Long Island News

Firefighter attends blood drive for injured comrade

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A firefighter who was injured while battling a blaze in Brooklyn, attended a blood drive for his severely burned fellow firefighter in Ronkonkoma.

He's spent a little time at the Terryville Fire Department.

Eyewitness News caught up with him at blood drive where he spoke about the fire in Brooklyn that injured him and a fellow firefighter, and the help his friend still needs.

"I'm doing good, everything is healing. The burn center took great care of me," said Jim Gersbeck, an injured firefighter.

To look at Jim Gersbeck, you see only a few of the burns he suffered while battling what began as a typical apartment fire in Crown Heights last month.

With Rescue 2, his job along with Robert Wiedmann was to search for anyone trapped.

"Like the perfect storm a couple of things go the wrong way and it just lit up on us," Gersbeck said.

They had no other choice, but to get out.

"I got out of the room and rolled off the landing onto the steps and then tumbled down the stairs with the help of some guys and got myself out," Gersbeck said.

But then, he looked back up to the second floor for fellow firefighter Robert Wiedmann.

Fighting through a wall of flames, Wiedmann, with his turnout gear on fire, is pulled onto an extended ladder.

Another firefighter desperately tried to smother the flames chewing through his clothing.

The dramatic rescue was caught on a cell phone as the raging inferno engulfed the second floor apartment.

"We got a mayday right now, 10-4. We need EMS forth with. 10-4. Units responding into the second alarm box 920, be advised be have a mayday at this time," the radio said.

Wiedmann was burned over 50% of his body and was rushed to the hospital.

"I hate to say for what he has, it could have been a lot worse. But he was calm and he knew what he had to do, and he did it," Gersbeck said.

Few people are allowed to see Robert, but Jim did.

"He has a long road," Gersbeck said.

Robert Wiedmann's burns are far more severe and he is in need of O-negative blood for what is expected to be a long recovery.

Fellow firefighters have been donating at blood drives like the one run by the New York Blood Center.

"If there is a blood drive in your area, give blood," Gersbeck said, "We want to make sure he has everything he needs to get better."

What Jim really thinks he needs:

"To go back to work. As soon as they put me to full duty I'll go back to work," Gersbeck said.

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long island, firefighter injured, long island news, tim fleischer
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