A Chugiak first responder who’s used to rescuing other people found himself on the other side of an accident last week.

Peter Casey works as a flight paramedic for LifeMed Alaska and helps out with Chugiak Volunteer Fire and Rescue. In his free time, the lifelong Alaskan enjoys the outdoors and spending time with his family. But on Feb. 21, all of that was put in danger when a fun day of snowboarding at Alyeska went wrong.

“When I landed, I just felt this crack in my neck. I felt and heard (it), it was like an audible crack,” said Casey. He explained that he hit something unexpectedly, which flung him several feet before he landed on his head.

His medical background told him something was broken, but no one came by to help him. Casey had to make the scary decision to move to a place where he could flag down help.

Ski patrol, Girdwood fire, and other LifeMed responders got him stabilized and on his way to the hospital.

“At Providence, I found out that I had fractured the facet joint between c6 and c5, and there was also damage to the hole in my spinal column where one of my vertebral arteries goes through.”

Casey is expected to make a full recovery, but that hasn’t stopped him from worrying.

“The first thing that’s going through my head when I had that accident, like the first thing, was ‘Oh my god I can’t work. I’m not gonna be able to work. How am I gonna support our family?'”

Within a few days, the support came pouring in through thousands of dollars in donations on a Youcaring page, as well as offers to plow the driveway and donate meals.

“I can’t really explain the way that I feel and that we feel about the response and how much people have helped us,” said his wife, Stacey Casey.

He says now he can focus on healing, and he’ll get back to work as soon as he can, with a new appreciation for the job.

“You sometimes forget how much it means to (patients) and their family because it’s just your job and you’re just doing what you’re supposed to do, but I was just looking up at the rescuers and just thinking, ‘Oh my God, thank you so much that you’re here.'”

KTVA 11’s Daniella Rivera can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

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