Meet a Firefighter who beat the odds…an inspiration to all
By Sean Simonson, CAPF and NPFBA Participant, and
Jim Floyd, Plan Administrator
On April 20, 2006, Sean Simonson, a City of Milpitas firefighter, flew over the handlebars of his mountain bike and landed on his head. Sean’s accident injured his spinal cord and changed his life forever when he became a quadriplegic (someone with limited or no movement in their arms and legs). Initially, doctors believed that Sean would not regain any of his lost movement, which meant he would only be capable of moving his left arm leaving Sean bedridden for the rest of his life. Sean proved the doctors wrong and immediately began planning his return to the fire department and competitive sports.
In 1998, Sean became a firefighter with the Milpitas Fire Department. Between 1998 and 2006 Sean worked on all of the various apparatus and equipment within the department. However, his favorite assignment was working on the truck with all of its challenging duties. In addition to loving his job, Sean appreciated the opportunity his job gave him to pursue athletics including running, triathlons, motorcycle racing and downhill mountain bike racing. Sean won the Amateur Cup Downhill Mountain Biking Championship and became the District 36 Motocross Enduro Class Champion during that time.
In 2006 while training for a distance ride, Sean had his accident that injured his spinal cord. While at Stanford Medical Center, doctors told Sean that he would need around the clock home health care for the rest of his life. Instead of accepting their diagnosis Sean focused on his rehabilitation so that he could return to the fire department. Sean spent 70 days in the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in a spinal rehabilitation facility. Physical therapy taught Sean to do daily activities with his limited motor skills. Eleven months after the accident, Sean returned to the Milpitas Fire Department as the Manager of the Office of Emergency Services. Today Sean works as the City of Milpitas’ Emergency Preparedness Manager where he is responsible for the safety of all 600 employees and the community at large. Sean’s situation taught him that being a firefighter doesn’t just mean running into burning buildings, but it means that you have an innate desire to help people and be a part of a team.
Sean currently trains and races on his handcycle, racing wheelchair and in the swimming pool. He regularly competes in marathons and triathlons. Sean competed in this summer’s Firefighter Olympics where he won a gold medal in Triathlon and Cycling.
According to Sean, “None of this would have been possible without the wonderful assistance from the National Peace Officers and Fire Fighters Benefit Association (NPFBA) Long Term Care (LTC) Plan. Their assistance has allowed me to focus on my recovery and not how to facilitate that recovery financially. I cannot express how important the Long Term Care (LTC) Plan has been to my rehabilitation. I consider myself extremely lucky to be a part of such an exceptional organization.”
During Sean’s rehabilitation, he received support from the California Association of Professional Firefighters (CAPF) Long Term Disability (LTD) Plan and the NPFBA Long Term Care (LTC) Plan. The CAPF Long Term Disability (LTD) Plan protected Sean’s salary during the eleven months he was off work. The NPFBA Long Term Care (LTC) Plan has covered Sean’s care expenses for 5 years and will continue to cover care expenses for the rest of Sean’s life.
“100% of our membership has Long Term Care coverage through NPFBA. The comprehensive protection and excellent customer service is unmatched.”
Richard Chen, President-Huntngton Beach Police Officers’ Association
“We are so grateful to the Trustees of NPFBA. During our darkest days, our long term care policy has been a beacon of light in providing the care for my wife. We can now focus on her physical rehabilitation without the financial burden of her long term care weighing on us. We are thankful to be a part of the NPFBA family.”
Don & Lynn Kusar, Los Angeles City Fire Department
“For our active members, there is no better product available when it comes to long term care protection. It has what my members look for and need, pricing, comprehensive benefits and it is member owned through a jointly sponsored, mutual benefit trust!”
Greg Stuber, President – Sacramento County Probation Officers Association
“I want to thank NPFBA for their help and guidance in getting in-home care for my wife. Their warm professional demeanor and empathy for our difficult situation went beyond my expectations. The staff is always available to answer questions and their suggestions made the process go smoothly. We are extremely grateful for everything NPFBA has done.”
Doug Schulte on behalf of Dorlue Schulte, San Diego City Fire Department
“NPFBA has demonstrated a keen understanding of the long term care needs of active law enforcement members and their spouses. We are pleased to offer the superior level of protection to thousands of our statewide members.”
Roger Mayberry, President – California Fraternal Order of Police
“NPFBA’s assistance has allowed me to focus on my recovery and not how to facilitate that recovery financially. I cannot express how important the Long Term Care (LTC) Plan has been to my rehabilitation. I consider myself extremely lucky to be a part of such an exceptional organization.”
Sean Simonson, City of Milpitas Fire Department
“A year after retiring, I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. After three years, in-home caregivers were needed to assist with my daily living needs and NPFBA was contacted. NPFBA’s staff members were extremely helpful and compassionate. My LTC benefit requests have always been processed promptly and accurately. Being protected with NPFBA-LTC gives me peace of mind knowing I’m well covered along my journey.”
Keith Kumada, City of Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety