Ryan Rodriguez’s arms tell a story. A story that began on a hot July day, when he was just 13 years old, and involved their family dog.
Now, at 32 years old, and a captain with the Reedley Fire Department, Rodriguez talked about the brutal dog attack nearly 20 years ago that almost killed him.
He survived the attack, but was told by doctors he would never have the full use of his right arm.
“The doctors told me I was facing amputation of my right arm because I had lost so much blood, because when he [the dog] attacked me, he ripped my main artery out,” Rodriguez said on the afternoon of March 1. “I think they told me I had lost half the volume of blood by the time I’d arrived at the hospital.”
“I was told I would never write with my right hand, because I am right-handed,” Rodriguez continued. “I was in band at the time. I went to Grant Middle School and played violin, and they told me I would never be able to do those things. Also, that I was never going to be able to play baseball.”
Fast forward to the present day. Rodriguez not only has beaten all those odds, he’s excelled at many more activities as well — including serving his community as a volunteer firefighter.
“At the end of our fire academy, I had won an award for being the most physically fit, despite what had happened to me earlier in my life,” he said. “I had made it clear, I am going to win that award and nothing will stop me from getting it.”
Rodriguez joined the fire department at the age of 19. Following in the footsteps of his father, Rich Rodriguez (a fire apparatus engineer with RFD), Ryan said service to his community is something truly important to him.
“This job its different, a lot of responsibility,” he said. “When we go on a call, aside from the safety of the guys in the back, just like with all of us captains, we have a million and one things running through our minds. Anything from what’s the best way to get there, if it’s a structure fire, or a car accident, how are we going to approach this?”
To see the full story, subscribe to our print or e-edition. For more information, please call The Reedley Exponent at 559-638-2244.