Fishers firefighter completes amazing comeback from leg amputation

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SHELBY COUNTY, Ind. (WTHR) - Brandon Anderson is completing an amazing comeback that no firefighter in the nation has done before. He is back at the Fishers Fire Department on full-time status, 11 months after suffering a critical leg injury that resulted in an amputation.

Anderson was struck by a pickup truck last August while on a motorcycle ride in southern Indiana. His motorcycle landed on his right leg.

"I pulled that leg out and then tried to move, and that's when I realized my right leg was nearly severed," said Anderson.

After ten surgeries, Anderson faced a huge decision. Make do on a damaged leg or amputate and get a prosthetic device. He chose amputation because it offered him the best quality of life and the chance of saving his career.

Life would never be the same or easy.

He returned to his home in Shelby County using a wheelchair and crutches. Anderson was determined to find a new normal and get back to his job. Two months after the accident, Anderson learned how to walk again. This time on a prosthetic.

"It's like a child learning to walk. That's what it felt like on day one. As I've been on it more and more, it's become a part of me," said Anderson. "Before it felt like I was attaching some kind of device. But now, I just get up in the morning, but it's what gets me out the door."

"I was pretty wobbly back in November when I took my first steps, just learning the technology that's in the leg allows me to climb stairs and climb ladders. It has all these functions that allow me to walk as normal as anyone else," said Anderson.

Anderson started training with the other firefighters in hopes of proving that he could resume his firefighting career. It took time and a lot of determination. But Anderson did it.

"I could have given up, but that's just not me," said Anderson.

"He had to do firefighter safety and survival. He had to do various hose stretches, throw ladders, he had to do everything. He had to get up on the roof and cut holes, which Brandon loves to do. So, it was fun for him," said Fishers Fire Department Battalion Chief Todd Muth. "I was floored at how fast he came back. I never would have thought it could have happened that fast. True Brandon form, he beat all expectations and came back early."

Anderson is now back at the firehouse full time. When the bell rings, his prosthetic leg is ready. It is tucked inside his bunker pants next to the fire truck.

"When I get a call, I come over here, I step in with my left leg just like I always did. But on my prosthetic side, I have a pin that I remove and remove the lower section of my leg, and then step into this part and re-couple," said Anderson.

His wife was there for his first day back.

"To watch him go out the door the first time and hop into the fire truck. It was like watching your child take their first steps. It was great to see," said Nesha Anderson.

Since returning to the fire station, Anderson has been on fire alarm calls, car crashes and EMS calls.

"Everybody knows what it's like when you go on vacation for a week or so and you come back, it takes you a few hours to get in the groove again. That's what we're doing right now," said Anderson.

His fellow firefighters are thrilled to have Anderson back on full time status.

"It's amazing to have him back. There was a hole when he was gone. We tried to fill it by going and seeing him but just getting him back in the firehouse, it's been amazing. He's a huge part of this station. To get him back and his work ethic, his drive, it breeds through the department," said Muth.

Anderson has become the first firefighter in the nation to return to full-time duty following an above-the-knee amputation.

"He's opened the door for a lot of people to do what he's done. But, you have to have a huge heart and Brandon certainly does have that," said Muth.

Anderson has emerged from the dark days and the uncertainty of where his life was headed. Even his wife wasn't entirely sure he would make it make to full time as a firefighter.

"I prayed about it. I wanted him to get back. But, the reality in the back of my head, I wasn't sure he could do it," said Nesha Anderson.

But she knew her husband's determination was unmatched.

"It's absolutely like nothing else I've ever seen. He never let anything get him down. Even the mental aspect of it has been actually harder than the actual amputation itself. Learning to deal with doing stuff differently. I can honestly say he's never had that 'woah is me moment' ever," said Nesha Anderson.

The couple say their faith has been an important part of their journey.

"The darkest day was when he finally made the decision to do the amputation. It was just a reality," said Nesha Anderson. "When he was released from the hospital and he doesn't have a leg, our whole life absolutely changed. The fear of the unknown, we could look at what was ahead. But there was no light at the end of the tunnel for us. It seemed to be dark."

"The biggest thing has been our faith and our trust in God in knowing this had to be a part of a bigger plan that we couldn't understand. Just keeping that in our mind that we might not understand it, but just dealing with the cards we were dealt, It's been such an inspiration for my boys to watch. They're 12 and 15. For them to be able to see what their dad has overcome. They watched their dad come home using a walker with no leg. And then gradually get into crutches. For Brandon to go to their sporting events when we first came home, he had to go in a wheelchair because couldn't walk that far to what he can do now, it's awesome," said Nesha Anderson.

"I thank God every day for where He's put me," said Brandon Anderson. "I praise Him for giving me the strength and for me to be able to keep the faith because that's what's given us the hope that we will make it back to where we were."