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After serious car accident, Shelby firefighter returns to action

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 December 2014 at 12:00 am

John L. Miller thanks firefighter friends for support

Photo by Tom Rivers – John L. Miller returned as a Shelby volunteer firefighter on Dec. 11 and also returned to work last Monday as an emergency medical technician with Mercy EMS in Batavia.

SHELBY – John L. Miller has made a life and career out of helping other people, volunteering as a firefighter with the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company and working as an EMT with Mercy EMS in Batavia.

He has proven his dedication. In 2012, he led all firefighters in Orleans County by taking 10 training classes and accumulating 176 hours of training. He is the EMS captain for Shelby.

The roles were reversed on Aug. 1 for Miller. The man used to helping others needed emergency assistance after his 2000 Chevy Suburban was in an accident with a dump truck just before 8 a.m. on Maple Ridge Road in Medina.

Miller, 36, was badly injured. He flown by Mercy Flight to ECMC. His right femur was fractured. So was his right hip, and his neck. His aorta was torn.

It looked like it would be a long road to recovery. Last week Miller returned to work at Mercy EMS. He was given his medical clearance on Dec. 11 to return as a volunteer firefighter and responded to two calls in his frst week back as a volunteer.

“It meant a lot to me to be on that first call back when I could get back out there and do what I love to do, helping my community,” Miller said.

Photos by Cheryl Wertman – John L. Miller suffered multiple broken bones and a tear in his aorta in a Aug. 1 accident. Miller was driving a 2000 Chevy Suburban in an accident with a dump truck on Maple Ridge Road in Medina.

He has pushed himself with physical therapy, and he said he has benefitted from the support of his firefighting friends. Many cooked meals for his family, visited him at the hospital and watched his children during the early stages of his recovery so his wife, Miranda Miller, could be with him at ECMC and help with his recovery. Mrs. Miller is an LPN and helped take care of some of his wounds when he came home.

“As far as being a fire company, we’re a family at Shelby,” Miller said. “I knew I had a long road ahead of me, but I had a great group of friends with me along the way.”

Miller has titanium rods and six sets of screws in his leg and hip. He started his recovery with a walker, and then graduated to crutches and cane. He still has a slight limp. Miller said he has more physical therapy to do. But he is thankful for his progress so far. Doctors told after the August accident it might be a year before he was able to walk again.

“I had to be a couch potato for a little while,” he said. “That was the hardest. I’m not one to sit around.”

Miller looks back on the accident with an attitude of thanks. He knows it could have been worse. He said the firefighters and ambulance crew were soon on the scene to help him, and Mercy Flight transported him quickly to ECMC.

He’s grateful the dump truck driver wasn’t hurt.

“If it hadn’t been a dump truck, someone in a smaller vehicle could have been hurt,” he said. “For the events, I couldn’t have asked for a better scenario and outcome.”

Miller also thinks it has made him a better EMT and firefighter. He has more empathy for victims in serious car accidents.

“Now I know what it’s like on both sides,” he said. “This will help me in the long run to relate to people with traumatic injuries.”