Nearly two weeks after losing his left arm in a fireworks demonstration accident, Leechburg Police Chief Mike Diebold recently spoke at UPMC Mercy about his experience and his future.
Diebold, a licensed pyrotechnician, has been a police officer for the past 20 years and spent the last 10 as the police chief in Leechburg, Pennsylvania.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it out of the ambulance the night they loaded me up,” he said. At the press conference, he had a smile on his face and is optimistic for the future. After four to six weeks of recovery, he will begin the process of being fitted for a prosthetic arm. He’s hopeful that he will be able to return to the force as a fully functional police officer.
Leeanna McKibben, chief nursing officer and vice-president of Patient Care Services at UPMC Mercy, said Diebold’s optimism has been present throughout his time at the hospital.
“[He] has been both brave and resilient and has fully participated in his care,” she said. “We wish him the best in his journey to recovery.”
With his fiancé Danielle Reinke by his side, Diebold said he was grateful for all the support his family and the community has given him. The local community has organized various fundraisers and created shirts that say, “We Stand By Ours, #teamdiebold15656.”
His gratitude didn’t end with the people of Leechburg. He also spoke of his treatment at western Pennsylvania’s only hospital with a comprehensive burn center and level one regional resource trauma center under one roof.
“I didn’t choose to blow my arm off,” Diebold said. “I didn’t choose UPMC, but I’m damn glad that helicopter pilot did.”