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Video: Oklahoma City fire, police chiefs want rookies to learn from 1995 bombing

Fire Chief Richard Kelley performed rescue and recovery operations, and Police Chief Wade Gourley served as an honor guard for many victims’ funerals


Photo/Oklahoma City Fire Department

By Leila Merrill

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City Fire Chief Richard Kelley was 24 years old, and Oklahoma City Police Chief Wade Gourley was 26 years old when they both responded to the bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Now they both try to make sure that new recruits know what happened 27 years ago in the attack that killed 168, KOCO reported.

“It wasn’t just a rescue and recovery, it was an investigation,” Kelley said.

“The whole thing was a crime scene so everything that came out of there had to be sifted through and looked at for any potential evidence,” Gourley said.

Kelley worked on search and recovery.

Gourley had just returned from paternity leave. He spent that day patrolling other parts of the city and also helped secure the scene. He would also serve as an honor guard.

To cope with the trauma, both men have worked on their own mental and physical health.

“I’d love to say that I walked away, and I was able to manage that situation and that horrific incident right away, but I think it’s an evolution. I think the most important thing for me was I had to deal with it and I had to go see a counselor and 20 years later,” Kelley said.

Gourley said he appreciates how things have changed.

“We have so much better resources that are available to us and it’s so much more accepted to seek help and to tell yourself I’m having a little issue,” he said.

“These new people that are coming in today they’re the future leaders of the department. We want to make sure they carry that on, and nobody ever forgets what we did here that day,” Gourley said.