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Thread: Injured Firefighter- California Blazes

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    Captain Doug McDonald --Critical Burns

    Captain Doug McDonald


    Captain Doug McDonald is currently hospitalized in critical condition in San Diego. He suffered burn injuries to 18 percent of his body, with respiratory burns, while fighting the Cedar Fire in San Diego County. He is expected to recover.

    Captain Doug McDonald, 48 years old, is a 17 year veteran of Novato Fire District. He began his career with the District as a Firefighter/Paramedic, and promoted to Engineer in 1996. He promoted to Captain in 1997 and serves as an Acting Battalion Chief.

    Captain McDonald led the District

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    Injured firefighter a hero to wife

    Injured firefighter a hero to wife


    But he wouldn't think so, she says

    By Cheryl Clark
    UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

    November 1, 2003

    Doug McDonald, the Novato fire captain recovering from burns suffered over 27 percent of his body after battling flames near a Wynola home, would not think he was a hero, his wife said yesterday.

    "He'd consider what he did part of his job," Maureen McDonald said. "He's always been aware of the risks."

    Her husband, 48, has been on a ventilator in the burn unit of UCSD Medical Center since Wednesday, when he and three other firefighters became trapped while fighting a wall of flames north of Julian.

    They had driven from their homes north of San Francisco just 24 hours earlier.

    One of them, Steve Rucker, 38, died in the blaze.

    As her husband recuperates, McDonald's wife of 19 years said she sits "in his room talking to him, telling him about the mundane things, like who's taking care of the dog and who's feeding the cat, who's called and who's stopped by. But since he's on a ventilator, he's not talking back."

    Their two children, Max, 15, and Christine, 13, are here, too.

    McDonald is expected to fully recover, but now he is heavily anesthetized because of the pain, said UCSD trauma director Dr. David Hoyt. Although McDonald has not been able to communicate, he may comprehend his situation.

    "We don't know for sure, but we encourage families to always talk to their loved ones," Hoyt said. "Probably he does hear some of it."

    Maureen McDonald said her husband's burns "are really painful, but the pain from the loss of a fellow firefighter, Steve Rucker, is the worst part."

    A critical-care nurse for 24 years who works at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Rosa, Maureen McDonald thinks her husband eventually will need a lot of help.

    "This is going to be a long haul," she said. "I don't think I'm aware of all the rehabilitation he's going to have to go through down the line."

    She said she has no regrets about his dangerous job.

    "After being married to Doug so long, each trip he made out of the county was a little easier. He always came back. And minor injuries he did get happened while he was working right in Novato. I got to the point where I stopped worrying.

    "This one kind of took me by surprise. But it's probably better that way. What's the point of worrying about something that hasn't happened yet?"

    Even though her husband wouldn't call himself a hero, Maureen thinks he is.

    "But so are all the men and women in the fire service who risk their lives every day," she said.

    Two other Novato firefighters working alongside Rucker and McDonald, Barrett Smith and Shawn Kreps, suffered smoke inhalation but are all right. They returned to Novato on Thursday.

    Hoyt said he expects McDonald to be at UCSD for at least two more weeks and that he will probably need surgeries. The extent of his injuries remains unclear.

    Meanwhile, Chula Vista firefighter Bill Nigh hurriedly organized a service to honor the four men yesterday at the Foothills Christian Fellowship Church across from the firefighter camp at Gillespie Field in El Cajon.

    More than 100 firefighters from Sacramento to Prescott, Ariz., attended.

    "Many of us never knew Steve Rucker," Nigh said. "Yet we did know him."

    Fire investigators yesterday were studying the area of Orchard Road where the firefighters were overtaken to determine how the firefighters became trapped.

    "They were down there protecting structures and the fire came upon them," said Alameda County Fire Capt. Randy Moore. "They were overrun."

    Rucker, an 11-year veteran, left a wife and two children. Funeral services have not been announced.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Cheryl Clark: (619) 542-4573; cheryl.clark@uniontrib.com


    Staff writers Michael Burge and Jose Luis Jimenez contributed to this report.

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/f...n1firemen.html

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