Luis Nevarez has been a firefighter for over 25 years. In January 2002 while responding to a downed power line call, he suffered severe electrical burn injuries and the eventual amputation of his left hand. In recalling his recovery process, Luis tells of the emotional challenges; worrying about how his kids were going to handle his injury, concern about his body image and changed appearance, and worrying about how he was going to handle the physical requirements of returning to work.
Luis faced his challenges by getting re-certified as a firefighter and figuring out how to accomplish all of the same tasks he did at home and at work with a prosthetic. But the emotional challenges were as difficult, if not more so, than the physical. “I had to learn to deal with people staring, asking questions and even those that you can sense are trying not to look at you,” ‘Luis says, “but we’re all human, that’s just what people do. And then there are the times when you are alone - and the emotional impact hits you, and you have to deal with that, too.”
Luis received peer support from a Phoenix SOAR-trained peer supporter and later became Phoenix SOAR peer supporter himself so that he could help make a difference in the lives of other burn survivors. “Thanks to Phoenix Society, firefighters and other burn survivors now have this community you can reach out to get help and support from someone who’s been there. It helps talking to others who have faced similar trauma or challenges.”