If you have the will to live, the human body will respond
By Danielle Abbott
Being a fire fighter is a dangerous job, and the possibility of injury or worse is around every corner for the local men and women that put everything on the line to help protect our communities. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technologies, about 80,000 fire fighters are injured in the United States every year. Of those 80,000 injuries, FEMA estimates that more than 100 result in death every year. With so many fire fighters becoming seriously injured on the job, few ever return to work and even fewer have the drive and determination to get in front of an audience to tell their remarkable story of survival. One man who was put in this situation was Mark Keller with the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department and a volunteer with the Wilton Fire Department. His story is extraordinary and his battle to not only survive, but live and thrive is one to be heard. Keller presents his story around the state at area emergency medical service conventions, and on Saturday this Center native attended the annual Washburn emergency services banquet featuring the local volunteer Ambulance Service and Fire Departments. Keller started his story by informing the crowd that he would show gruesome pictures and warned all of those who may not handle them well to leave the room. As the 73 guests sat motionless in their seats, Keller continued in his raspy voice, pulling down his black turtleneck to reveal a small tube inserted into his neck. "I have a tracheotomy," he explained as he pushed his left hand back up to his neck. The explanation for this procedure would be given later in his presentation.