The true story of one Sacramento Firefighter’s sacrifice and his road to recovery.
Upon entering his first house fire, the entryway floor collapsed beneath the weight of firefighter Alex Galang. The fall of over seven feet sent him to his back on the dark basement floor below.
Recognizing how deadly a situation he was in, Alex knew he had to act fast. Reaching for the floor joists, he attempted to climb to safety on his own. In the struggle, he lost both gloves, while his hands, arms, head, and calves started to burn. As his life flashed before his eyes, he kept focused on one thing: getting back to his wife, Tina.
Another firefighter fell into the basement soon after. After calling a mayday out over the radio, Alex crouched down to boost his friend to safety. The pain from the burns was excruciating as I stood in that hot basement, recalls Alex.
But Alex’s ordeal didn’t end here. First, the rescue ladder lost its footing, crashing Alex to the floor yet again. Next, the unintended blast of a firehose struck him in the head. Devastated, tired, in pain, and out of breath, his oxygen mask was now filling with water.
Support crews moved quickly, as a second ladder arrived alongside shouts of encouragement. With only 90 seconds of air in his respirator left to breathe, the crew above pulled Alex free. The injured firefighter was immediately taken to UC Davis Medical Center.
Alex suffered second and third degree burns to his head, hands, arms and legs. A three-week stay in the Firefighters Burn Institute Regional Burn Center was necessary. His care program ranged from skin grafts to rehabilitative therapies and emotional care. Alex attributes his recovery to the hard work and compassion of (those) at the Burn Center, the Firefighters Burn Institute, and Sacramento City Fire Department. From the hospital stay, to the emotional support, I felt my injuries were completely taken care of. Alex notes that the encouragement of and connection with the burn community played a vital role in his recovery.
Now back to full duty as a Firefighter/Paramedic with the Sacramento Fire Department, Alex continues to push himself to grow. In many ways, he finds, my mental health recovery is far more complex than my physical burns. Managing anxiety and symptoms of my PTSD will always be a part of my life.
The community continues to help Alex learn to live with this new ‘normal.’ Recently attending the Phoenix Society’s World Burn Congress was an important step. There, he met many inspiring burn survivors, and shared his own first-hand experience to inspire others. All in all, the FFBI played a huge role in my recovery and continues to support me in my journey as a burn survivor. I am forever thankful for the FFBI!
FFBI is incredibly proud of the role we play in improving the lives of burn survivors and the community at large but…
We can’t do it alone!
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If you would like to help out and get more involved please contact us, we would love to hear from you!
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But despite the normal signs of the season coming to an end, I’m reminded each time I step outside into the heat that it’s far from over.
Consider this: there are over a dozen active fires in California right now that continue to burn in part because it is summer. Nearly 40 firefighters from our neighborhood firehouses are assisting local, state and federal firefighters in the battle to extinguish these fires. They are on hose lines as part of “strike teams.” They are bringing skills to management teams holding positions likes Deputy Incident Commander, Fireline paramedic, Public Information Officer, Safety Officer, Resource and Facility Unit Leader and Task Force Leader. All of these are highly skilled positions that can be dangerous ones as well.
Your FFBI’s Response Team, staffed by firefighters volunteering their time, is put in place to assist the firefighters, their families, their department, union, association and medical staff when the dangerous nature of their job becomes an unfortunate event of a burn injury. The team has been at the FFBI Regional Burn Center at UC Davis seven times this year for our burn-injured firefighters. Four of the seven were battling the massive fires you have seen on the news, some have been in the burn unit for weeks, and all want to get back to protecting us. Summer is still not over for our firefighters.
All these firefighters are cut from the same cloth as their predecessors, the same firefighters that founded the FFBI. Every time I walk into my office located inside an antique firehouse, I am reminded of the fact that the FFBI – and ultimately the Firefighters Burn Institute Regional Burn Center at UCDMC – would not exist if it were not for the hard work and dedication of the firefighters and those who support them.
Nearly 45 years ago, after a horrific plane crash at Farrell’s Ice Cream, firefighters created the FFBI to ensure that our community, northern California and beyond, would be served by the best burn care on the planet. They rose to the challenge exactly like our local firefighters are doing today, to ensure we are safe and protected. Virtues that our FFBI volunteers from all walks of life have embraced as well. We all carry on the mission of our founder Cliff Haskell and the firefighters of years past.
Our firefighters are out there protecting us day and night. Summer will not be over for all us…
Executive Director, Firefighters Burn Institute
Retired Battalion Chief, Sacramento Metro Fire Department