Louisville paramedic back to work after amputation
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB)---Being a paramedic keeps 31-year-old Joe Riffe busy.
"It can be pretty hectic. It can be pretty tired. It depends on how busy we are that day," says Riffe.
But, it's a job he says he wouldn't trade for anything.
"It's been a long ride, but I'm happy to be back here though," says Joe Riffe.
Out on the road, he's focused on helping others. But, in May of 2011 he's the one who needed the help.
"We had taken the wrong trail. Ended up at the top of the waterfall," says Joe Riffe.
He was hiking at Tioga Falls and fell 110 feet.
"I remember getting in the water. I remember landing at the bottom of and waking up and realizing I was injured pretty severely," he says.
The injury was so severe that he really only had two options.
"The best option I got was to amputate it or have it fused. So I went with the amputation instead of the fusion," says Joe Riffe.
The job he loved was in jeopardy.
"I really thought my career was done for sure," he says.
However, he never lost sight of going back to work. With a technologically advanced prosthetic leg, he worked daily to get back to the job he loved.
"It takes most amputees 2 to 3 years before they can get out and function, and I did it in 7 months," he says.
By the 8th month, he was working for Rural/Metro Ambulance.
He still has some challenges to overcome. He says stairs can be a problem.
He's also getting used to a new addition to his family. His new son, Liam. just turned 1-month-old.
For those around him, watching this progress and how far he's come is inspiration enough.
It shows me that you can do anything. It doesn't matter your age, it doesn't matter your disability, it doesn't matter anything. You can do anything you set your mind to," says Christy Skaggs, an EMT for Rural/Metro Ambulance.
It's an accomplishment Riffe says, he doesn't take for granted.
"Beyond, beyond thankful," he says.
Riffe says, as far as he knows, he's the only paramedic in state who is an above-knee amputee.
To the blog of his journey, click here.
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