September 07, 2022 7 Comments
Firefighters are trained to race toward the most dangerous situations to help others.
Then sometimes, the most dangerous situations of their lives find them in the quietest moments.
Brian Schmitt, a firefighter with more than two decades of experience, was at his home in New Jersey on a Tuesday evening like any other — June 21, 2021 — when he suffered a stroke. He was rushed to a nearby medical center and then flown to another. He continued to suffer strokes well into the next morning.
Later, his brain began to swell, requiring a portion of his skull to be removed. He developed pneumonia and a blood clot. Things looked dark.
But Brian Schmitt is a fighter.
More than a year later, he’s still fighting. He’s making great progress. Against the odds, he’s got his sights set on returning to the fire service.
The Fire Dept. Coffee Foundation is absolutely honored to donate $3,000 to the New Jersey Firefighter Mutual Benevolent Association to help support Brian as he continues his courageous recovery.
Brian was born and raised in Union, New Jersey, married his high school sweetheart and together they have two sons.
Brian began as a volunteer firefighter in Springfield Township in 1999 before becoming a professional firefighter in 2004. In 2012, Brian and his captain each received valor awards after delivering a baby in a taxi.
“This is what we’re here to do,” Brian said at the time.
In 2014, Brian transferred to the Union Fire Department to serve the community where he was raised. For seven years, he served Union with pride, earning the respect of his peers along the way.
Now it’s that same community that is supporting him, lifting him up and encouraging him as he recovers from the serious strokes.
Brian’s strokes occurred in the left side of his brain, which in turn impacted the right side of his body — his dominant side — and affected his speech. He spent three weeks in intensive care before being released to JFK University Medical Center’s Brain Trauma Unit, where he began a five-day-a-week regimen of intense physical, occupational and speech therapy.
He made slow but steady progress, and by August he returned home and continued his rehabilitation regiment.
In January, he underwent successful cranioplasty and a prosthetic piece was inserted to replace the missing portion of his skull.
Today, Brian continues to make great strides in his recovery. The road remains long and difficult, but he has the incredible support of his family, friends, fellow firefighters and the greater Union community.
Brian has set a goal to return to the fire service, and he is relentless in that pursuit. If anyone can do it, Brian can do it.
This donation from the Fire Dept. Coffee Foundation is made in honor of his service, dedication and his extraordinary tenacity on the road to recovery.
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