by Jake Strickbine

Oklahoma City firefighter, Ronald Vasquez II undergoing therapy during his stay at the hospital.

A firefighter injured battling recent firefighters took his next step toward full recovery today as he is discharged from Valir Rehabilitation Hospital in Oklahoma City.
Ronald Vasquez II, 21, was cheered by hospital staff and members of the Oklahoma City Fire Department as he left the hospital this morning.
“We are so proud to have been able to assist Mr. Vasquez on the road to recovery,” said Marni Leahy, Vice President, People and Culture at Valir Health. “He has a lot of work ahead of him, but he is highly motivated, works hard and remains determined to return to firefighting. We are excited to watch his continued progress toward that goal.”
Vasquez was all smiles as he left Valir Rehabilitation hospital and received a handshake from each Oklahoma City firefighter present.
“He got injured fighting the wildfires last month and like I said, for us, it is a privilege to be here, show him support, show him that we’re there for him and to honor him for the work that he did in serving Oklahoma,” said Capt. John Chenoweth, assistant public information officer for the Oklahoma City Fire Department and among those on hand to wish Vasquez well as he left the rehabilitation hospital.
Vasquez, who suffered a fractured pelvis in the accident several weeks ago, remains in a wheelchair as he is not yet able to put weight on his legs. When he first started therapy at Valir, Vasquez says he was surprised at how much strength he had lost in his muscles.
“I lifted my leg and put it back down and they just started quivering. And that’s something I’ve never had happen. It shocked me at first,” Vasquez said. “But they explained to me what it was and why it’s happening. And that’s just my goal – to try and get stronger every day now.”
He has done just that, working hard with the team at Valir Rehabilitation Hospital to build strength, especially in his upper body and core.
“Early on, we did a lot of mobility work bedside and then activities of daily living, like getting dressed again without putting weight through the legs. Lots of strength exercises. He’s going to have to have really strong shoulders to help him move without standing or pivoting just yet,” explained Rebecca Henry, OT, a member of Vasquez’s therapy team at Valir. “He’s been an absolute dream patient. He’s motivated and very focused on his goals. He’s going to push himself and he’s not going to give up.”
Vasquez, a firefighter with the Greenleaf Volunteer Fire Department in rural Oklahoma, was injured when the brush pumper on which he was riding collided with a tanker in hazy, smokey conditions while fighting recent wildfires in Oklahoma. He sustained a broken pelvis and underwent surgery at a local hospital before coming to Valir Rehabilitation Hospital for therapy.
“I knew that I’d have to put in a little bit of work, but not near this much,” Vasquez said. “I’m glad they push me and want me to give them my best. And that’s all I strive to give them.”
The next stop on his road to recovery is home and outpatient therapy. It will still be several more weeks until Vasquez is able to put weight on his legs.
“It’s a long road, but it’s going to be well worth it,” Vasquez added.
Prior to the accident, Vasquez was working toward a goal of becoming a full-time firefighter with the Alva Fire Department. Alva Fire Chief Brian Miller and Oklahoma City Fire Chief Richard Kelley worked together to ensure the young man had a proper fire department send off today.
Vasquez says the accident, the care he received in the field and from the team of medical professionals and therapists in Oklahoma City, and the support he’s gotten from his firefighting colleagues, friends, family and community have only strengthened his desire to be a full-time firefighter.
“It’s inspired me,” Vasquez said with his trademark smile. “You get a different perspective because you know what’s going to happen. But then being the victim and seeing it all play out. I mean everybody’s running around, but they know what job they have to do and they’re all working to get the same thing done. It’s like a well-oiled machine. I want to be a cog in that machine.”
A fund has been established to help with the young man’s medical expenses. Donations may be sent to: The Ron Vasquez II Love Fund, Alva State Bank, 518 College Avenue, Alva, OK 73717