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Welcome to the Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue (KVFR) website. We appreciate the opportunity to serve Kittitas Valley community and welcome questions and input.

Tragedy, Response, Hurt, Healing

On a quiet Tuesday night, March 19, 2019, we had a tragedy happen in our community.  I won’t say anything more about the tragedy, because it is well known to everyone. 

I do want to talk about the response… for the firefighters and paramedics that responded, it was one of the toughest calls you will ever be on.  Members of our public safety family were hurt and in extremis.  The paramedics and firefighters did exactly what they needed to do.  They focused on the patients that needed their help the most.  They did their job professionally, with great skill and care for each patient.  Two of these patients were our family members and one was the cause of tragedy.  Each was provided excellent care, as we could get resources to the scene.  Seventeen members (4 paramedics) of KVFR responded to this incident and we needed everyone.   I want to thank each of our responders and those that backfilled because we needed everyone. 

Hurt--because we are a smaller rural, close-knit community and our relationship with Kittitas Police Department and Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office is not just a professional relationship, it is truly a family relationship.  With blood relatives, marriages, and deep friendships that bind us together. 

That night, the crew that responded was hurting after the call.   Our colleagues from Upper County Medic One moved up and covered the rest of shift.  We also called Yakima Fire Department and they sent a fire engine to cover the rest of the shift.  Additionally, many of our career folks came in and backfilled so that the shift could be off.  However, once we had those people in place, the shift didn’t leave, they helped to transport the fallen hero, Deputy Ryan Thompson, to Moses Lake.   This was hard, but the start of the healing process. 

Healing—healing from these types of events is always individuated.  Because the injury is different for everyone.  Let’s take twenty skiers for example.  If twenty different skiers twists a knee going down a mountain, some will have a light sprain, and some may have such a severe injury it requires surgery or other advanced medical procedures to fix.  A lot goes into how badly someone is injured; base conditioning, past injuries that were not fully rehabbed, and how much trauma or force is exerted on the body, just to name a few.  The body will repair itself.  The body repairs itself faster when we apply medicine and help the body repair itself.  Healing is an intrinsic process. 

Your mind and psyche are the same as your body. When you hurt it, it takes time to heal.  Depending on the level of injury, will mandate how long it takes to heal and what interventions or “medicine” is required.    Once again, it is individuated and different for each of us. 

The defusing that we did for the people on the call helps.  Returning Officer Chavez home and honoring his bravery helps.  The Memorial Service held for Deputy Thompson helps.   Looking out for each other and truly caring for each other, helps.  That needs to continue as we go through this healing process as an organization and as individuals. 

You don’t have to have been on the call to have this affect you.  I have spoken to a number of folks that feel bad because they weren’t on shift.   They hurt, because others are hurting and they want to help shoulder that hurt.  It is real and comes from a good heart.  So, we responded to a tragedy and got hurt in that action.  We will heal.  The community has come out strongly and loudly that they support us. That loving support from the community will help.  The community support will be fleeting, what I hope remains is the loving support you provide to each other. 

In Josh DeHerrera’s eulogy for his friend Ryan, he said Ryan liked to say, “It’s going to be OK, and it will be fine.”  We won’t ever be the same, but to honor Ryan, we need to be OK.  We will heal…the sun will come out tomorrow, to quote Annie.  Sometimes, it just takes a while.  Please watch out for each other.

This was a tough month.  April will bring new challenges.  We will heal from past hurts, and stand together, and we face new challenges.  I am proud of each of you.  Thank you again for all you do.  #KittitasStrong and #KVFRStrong.

Stay safe.  John


KVFR's Public Records Officer:
Shannon Hill
400 East Mtn. View Ellensburg, WA 98926

Business Hours
8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Tel: (509) 933-7231

Public Records Request Form



The USFS Cle Elum Ranger District is looking to finish the Liberty Fuels units 55-54 today. The unit is 30 acres and is in T 20 T 18 sec 18 on the North side of Liberty Mountain Home.