Trenton firefighter fights illness with help from community

EWING, N.J. - July 29, 2011

"I want to thank Norfolk Fire deptartment, the hospital for saving my life and all the guys that came down to see me every day," Quinlan said. "It's been unbelievable."

Quinlan, who's been a Trenton firefighter for 23 years, spent several weeks on life support after going into septic shock. He was put on dialysis and also had surgery.

At times, it was so touch and go that when his co-workers from Rescue 1 handed him his fire helemt in the ambulence, they worried they might never see him wearing it again.

"He would squeeze our hand and I said 'You gotta keep fighting, Keith,'" said Dave Barlow of Hamilton Township Police. "And he did, and he never gave up."

"Still got a long way to go," said Wayne Wolk of the Trenton Firefighters Union. "He's going to go to rehab now, but we're just glad to have him home."

Quinlan's wife, Cori, flew with him, his son and daughter and met the plane at the airport along with an honor guard of almost two dozen emergency vehicles and nearly one hundred co-workers dressed in blue t-shirts.

"It's unbelievable but it's just a great feeling to be back and just be surrounded by so many people and so many of our friends," Cori Quinlan said.

Throughout Quinlan's hospitalization, firefighters from the area have been traveling to Virginia daily, staying in shifts with Keith so he was never alone.

"Visit him every day, cooking meals," said John Fleming of the Trenton Fire Department. "We try to keep with the guys and be with the family to give him support. And that's what we did."

Keith Quinlan is clearly feeling all of the love and support that is surrounding him.

"It's overwhelming. I can't even describe it. Can't believe it. Just amazing."

Quinlan will be in a rehabilitation facility for a couple weeks and then hopefully home, to stay.

Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.