CBN.com Ronnie Hall always wanted to be a volunteer firefighter just like his dad.
“You kinda want to live up to your dad,” he tells The 700 Club.
When Ronnie turned 18, he became a volunteer firefighter for Station 7 in Riverdale, Maryland -- the same fire station he visited as a child.
“You get a call and your heart – the adrenalin,” he says. “You’re doing something that 9 out of 10 people run away from.”
On April 24, 1989, engine 71 was called to a fire. Ronnie had been a firefighter for just about six months.
“I was getting dressed, and we were headed to get on the truck.”
He took his place in the standing position behind the driver and held on to the side bar.
“Someone pulled out in front of us, and my driver swerved to the right real hard to miss the person.”
The 500 gallons of water in the fire truck started to rock. It caused the truck to tilt from left to right.
“I was ejected from the truck. We were almost 10 feet in the air from that standing position,” he recalls. “I had my helmet on but I hit my head as well. At that time I was knocked out. Maybe a couple of seconds. The truck ended up tipping over completely, and all I heard was thunder.
“It drug me about 60 feet. As it was dragging me, I said, 'God, please make it stop.' I remember yelling it three times and the third time the truck stopped.”
Ronnie continues, “I couldn’t put anything into words. It was the noise, whatever I was screaming. I just couldn’t stop yelling. It just hurt so bad. The only thing that was out [from under the truck] was my head and my right arm. The tank cracked and the water was pouring out on my face, and I was choking. I was trying to hold my breath as long as I could. When I couldn’t, I would just start taking in water. I couldn’t get out from under it so I just prayed to God, 'Please, if this is going to happen, let me go. I don’t want to survive.'
“Right around that time there started to be a presence of a woman -- an angel. I couldn’t fully see her. She told me three times, 'Everything is going to be okay. Everything’s going to be all right. Don’t worry. You’ll be okay.'”
Ronnie was pinned under the fire truck for an hour before he was pulled out. He was taken to a nearby hospital where doctors faced a tough decision.
“I had severe leg wounds especially on my left side,” he says. “They tried for a week with antibiotics going 24-7 to save my leg. After about a week, the doctor went and checked me over. I heard him say, 'We’re gonna have to take his leg.'”
His left leg was amputated just below the knee.
“Your family leaves, everybody goes home, you’re just sitting in that bed, and I’m staring at my injuries.”
He was fitted with a prosthetic leg so he could walk again but he knew his life would never be quite the same.
“Not knowing what you can or can’t do. You’re 18 years old. What you wanted to do since you were four is... you pretty much know you can’t do again. You just have all that time to wonder. The shoulda, woulda, coulda, why me, what ifs. And they’ll kill you.
“I felt God abandoned me. He saved me, but as far as hope of what I could do or be, I didn’t know. I saw myself not as Ronnie anymore. It was what was left of me.”
Ronnie was angry at God and rebelled…
“Just going out drinking, going to clubs. I’d live like there was no tomorrow. I didn’t care if there was a tomorrow. There wasn’t anything really to look forward to. I thought I was getting back at God (laughs) like anybody can do that.”
Deep down inside he was miserable.
“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired,” he says. “I wanted to live the life that I knew I was supposed to, that was in my heart. I got on my hands and knees in my room [and] just repented. Asking for God’s forgiveness for blaming Him for abandoning me. I was the one who abandoned Him and received Christ. I was 23.”
A couple of months later Ronnie was invited to go along with his old fire station crew on a practice fire!
“Being able to firefight again with the artificial leg changed my life. I was able to achieve something with a disability knowing I could still do it. Things were a lot better.”
Ronnie wanted to help make life easier for other amputees. So he went to school to learn the craft of making prosthetics. He then started a non-profit foundation called "Pieces from Your Heart."
“The name ‘Pieces from Your Heart’ is God-given,” he says. “To provide role models especially [for] young people, mentoring, peer counseling, teach them how to play sports. Teach them how to run to be active. They can picture themselves when they get my age what things can be like. Everything is possible.”
Ronnie took us back to the scene of the accident.
“Not too many times either on tape or things that you have that change your life forever. I have a spot on this road that reminds me of life or death. I know I should be dead. It’s humbling as far as a miracle. At first I didn’t see it as one while I’m going through it, staring at injuries. I know it would have only been God.”
Although Ronnie’s dream of having a career as a firefighter is over, he now fights to save others by telling them that no matter the challenges they face… faith in Jesus Christ is the answer.
“I John 5 says that, as a child of God, God promises all of us that we will overcome this world. As far as a hero to me, Jesus is my hero. Flat out. Everything is for a reason. God has a plan for all of us. If you’re going through a disability, a tough time, a loss of any kind and you haven’t received Christ, you have to.”
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.