Fire Station 125 in Calabasas received a very special visit from the Aslan family on March 11. Less than four months before, Edmond Aslan, 44, was involved in a fiery crash on Mureau Road, during which he sustained severe burns to his face, head, hands, left arm, left knee and left foot. Recently, he contacted us because he was very interested in meeting his rescuers—particularly the first firefighter who came to his aid and was so incredibly calming, compassionate and reassuring.
“I kept asking him ‘Am I going to look like a monster?’ and he was so kind and reassuring,” Aslan recalled. “I just remember how safe he made me feel.”
That first firefighter was Michael Fidani, who was amazed that Aslan remembered.
In fact, Aslan remembers everything from the moment of impact on Nov. 28, 2014, to the moment he received his second shot of morphine in the back of the ambulance. From there, his memory is gone until the moment he awoke from his medically induced coma a couple of weeks later.
“He never lost consciousness, though,” said his wife, Eileen. “He was quite chatty in the emergency room.”
When firefighters arrived at the solo vehicle accident, both Aslan and his passenger were already outside the vehicle. For Aslan, that was a miracle; the fact that he was able to finally free himself undoubtedly saved his life. (Aslan’s passenger received very minor injuries and was released from the hospital a few hours after arrival.)
The accident itself directly affected the Ferrari’s gas tank, which is just behind the driver, and resulted in a small explosion and fire. Those flames immediately began touching Aslan as he opened his car door. Unfortunately, he was unable to unclasp his seat belt. Although his left side, hands, and face were beginning to burn, he remembered that he had left a rescue knife on the center console just the day before. Hoping it had not flown away during impact, he reached over and, to his surprise, it was right there where he left it. He grabbed it.
“Luckily I grabbed it the right way; if I would have had to turn it around to use it, I wouldn’t have been able to,” he recalled.
As he fell out of the car and was trying to move away from it, firefighters arrived. Fidani was the first to reach him. Aslan kept repeating to Fidani, “Did you get the Nissan that cut me off?”
“Let’s not worry about the Nissan right now … let’s just concentrate on taking care of you,” Fidani responded.
And take care of him, they did. “Every firefighter who helped me that night did an amazing job, and I can’t thank you all enough,” Aslan said.
The Ferrari was destroyed in the crash; Aslan has since made an incredible recovery.
As Aslan and the firefighters sat around the kitchen table during his recent visit and discussed the incident and his subsequent recovery, Aslan revealed that he naturally has his good days and bad, with his biggest concern now being whether he will ever regain full use of his hands. During this conversation, the firefighters shared with him the story of one of Fire Captain Dave Leary, who also suffered severe burns—including on his hands—many years ago during an incident. Leary made a full recovery.
Aslan asked if it might be possible for him to speak with Leary about his experiences and recovery, and that connection has since been made.
In the near future, Aslan will reunite with all of his rescuers.
Featured photo: Edmond Aslan with Fire Fighter Specialist Markus Voegler, Fire Fighter Stephen Reigel and Fire Fighter Michael Fidani. Photo by Maria Grycan.