Firefighter injured on way to emergency

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Lincoln County volunteer firefighter and first responder is ingood condition at King’s Daughters Medical Center after he wasinjured Tuesday in an automobile accident en route to a call.

Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey saidTuesday that John Riggs, a first responder and firefighter with theHeuck’s Retreat Volunteer Fire Department, was injured respondingto a medical call in the area of Heuck’s Retreat Road and BeesonDrive.

“His accident occurred on Heuck’s where there’s construction atBeeson,” he said. “It was a single-vehicle accident, and he doeshave some injuries.”

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Galey said the injuries were serious enough to warrant at leastan overnight stay at KDMC, but that they were notlife-threatening.

Heuck’s Retreat Volunteer Fire Chief Jim Craig said Riggs hadsustained a compression fracture to the spine, though he said hewas not able to say with certainty to what section of thespine.

“With a compression-type fracture, there’s probably a longerhealing routine than with just a normal pinched nerve or somethinglike that,” Craig said. “I understand both airbags deployed on thevehicle, and we’re just lucky all it is is a compressionfracture.”

Craig said Riggs’ wife Julie was in the vehicle with him at thetime of the accident. However, she did not sustain any injuries andwas not transported to the hospital to his knowledge.

The area where Riggs’ accident occurred was in the part of thecounty recently damaged by tornadoes. As such there is a good bitof construction going on.

“The construction part goes from Beeson at Heuck’s all the wayaround to Haley Trail at Heuck’s, and parts of it are stilldrivable and others aren’t,” Craig said. “As a general rule we’vebeen avoiding that area, especially at night, because you don’tknow what parts are going to be passable.”

During the daytime, though, the old route is still being used alittle when it saves time for responders, Craig said.

“It’s much shorter to respond through there than to take thedetour, it takes another good six or seven minutes when you takethe detour,” he said.

Both Craig and Galey were unsure as to how long it will bebefore Riggs is back in action, and that time will tell as to howquickly his injuries heal.

“I would imagine that as with most back-type injuries, it’ssomething that takes a little while to heal itself,” Craig said. “Iwouldn’t look for him to be back for at least a few weeks.”