Fallen Pa. paramedic supervisor honored by community ahead of funeral
Rostraver Paramedic Supervisor Matthew Smelser, who was struck and killed Sunday, has received tributes from across the state and country
Rostraver West Newton Emergency Services Paramedic Supervisor Matt C. Smelser was killed in the line of duty when he was struck by a tractor-trailer while responding to a crash scene in western Pennsylvania early Sunday morning.
In a Rapid Response, EMS1 Editor-in-Chief Greg Friese notes roadway incidents are a hot zone for EMS, and shares a number of resources for traffic incident management and roadside safety training to put time, distance and shielding into practice to limit the risk to first responders.
Our thoughts are with Smelser’s family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.
By Laura French
ROSTRAVER TOWNSHIP, Pa. — First responders and officials throughout Pennsylvania and the nation are paying tribute Rostraver West Newton Paramedic Supervisor Matthew Smelser, who was killed in the line of duty Sunday.
Funeral services for Smelser, who was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer while responding to a crash scene, will be held Friday morning, with an EMS memorial service scheduled for Thursday night according to Rostraver West Newton Emergency Services. A viewing was scheduled for Wednesday night.
Community members have also gathered at a makeshift memorial set up by Smelser’s colleagues outside a local ambulance station, and shared memories about the 24-year EMS veteran, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
“He was already supervisor here when I came to work here in 1996, and he was only in his 20s,” said Paramedic Greg Cominsky, who had instructed Smelser as a 14-year old in a youth emergency medical explorer course at another service. “If you were sick or down and needed treatment, Matt was the face you wanted to see.”
Cominsky said Smelser was “dedicated” and a “perfectionist,” and that he could tell when he first met him that he would fit into the EMS service.
Smelser eventually became an instructor himself and is remembered as a valuable mentor to other first responders.
“Both my son and daughter are paramedics, and they always told me how awesome Matt was,” said Kathy Weaver, as she visited the ambulance station memorial that bears Smelser’s photograph, ballistic vest and service jacket. “When he instructed them, he watched over them and let them do everything so they would learn to do it themselves when they are out on calls. He will definitely be missed by the entire community.”
Mon Valley Hospital thank you for your support.Posted by Rostraver West Newton Emergency Services on Wednesday, January 8, 2020
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered commonwealth flags to be flown at half-staff Monday in honor of the fallen paramedic.
“Matthew Smelser’s death is a tragic reminder of the risk taken by emergency personnel across the state each day to rescue Pennsylvanians in distress,” Wolf said. “We need to do our part to exercise caution while traveling, especially during winter weather or when approaching the scene of an accident.”
Officials say icy roads may have been a factor in the crash that killed Smelser, which remains under investigation.
Smelser has also received tributes from outside of the state. The Honor Network Co-Founder and President Chris Heisler and the U.S. Honor Flag will be traveling to Rostraver to pay respects, according to a news release by the organization. Heisler, who was gifted an American flag for his philanthropic efforts after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, travels across the world with the flag to honor first responders.