An on-call firefighter who had to leave the Service after a horrific injury to his hand has re-joined his station at Tiverton following seven years of surgery and rehabilitation.
Anthony Seward had four fingertips on his left hand amputated after it was crushed in an industrial mangle while he was working in a factory. Surgeons sewed the hand into his abdomen to help it heal and performed multiple operations to save as much of the hand as possible.
He had lost the skin and tissue down to the bone and tendons in his hand. After the hand had been secured in his abdominal wall for three weeks, the fingers had to be separated and then reconstructed in a series of operations.
Following the incident in 2016, Anthony left the Service due to the loss of grip strength and dexterity in his hand, after only serving in his dream job as a firefighter for a year and was not expecting to be able to return.
“It was really upsetting having to admit that it’s not going to happen again,” he said.
He went to university in Birmingham to study strength and conditioning for a new career in sports management when he passed the grip test – the entry requirement he had most struggled to reach - while on his course.
He reapplied to join as an on-call firefighter and after completing his initial training courses has been out on his first ‘shout.’
Anthony, now aged 27, said: “I wouldn’t be in this position without the NHS, ambulance, air ambulance staff and surgeons. It wasn’t going to grow back but it’s come as far as it can. It was scary at the time, but it has healed up and I can use it now so hopefully I can do some good from it.
“I’m as excited as I could be, it’s such a relief that I’m back in and operational. It feels as good as I was expecting, especially as I never thought I’d get the chance again. It is the best job in the world, the chance to help people on the worst day of their life.
“The station has welcomed me back with open arms. On the plus side, I can’t carry more than two drinks in the pub!”
Station Manager Dominic Mallett said: “Anthony has worked hard in collaboration with the training team at the Service to adapt his training techniques to allow him to fulfil a full operational roll. It is testament to his grit and determination for him to be able to return after such a significant injury.
“At Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, we pride ourselves on providing a diverse workplace. There are many roles (both support and operational) in the organisation that can be completed by people with a disability.”