On Tuesday, Anchorage firefighter Ben Schultz did something he hasn’t done since last June when he was severely injured after falling from a 100-foot ladder during training: he put on fire gear and performed some training drills.

“Very rewarding for all the work I’ve done so far,” he said.

Schultz did the training drills at the Metropolitan Community College campus in Omaha, Nebraska. Faculty and Omaha firefighters are helping Schultz with the training.

Schultz worked on setting up a ladder, carried some firefighting equipment and used a sledgehammer. When the formal training was over for the day, firefighters let him burn some energy by smashing out the windows of an old car that’s used for mock extrications.

The firefighter has come a long way since the fall. He broke some ribs, both of his ankles and his arm. The fall bruised his liver and he suffered a traumatic brain injury. Schultz was first treated in Anchorage then transferred to a facility in Denver that specializes in traumatic brain injuries.

“The first memory I have is waking up at Craig and looking out the window and going, 'where am I?' And then meeting a nurse and saying, 'okay this is Craig Hospital in Denver,' and I’m like, 'what? How did I get here?'" he said.

Schultz was later transferred to QLI, a post-hospital center that specializes in traumatic brain and spinal cord injury rehabilitation-- where he is now. Asked about his recovery, Schultz credited both facilities for the progress he’s made so far. He also cited something else.

“It can only be attributed to God,” he said.

Schultz says he believes he survived the fall for a purpose.

“To do service to others,” he said.

And that’s what Schultz hopes to eventually do as an Anchorage firefighter. But, his father Jeff says it’s too early to tell if his son will be able to do everything he could before the fall. Further tests will be conducted to check his physical stamina and brain function.

For now, the Anchorage firefighter plans to continue working hard on his therapy and getting back home to Anchorage. He also had a message for his friends and family.

“Everybody back home, thank you so much for the support. My family and I greatly appreciate it,” said Schultz.

KTVA plans to follow Ben Wednesday morning to watch his therapy at QLI. You can see those reports Wednesday night at 6 and 10 p.m.

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