On Sept. 4, the Denman Island Fire Rescue (DIFR) volunteers responded to the kind of call that hit close to home – a fellow firefighter had been seriously injured while working on his property.
Deputy Chief Rob Manering fell approximately 22 feet from a ladder while trimming trees in his yard and landed on his back, after hitting a fence.
“Our fire department responded to the call, as it does in these situations,” said Capt. Vali Majd on a social media post. “This time, though, responding to aid one of our own, found to be in a dire state. Never easy.”
Capt. Drew Erickson was one of the volunteers who responded to the call.
“The call came through dispatch. I responded from the firehall and as we responded, the fire chief, who was also responding, told us it was … somebody from the department,” said Erickson.
The full extent of Manering’s injuries were not known at the time of the call. Visually, it looked like his arms had taken the brunt of the fall.
“Rob had multiple breaks and compound fractures in his arms,” said Majd. “His right wrist was damaged badly, bones showing.”
“We knew [on scene] there was some [injuries] to the back, but we really didn’t know the extent of the back injuries,” said Erickson, adding that they tended to Manering accordingly, taking the relevant precautions.
He was rushed to the Comox Valley hospital, then transferred, twice, before having surgery.
Further scans revealed much more than the arm injuries. Mannering had broken his back in two places, fractured ribs, compressed disks and the scans also showed unstable vertebrae.
Leg issues and excruciating back pain led to further surgery for Manering, on Sept. 11.
“Today (Sept. 12) he walked for the first time in eight days, for a few feet,” said Majd.
The incident has shaken the entire DIFR team.
“As one of Rob’s captains and also a first responder, I’ve been with him on hundreds of calls over the years,” said Majd. “At any time of day or night, under any conditions, regardless of the nature of the call, he has always shown utmost selflessness. Time and time again, Rob has been there.”
“He is very well known, and very well liked in the community,” Majd added, in a phone conversation.
The DIFR team has initiated a gofundme page to help out the Manering family.
“Today it is our turn to be there for him and his family,” said Majd, on the page.
Manering, who has been a member of DIFR for 23 years, is known on Denman Island not only as the deputy fire chief, but also as a carpenter and master builder, by trade.
“Given the extent of his injuries, Rob has a daunting amount of recovery and rehabilitation to go through before ever being able to swing a hammer or climb a ladder again,” said Majd. “Although it is too early to speculate about actual recovery times for his extensive injuries, we suspect months and possibly even years.
“We are asking for help from our friends and communities to support Rob and his family over the next 12 months and to help cover basic needs while he recovers.”
The community has already responded in droves – not unusual for such a tight-knit community.
“We have roughly 30 firefighters in the department, so between all of us, we tend to know the residences we answer to, but we rarely go to the rescue of a firefighter,” said Majd.
On the first day, the gofundme page had amassed more than $16,000.
To contribute to the efforts, visit https://bit.ly/35ujtlT