Lt. Kevin McCrea

Something went terribly wrong on November 18, 2011, when Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lieutenant Kevin McCrea was leading a fire demonstration for a group of Brazilian firefighters.

“We were setting up a routine car fire extinguish when a spark flashed into flames,” says Lt. McCrea. “I don’t remember much, only waking up at Ryder Trauma Center. I had lost my vision and remember feeling so much pain.”

The fire rescue lieutenant suffered severe burns to 40 percent of his body, though he recovered his vision 48 hours after the incident. He remained in the intensive care unit at UM/JM Burn Center in the trauma facility for more than a month before being discharged home.

With burns to his face, arms, hands, legs, and back, Lt. McCrea underwent six surgeries, including skin grafts and cutting off the nerves in his hands. His medical team included highly-skilled trauma surgeons and nurses who specialize in complex burn care.

“My wounds are my journey. It’s my story. It’s my life. I’m a survivor, and I appreciate life more.”

Lieutenant Kevin McCrea

Even though Lt. McCrea’s burn wounds healed, his journey to recovery was far from over. For two years, he endured outpatient occupational therapy to regain use of his hands. He attributes his success to occupational therapist Angel Alvarez, who specializes in treating patients with burn injuries.

Lt. McCrea has also worked very hard to heal the emotional wounds caused by the trauma of his burn injuries. For the past five years, he has been active member of the UM/JM Burn Center’s support group for burn patients.

“I saw myself differently after the burns, and for a while it affected me emotionally,” he said. “I’m so grateful to this support group. They have become my family.”

No longer can Miami Fire Rescue Lt. McCrea battle blazes. His injuries and his long battle to recover have left him sensitive to heat. He was able to return to work where he is now a driving instructor.

Despite his difficult journey over the past five years, he feels grateful that he has gotten a second chance at life.