Henry Costo was only 20 when he was sent to his first fatal fire.
He raced up to a third-floor apartment on Girard Avenue, where a teenage girl was reportedly trapped. He grabbed her feet, pulled her dead body closer, and realized something was wrong.
There were too many limbs.
Costo turned to his partner to share what he had found: two girls, hugging each other, realizing they would die.
But driving back home, Costo didn't feel a thing.
"I remember thinking, 'There must be something wrong with me. Am I that hardened?' "
Costo, now 58 and executive chief of health and safety at the Philadelphia Fire Department, spent years thinking about the unmet emotional needs of firefighters. On June 6, coincidentally the day after a four-story building collapsed on Market Street, Costo was among the first to implement a training program that teaches first responders how to identify and react to stress in their colleagues. The program, Stress First Aid, aims to prevent disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicide.