Firefighter saved from downed power line -- Follow-Up
TULARE, CA. -- Eight months after he was nearly electrocuted and sustained several third-degree burns while on duty, Tulare firefighter Luis Nevarez has returned to work. I am happy to be back at my home away from home," Nevarez said. Assigned to light duty, Nevarez, a 10-year firefighter, will split his time between fire prevention and fire suppression.
Nevarez will train with on-duty firefighters, practicing the duties he'll have to perform before he can return to full duty. Because of the injuries sustained in the January accident, Nevarez lost his left hand and sustained third-degree burns on his back, legs and the finger tips of his right hand. Some of the wounds are still healing, he said. Nevarez sustained the injuries when he inadvertently touched a downed power line.
Nevarez said he was called over by a resident because leaves on a tree were smoldering. Nevarez, who is right-handed, said he first reached with his right hand to break off a branch and then with his left to snap off another. The second branch was touching the power line, Nevarez said. "I didn't see it," he said. Nevarez was knocked down, still holding the power line, and his co-worker Mark Fernandes, instinctively, used his clipboard to knock the power line from Nevarez's hand. Nevarez said Fernandes saved his life. "To me, Mark is the hero," Nevarez said.
Burned in his memory Nevarez said he remembers everything about his accident. He remembers being put onto a carrying board paramedics brought out to carry him; he remembers telling a fellow firefighter to take him to Kaweah Delta Hospital; he remembers telling medical personnel to give him a 7-Up instead of medication; he remembers the pain he felt after touching the power line. Nevarez spent 33 days at University Medical Center burn unit in Fresno, undergoing several surgeries.
"Everybody has been real supportive," he said. "I want to thank everybody." Nevarez started his rehabilitation a few days after being released from the hospital and it still continues. First, he had to learn how to operate a prosthesis. Now, he is working to gain back strength and weight. He says he has tried to keep a positive attitude throughout his rehabilitation but there have been some hard times
We tip our hat to you Luis and wish you a speedy and full recovery