National News

Friday, April 20, 2018

’I’m sorry, Chief,’ writes Mississippi firefighter who still can’t talk after motorcycle crash

Michael Guitreau is still in the ICU at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport one day after his motorcycle collided with a vehicle on his way to work. The 28-year-old firefighter and father of four was traveling south on Mississippi 603 near Kiln-Waveland Cutoff Road on Wednesday when he struck another vehicle. Guitreau spent much of Wednesday in surgery as doctors removed his ruptured spleen and worked on both of his legs, with more work still to be done. Bay St. Louis Fire Chief Monty Strong said Thursday afternoon Guitreau remains on a ventilator, although they're hopeful he'll be taken off the system after another surgery on his left leg Friday.
Sun Herald

Southwest hero, Texas firefighter Andrew Needum: ’I’m no different than any other firefighter’

Firefighter Andrew Needum, one of the heroes of ill-fated Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, brushed off accolades for his efforts Thursday, saying he is "no different than any other firefighter." Needum, surrounded by family members, spoke to reporters at his firehouse in Celina, Texas. He and real estate agent Tim McGinty drew national acclaim for pulling passenger Jennifer Riordan out of a smashed window during Tuesday's ordeal. Extensive efforts to revive Riordan failed, and she was the flight's lone fatality. Needum declined to detail the event. "Out of respect for her family, I am going to leave that alone," he said. "I am trained for emergency situations, and that is exactly what it was."
USA Today

Florida fire captain under internal investigation for fighting fire while off duty

A captain with Polk County Fire and Rescue is under internal investigation for fighting a house fire earlier this month in North Lakeland while he was off duty. A complaint has been filed against firefighter Jay Schwartz, who is also union president of the Polk County IAFF Local 3531, county officials said. “There are allegations against him working at a scene while he was off duty,” said Joe Halman, deputy county manager. “Once we get all the facts we’ll determine if there were any violations of policy.” Halman declined to release additional details about the investigation, citing its ongoing nature. Schwartz, who did not return a phone message, can be seen in a video provided to The Ledger fighting a house fire on West Daughtery Road on April 4. Schwartz, who isn’t wearing any protective gear, picks up a hose once the fire truck arrives and begins spraying a burning house at 704 W. Daughtery Road.
The Ledger

Former New York firefighter dies from heart attack while helping neighbor having heart attack

Robert Cordani had always been there for other people. Whether it was as a firefighter in Wurtsboro, an EMT for the Mamakating First Aid Squad, or a neighbor, friend or brother. “He was one of those neighbors or friends that if you needed something, 24 hours a day, he’s down there to help you,” said his brother, Art Cordani. When Robert Cordani died on Saturday, he was doing what he has his whole life: helping others. Cordani responded to a medical call for a neighbor suffering from cardiac arrest about 6 p.m. in Wurtsboro Hills and began to perform CPR before collapsing from a cardiac arrest of his own, according to a statement from Wurtsboro Fire Chief Richard Dunn.

Injured Alaska firefighter talks about overcoming fall from ladder

How tough is Anchorage firefighter Ben Schultz? That is what he says he found out over the last several months after a devastating fall from a ladder in June in Anchorage. "I'd say the biggest positive is that I've seen the worst part of my life and seeing how I can overcome that," Schultz said while recovering in Omaha, Nebraska. "With the Lord's help and family and friends and their support; and I go, okay, I can handle a lot and I'm looking forward to what the future's going to provide." Schultz sat down for a one-on-one interview with KTVA 11 last week in Omaha. KTVA visited Schultz at Quality Living Inc.'s rehabilitation campus, where he's undergoing therapy. During his stay, the firefighter has worked on firefighting and EMS training. He has also done plenty of cardio therapy, including swimming. He is in rehab between six and eight hours a day during the week.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Anger in Georgia county over firing of fire chief

The recent firing of Henry County’s fire chief, Nish Willis was met with almost unanimous disapproval from members of the public and multiple county commissioners at Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting. Willis was terminated on March 21 without a specific reason cited other than “end of appointment.” Henry County citizens, one by one, expressed their anger with the move, with many asking for a reason why the move was made. “I’ve known Chief Willis for nearly 30 years,” said Jim Joyner, one of several residents who expressed their disapproval. “She retired with an impeccable record from the city of Atlanta. She is knowledgeable and provides respected leadership. When she came to Henry County, I thought how fortunate it was to have someone like her as fire chief.” Joyner, a former county commissioner, challenged the Board of Commissioners to reverse the move. “The buck stops with you,” Joyner said. “Do what’s right, and straighten out this mess.”
Henry County Daily Herald

New York Firefighter-Paramedic Dies On Duty

A firefighter-paramedic with a volunteer fire company on New York's Long Island has died in the line of duty. According to a post on the Facebook page of the Greenlawn Fire Department, firefighter-paramedic Kent Stillwagon, 52, died while on duty early Tuesday morning. The department offered no specific details on the incident other than saying it happened around 1:27 a.m. "The Greenlawn Fire Department and the residents of our district lost one of the best, most experienced professionals we have," the post reads. "We ask for your prayers and support of the Stillwagon & GFD family during this difficult time."

Minnesota firefighters grapple with ’silent epidemic’

The nightmares still sometimes rouse Brian Cristofono from sleep. Even now, nearly two years after the last calls for help came in, ghosts from his days as a firefighter and paramedic are tough to shake. Babies he couldn’t save. Parents he struggled to comfort. Crash victims beyond reviving. “They leave scars,” said Cristofono, 42. “The job can really just be a dark look at life.” Traumas from his job — the one he dreamed of getting as a kid — led to a severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis, costing him his marriage and causing him to retire from the St. Paul Fire Department in 2017. During his 13 years on the job with various departments, he said three colleagues killed themselves. Twice, Cristofono put a gun to his own head.
Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

After hit-and-run, injured Massachusetts firefighter welcomed back

Onset firefighter Marc Granato lay unconsciousness in a raging storm, both boots knocked off his feet. Speeding away during the March 2 nor'easter was the person who struck the 25-year-old in a hit-and-run. Running toward Granato was Onset Fire Lt. Justin Harrington. He’d seen many similar crashes. They never ended well. “I honestly thought he was dead,” said Harrington. Granato survived. However, his right leg was shattered. Using crutches and wearing a brace, he climbed to the second floor of the Onset Fire Department Tuesday afternoon. There, lunch and a reunion with Harrington and Granato’s other brothers and sisters in the fire service were waiting. It was the first time many saw Granato since the crash, which left him with a titanium rod in his leg. The mood was joyful, in contrast from the days following Granato’s accident.
Village Soup - Wareham

Indiana fire chief helps battle blaze at his own home

It was a scary moment for a local fire chief when he found himself fighting a fire inside his own home early this morning. Several fire departments responded to the house fire on State Road 104 in La Porte County. No one was hurt, but the home is a total loss. We spoke to the fire chief for the Pleasant Township Volunteer Fire Department. He says even though he deals with this kind of thing all the time, it’s not a position he's ever been in before. It was around 2 a.m. central time. Kevin Bluhm and wife were fast asleep when their dog Harley started barking and smoke alarms started going off. Suddenly awake and seeing flames inside the house, Bluhm made sure his wife and pets got out before jumping into action as the Pleasant Township Fire Chief.

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