More than 1,000 people attended a vigil in the gymnasium of Schoharie Central School Wednesday night.

It was an outpouring of support for those who answered an unforgettable call. First responders from numerous departments, called to the scene of Saturday’s crash, received a standing ovation.

Travis Hofmann has been a firefighter with Central Bridge for 10 years. His all-volunteer crew was the first to arrive on scene.

“They’re doing alright. It is getting better but it is going to take a lot of time,” said Hofmann.

Members of the Schoharie community provided a different kind of mutual aid during the ceremony. They brought emotional support that was desperately needed. 

“It means a lot to us. We don’t get a lot of ‘thank yous’ so when the community comes together after this big event, it puts smiles on my guys’ faces and at the end of the day that is what really matters,” said Hofmann. 

Wednesday’s vigil came a day after those responders underwent a critical incident stress debrief to help navigate their emotions following a call none of them could’ve prepared for.

“It will be with us for a while and we will need more services from the counselors down the road,” Esperance Fire Chief Matthew Deffer. 

“Like everybody else, we’re human. We have the same feelings everyone else does,” Hofmann. 

Coming to the aid of the area’s finest and bravest, community members offered the kind of backup only neighbors can provide. 

“We love our community. We love the people in it. And that is why we continue to do what we do,” said Hofmann.