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Caught on video: Retired firefighter with glass embedded in head helps others after car hits restaurant

By now you’ve probably seen the video of the car plowing through the restaurant in Upper Marlboro, Maryland on Tuesday. But many may be unaware the man sitting at the bar in t-shirt and shorts is John Proels, who retired many years ago from the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department. Since then, John has done great work for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

As you watch the video, you’ll see John pick himself up, dust himself off and start helping others, including the man unconscious on the floor behind where John was sitting. John also hustled some of the staff and other customers out of the building.

When John’s back is to the camera in the video above you can clearly see the significant amount of blood on the back of his head. What may not be apparent is the sizable piece of glass embedded in his head. I’m told it was pointed out to John by one of the restaurant staff. John told the person he knew something was back there and to please get out. He then kept working until fire and EMS arrived.

I’ve know John for more than 40 years. We first met when he was assigned to Oxon Hill VFD, Station 21, where I was a volunteer in the mid 70s. As a member of the PGFD command staff later in his career, John was also assigned to handle on-camera interviews on more than a few controversial stories I covered. Despite this, we somehow remained friends.

I talked with John’s wife Susan today. He is home recovering, very sore from the head wound and his chest being pushed into the bar. His many friends wish John a complete and rapid recovery and aren’t the least bit surprised that, despite his own injuries, John quickly kicked into to firefighter mode.

News coverage of this story here and here.

John Proels

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