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Firefighter Giving Back to Hospital after Near-Fatal Rope Rescue

Captain Charles Madder of the Hamilton Fire Department arrived at the top of Albion Falls with fellow members of the High Angle Rope Rescue team in July 2019. What started as a search-and-rescue mission for lost hikers quickly turned into a life-threatening situation for Charles himself.

“As I was preparing to descend, the platform of rock under me suddenly collapsed,” recalls Charles. “I fell 20 to 30 feet, hit another platform, then fell 10 to 15 feet face-first into shallow water. That’s when I lost consciousness.”

The fire department raised Charles up from the ravine and paramedics rushed him to Hamilton General Hospital, a leading provincial trauma centre.

“My head and chin were split open, and my nose was ripped off,” says Charles. “Scans revealed that my skull was shattered on the right side, I had a fractured orbital bone and I had two brain bleeds.”

Charles underwent emergency surgery to remove his upper-right sinus, add plates to his forehead and reconstruct his nose using bone fragments. He was later referred to specialists in the Acquired Brain Injury Program at the Regional Rehabilitation Centre, including an occupational therapist and a psychologist, who worked with him to overcome the effects of the accident.

“I’ve come a long way in such a short period of time,” says Charles, “I continue to see improvements every day.”

Charles was selected to be a Strides For The General Patient Ambassador this year, which is providing him with an opportunity to give back to the hospital. He is sharing his story to inspire community support for the event.

Hamilton General Hospital Foundation’s 10th annual Strides For The General has transitioned to a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From September 10 to 19, participants are invited to run or walk in their communities and fundraise for priority needs at Hamilton General Hospital, the Regional Rehabilitation Centre and St. Peter’s Hospital. Participants can register for a 5 km walk or run, or 10 km run. The $20-registration fee includes a participant race kit featuring a face mask, running socks and more.

This year’s goal is to raise $150,000. Thanks to the tremendous support of participants and event sponsors, previous proceeds from Strides For The General have purchased hundreds of pieces of vital equipment, directly benefiting patients today. As a leading teaching hospital, Strides For The General helps ensure that some of the latest equipment is available for the education of future medical practitioners.

Both individuals and teams are encouraged to participate in the event. To register and fundraise visit: hamiltonhealth.ca/strides.

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