‘Tough kid’ Bothell firefighter recovering quickly

BOTHELL — After doctors completed facial surgery Monday on Bothell fire Lt. Gary Wick, they were surprised at how quickly he seemed to be recovering.

“None of us are surprised,” Bothell Fire Chief Warren Burns said Tuesday. “Gary is a pretty tough kid.”

Wick, 52, was responding to a call Friday afternoon when a snow-covered awning collapsed on top of him.

He directed his own rescue even with his head pinned under the weight of snow and ice, Burns said.

Wick suffered serious facial injuries and was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Doctors on Monday installed six plates in his face.

“He is doing even better than expected,” Bothell Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Allen said.

Family, friends and fellow firefighters have been at his bedside since the accident, Burns said.

“Gary, his wife Chris, and their daughters are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love for their family,” Burns said. “They want me to say thank you to all who have been praying for them and offering family support during this challenging time.”

Doctors aren’t sure how long it will take Wick to recover. It could be weeks or months, the chief said.

“He absolutely should be able to return to full duty,” Burns said. “He’s not going to let something like this slow him down.”

Wick is a 20-year veteran.

The department expects to complete a post-incident analysis to ensure proper policies were followed.

“It appears they were,” Burns said.

Officials also plan to complete a “near-miss” report to be shared with other fire departments nationwide.

The idea, Burns said, is for others to learn from the collapse.

“You need to watch your backs at all times,” he said.

He said Wick’s injuries likely were the worst suffered by a Bothell firefighter while responding to a call in the department’s history.

The crew who was with Wick during the collapse responded professionally. They treated their lieutenant as they would any patient, he said.

“They immediately went into care mode,” Burns said.

It wasn’t until hours later that the gravity of Wick’s injuries became clear.

“Once it’s over, you get a chance to take a breath,” Burns said, “and say, ‘Wow.’ ”

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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