By Caroline Sweeney
DCCC EMT instructor and Philadelphia firefighter Lt. Matthew LeTourneau, 42, died on Jan. 6, 2018 after battling a row home fire in North Philadelphia.
LeTourneau was trapped by debris when the building began to collapse in on him according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. LeTourneau was rescued and taken to Temple University Hospital, where he later died of multiple injuries.
LeTourneau began his firefighting career at a young age. As a student at Cardinal O’Hara High School he started volunteering at Springfield Fire Company. While continuing his career as a firefighter for Springfield, LeTourneau became an EMT and joined and the Philadelphia Fire Deparment.
“Matt’s passion for service and firefighting was all that I had ever really known, ” said Luke LeTourneau, Matt’s younger brother. “He joined the fire company at age 16 and never looked back.”
Lifelong friend of LeTourneau and Springfield firefighter Bill Lavery spoke of how fantastic LeTourneau was at his job.“Our fellow firefighters, myself included, felt encouraged and relieved when he was on a call with us,” Lavery said.
Luke LeTourneau also spoke with amazement at his brother’s passion for his work and firefighting. Luke LeTourneau said he would be a “bit jealous” when his brother talked about his work. He remembered Matt saying, “It isn’t work if you are doing something you love.”
“What you didn’t see a lot of in the press was Matt was also an EMT,” said Elaine Remington, director for DCCC Emergency Services Education. “It was one of his many passions, along with firefighting.”
Along with his firefighting and EMT work, LeTourneau was also an instructor at Delaware County Emergency Services Training Center, a volunteer for the Red Paw Emergency Relief Team, and supporter of the Second Alarmer’s Association and Rescue Squad.
DCCC’s EMT Education Coordinator Chris Millary, described LeTourneau as “supportive, knowledgeable, professional, and always willing to help his colleagues and students.”
“He had a passion for teaching, but also a passion for learning,” Millary added. “Even though he was an instructor he was always a student, wanting to learn and share what he learned.”
According to many who knew him, the loss of LeTourneau was devastating for those involved in the Emergency Services Education.
“He has been with us for 18 years. We knew him when he was just getting into emergency services,” Remington said. “At the end of every semester, I would receive glowing evaluations about him. Students saying how helpful and interactive he is in the classroom, how Matt would really listen to his students and go above and beyond for them. Replacing him is probably not possible.”
Bob Horton, a former EMT coordinator, said that LeTourneau’s impact stretched beyond the college and into the community.
Horton explained that LeTourneau is indirectly impacting young responders by passing on his knowledge and passion.
“The Emergency Services division will miss him, miss his expertise and miss his personality,” said Bruce Egan, Paramedic Education Coordinator.
LeTourneau’s funeral was held on Jan. 12 at the Cathedral Basilica of Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. Hundreds of people, including family, friends, colleagues, and supporters came out to offer their condolences.
The Philadelphia Flyers showed their condolences by having a moment of silence before their home game against the Buffalo Sabers on Jan. 7. The Phillies remembered LeTourneau by broadcasting a photo and message of condolence on their jumbotron outside of Citizens Bank Park.
“The impact Matt left us as a family, on the firefighting brotherhood and every community for which he has been apart, will be everlasting,” Luke LeTourneau said. “Matt is now where we want to be, a place that we want to be and [following] the way Matt lived his life will help us get there.”
Contact Caroline Sweeney at firstname.lastname@example.org. edu