Deputy Chief Mike Hart has “been making slow steps forward” with his recovery, this brother Phil Hart tells PEOPLE
A deputy chief with the Belington Volunteer Fire Department sustained "severe injuries" Friday after he experienced a medical emergency while responding to a call
Phil Hart, who also works with the BVFD, said his brother has been working with the department for 50 years and teaches across the state and nation
Mike is eager to get back on a fire truck, according to both his brother and the fire department
A deputy fire chief is recovering at a hospital in West Virginia after he was involved in a crash while responding to an emergency last week.
Deputy Chief Mike Hart was traveling to a reported vehicle fire on Route 48 on Friday when he experienced a medical emergency that left him unconscious, according to the Belington Volunteer Fire Department.
Hart’s vehicle “accelerated off the roadway” after turning onto Serpell Avenue and striking a nearby tree head-on, leaving him heavily entrapped” in the wreckage.
The fire chief was pulled out by members of his own fire department before he was flown to J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital with “severe injuries,” the BVFD said.
Phil Hart, Mike’s brother, tells PEOPLE the deputy chief sustained a “very, very serious scalp injury” in the crash that resulted in a significant “loss of blood.” For a while, Mike’s survival “was touch and go.”
Mike promised not to give up as his recovery continues. His brother, who also worked with WVFD, says Mike is eager to return to the job he’s done for 50 years and is “not done riding” his department’s trucks just yet.
“I was glad to hear that he got something to work for,” Phil adds.
In addition to his 50 years with the volunteer fire department, Phil says Mike has also been “very active in teaching fire service classes and EMS classes” through public service training and the West Virginia University Fire Service extension.
The chief not only taught classes “across the state of West Virginia” but across the country as well.
Mike is no stranger to tragedies in the line of duty, either. In 2005, the chief’s only son “was killed in an automobile accident in the line of duty as a firefighter,” Phil says.
“I know for him and for the family to bring back bad memories,” he adds, “but to hear him wanting to continue to fight and move forward and do that … that's a pretty strong statement.”
Mike required “several units” of blood to replenish what he lost in the crash, Phil tells PEOPLE. He began to stabilize late Sunday evening and has since “been making slow steps forward” with his recovery.
The chief still continues to improve. On Wednesday, Mike was moved from the attentive care unit to a step down unit and recently “got up and took eight steps with the assistance of the walker and physical therapy,” according to his brother.
Once he's discharged from the trauma center, Phil says his brother will go “to a rehabilitation center” with the goal of gaining more strength and learning to walk so he can maintain “a good quality of life” moving forward.
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The BVFD also said Mike is looking forward to returning to the job he loves when he is finally healed. “He said I am not done riding fire trucks,” the department wrote Wednesday in an update on Facebook.
A GoFundMe campaign has been started in support of Mike and his family in the wake of the crash.
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