Badly Burned Firefighter More Worried About Bravest Brothers, Family than Himself

NY Daily News - December 23, 2011

by Barry Paddock And Rich Schapiro NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Can't walk or talk but can write

FIREFIGHTER Robert Wiedmann, who was engulfed in flames while battling a Brooklyn blaze, still cannot talk or walk.

But the critically-injured smoke-eater, spelling his words out on a board, has made it clear he's more concerned with how his relatives and Bravest brothers are holding up.

"He's more worried about us," Wiedmann's brother, Doug, 35, said Thursday, choking back sobs. "He's worried about how his family and firefighters are."

Wiedmann, 38, is expected to remain hospitalized for two months, undergoing multiple surgeries at a rate of one per week. He's suffering from second - and third-degree burns over 50% of his body.

The strapping Wiedmann's tolerance for pain has awed doctors.

"Many times people cannot tolerate this pain at all so we put them in an induced coma," said Dr. Roger Yurt, director of the Hearst Burn Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. "We really didn't have to go to that extreme."

Yurt added that he expects Wiedmann to get back to work in a year or so after extensive rehab.

Wiedmann's brush with death came Monday inside a burning Crown Heights building.

He was scouring the top floor of the three-story home when it erupted into a fireball.

Engulfed in flames, Wiedmann staggered through the smoke toward a window.

What happened next was captured in a dramatic video clip.

Just as a ladder was extended to Wiedmann's floor, he leaped from the window headfirst, with flames shooting off his body.

Another firefighter grabbed his burning brother and pounded on his back to subdue the flames.

A second firefighter, James Gersbeck, 52, also of Rescue Company 2 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, suffered burns but is in fair condition.

"Keep Robert in your thoughts and prayers, as well as Jimmy," Doug Wiedmann said.