Indiana firefighter talks about fireworks safety after losing his eye

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — An Indiana firefighter is warning people to be careful while lighting fireworks this summer after an accident last year left him with one eye.

“I wish I’d been paying more attention,” said Curtis Shidler thinking back to last Fourth of July when he accidentally put a firework inside a tube already loaded with one.

“As soon as it hit me in the cheek, I knew I was in trouble,” said Shilder. “Everything went black, even my right eye went black.”

His EMT knowledge helped him blindly instruct his friend on how to keep his injuries under control until an ambulance showed up.

“I went through three surgeries with my eye, my third surgery was the removal of my eye,” explained Shidler. “I had multiple stitches and it was just a long, long road.”

He says the doctors were remarkable, you hardly notice his fake eye.

“I mean, you go out in public now and you don’t have to worry about somebody looking at you different,” said Shidler.

Adjusting to life with one eye has been a challenge though, especially as a firefighter.

“When I’m driving, everything to my left, I have to definitely stop, take a look and make sure I always do a double look,” he said as he sat in the front seat of the fire engine.

The guys at the station help him out a lot, their jokes keep his spirits up.

“What’s your favorite joke, so far?” asked Media General contributor Kayla Sullivan.

“When the guys sing one eye, one eye, one eye love,” replied Shidler.

However, he makes sure the other firefighters keep things fair.

“You always have to play with one eye closed,” said Shidler as he threw a football to his co-worker.

“You’d be good with one eye,” said Shidler as West Lafayette firefighter Ryan Linder caught the ball.

“Learned from the best,” joked Linder.

Shidler said, “It’s only been a year, but I feel like I’ve came a long way.”

Now that it’s nearly fireworks season, he’s sending out his warning.

“If you do it [light fireworks], space it out to where you have your own side [and] somebody else has their own side,” said Shidler.

He hopes his story keeps others cautious.

“You don’t know and don’t realize how serious it can be until it happens to you,” Shidler said.

He won’t be lighting fireworks this year. Shidler is spending the holiday working at the fire station. It’s a job he says he’s lucky to have after his accident.

This story was originally published by News 4 sister station WLFI, a Media General Contributing station. 

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