Mississippi Firefighter Dies From Injury

Updated: 02-08-2006 06:12:28 PM

Firehouse.Com News

The sudden death of a Mississippi firefighter has left a void in an area still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Gary W. Kistler Sr., 65, a career firefighter with Saucier Fire Department, died Sunday, six days after he cut the tip of his finger at a wreck. The cause of death has been listed as septic infection, said Harrison County Fire Marshal George Mixon.

Kistler suffered the tiny cut during the extrication of a crash victim. "It was noted on the report. But, it was a really small scratch."

Mixon said the following day Kistler started feeling ill, and went to the doctor on Wednesday. "He was given pain medication because he said his back hurt. They also told him to do light duty for three days."

Kistler used the time to catch up on paperwork at the station where he was one of two paid daytime firefighters. "We sat around and drank coffee and talked."

On Sunday, Kistler collapsed at his home and was rushed to the hospital. He went into cardiac arrest in the emergency room. "Doctors said he was filled with septic infection," Mixon said. "We just can't believe it. How do you die from a cut finger. Everyone in the fire service has had a cut..."

Kistler, who also volunteered at the Saucier Fire Company, had more than 30 years of experience. "I would call him a fireman's fireman. He was there day and night. It didn't matter, he would come to help."

The grandfather had a special way with children, and loved showing them through the fire safety house. "That was his passion, teaching kids."

The viewing will be held his fire station at 10 a.m. Saturday. Services will begin at 11 a.m.

Mixon said the community that was nearly wiped out by Katrina has been dealt another blow, and he wonders just how much more they will have to endure.