PANAMA - Two firefighters who were injured in an incident Thursday have been taken out of intensive care, but still have a long road to recovery, officials said Monday.
Veteran firefighters David Dole and Adam Kester are currently at Hamot Medical Center in Erie and both have undergone extensive surgeries for their injuries.
The incident happened Thursday when firefighters were dispatched to a barn fire on Route 474 near Blockville around 1:25 a.m.
Two Panama Fire Department firefighters were injured while fighting a fire in the garage shown.
P-J photo by Andrew Carr
A well casing used as a chimney which collapsed and injured two Panama firefighters is shown.
P-J Photo by Andrew Carr.
The address of the incident was 5384 Route 474, which is at the intersection with Open Meadows Road.
According to Assistant Fire Chief Vernon Sheldon Jr., of the Panama Fire Department, the two men were manning a handline when they were injured.
"The two firefighters were manning a 1 handline, when they proceeded around the back of the building for a fire attack," he said.
The two were injured when a piece of the building came loose and struck them.
"A 14-inch, 31-foot-long piece of a well casing used as a chimney dislodged from the building, striking the two firefighters," he said.
Both men were hit by the pipe, causing injuries.
"It glanced off David Dole, crushing his shoulder, causing rib injuries, a broken compound fracture to his lower left leg, and then striking Adam Kester in the back, breaking vertebrates and compression fractures," he said.
Both Dole and Kester have undergone extensive surgeries for their injuries, he said.
"They both have undergone various intensive surgeries and are waiting on more surgeries," he said.
Sheldon said the men were taken directly to Hamot from the scene in ambulances.
"We transported them by ambulance because we were unable to fly them due to weather conditions," he said.
Once at the hospital, both men began their long road to recovery, he said.
"They both have been moved from intensive care, but I'm not saying they might not go back there after surgeries, but I spoke to both of the men yesterday," he said. "They are still undergoing more surgeries and it is going to be quite a lengthy process."
Both men were part of the volunteer fire company to help people, he said.
Dole, a 19-year veteran of the Panama Fire Department, and Kester, who has spent 11 years in the volunteer fire service both had day jobs on top of their duties as firefighters, he said.
"The men, they both had their everyday activities and lives, their jobs they fulfilled every day and they had done this volunteer thing on the side," he said.
The fire department is asking for help from the community in helping defer costs for the men's medical treatments.
Anyone interested in donating to help the men's medical care can forward the donations to the Panama Fire Company, P.O. Box 57, Panama, NY 14767.
Sheldon also said that anyone interested in setting up fundraisers for the men can contact David Hinderer at 763-7494 or Tom Newton at 782-4953 to coordinate with the fire department.
A post-incident meeting, called a diffusing meeting, was held after the incident Thursday night, said Sheldon.
The purpose of the meeting is, "for people to relieve their stress and concerns and come together as a team to talk things over," he said.
These meetings are held by the county's Critical Incident Stress Management Team.