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Thread: Buffalo Firefighter Succumbs To Injury

  1. #1
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    Buffalo Firefighter Succumbs To Injury

    Buffalo Firefighter Succumbs To Injury


    A former Buffalo firefighter has succumbed to injuries inflicted upon him while on-duty ten years ago. Donald Herbert, 45, passed away around 1:45 A.M. on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006.

    According to Dan O'Connor who serves as Secretary Treasurer of the Buffalo Professional Firefighters, the incident took place on December 29, 1995 when part of a roof fell upon the fellow union member at a house fire on Interpark Street in Buffalo. The segment pinned Herbert in a sitting position to the attic stairwell, leaving him without air for six to ten minutes

    Other firefighters eventually rescued Herbert, but the firefighter remained in a vegetative state for over nine years. In 2005, he woke up from the coma and made national news by speaking with his family and friends for the first time in years.

  2. #2
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002
    Firefighter Who Emerged From 10 Years of Silence Still Somewhat Lucid, but Not as Talkative

    Associated Press Writer

    BUFFALO, New York (AP) -- A brain-injured firefighter who started speaking after almost a decade of near-total silence has had moments of clarity since then but has not matched Saturday's startling progress, his wife said Wednesday.

    His doctor said the dramatic improvement came three months after his medication was changed.

    Don Herbert, who will turn 44 Saturday, went without oxygen for several minutes after being trapped under a collapsed roof while fighting a house fire in December 1995. He spent 2½ months in a coma and was left blind and with little, if any, memory.

    But last Saturday, he suddenly asked for his wife, Linda. And over the next 14 hours, until he fell asleep early Sunday morning, he chatted with her, his four sons and other family and friends, catching up on what he'd missed.

    ''He has had several infrequent moments of lucidity, which has given us much hope for further recovery,'' Linda Herbert said at a news conference at Erie County Medical Center. ''Although the subsequent periods of lucidity were not of the quality of Saturday, they were still of a degree which was considerably higher than before Saturday.''

    The family had said that Herbert, a father of four, was stunned that nearly a decade had passed. His youngest son was just 4 when the accident happened.

    Experts say such cases are so rare they don't have much to study, and note that news accounts usually leave out the details needed to evaluate possible causes. There have been a few other widely publicized examples of brain-damaged patients showing sudden improvement after a number of years, at least temporarily.

    At Wednesday's news conference, Dr. Jamil Ahmed said Herbert was put on new medication three months ago that he thought might take six months to be effective. When Ahmed examined him on Saturday, he could follow commands such as shaking his head, moving his hands and counting up to 200.

    ''I went to see him in the nursing home and I was so amazed,'' Ahmed said. ''I was so surprised that not only that he was talking but he was talking very sensibly. He was remembering his past, he just didn't realize how long he was asleep. ... He recognized people. His comments were very interesting and people were laughing.''

    Ahmed had no prediction on Herbert's future.

    ''He may fluctuate with the time, but the way he improved and woke up, we are hoping he will progress,'' he said.

    ''He was almost like in the persistent vegetative coma state, and suddenly this thing happened,'' Ahmed said.

    In 2003, an Arkansas man, Terry Wallis, returned to consciousness 19 years after he was injured in a car accident, stunning his mother by saying ''Mom'' and then asking for a Pepsi. His brain function has remained limited, his family said months later.

    Tennessee police officer Gary Dockery, who was brain damaged in a 1988 shooting, began speaking to his family one day in 1996, telling jokes and recounting annual winter camping trips. But after 18 hours, he never repeated the unbridled conversation of that day, though he remained more alert than he had been. He died the following year of a blood clot on his lung.

  3. #3
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002
    Herbert, Donald

    Age: 44
    Cause of Death: Caught or Trapped
    Rank: Firefighter
    Nature of Death: Other
    Classification: Career
    Emergency Duty: Yes

    Incident Date: 12/29/1995
    Duty Type: On-Scene Fire
    Incident Time: 06:14
    Activity Type: Advance Hose Lines/Fire Attack (includes Wildland)
    Death Date: 02/21/2006
    Fixed Prop. Use: Residential

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Name: Buffalo Fire Department
    195 Court Street
    Buffalo , New York 14202
    Chief: Commissioner Michael Lombardo

    Initial Summary:
    Firefighter Herbert was operating fire attack in the attic at a working residential structure fire, when a portion of the roof collapsed trapping him for a period of time. As a result of injuries sustained and a lack of oxygen, Herbert became comatose and remained in that condition until approximately one year ago when a level of consciousness returned, though he remained paralyzed in a wheel chair. Due to further complications of his injuries, Herbert's conditioned worsened and he died 02/21/2006.

    Memorial Fund Info:
    Any information regarding Memorial Fund will be posted on the union website at

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