Family with multiple medical needs gives special thanks to Henrico firefighters

Updated: Oct. 25, 2018 at 5:23 PM EDT
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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -The McWhirter family is thanking the fire fighters who work for Station 14 in Henrico for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Max McWhirter, 29, and his mom Kathy have lived in their home on Portugee Road for 14 years. In the last few years, both of their health has begun to decline and they’ve found themselves calling 911 more times than they can count.

“It’s very terrifying,” Max McWhirter said.

For the last 20 years, Max McWhirter has suffered from focal seizures, but over the last five years he has begun experiencing grand mal seizures.

“The grand mal seizures are full on flailing, twitching" Max McWhirter said. “They last about five minutes or so, and afterwards I’ve lost my ability to do just about anything.”

McWhirter is no longer able to work or drive. He now cares for his mother who has COPD and emphysema.

“I’ve had my left lung, a portion of it, removed,” Kathy McWhirter said. “And I’ve had both lungs collapse. This one has collapsed twice.”

Almost every month for the last year, the McWhirters have called 911 for help. This past weekend, they had to call twice after Max had two seizures.

“It’s very terrifying,” McWhirter said. “The worst part, being I can’t predict them in anyway.”

The first responders who always show up first are firefighters with Station 14.

“These gentleman are incredible,” Max McWhirter said.

The McWhirters say the firefighters who help them go above and beyond to make sure they are comfortable and properly cared for.

“They do everything in their power to make us feel as comfortable as possible,” Max McWhirter said.

The McWhirters walkway is narrow and prevents the firefighters from getting a stretcher inside the home.

“They are so willing to do everything they can to make sure we get to where we need to go, whether it be from the front door to the ambulance or the ambulance to the hospital. They make sure they do it calm and safely,” Max McWhirter said. “They’ve had to pick her (Kathy) up and carry her from inside to the ambulance. They’ve had to take me, pretty much three men, two on each side, one behind me and just make sure I make it down the stairs and down the walkway.”

The family also says the firefighters always work to be as light-hearted as possible while getting the job done. They reached out to NBC12 to help them publicly thank the firefighters.

The firefighters at station 14 were beyond appreciative.

“Someone reaching out to you guys and wanting to thank us for the good work that we do is humbling and heartwarming for us,” Robby Owens, a captain at Station 14, said. “We do what we do and we don’t really look for recognition for it. We do the job because we love to help people and that’s why we started doing this in the first place. But its heartwarming and we appreciate it.”

This family hopes their story encourages more people to recognize and thank first responders who sacrifice their lives to help the public.

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