‘I have a Lot to be Grateful for’
Car crash won’t sideline Sellersville first responder
Giving back to his community. That’s what’s driven Ed Johnson to volunteer with local fire departments for 36 years. But last December, it was Johnson who needed his community to rally around him.
On the night of Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, Johnson, a Fire Police Officer (FPO) with the Sellersville Fire Department, was on the scene of a carbon monoxide poisoning. He was directing traffic at Bethlehem Pike and Forrest Road—about five minutes up the road from Grand View Health. He stopped a car. But the driver behind that car didn’t stop, pushing the vehicle in front right into Johnson’s path.
“I saw the car headed towards me,” says Johnson, 57, of Sellersville. “I tried to bail out of the way, but didn’t get all the way out.” Johnson hit the pavement. The helmet he was wearing saved him from head injuries. His leg, however, was badly damaged, broken in three places and breaking through the skin, which put Johnson at increased risk of infection.
Within minutes, he was seen by Grand View Health’s Trauma Team. An ambulance crew rushed Johnson to Grand View Health’s Level II Adult Trauma Center. He received a CT scan immediately upon arrival, then went right to the operating room, where orthopaedic surgeon James Hurley, MD, with Upper Bucks Orthopaedics at Grand View Health, was ready to help.
“The biggest risk he faced was amputation if serious consequences such as an infection occurred,” Dr. Hurley says.
To prevent infection and fix Johnson’s leg, Dr. Hurley started Johnson on antibiotics, cleaned out his wound, then performed surgery, inserting a long, metal rod inside the tibia to stabilize the fractured bone. Johnson’s fibula—the bone adjacent to the tibia between the knee and the ankle—was also fractured in two places in the same leg. “Stabilizing the tibia with the rod allows the fibula to heal on its own,” Dr. Hurley says.
Just 24 hours after the surgery, Johnson was standing with the help of a walker. By Friday evening at 6 p.m., he was preparing to return home. “I never, ever, in my dreams thought I would be home and walking in two days,” he says.
An Emotional Escort Home
Johnson lives about a mile away from Grand View Hospital. And when he was ready to return home, he received a special escort. Members of the Sellersville and Perkasie fire departments greeted him at the hospital with a motorcade of fire trucks and vehicles.
“There were 15 – 20 vehicles and about 50 – 100 men and women greeting me as I exited the building—a police escort, too,” Johnson says. “They were all shouting, waving, wishing me a speedy recovery.”
The entire scene moved Johnson. “It was very emotional. I had some tears in my eyes. I know this is a close band of family; it just brought home to me how close we really are.”
Getting Back to Helping Others
After two months of physical and occupational therapy at home, Johnson returned to Dr. Hurley’s office and received fantastic news. “He told me I could get rid of my boot and start walking in my shoes with a cane,” he says.
Johnson’s fast recovery shows the benefits of having a Level II Adult Trauma Center close to home. “With the trauma and ortho teams on call and available, we were able to make appropriate decisions regarding the care for Ed’s leg and address his overall well-being after what he had experienced that night,” Dr. Hurley says.
Now, Johnson is looking forward to serving his community again. He hopes to get back to his full-time job at JL Freed Honda in Montgomeryville in early spring, and eventually plans to continue serving as a volunteer FPO with the Sellersville Fire Department.
“Out of 5 stars, I give Grand View Health 10,” he says. “I never thought I’d be where I am at this point.”