Aspiring firefighter credits Prisma Trauma Center doctors for saving his life

Brandon Zinn was first treated at Prisma Health following a motorcycle accident in January

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — For years, Brandon Zinn has been driven by a childhood passion. 

“Ever since I was like six years old, I’ve always wanted to be a firefighter,” Zinn said.

Zinn was two weeks away from finishing firefighter training, but on January 19, he was injured in a motorcycle accident near I-77 and Bluff Road. 

A Columbia Police officer applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding from his leg at the scene. After he was brought to the hospital, he had to undergo several surgeries, including the amputation of his left leg. 

“I don’t remember any of the accident whatsoever, but coming here and just waking up and knowing I lost my leg, was very difficult to process but everybody here helped me get through it,” Zinn said.

For two and a half weeks, doctors at Prisma Health’s Level One Trauma Center took care of Zinn, and guided him through his recovery.

Dr. Alejandro Luis, the Trauma Medical Director at Prisma Health Midlands, says it’s remarkable to see the progress he has made.

“To get him over that hump, if you will, and to be able to say to mom and dad, ‘I think he’s going to make it,’ and when they do make it, they make such an incredible recovery like Brandon has made, it’s worth it’s weight in gold,” Dr. Luis said.

Zinn said he’s grateful for the care and support he received from the Trauma Center team.

“Without the Level One trauma center, I probably would not have made it. I was extremely close to death. Without that quick response, I wouldn’t be here today,” Zinn said.

Zinn says the Columbia Fire Department has been very supportive throughout his recovery. 

He says he has to get a special piece for his prosthetic leg and go through some training, but he’s hopeful he can make his mark on the department.

“An amputee firefighter is a rare thing, and to my knowledge, the City of Columbia has never had one so I would be what everybody looks to see if an amputee firefighter can make it in the City of Columbia,” Zinn said.

Prisma’s Trauma Center is the only Level I trauma center in the Midlands. Officials say the department treats an average of 2,400 of the area’s most critically injured patients each year.

In order to achieve Level I status, a hospital has to have a wide range of surgeons, specialists and equipment available 24 hours a day.

They also have to provide total care for every aspect of an injury, ranging from prevention to rehabilitation. 

Prisma Health officials says the trauma unit received its Level One distinction from the American College of Surgeons.

The other Level I trauma center in South Carolina is the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

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