LANHAM, Md. — Lt. Ryan Emmons, a 30-year-old volunteer with the Prince George's County Fire Department, sustained the worst injury of the four firefighters riding in a apparatus that was hit from behind by a tractor-trailer and flipped on its side. His arm had been severed at the elbow.
Thanks in part to rescue workers who quickly packed the arm in ice and to a renowned surgeon, Lt. Emmons' may regain use of that arm.
Dr. James Higgins, head of the hand institute at MedStar Union Memorial hospital, performed the surgery. He was one of 16 surgeons who recently performed a double-limb transplant on a war veteran.
Dr. James told local media that the next 72 hours will be the most critical for Lt. Emmons, who had veins removed from his leg to rebuild the veins his arm.
Lt. Emmons is an 8-year veteran who had just been promoted last weekend. The other firefighters in the rig were Lt. Jack Lesqure, 24, Lt. Michael Simmons, 29, and Firefighter George Hirsch, 22. All four are volunteers.
The crash occurred around 3 a.m. Wednesday when the PGFD rig was leaving a minor vehicle incident on an interstate. The apparatus made a U-turn at an emergency crossover and was struck from behind by the semi. The impact pushed the apparatus into an SUV and flipped both vehicles on their sides.
Police told local media that the semi driver was the "favored driver" but did not elaborate on if that meant the apparatus driver was then at fault in the collision. Favored driver typically means that person had the right of way, but police are still investigating the collision. Police said the apparatus did not use lights and sirens during the U-turn