Emergency responders from several departments in Wyoming and Susquehanna counties showed up at the Factoryville fire hall on Saturday in a show of support for a fellow fighter in his battle against cancer.
Tom Tratthen, a firefighter with the Dunmore Fire Department, and local fire instructor, was diagnosed with colon cancer in June. To help offset the cost of his treatment, departments from Meshoppen, Laceyville, Factoryville, and United Fire Company held a spaghetti dinner on Saturday in Factoryville.
“We’re also holding a basket raffle,” explained EMT Stephanie Carney, who, along with Travis Prevost, helped organize the event.
Factoryville offered the use of its fire hall, which went into operation this past year.
“Brian Gow was also a big help in this,” Carney said about the assistant fire chief at Factoryville.
Another person who provided a great deal of support was Dillan Van Nostrand of United Fire Company from Montrose, she said.
Tratthen explained that he has Stage 4 Colon Cancer. Because the cancer has metastasized into his liver, Tratthen must rely on chemotherapy to combat the disease.
“I’m hanging in there. I don’t plan on going anywhere soon,” he said. “God willing the chemotherapy will work and I’ll be able to do this for someone else.”
For 15 years, Tratthen, who is from Olyphant, has served as a fire instructor for the State Fire Academy.
In that capacity, he has provided training to many firefighters throughout Wyoming and other counties.
“This is where I actually started teaching,” Tratthen said, referring to Factoryville. “These are a great bunch of guys. They’re really good friends.”
Tratthen has had to go on hiatus because of the chemotherapy treatment, but hopes to eventually return to teaching firefighters.
“To tell you the truth, I’m humbled,” Tratthen said about the spaghetti dinner being held on his behalf. “Even with the disease, I feel blessed. To see the support of my comrades and friends. Frankly, I think that northeast Pennsylvania has the best people on the planet. I’m totally overwhelmed by the support.”
Tratthen also said he is extremely grateful to everyone and thanked them for their efforts.
“Hopefully, I can pay it forward at some point,” he said.
The dining area at the Factoryville fire hall provided plenty of room for folks to eat. Room was something that was desperately needed at the company’s previous headquarters.
Although the new fire hall has been occupied for the past several months, Factoryville Fire Chief Kevin Howard said a grand opening has tentatively been scheduled for October.
“This is the first benefit we’ve had here,” Howard said.
He confirmed that the dining hall has been used for a gun raffle and other activities, and is available for public use.
Howard explained that when Gow learned about the event, he asked about the possibility of holding it at the Factoryville fire hall.
“We all want to help Tom, so when he approached us, we all gave it a thumbs up,” Howard explained. “It’s a good facility to have and it’s in a good location.”