Lt. Kevin McCrea

Something went terribly wrong on November 18, 2011, when Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lieutenant Kevin McCrea was leading a fire demonstration for a group of Brazilian firefighters.

“We were setting up a routine car fire extinguish when a spark flashed into flames,” says Lt. McCrea. “I don’t remember much, only waking up at Ryder Trauma Center. I had lost my vision and remember feeling so much pain.”

The fire rescue lieutenant suffered severe burns to 40 percent of his body, though he recovered his vision 48 hours after the incident. He remained in the intensive care unit at UM/JM Burn Center in the trauma facility for more than a month before being discharged home.

With burns to his face, arms, hands, legs, and back, Lt. McCrea underwent six surgeries, including skin grafts and cutting off the nerves in his hands. His medical team included highly-skilled trauma surgeons and nurses who specialize in complex burn care.

Even though Lt. McCrea’s burn wounds healed, his journey to recovery was far from over. For two years, he endured outpatient occupational therapy to regain use of his hands. He attributes his success to occupational therapist Angel Alvarez, who specializes in treating patients with burn injuries.

Lt. McCrea has also worked very hard to heal the emotional wounds caused by the trauma of his burn injuries. For the past five years, he has been active member of the UM/JM Burn Center’s support group for burn patients.

“I saw myself differently after the burns, and for a while it affected me emotionally,” he said. “I’m so grateful to this support group. They have become my family.”

No longer can Miami Fire Rescue Lt. McCrea battle blazes. His injuries and his long battle to recover have left him sensitive to heat. He was able to return to work where he is now a driving instructor.

Despite his difficult journey over the past five years, he feels grateful that he has gotten a second chance at life.

“My wounds are my journey. It’s my story. It’s my life,” says Lt. McCrea. “I’m a survivor, and I appreciate life more.”

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“Jackson treated me fantastically, especially their caring staff and brilliant doctors,” Woody said. “Jackson is a special place where countless people get excellent care, particularly those who need it the most.”

Steven Avila

“I’m grateful to Ryder Trauma Center,” he said. “They saved my life. The treatment was the best in the world.”

Desiree Meyer

“I have fond memories of Ryder and the medical staff,” Desiree said. “Everyone was so great to me. They made me feel like I was not alone.”

Tiffany Davis & Skyla Milton

“Doctors made sure I was all right before I got out of the hospital,” said Davis, “and I hope they just keep it up and save other people, like how they worked on me.”