Paralysed firefighter now helping others

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A firefighter who was paralysed in a cycling accident is now using his love of scuba diving to help other patients with spinal injuries.

Pete Lau had travelled the world scuba diving and had a passion for the outdoors, but his life changed for ever when he suffered devastating injuries when he was knocked off his bike while cycling with friends in Wensleydale in April 2014.

The crash shattered vertebrae, and pushed bone through his spinal cord - injuries so severe he spent four weeks in a coma, required a tracheotomy to breathe, contracted double pneumonia and wasn’t able to speak for two months

But after spending five months “rebuilding” himself at the regional spinal injuries centre at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, he was able to leave hospital for his new home, a specially adapted bungalow in Baildon, Bradford.

Mr Lau credits the training he has had during his 24 years with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) for the determination he has shown in his recovery. He had risen to the rank of Assistant District Commander for Bradford and early in 2014 had been deployed to southern England to command West Yorkshire Water Rescue resources during the flooding.

He said: “Having a firefighter’s background made a difference. We all have a massive strength and discipline in us and we have a drive to do the best we can – it’s instilled into us from recruits stage.”

He has set up a snorkel club for people with spinal injuries in the hydrotherapy pool at the spinal injuries centre, with the help of colleagues from the WYFRS scuba section.

Mr Lau said: “Participating in activities such as scuba diving shows those suffering a spinal injury that they can still do amazing things despite now having a disability”.