Firefighter Yurik Resetnikov, who was paralyzed in a bodysurfing accident, has received support from across the state and nation. Image courtesy: Resetnikov family
Yurik Resetnikov poses in this undated photo, with his wife and two daughters. Image courtesy: Resetnikov family
Firefighter Yurik Resetnikov, photographed before his accident, meets with kids. Image courtesy: Resetnikov family
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
"Can't hurt steel."
A Hawaii Island firefighter's popular catch phrase is popping up all over social media as a rallying cry for support after the 40-year-old was paralyzed bodysurfing at Sandy Beach.
"Can't hurt steel" was the first message from Yurik Resetnikov after he regained consciousness.
"His brother asked, How are you doing? And he started spelling out letters and the nurse was writing it on the board and he just spelled out: 'Can't hurt steel,'" said his wife, Lindsay.
"He's been saying it for years. He'd always be like, 'Doesn't matter, you can't hurt steel,'" said his best friend and fellow Station 7 Kailua-Kona firefighter Aaron Mitchell.
"That's his mindset. It doesn't get him down. Even though he's in this situation, he's so positive."
Resetnikov was bodysurfing at Sandy Beach on October 12 with some members of the Kai Opua Canoe Club, which he coaches, when he was injured. Resetnikov is an experienced waterman, who used to live on Oahu and his wife says Sandy's was always his favorite spot.
Friends who were with Resetnikov say he was catching a wave in for their flight back to Kona when he was found floating and unresponsive in the water. He was rushed to the Queen's Medical Center, where he's been in intensive care ever since.
Resetnikov is awake, but because of the amount of salt water and sand he swallowed, he's breathing on a ventilator and unable to speak. Doctors say he fractured his spine in two places, the sixth and seventh cervical vertebra.
Resetnikov has full cognitive function and is able to lift both arms and wiggle his fingers, but he's paralyzed from the chest down.
"We're just waiting to see something there," Lindsay said.
"He's just such a strong guy, if there's anyone that can -- I think it's him," Mitchell said.
Lindsay says the firefighter is extremely fortunate he's still alive.
"The lifeguards got him back. So, I definitely want to say thank you," Lindsay said tearing up, as she explained how long they worked on him. She was on the phone listening as they refused to give up on Resetnikov until he was breathing again.
"They said they were doing CPR on him now and then I heard cheering and they said, 'Oh,we have a pulse!'" Lindsay said.
Resetnikov has been a Hawaii County firefighter since 2008.
"That was his dream. That was what he's always wanted to do," said Lindsay.
Earlier this year, Resetnikov was recognized by the Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation for meritorious service above and beyond the call of duty.
Lindsay says her husband won't even consider the possibility of not returning to work. "I think number one for him is his family and his friends and he has that, and number two in his life is being a firefighter -- so that would be the hard part," Lindsay said.
Mitchell says a steady stream of firefighters from all over the state -- including many who'd never met him -- have been dropping by and keeping Resetnikov's spirits up.
"They came to visit and one of the first things he told them besides, 'Can't hurt steel' was 'Don't give away my job!' He's intubated, injured, paralyzed in bed -- and that's one of the first things he's thinking about. Actually one of the chiefs came today, and he had said something about, 'I'm coming back to work,'" said Mitchell.
Fellow firefighters are stepping in to make sure he's taken care of until then.
"We don't know the prognosis of his injury, but they have a clause in the contract where anybody can come work for Yurik. It can be a captain, driver, rescue guy, paramedic -- anybody can come basically work his shift. It allows him to collect a paycheck still without basically exhausting all his vacation and sick hours," said Mitchell.
There has been such an outpouring of support; Resetnikov's shifts will likely be covered through January of 2018 when he makes ten years with the county and is eligible for full benefits.
Doctors say it's unclear how long Resetnikov will need to remain in the ICU, which is why his wife and daughters have relocated here to Oahu so they can be with him everyday. His girls -- 12-year-old Kona and 10-year-old Mehana -- are already enrolled in school on Oahu.
Resetnikov's stay in the hospital could be another month and there's also the possibility he may need to go to a rehabilitation hospital in Colorado, so a GoFundMe account to help cover the costs of his medical care has been set up. In just eight days, it has raised more than $80,000.
"Yurik is the most positive guy. It's pretty amazing. It's inspirational and we just want to thank everyone. We really appreciate it. We're pulling for Team Yurik," said Mitchell.
If anyone can defy the odds, Lindsay says it's her husband and she says her family owes that chance to the first responders who gave their all.
"Everyone from the ocean safety, who were there right away, and Station 34, the Hawaii Kai firefighters, and the paramedic and the EMT, who were first on the scene. I know it's because Yurik would've done the same for everyone else -- that's the kind of person he is," said Lindsay.
For more information, visit the page set up for Resetnikov here.