This article was first published on Fire Aviation.
A smokejumper was seriously injured Sunday May 15 during a training parachute jump. Ben Elkind sustained a dislocated hip and pelvic fracture during a hard landing. During surgery at the hospital they found six fractures and placed three plates and 10 screws to repair the damage.
Ben has been a Smokejumper for the US Forest Service based in Redmond, OR for nine years and worked in fire as a member of the Zig-Zag Hotshots before jumping. He rookied as a smokejumper in Redding, CA, in 2014 then transferred to Redmond in 2015 to be closer to home and his family.
If his name seems familiar it is because on Wildfire Today we reprinted an opinion article he wrote that was published in The Oregonian, titled, “A USFS firefighter in Oregon can be paid more at McDonald’s.” Ben was also a member of a group that traveled to Washington, D.C. in March where they met with White House officials about pay issues and passing the Tim Hart Wildland Firefighter Classification and Pay Parity Act (H.R. 5631). They also talked with Marty Walsh, the Secretary of Labor, who oversees the Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs (OWCP), an agency that has been criticized for slow-walking or failing to appropriately process the claims and pay the medical bills of firefighters injured on the job.
In an ironic twist, a GoFundMe page has been set up for Ben’s family by the Redmond Smokejumpers Welfare Organization, an often necessary step taken by many federal firefighters who are injured on the job. Here is an excerpt from their description on GoFundMe:
Ben has a long road to recovery and will be unable to work for a significant length of time and will be missing out on the overtime that so many wildland firefighters depend on to make a living. We are starting this GoFundMe in order to help Ben and his family through this tough time. Please consider donating to help a firefighter and his family while they support each other on the road to recovery.