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Firefighter receives warm welcome home

By Staff | Jul 1, 2011

Returning home from a Washington, D.C.-area burn center in the very fire engine he stepped foot on last week before he was injured in a house fire, 27-year-old Shepherdstown Volunteer Firefighter Daryn Dymond received a hero’s welcome Monday as he returned to the fire department he calls home.

As he stepped out of Rescue Engine 3, Dymond was greeted by cheers and hugs from family, friends and fellow members of the fire department who had gathered to await his return home after he was unexpectedly released early from MedStar Health’s Washington Hospital Center Monday.

“It’s really good to be back home with all my friends here. I just can’t wait to heal up the rest of the way and get back on the units serving the community,” Dymond told reporters.

Dymond sustained burn-related injuries to his legs last Monday after a floor collapsed inside a home at 160 Ole Barn Road in the Fox Glen subdivision. Dymond and fellow firefighter Andrew Arnold were performing fire suppression duties and searching the residence to make sure no one was inside when the floor collapsed beneath Dymond.

As flames shot up from the hole in the collapsed floor, Arnold quickly helped pull Dymond from the hole and pushed him through a nearby window where help was awaiting outside. Dymond was initially taken to Winchester Medical Center before later being transported to a burn unit at MedStar Health’s Washington Medical Center, where he had been recovering since last Wednesday.

“It’s really good to have all these brothers and sisters in the fire company be out here to support me and help me get better the rest of the way, so I can get back on the pieces and go back out and help,” Dymond said.

While he has been released from the hospital, it’s expected to take at least another six weeks of recovery before Dymond can return to his firefighting duties. He already has made a remarkable recovery, evident from his early release. As late as Sunday doctors expected he might have to undergo surgery, but when they removed his bandages Monday they were surprised how well he had begun to heal from his wounds.

Among those who gathered at the Shepherdstown fire station to greet him was his mother and father, who traveled from their home in Illinois to be by their son’s bedside in the hospital after they received word he had been injured.

“This is pretty unbelievable. It’s a very nice show of support and tells you exactly what firefighters are all about,” Dymond’s father, Tom, said as he held back tears at the sight of the show of support for his son. “He’s in good hands with his people here that rescued him and took care of him. They are an excellent group of people here.”

Dymond’s mother, Judith, said it was reassuring that so many cared about her son and gathered to welcome him home on such short notice.

“I couldn’t believe it. First of all, none of us knew that he was going to go home today. It was great news that he was going to be going home today, and the show of support – my gosh, we are only talking a couple of hours and everybody was on top of this. This show of support is absolutely wonderful.”

Dymond’s brother, Devon, who lives in Washington, D.C., also was there to see his brother return home.

“I think it’s great, the community support. The fire department has definitely been supportive of him all the steps of the way, so it’s encouraging,” he said. “You never want to get that call, but obviously this is the type of work he does. I came to the hospital right away, and you have to be as supportive as you can be.”

The support showed by the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department wasn’t simply relegated to Monday’s welcome-home celebration. Since the day he was hospitalized, a number of department members had been at Dymond’s side 24 hours a day, seven days a week while he recovered. The only exception was one night when overnight visitors weren’t allowed. One of the department’s own ambulances and crew also personally transported Dymond when he was transferred from Winchester Medical Center to the Washington Hospital Center. The support came not only from his fellow local firefighters, but firefighters who Dymond had never even met before. Several Washington, D.C.-area firefighters visited him while he was recovering in the hospital, even bringing him some of their famous barbecue.

“It’s a brotherhood no matter where you are. Those guys never met me before. That was really cool. Firefighting is the same no matter where you are. I’m just really happy to be home and to be with my family and friends,” Dymond said.

The man who helped rescue him during last Monday’s fire said it was particularly special to see Dymond return home on the same engine he had last stepped foot on.

“It might have been a week late, but he came home on that engine, so it’s pretty nice,” Arnold said. “That was the engine he responded in, and that’s what he eventually came home in.”

He also said Dymond’s example should show the community that firefighters will do whatever they can to rescue anyone from a burning home.

“I think the message to … the Shepherdstown community is if they are trapped in a fire, we are coming in for you. That’s the important thing for the public to know. We are going to do what it takes,” Arnold said.