Injured Fort Worth firefighter says prayers are helping him heal

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on May 19, 2014 at 6:11 PM

Updated Monday, May 19 at 6:30 PM

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FORT WORTH — Gino Agnello and a fellow Fort Worth firefighter fell 20 feet from an attic while fighting a house fire on a stormy May night. Agnello broke his arm and dislocated his wrist and elbow.

He will be fine, but he has quite a story to share.

"I believe that's 15 there," Agnello said, pointing to a line of staples on one side of his forearm. "And I think there's 14 back there."

He is stapled up and bruised up, yet he is not the least bit down.

"Just happy to be doing good!" he said with a laugh when he sat down with News 8 Monday afternoon to talk about what happened one week earlier.

Agnello is 24 years old. He has spent the last three years as a firefighter for the Fort Worth Fire Department. On May 12, the job he adores tested him like never before.

Agnello works vacation relief, meaning he moves from station to station based on which one needs extra manpower. That day he was working "C shift" at Station No. 38.

Storms pounded Tarrant County. Rain and lightning were nonstop.

Around 4 p.m., lightning struck a home in far north Fort Worth, sparking a fire in the attic.

Agnello and fellow firefighter Deglan Isbell — a 19-year veteran — climbed into the attic and found the source of the fire. They were working to put it out when the attic floor gave way.

Agnello grabbed a rafter and held on as long as he could. He thought he'd probably be OK, because he thought he his fall would be stopped by the second story below him.

"Whenever I caught myself, I thought, 'I only have three or four feet to fall if I can just extend my arms out all the way.' After I let go and went beyond that three or four mark, I knew it was bad news from there," he said with a laugh. "I remember feeling my arm break underneath me and I just started screaming."

But there was an instant response to his cries of pain.

"As soon as I started screaming, it felt like I already had four guys there picking me up and pulling me out of the house," Agnello said.

"Knowing you've got those guys there to help you, that's a comforting fact," he added.

The Fort Worth Fire Department says both men fell about 20 feet. Isbell landed on his air pack, injuring his back.

Agnello broke his arm and dislocated his elbow and wrist. He now has two plates and 13 screws in his arm, which he jokingly calls "bionic."

Agnello was taken to a hospital where his wife works in the emergency room. She was there that night, but the wife of another firefighter arrived before the ambulance and braced her for what was to come.

Agnello knows prayers have offered on his behalf, and he says he and his wife feel them.

"Just the prayers that everybody's saying for us ... it's definitely helped with my healing," he said.

Agnello added that he has had constant support from his firefighting family and his neighbors and friends. All that feels like a blessing.

And he pledges to return to duty soon, because that feels like a calling.

"I can't wait to go back and be in the back of a fire engine, just riding around helping out the community in which we live and helping out my neighbors," he said.

"I just know the job's got to be done. If people are hurt, somebody's got to go to help. And I'm just happy I'm able to be there, me and all my brothers and sisters on the fire department, able to help out in whatever way we can."

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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