VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — First responders are helping one of their own after he was seriously injured in an accident.
Dustin Rice is a firefighter for Virginia Beach.
Two weeks ago, he was trimming branches in his front yard.
“The ladder rocked and I lost my balance. I lept off and crushed both of my legs,” he said.
Rice went to the hospital, where he had three surgeries. It left him in a wheelchair.
After his fall, other firefighters showed up to help in different ways.
They installed a ramp to his front door and on Wednesday crews put in a new roof, which Rice wanted to eventually do.
His fellow firefighter and friend, Alex Lane, says “that’s just what firefighters do.”
Even firefighters from other departments showed up to help.
Eric Matthews is a fire captain with Suffolk. When he was contacted to help, Matthews knew right away he could put his roofing business to use.
“I had the means to help,” Matthews said. But it’s not just about putting in a new ramp or a new roof. It’s about showing up and showing support for the long road ahead for Rice and his family.
Rice says he’s lucky and grateful to work for a great fire department. “They’re always there no matter who’s in trouble. I’m usually on the other side of who’s helping, I’m trying to be humble and get used to it, but it’s amazing.”
His doctors expect his recovery to be about 12 months before he can return to the job.
That’s a year out of work. His fellow firefighters say they’ll continue to be there for him to help support his family.