JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. —
Almost two weeks ago, Lt. Jerry Presley from the Tarrant Fire Department fell off a ladder while battling a house fire. It started out with him being in critical condition, but slowly and surely, his condition has continued to improve, as Tarrant Fire Chief Jason Rickels says Presley could be moved out of the Neuro Intensive Care Unit soon and eventually start physical therapy.
Rickels says when he visited Presley Friday, he was able to respond to question via nodding his head.
"This is so promising," Chief Rickels said. "To go in there and be able to call him by name and him look at you, focus on you and ask him a question and nod appropriately. Yesterday, for the first time, it kind of seems like I saw a little emotion in his face in response to some of the questions I was giving him. It is so good to see him start to come around and starting to respond appropriately."
Rickels says since Presley's accident, the outpouring of support has been overwhelming. He said during the Alabama Fire Chief's Conference this week in Tuscaloosa, the Team Jerry t-shirts were being sold there, people ran boot drives to get donations for Presley. Rickels calls this support 'invaluable.'
"The thing about relationships between firefighters and other public safety personnel is whether you know them on a casual basis, whether you know them on a friendly basis, we are still in this all together," Ret. Captain from Hoover Fire Department Rusty Lowe said. "There is a common bond between all of us, and when something like this happens, it affects all of us because it could be anyone of us, any day in our careers something like that could happen. We do not sign up to just sit there and watch things happen. We sign on to be first responders and public safety personnel to help others, and put our lives before other lives. It is a strong bond, and like what has happened with Jerry, it affects all of us. We feel the pain that his family is feeling, and we are all there to support him because at one point in time, we may be the victim, and he would obviously be there to support us."
Chief Rickels says people can continue to support Presley and his family through donations on a GoFundMe, or in person at the Tarrant Fire Department. In addition, shirts to support Presley are being sold at Hughes Printing in Pinson. He added that the biggest thing people can do is continue to pray for Presley, his family and the Tarrant Fire Department as a whole.