Favorite stories of 2019: A community rallies for Vail firefighter Scott Bridges | VailDaily.com

Favorite stories of 2019: A community rallies for Vail firefighter Scott Bridges

Bridges' story is one of courage, patience and the kindness of a community

Scott, left, and Fiona Bridges.
Special to the Daily

Editor’s note: For the Vail Daily’s year in review, reporters were tasked with telling the story behind their favorite story of the year. This is the second in a series.

Telling the stories of remarkable people is one of the privileges of this job. Telling a story that ends well brings some joy to the party.

Scott Bridges, a lieutenant with the Vail Fire Department, was badly injured March 1 while trying to help victims of an early morning accident on a storm-slicked Interstate 70.

For a time that morning, it wasn’t clear whether Bridges would survive. He did, of course, much to the community’s relief.

The good news from a very bad morning is that it occurred in going-to-work traffic. Steve Simonsen and Nidia Villalobos, both Vail Health operating room nurses, stopped to provide aid to the prone figure on that icy highway, and got him to relative safety, helping control his bleeding and offering reassurance until an ambulance arrived.

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After Bridges was hospitalized, his comrades from the fire service never left his side. That’s the kind of brotherhood firefighters have. Firefighters stayed with Bridges every moment for the week he remained in the hospital. They also provided support and updates while Bridges’ wife, Fiona, tried to get back to the Vail Valley.

And there’s another remarkable chapter of the story.

Fiona Bridges is a teacher, and for the past several years has worked in her native Australia, on, then off, in 10-week stints.

In March, Fiona had taken an opportunity to teach in Fiji, which is about as far away from Vail as you can be and still be on this planet. There, her phone started pinging with text messages from Vail Fire Lt. Jim Rabidue, a friend of Scott’s.

The next 40 hours or so found Fiona working to make the long trip to Eagle County. She finally arrived at her husband’s side the evening of March 3.

A few weeks later, the Bridges sat down to talk at an Eagle coffee shop. Fiona did most of the talking.

Both talked about much more than just the accident and Fiona’s long, stressful trip to her husband’s side. There’d been an “overwhelming” community response to Bridges’ injury. A GoFundMe campaign had started, and Yeti’s Grind donated the profits from a day’s sales to help cover Bridges’ medical bills.

And everywhere, people have wanted to know how Bridges was doing — he’s much better, thanks, and returned to work a few weeks ago.

It’s the kind of concern, support and love that marks life in a small community. We know and help our neighbors.

It’s the kind of support that’s prompted the Bridges to contribute to other GoFundMe efforts.

It’s hard for mere words to express relief, gratitude and appreciation. If you have a chance to talk to Scott and Fiona Bridges, you’ll hear it, loud and clear.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2930.

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