighter said that three of the first responder team were admitted due to being in “shock”.  

“Edward is the most critical one that hasn’t been able to wake up from what happened,” said the firefighter. 

“He is awake but his mind is still there where we had the operation and that is the only memory he has at the moment and that of his family.” 

The firefighter, who has three children with the youngest being three months old, has been with the Fire and Emergency Services Authority for about two years. 

His wife, Sheila Warren Peseta, has been by her husband’s side since last week through his road to recovery. 

Her mother, Seanoa Malaitai, of Matautu, said her son-in law is in shock from what he had seen that day during the operation and had collapsed twice. 

“He saw something that he is not used to and that led to his brain shutting down on him,” said Ms. Malaitai in an interview with the Samoa Observer. 

“My daughter has been the only person that he responds to by pressing her hand or making eye movement. So far the only memory he has is what happened on that day at work. During his counselling he drew pictures of the operation, his request to call his wife and that he loves his daughter, his princess.” 

Ms. Malatai said it is only through the grace of God that her son-in-law will recover and be healed. 

She is currently looking after her daughter’s three children while she attends to her husband in the hospital. 

“My daughter had asked to keep him at the hospital but the doctor said he is good to go home,” she said. 

“What happened is he was discharged and day later he was unresponsive and he was taken back in the hospital. 

“He’s being referred to the Mental Unit where he is receiving counselling to help with his mind to recover from being shocked…” 

In addition, the mother said there have been no confirmations whether her son-in law has any life insurance entitlement from his employer. 

According to several firefighters the Samoa Observer spoke to, the first responders do not have life insurance. 

“We only rely on A.C.C. [Accident Compensation Corporation],” said the firefighters. 

Attempts to get a comment from the F.E.S.A. Commissioner, Lelevaga Fa’afouina Mupo were unsuccessful. 

In a recent interview with the Samoa Observer, Lelevaga said there rescue team attended to a report from Tiapapata to locate a father and a son who had fallen down in a 400 meters deep ravine. 

The team responded to the call at 2p.m. and the operation ended after 3.30am the next day, after the bodies of the father and son were recovered. 

Lelevaga added that one of the difficulties they encountered was moving the bodies of the deceased from the ravine to the top.

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