Two firefighters who were injured in an incident in Blockville in November continue to face a slow recovery from their injuries.
Adam Kester and David Dole of the Panama Fire Department were both injured on Nov. 10 at a barn fire at 5384 Route 474, which is at the intersection with Open Meadows Road.
According to Vernon Sheldon Jr., Panama assistant fire chief, the two men were manning a handline when a 14-inch, 31-foot-long piece of well casing that was used as a chimney dislodged from the building, hitting them. Sheldon said the men were taken directly to Hamot Medical Center in Erie from the scene in ambulances.
Dole is a 19-year veteran of the Panama Fire Department, and Kester has spent 11 years in the volunteer fire service, he said. Both men are currently undergoing rehabilitation at HeathSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Erie, said Kendra Sheldon, wife of Vernon Sheldon.
Both men will be spending their Christmas holiday in the hospital, continuing their road to recovery.
According to Mrs. Sheldon, on Dec. 2, Dole was found to have back injuries on top of the injuries of which doctors were aware.
He was scheduled to be released on Dec. 9, but this date has been pushed back due to this discovery.
"They found two compression fractures in the thoracic area," she said. "They have him now in another brace."
She said Dole was up in a wheelchair doing extensive therapy.
"Every time they turn around they are finding more injuries," she said.
Adam Kester spoke to The Post-Journal about his injuries and how he plans to continue with the fire department.
He said he had two vertebrae which were crushed and others broken. Doctors ended up fusing many of the vertebrae together. So far, Kester has undergone two surgeries, saying that while his rehabilitation is a slow process, "it is going good."
"I am getting a little more movement back as the weeks go by, slowly improving," Kester said. "Right now I am working on core control, sitting up on the edge of a bed, keeping my own balance so I can do stuff sitting on the edge of a bed or a chair."
He said he is unable to do any leg rehab until the beginning on January.
"I am getting more motor functions back in the legs," he said. "One leg is doing much better than the other, with 15 percent movement in one and 3 percent in the other. It is coming back slowly."
He said when he makes a full recovery, he will rejoin his fellow firefighters in the fire company.
Sheldon also reported that another man was injured that night fighting the fire. Jeff Ireland suffered a shoulder injury for which he will have to have surgery, he said.
"We also had another guy injured that night about the same time the pipe issue took place," he said. "He was responding to the back of the building and he fell and tore his shoulder. It's kind of sad because any injury is important to us, the leaders and the chief, but you kind of overlook it when you have two severe injuries like we encountered that night. Everybody is talking about those two guys and he is hurting too, you know. It just wasn't as severe - thank goodness."
Mrs. Sheldon said the fire company and community is planning a benefit for the two men. A date has yet to be set, but plans are slated for January. She said benefit organizers are looking for bands who would like to donate their time in order to help the two men.
Meanwhile, another benefit will be held starting at 4:30 p.m. Monday at the Chautauqua Lake Auction Center and Banquet Facility, the former Ashville Fire Department Training Center, 2118 Magnolia Ave., Ashville. The event will include a benefit dinner and auction.
Sheldon also said the Media One radio station is collecting Christmas cards which will be collected at the station, 2 Orchard Road, Jamestown, and distributed to local firefighters.
"The are looking for community support on that for our local heroes," he said. "They are receiving the cards there to get them out to firefighters in the area."
An anonymous donation was also given to the Panama Fire Department by a woman who was donating the money to buy four new helmets for the firefighters, which cost $550 each, he said.
"She wanted to buy these helmets like the one guy was wearing because she believes that is what saved him," he said. "They are old traditional-style helmets made of fiberglass with leather of the top," he said.
Mrs. Sheldon said anyone interested in donating time, services or money to the benefits can contact David Hinderer at 763-7494 or Tom Newton at 782-4953 to coordinate with the fire department.