Firefighter Mark Hackett has been welcomed back to work more than 18 months after a car was in collision with him in the centre of Corby.
The 34-year-old, who started back at Corby Fire Station last week, praised Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service for all its support during an arduous period of rehabilitation.
Mark was injured at about 11pm on August 11, 2018, in George Street, Corby, when he got out of a fire appliance (which was parked in a bay at the roadside) and spoke to another driver who had parked his car behind them.
While they were talking, a car was in collision with them both and then drove off without stopping.
Mark was initially taken to Coventry Hospital with multiple injuries and it was then discovered that his legs had borne the brunt of the damage, with significant cartilage and ligament damage to his knees.
Mark’s rehabilitation has involved surgeries to both knees and he is still due to have a third operation (to his left knee).
His physical rehabilitation, including treatment sessions, has been supported by Tier 1 sports injury clinic in Northampton. This company is contracted by the Fire Service to provide fitness and sports therapy support to firefighters.
Mark said: “I have been going to Stuart Turner at Tier 1 for two sessions a week for at least a year and I wouldn’t be back at work without the work he has done with me.
“Now, the hardest thing for me is adjusting to not being quite so mobile or agile, so I have to think about what I do a bit more.
“The Fire Service basically supported me the whole time on full pay and granted me as many sessions as I needed with Stuart.
“I’m very lucky I’m in this job as they have taken away the worry of the financial side of things and the pressure, and I have not been pressured to come back to work. People know how hard I tried to come back and I have wanted to come back.
“I also wanted to mention the colleagues I have in my Watch as they supported me and they have been here to drive me to appointments and were always on hand if I needed them.
“I have also had so many well-wishers on social media and the support I have received has been overwhelming.”
Mark, who is the father of two daughters and has been in the Fire Service for 10 years, said the experience has made him value everything in his life much more.
He said: “Going through this makes you value what you have got much more. My kids could have lost their dad so it makes me so glad I’m here to tell the tale. People ask me if I feel any animosity and I don’t really. I think I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But as soon as it happened I was determined to get fit as soon as I could.”
Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey said: “I’m so pleased to welcome Mark back to work after he was seriously injured. He has shown such determination to get better and get fit and we just tried to support him with whatever he needed to help make that happen.
“This must have been such a difficult time for both Mark and his family and I know he has been greatly missed in the Service, so I’m very happy he has been able to build up his fitness to return to work. In the last year and a half he has really shown amazing physical and mental endurance to be able to go through what he did and still recover to a point at which he can return and work as a firefighter again. We are all very proud of him and wish him well for the future.”
The car was later found abandoned but no one has been charged in connection with this incident.