ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Saugus Firefighter Marco Tirella, who was injured in a motorcycle in August, is working light duty until the spring.
By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
SAUGUS — Firefighter Marco Tirella lost five toes in a motorcycle accident last summer and needs a prosthesis to return to full duty.
Tirella, 28, hopes to return to his former position by summer. To help him reach his goal, the Saugus Fire Relief Association has planned a Feb. 15 fundraiser at Spinelli’s in Lynnfield. Tickets went on sale Monday morning.
Tirella was struck by a car that ran a red light in Groveland, traveling at about 30 miles per hour.
“I think I saw it coming at me and turned away from it,” Tirella said. “I was extremely lucky.”
He was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital. Aside from injuries to his right foot, he suffered from road rash, cuts and bruises. Tirella underwent emergency surgery and pins were placed in his toes to keep them straight. He was sent home to wait for improvements and hope for blood flow to be restored. But three weeks later, all five toes on his right foot were amputated.
Tirella, who was with the Saugus Fire Department for four years before the accident, returned to work on light duty in the Fire Prevention office in November. He began physical therapy to help with his balance earlier this week.
He has been fitted with a few different prosthetics but hasn’t found his ideal fit, he said. Unlike buying shoes, each prosthetic has to be custom made and ordered.
Tirella is hoping to be fitted with a brace made by ExoSym, a Seattle-based company that initially created prosthetics to help reduce pain and restore mobility for military members who wished to return to duty.
“They were originally made for military, for them to return back to duty, but now they’re making them for the private sector,” Tirella said. “Health insurance doesn’t cover all the costs.”
Lt. Mike Barker of the Saugus Fire Department said Tirella’s colleagues decided to step in and help plan the fundraiser about a month ago.
“One of the things that separates fire service apart is we take care of our own,” Barker said. “When someone needs our help, we come running.”
The event will begin at 7 p.m. and will include a buffet-style dinner, raffles, entertainment and cash bar. About 270 tickets are on sale for $50 each. They’re available online only and are first come, first serve. They will not be sold at the door. Donations and ticket purchases can be made at marcotirellafundraiser.eventbrite.com
“I’m lucky to have a good support system,” Tirella said. “When I was in the hospital, everyone came to visit me. They’ve all helped me. It’s unbelievable the support they’ve given.”
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.