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Volunteer firefighter hurt at wreck scene

Lee Bradford knew there were dangers to being a volunteerfirefighter and accepted those risks, but he hoped they would neveroccur.

Those hopes were dashed earlier this week when he lost at leasttwo fingers while helping rescue three people trapped in a car.

Bradford, a firefighter with the Wesson Volunteer FireDepartment, was injured Sunday after responding to an accident onI-55 at the Wesson exit. Three men returning from Mardi Gras lostcontrol of their vehicle and left the interstate. All three werepinned in the wreckage, according to Earnestine Conn, Bradford’sgrandmother.

Bradford was using the Jaws of Life to free the men. As heworked to free the last one, he lost control of the life-savingequipment and it sheared the ring and middle fingers of his righthand.

“It got all five fingers to an extent,” Conn said. “The othershad severe lacerations and were barely holding on.”

An ambulance, which was already on the scene for the car crash,kept him alive and transferred him to the hospital, Conn said.

“Because the ambulance was there, they may be able to save hisfingers,” she said. “The doctors still don’t know.”

The fingers were reattached, but such operations are alwaysquestionable, Conn said.

Bradford underwent a surgical evaluation Wednesday to determineif his body would accept the reattachment, but results were notimmediately available.

Speaking briefly Wednesday through a haze of pain and medicationfrom his hospital room at University Medical Center in Jackson,Bradford questioned his future.

Bradford, 25, is employed with Dixie Packaging in Summit, Connsaid, and the injury could affect his ability to do his job.

To make matters worse, Bradford and his wife are expecting theirfirst child. His wife will miss work with the pregnancy, and thecouple will have to provide for a child without either of themworking until she can return to her job, Conn said.

“I don’t have time to deal with all that right now,” Bradfordsaid, referring to the personal issues he must confront oncereleased from the hospital. “I have to deal with this first.”

Volunteer firefighters are bonded and have insurance through thecounty, but Bradford said he has not discussed his situation withofficials yet.

The family is taking one crisis at a time, and their firstpriority is to get Bradford well and released from the hospital,Conn said. The rest can come later.