FRANKLIN COUNTY (KFSM)—One of two known certified amputee firefighters in the state of Arkansas is inspiring others by spreading the message that life goes on after amputation.
Rodney Bartlett said it’s his mission. In fact, he is helping people in the southern part of Franklin County as a volunteer firefighter.
“My love is being able to supply the firefighters with water,” he said. “My job is to supply them with the wet stuff to put on the hot stuff per se.”
In 2014, he had an infected ulcer on the bottom of his right foot, which was the result of his diabetes. Doctors told him he would need a below-the-knee amputation.
“I defied all the doctors’ reports saying I wouldn't walk correctly because I'm a big guy, and I went ahead,” Bartlett said. “They said I would be on the walker for a year. I stayed on the walker one day.”
His motivation did not stop there. In addition to going to school full time, he got his volunteer firefighter certification for the South Ozark-Webb City Fire Department at the beginning of this year.
“There's a lot that goes into being a volunteer firefighter, not just jumping in a truck and spraying water,” he said.
He knows how to respond to wildfires, car accidents and structure fires, doing it all with a prosthetic leg.
“I don't even think about it,” he said. “It's just second nature.”
By the time Bartlett is done studying at Ozark Tech, he will have three associate degrees in welding, automotive technology and collision repairs.