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November 27, 2017 10:06 PM

A Firefighter's Road To Recovery

Rapid City, SD

Whether a police officer, firefighter, or paramedic, first responders consider each other family. This is particularly true at the Rapid City Fire Department after one of their brothers was injured in a motorcycle crash. 

Ever since losing his lower right leg in February, Robert Rendon has had the goal of coming back to work full time. Now, Rendon has done just that, with the support of his work family.

As he drives the fire truck down the street, you probably wouldn't guess that Robert Rendon has only been back to work full time for two months.

"I went back to full duty October 1, which made it 7 1/2 months from the accident," Rendon said.

On February 14, Rendon was in a motorcycle crash that ended up taking his lower right leg. Now he has a prosthetic.

"I knew immediately when my brain kind of kicked in and saw the injury to my leg that I was probably going to lose my leg. I've seen a lot of accidents like this and that's typically the result of it, so I knew almost immediately that I was going to be losing my leg," Rendon said.

There was also no doubt in his mind that he'd eventually return to the job he loves.

"A lot of it was just keeping myself physically fit, there wasn't a whole lot of extra stuff that I had to do, other than learning how to do that on a fake leg. You lose a lot of sensitivity that you have with your feet touching the ground and stuff like that. And a lot of it was mental more than anything," Rendon said.

Josh Lange and Rendon have both been with the department for 10 years, in fact they were hired together, so having Rendon back is something Lange is glad to see.

"We've always been rooting him on since then. His goal from day one was he was going to come back to the floor and so now to see him back in operations is pretty awesome," Josh Lange said.

Before returning to work, Rendon had to pass physical tests to show he could still do everything.

"He came in, successfully passed those and did some other capacity drills, which is in gear and tests that he had to go through to ensure that he could come back and do the job, and he successfully went through all that," Lange said.

Along the road to recovery, Rendon is grateful for all the support. Support from near by.

"Had guys visiting me every day, from new firefighters, all the way up to our chief firefighters checking in with me to make sure I was doing good," Rendon said.

To far away.

"I had a lot of support from the firefighters and motorcycle clubs East River and around the country, I met a few other firefighters that had similar accidents with motorcycles and returned to full duty," Rendon said.

Even to this day.

"They're always checking in to make sure that I'm doing the right thing coming back as early as I have, and just to make sure I'm doing ok," Rendon said.

So whether out on scene, or even training, Rendon won't let his this life changing moment hold him back.

"I can get out there and do just as good of job as I did before, there are some challenges in regards to pain and being uncomfortable, but that's just something I'll learn to deal with," Rendon said. "But it was such a great day to get back to working with the ladies and gentlemen that I work with and get back to work."

And his family is glad to have him standing back with them.

"Now he's back on the floor and never skipped a beat," Lange said.

Rendon says his next goal is to eventually get into the training division and help teach younger firefighters that are coming onto the department.

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