BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It was all about saying thank you to the men and women who responded to that deadly train/bus accident two weeks ago Tuesday. The appreciation luncheon offered those first responders a chance to reunite under much different circumstances.
"There's so many people to thank, and we're committed as a community, as a city, as a state to make some things good out of a terrible set of circumstances," said Biloxi Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich.
The hamburgers and hot dogs were just a small gesture of appreciation from Merit Health to those who played any part in aiding the accident victims.
"As medical professionals, we deal with this type of thing day in and day out, but on this scale, it's really something that's kind of unprecedented. We train for it, you know, throughout the course of the year. When we see it all come together, it really is a beautiful thing, " said Rob Calhoun, who is CEO of Merit Health Biloxi.
That day, these first responders had no choice but to come together, even calling on nearby airmen from Keesler Air Force Base to assist.
"They do this just because it's what they do, and they do it because everybody else would do it for them. So, they don't get thanked enough, and it really does feel good for this community to say thank you," said Col. Michele Edmondson.
Biloxi fire and police, Keesler airmen, nurses, EMTs, and those first responders from Gulfport and D'Iberville who manned Biloxi's departments while they were on scene all received recognition for their work. A few special guests received thanks as well.
"I want to acknowledge some of the citizens who were there on the spot. These were the first ones who jumped out there," said Biloxi Councilman Felix Gines.
Antoinette Graves, who happens to work in the medical field, was one of those citizens. Gines noted that Graves set up a miniature triage at the scene.
"I'm still kind of messed up behind it. I saw everything, you know. I made the phone call, and I saw what y'all didn't see. I'm just happy that we got the people that we could get off the bus," said Graves.
According to a Merit Health spokesperson, there's still one accident victim in the hospital. They are expected to be released Wednesday.