Blood drive held in honor of injured Selma firefighter

FRESNO, Calif.

The blood drive was in honor of Chris Nelson, a Selma firefighter critically hurt during a routine training exercise on Feb. 8. He's been in the hospital since the accident.

The blood drive was held at the Fresno Fire Department Headquarters in downtown. Nelson's 15-year-old son, Jared Nelson, was there to show his appreciation to donors. He says his father is showing signs of improvement. He says Nelson is conscious but in critical condition.

"We're just holding up, being strong for my dad," Jared said.

Selma firefighters still don't know what went wrong during the routine exercise. Team members say Nelson, a 10-year firefighter and paramedic, seemed to just collapse while on a ladder.

He fell nearly 12 feet and landed on his head. He was taken to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno where he underwent major surgery, needing blood.

Anthony Rivas, who helped organize the blood drive, couldn't say what Nelson's exact injuries are but says the firefighter may need more surgery, and maybe more blood. However, he says the blood collected at the drive will go not only to Nelson, but to anyone who needs it.

"Everyday people are injured," he said. "It's not just firefighters, so we wanted to do something honoring Chris and also be able to help him and support him."

Many firefighters from other fire departments came to show their support.

Kari Moreno gave blood at the drive, after her friends at the Reedley Fire Department sent her a text asking her to donate.

"It's a good cause," she said. "I'm an O negative, so I'm a universal donor and that's a good enough reason to donate also."

Nelson also worked at the emergency room at the Adventist Medical Center in Selma. Marty Rodriguez who works for the Reedley Fire Department also worked at the emergency room as a nurse. He donated blood to support his friend and his family.

"He's a good E.R. tech," he said. "All around, just a great guy. It's a tragic event that happened to someone you never wish upon -- great person, great firefighter, great husband, and great friend."

Those who knew Nelson say the two jobs kept him busy. But when he wasn't in uniform, he would spend his free time with his wife and two kids, who were all touched by the support shown by the blood drive.

"I've always thought of the fire department as family," his son said.

Selma firefighters plan to hold a second blood drive in Selma, sometime in March. They've also started a fund for the Nelson family online:

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