Houston Fire Capt. Bill Dowling had a setback in his recovery from a suffering brain injury and burning more than 30 percent of his body after serving a deadly call on a Southwest Houston hotel restaurant May 31, 2020.
Injuries from the fire also resulted in Dowling’s legs being amputated, and due to a bone infection, surgeons at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio on Monday removed another four inches from his left leg.
But on the same day, supporters presented a $5,453 check raised from an Aug. 30 fundraiser organized by Firefighters Helping Firefighters and the Gator Motorplex racetrack.
The money was raised to buy Dowling a recreational vehicle that could better accommodate his physical disability. Dowling struggles getting around for long distance trips, and the RV would allow him to attend his daughter’s select volleyball games.
It took a gesture from U.S. Congressman Ted Poe, R-Texas, to get Dowling into the San Antonio Level 1 military trauma center, according to his wife Jacki Dowling.
Arthur Hermiz of Gator Motorplex, who helped organize the event after following Dowling’s health progress through social media, said even though he doesn’t know the fire captain, it was important to show appreciation for the sacrifice of firefighters at the Southwest Inn last year, when four died and 16 more were injured, including Dowling.
“I don’t know Bill from anybody else but he was a firefighter that was injured and to me, the city of Houston wasn’t doing enough for him,” Hermiz said. “So, for as much as he sacrificed for us, it was the right thing for us to do something for him.
“Somebody asked us why we were doing it someone we didn’t know, and we told them that he didn’t know anybody going into the hotel.
“He went in there to help people he didn’t know and he got hurt. It could’ve my family in that building. Firefighters sacrifice for us every day and when one gets hurt, we need to take care of them.”
Hermiz contacted Al Goebel, founding member and vice president of Firefighters Helping Firefighters, to help organize what turned out to be a silent auction, live auction and the selling of T-shirts and car decals.
Firefighters from all across the county, as well as neighboring Harris and Walker counties, attended the fundraiser.
Protec Ambulance Transport, a private ambulance company based in Willis, picked Dowling up from his home in Spring so he could attend the event at the racetrack.
Goebel said the focus now is getting Dowling back to as healthy as possible. Jacki Dowling in May called her husband “a fighter.”
“It’s a huge deal to get him at Brooke’s,” Goebel said. “They’re used to seeing these traumatic injuries like he has.”
Article Written By Brandon K. Scott The Conroe Courier