Dundee-area fire community steps up to help injured firefighter
Dundee-area firefighter Damian Carbone always is willing to take the shirt off his back for someone in need, friend Charlie Myers said. So it was no surprise when loved ones and community members jumped at the chance to help Carbone when he was injured in an off-duty accident earlier this month.
Carbone was helping a friend work on his race truck June 6 when a hose blew off the radiator and burned his upper body and arms. Myers and another friend at the scene, both paramedics, cared for him until he was taken to a hospital. He later was transferred to the burn center at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford because of the severity of his injuries.
After spending a week in the intensive care unit, Carbone was able to return home to East Dundee, where he is recovering with help from his older sister, Deandra. But as a part-time firefighter at the West Dundee and Rutland-Dundee fire departments, Carbone doesn't receive health benefits, Myers said, and medical bills have been piling up.
With no word yet on when Carbone will return to work, Myers decided to organize fundraising efforts to help his friend get back on his feet. In less than two weeks, a GoFundMe page has raised more than $21,000 to help cover Carbone's medical expenses and supplemental income. West Dundee Fire Chief Randy Freise said the department's administrative assistant also has been collecting money to for Carbone.
"The support is (appreciated), but it's almost not surprising because everybody in the fire service knows what kind of person Damian is," said Myers, who works with Carbone at both departments. "People call him if they need anything. He's a jack of all trades. Whenever he has a day off, he's helping somebody."
In addition to visiting regularly, firefighters from both departments volunteered to donate hours to cover Carbone's shifts so he doesn't lose out on a paycheck. "We didn't have to do any convincing," Myers said.
The efforts to help Carbone won't stop there, he said. Friends intend to organize raffles and hold other fundraisers with hopes of collecting another $30,000 or more.
"It's tragic that Damian, a firefighter and public servant dedicated to protecting the public from fire, is going through burn injuries himself," Freise said. "It's heartwarming to see the firefighters stepping up to help a brother in need, as we are one big family."
Meanwhile, Deandra Carbone said her brother is doing everything he can to speed up his recovery and get back to work. Damian isn't the kind of person to ask for assistance, she said, but she believes the visits from co-workers, the well wishes from community members and the donations collected are helping tremendously.
"It almost brought tears to my eyes to see the outpouring of support," Deandra Carbone said. "With him being part of that firefighter brotherhood, the amount of camaraderie that stems from that and having those guys around has been great."