Freak eye injury almost ended Milngavie firefighter’s career

A firefighter at Milngavie has spoken of his fight back to the frontline after a freak eye injury almost ended his career.

Crew Commander Michael Halpin was doing DIY at home when a splinter of wood seriously damaged his left eye.

The potentially life-changing injury left Michael, an experienced firefighter of 22-years, with a long road to recovery and cast doubt on his future as an operational firefighter with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

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However earlier this month, CC Halpin returned to operational duties with White Watch at Milngavie Community Fire Station after the service supported him through his recovery, training and development and sourced specialist eye protection which allowed him to return to frontline firefighting.

Michael said: “It’s strange to say this but the whole experience has been a positive one overall.

“At times, things were quite tough mentally to deal with – it’s been a long road.

“But I am keen to share what I’ve been through in the hope it might help someone else who finds themselves in a similar situation.”

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As soon as he was able, CC Halpin began taking on alternative duties, such as helping his local Community Action Teams to carry out prevention and engagement work.

Once his eye had healed, the service helped source suitable eye protection, which allowed him to return to training.

The service supported him through a development and assessment programme, during which CC Halpin demonstrated competence and safety during incident scenarios – and that he was fit to return to the frontline.

Michael stated: “I am extremely grateful to the service for the fantastic support I’ve had throughout this journey.

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“The experience I’ve been through, I feel, has made me more rounded as a person and my exposure to working with the Community Action Team has made me more rounded as a firefighter – I’m delighted I had that opportunity to continue working in alternative roles until I could return to frontline firefighting.

“I really feel the whole experience has been a positive one overall.”

Area Commander Andrew Watt is the Local Senior Officer for Argyll and Bute, East Dunbartonshire and West Dunbartonshire.

He said: “We’re delighted to welcome Michael back to operational duties, his attitude and determination throughout has been quite inspiring to be honest.

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“I know that Michael has had some very challenging moments during his journey, however he’s shown incredible personal resilience to stay so positive and focused.

“As a service, we are committed to supporting our staff through any challenges they may face, whether that be in relation to their mental health or physical health. I’d like to thank Station Commander Iain Cameron, the area’s training team and colleagues within Health and Safety and Occupational Health for the support and assistance they have provided to help get Michael back on the run.”

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