How tough is Anchorage firefighter Ben Schultz? That is what he says he found out over the last several months after a devastating fall from a ladder in June in Anchorage.

"I'd say the biggest positive is that I've seen the worst part of my life and seeing how I can overcome that," Schultz said while recovering in Omaha, Nebraska. "With the Lord's help and family and friends and their support; and I go, okay, I can handle a lot and I'm looking forward to what the future's going to provide." 

Schultz sat down for a one-on-one interview with KTVA 11 last week in Omaha. KTVA visited Schultz at Quality Living Inc.'s rehabilitation campus, where he's undergoing therapy.

During his stay, the firefighter has worked on firefighting and EMS training. He has also done plenty of cardio therapy, including swimming. He is in rehab between six and eight hours a day during the week.

Schultz talked about the June training accident which left him injured. He doesn't remember the fall. He started hearing what had happened after waking up from a coma at a Denver hospital two months after the accident.

"They told me that the ladder was extended up to a hundred feet and at a 70-degree angle, and I fell straight, basically down the ladder -- kind of probably tumbling and stayed between the rails," Schultz said. "My helmet was shattered. My boots stuck in the top, so that's probably how I broke my ankles. And I'm glad I was wearing my helmet."

Schultz says he was setting up the truck for training and was the only one there when he climbed. 

"The crew that I was working with heard me fall, heard me kind of hit the ladder on the way down. They came out, saw me, found me unresponsive," Schultz said. "I wasn't breathing, didn't have a pulse, and so they started CPR. They put a breathing tube in me. They noticed that I had a collapsed lung. So they decompressed my chest and reinflated that lung and transferred me to the hospital.

"Thank God that they were there and got that life-saving care to me right away," Schultz said. "And the oxygen they gave me probably saved my life."

Schultz credits his medical care, support from family and friends back home and his faith for his remarkable recovery. He expects to remain at QLI until the end of his rehabilitation, then return to Anchorage in June a year after the fall.

He is excited to see his kids, with whom he often speaks by Facetime on his iPhone. But what's the first thing on his to-do list when he gets home?

"Order Moose's Tooth pizza," Schultz said.

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