Rockwell Rural firefighter Josh Jacobs awake, on the mend
By Shavonne Potts
ROCKWELL - September 26 is a day William "Bill" Jacobs vividly recalls. It was the day his only son, Josh Jacobs, a Rockwell Rural firefighter, could've died.
Josh, 30, was seriously injured in a wreck on his way to a vehicle collision.
The young firefighter was responding to a call when the tread on his tire came undone. He lost control of his Ford Explorer and it overturned. He was thrown from the vehicle.
Josh was flown to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. He was admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit, where he has been since that time.
He had facial fractures, including a broken nose, and minor bleeding on the brain. He was sedated.
Josh was taken off sedation and he woke up Friday, his father said.
Bill was at Innes Street Drug that day when he received the phone call about the accident. He'd just seen Josh recently.
Call comes in
Earlier in the day, father and son were doing lawn maintenance for Bill's company, Superior Services Unlimited, when Josh got a page.
"He looked at me and said, 'Can I get this?' " Bill said.
It was something his father couldn't say no to, but wishes he had.
"I looked at him. I wish I would've told him he should've stayed," Bill said, through tears.
As a father, he understood the risk but never would've imagined his son would be injured going to help someone else.
A Rockwell Rural firefighter was enroute to Bill's home to tell him about Josh's injuries. But by the time Bill arrived home, his driveway was lined with firefighters and emergency personnel.
"I was in shock. I said, 'Tell me guys - give it to me straight - is he going to die?' " he said.
It was too early to tell what would happen to Josh.
Bill was so upset and distraught, he went to the wrong hospital. He mistakenly drove to Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem. Bill realized he was at the wrong hospital and headed back to the parking garage.
"I was so addled, I couldn't find my truck," he said.
A security guard who was also a Surry County firefighter helped Bill find his car and led him out of the parking garage and onto the highway.
When he arrived at the right hospital, Josh's mother and aunt were already in the hospital waiting room.
The family heard an update from the doctor together.
The hospital staff considered Josh critical but stable. An X-ray determined all of his wounds would heal, Bill said. The bleeding on his brain was minuscule and did not require an operation.
The family continued to watch for progress - anything.
The doctors weaned Josh from sedation; after that they were waiting on him.
He awoke just five days ago.
His mother is regularly at his side, along with Josh's maternal grandmother.
"It's going to be a long process of recovery that is one step at a time, one day at a time," Bill said. Every day Bill is also at his son's side.
When other kids thought they wanted to be firemen, Josh knew it.
"He's always wanted to be in some type of service to help people," Bill said.
Josh has been a firefighter for seven years, all of which have been with the Rockwell station.
"He is very caring and supportive of others," Bill said.
When Josh was a child, he and his father were clowns in the Salisbury-Spencer Holiday Caravan. Even Bill's brothers participated. The family stopped participating when Bill says he got too old and when Josh was in his 20s.
Bill's partner, Brenda Butler, constantly updates family and friends on Josh's condition through Facebook. They have been together for 10 years.
Bill said this accident has taken its toll on Butler as well.
She began making dinner one night that included Josh's favorite, garlic bread.
Butler became emotional until her son, who'd just called, stayed on the phone with her until she was better.
Praying for Josh
The family is amazed at the prayers that have been said for Josh.
"I see people I don't even know who say 'I'm praying for that boy of yours,' " Bill said.
A security guard at the hospital prayed with Bill one day in the parking garage.
"We are just continuing to pray. We are grateful that he's alive and that we are going to trust God for the full miracle," he said.
There is no way to know at this point if there will be any lasting effects from the accident.
"A lot of churches are praying and their prayers are working," Bill said.
Josh responds to voice commands and mouths words but can't speak because of a tracheotomy, put in place to aid breathing. He was at times fitful, but now makes hand signals.
He's also appreciative of the firefighters who flocked to the hospital every chance they get or call.
The Rockwell station is planning a fundraiser for the family.
A local woman, Bobby Jo Stephens, who organizes fundraisers through her Fallen Families, is planning a benefit yard sale on Friday. The sale will take place beginning at 7:30 a.m. at 222 S. Milford Drive, Salisbury.
For more information about the yard sale search Fallen Families NC on Facebook.