ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Saugus firefighter Marco Tirella returns from a run on the ladder truck.
By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
SAUGUS — Firefighter Marco Tirella returned to full duty Monday just eight months after he suffered injuries that resulted in the amputation of five of his toes and about half of his right foot.
“The first doctor I had in the hospital asked what I did for a living and I told him I was a firefighter,” said Tirella, 28. “That doctor said I wouldn’t return back to work. I was definitely nervous in the beginning. All I wanted to do as a little kid was be a firefighter.”
While riding his motorcycle, Tirella was struck by a car that ran a red light in Groveland, traveling about 30 miles per hour. He was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition to the injuries to his foot, he suffered road rash, cuts, and bruises. He 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, part of his foot was amputated.
Fire Chief Michael Newbury said he and Deputy Chief Donald Shea visited Tirella the morning after the accident.
“He was in a bad way,” said Newbury. “His foot was elevated and he had had surgery the night before. You could tell right off the bat it was a serious injury. I saw a couple of young people who were worried about their future. (He and his wife) were recently married and had just purchased a home. I reassured him that if he wanted to get back to work, he would.”
When they got back to the car, Newbury said they were optimistic, setting a bet that he would be back to work in a year.
“The whole department stood together to rally around Marco, but at the end of the day, all of this is on Marco,” said Newbury. “He made the decision to push back and get back to work. Marco realized what kind of job he hand and how precious life was when this happened. Marco’s the person who took it on his own and went out and made sure he got back to work.
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. A licensed electrician, he also assisted with inspections and paperwork, said Newbury.
Tirella was fitted with with a few different prosthetics before he found the fit that worked best for him. While on the search, the Saugus Fire Department organized a fundraiser to help cover the costs of a new prosthesis with a custom fit.
Tirella trained with the department’s four newest members: Matthew Smith, Joshua Mullen, Sean Bohannon, and Martin Hyppolite over the past three weeks and demonstrated he was more than capable of doing everything necessary to complete the job, said Newbury.
“We both wanted to make sure that I could do everything the same as I could before,” said Tirella. “People would think that climbing a ladder is very different without your foot. But I work with a great group of guys. That really motivated me to get back to work.”
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.