Atlanta firefighter thankful to be on the other end of a great rescue

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Lt. Mark Quick, an Atlanta firefighter and paramedic, knows what it takes to make good decisions during an emergency rescue. During his nearly 13 years with the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, he’s made plenty of good calls with lives in danger.

But earlier this year, the 56-year-old was on the other end of a remarkable life-saving rescue.

Quick was off duty on Jan. 15 when he stopped to help at the scene of a two-car collision in DeKalb County. While aiding those involved, he was hit by an oncoming vehicle.

He said the swift actions of DeKalb County first responders may have saved his life.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

They administered aid while waiting for an ambulance to take him to Grady Memorial Hospital. Quick spent 17 days in intensive care, followed by three months at the Shepherd Center recovering from multiple injuries, including one to his spinal cord.

Throughout his hospital stays, surgeries and remarkable recovery, he continually expressed gratitude and interest in thanking those who rushed to his aid.

The Shepherd Center arranged to have officers from the DeKalb County Fire Rescue unit who worked the accident visit Quick at the rehabilitation hospital in April so he could thank them in person.

“I’m totally grateful to you guys for practically saving my life,” Quick said before hugging each first responder.

He gave them a wooden plaque he had made with a quote from Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Firefighters Luke Alden, Zach Brown, Jeffrey Johansen, Nishan Mu, David Weagle and Amanda Whitaker were on their way to the car wreck when the call was upgraded to include a pedestrian with injuries, Whitaker said. While waiting for the ambulance, paramedic Mu stayed with Quick, who was bleeding profusely from his mouth and face.

Quick had been at his fraternity brother’s house and was headed home when he saw the accident near the intersection of Browns Mill and Snapfinger roads. He doesn’t remember getting hit. “I put my coat on, and the next thing I knew I woke up in the hospital,” he said.

“I was this close to becoming a quadriplegic,” Quick added, holding a thumb and forefinger about an inch apart.

He had injuries to his face and mouth, a broken voice box, broken ribs, and a fracture in his neck. Quick has endured multiple surgeries, with more to come.

Quick told the first responders that the accident scene was complex and hard to assess, but they made a good call in what they did.

“I know you don’t like to be called a hero,” he told them, “but you guys are certainly heroes to my family and me.”

Anita Quick, his wife of 26 years, said first responders got her husband to Grady in time to save his life and ensured she got to the hospital, too.

“I’m eternally grateful,” the 52-year-old said.

The Atlanta couple has three children: Matthew, 30; Camille, 24, who lives in New York; and Marie, 17.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Anita Quick said her husband’s main concern was returning to his job at Atlanta Fire Station 40, covering the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Shortly before the accident, Quick earned his lieutenant’s rank and became a registered nurse.

Firefighting is a fourth career for Quick. He previously was a schoolteacher in New York, worked for Hands On Atlanta, and then the City of Atlanta.

Capt. Zach Spears, Quick’s classmate in the firefighting training and now his teammate, said his friend inspires everyone in the unit.

“Everyone thinks so highly of you and how you persevere,” Spears told him.

Quick said he could barely stand when he got to Shepherd and thanked his therapists for teaching him how to walk again.

His wife said it could be January before he is back to full strength and able to handle the rigors required of his job. And because he was off duty during the accident, he is not eligible for workers’ compensation insurance benefits.

Atlanta City Councilmember Andrea L. Boone is drafting city legislation to include off-duty first responders in workers’ compensation and plans to introduce legislation to the full council this month.

To help with medical and personal expenses while out of work, the Atlanta Professional Fire Foundation has set up a GoFundMe fundraiser.

The charitable organization wants to raise $75,000 to help him during his recovery.

“It will also send a powerful message of support to all of our firefighters, letting them know that we value their service and sacrifice, both on and off duty,” said William Iber of the Foundation.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner


Atlanta firefighter Lt. Mark Quick will need extensive surgeries to his mouth and face, and insurance will not pay for all of the procedures.

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