Continuing progress reported for injured rural firefighter at burn center in Colorado

Oct 8, 2015 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The firefighter who was burned last month during an incident in rural Fremont County continues to show improvement at a hospital in Colorado, officials said this week.

Fremont County Fire Protection District deputy chief Clarence "Speed" Hartbank was transported by life flight Sept. 10 to the Swedish Medical Center burn unit in Englewood, Colo., for treatment of second-degree burns to 38 percent of his body.

FCFPD chief Craig Haslam said Hartbank has undergone multiple surgeries at the hospital and now is being "weaned" from sedatives.

"He's improving," Haslam said Wednesday. "They're reducing some of his medications ... and his wounds are healing."

Haslam expressed appreciation for the care and concern that community members have shown to the Hartbank family since the incident last month.

Hartbank's wife, Linda, returned to Fremont County for a couple of days last week but was back in Colorado on Monday, Haslam said. Haslam was in Colorado on Tuesday, and he said other local firefighters have taken turns at Hartbank's side as well.

"We've had someone down there the whole time," Haslam said. "He's definitely aware of people being there."

Haslam isn't sure how long Hartbank will remain in Colorado, but he said Hartbank's prognosis is "really good."

"We're going forward with a positive attitude," he said.

Anyone who wants to send cards and well-wishes to Hartbank and his family can address letters to the FCFPD at 305 S. Smith Road or call 857-3030 for more information. People who would like to offer monetary assistance can send donations to the same address or contribute to a collection at the Print Shop, 706 W. Main St. in Riverton.

Back on duty

Haslam said the two responders who were injured while rescuing Hartbank from the Sept. 10 fire are back at work.

FCFPD deputy chief Dan Oakley and Fremont County Sheriff's deputy Donovan Detimore rescued Hartbank after he fell through the roof of an underground cellar while responding to a reported "large fire" involving several structures at about 1:15 p.m. Sept. 10 on Triangle Ranch Road in rural Fremont County.

Oakley suffered first- and second-degree burns to his hands during the incident, while Detimore was diagnosed with smoke and heat inhalation.

Both were treated and released Sept. 10 from SageWest Health Care at Riverton.

Haslam said a critical incident stress debriefing was available for all of the firefighters involved to address the trauma they experienced while saving Hartbank, who has served as a local firefighter for 45 years.

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