Firefighter’s ‘Scooter Brigade’ makes a stop in South Hill
Fire departments across five states have joined together in an historic and unprecedented mission to deliver medical equipment “brigade-style” to a Richmond firefighter who is currently battling cancer.
The equipment, consisting of mainly a motorized scooter chair and lift, is being carried from fire station No. 53 in Grand Lakes, Fla., to fire station No. 15 in Chesterfield, Va., for Richmond Fire Marshal Chief David “Chico” Creasy.
A firefighter with local ties, Creasy has been battling a rare form of liver cancer for two years and is in need of the scooter chair.
The entire feat, being called the “Great Scooter Brigade,” derived its name from the term “bucket brigade,” a method of firefighting used before the advent of many modern water-pumping methods in which firefighters would form a human chain to pass buckets of water from a source to a fire.
Instead of shipping the equipment, the motorized chair and its accessories are traveling from fire department to fire department, town to town, state to state, via firefighters and volunteers who are also simultaneously taking donations for the Creasy family and spreading awareness about cancer in the firefighting profession.
Along its journey, the brigade has gained national attention and support, been featured on many television news programs and covered by many other news outlets, in addition to garnering thousands upon thousands of likes on Facebook.
Creasy’s son, D.C., and Richmond firefighter Roger Myers Jr. intercepted the scooter at the Virginia-North Carolina state line and made several local stops on Friday before continuing on to Chesterfield over the weekend.
Myers’ father, a close friend of Creasy and resident of Florida who lost his own battle with cancer in 2016, was the original owner of the scooter chair. After his death, he wanted Creasy to have the equipment.
The Scooter Brigade made a stop at South Hill Volunteer Fire Department on Friday, after stopping in Emporia and Lawrenceville and before moving on to Kenbridge and Blackstone.
Creasy, who is described by friends and family as “strong” and “a fighter,” has ties to the area. Among many South Hill firefighters who turned out to welcome the brigade was South Hill resident Betty Jones, a cousin of Creasy.
Creasy also has direct ties to South Hill Fire Department, which proudly welcomed the brigade to the station just after noon on Friday.
“David has always been a good friend to this fire department, and we stay in contact all the time,” South Hill Fire Chief Rosser Wells said of Creasy. “When David was a battalion chief in Chesterfield County 30 years ago, he used come down here and teach us classes before Firefighter 1 even started. He bought a house at the lake, and when he was here visiting and we would do fundraisers, he would come and help us.”
Wells described Creasy as “one of the toughest individuals” he knows and said that most people in his situation “would have given up by now.”
Instead, Creasy has found opportunity amongst his affliction and is using it as a chance to educate firefighters about the dangers of cancer in the firefighting profession.
“I think God has a plan for him, to keep him here to teach the fire service about cancer,” Wells said.
While visiting South Hill’s fire station on Friday, Myers and Creasy’s son, D.C., took the opportunity to discuss the dangers related to cancer that exist in firefighting today. They informed those in attendance that firefighters are 40 percent more likely to contract cancer through their profession than any other. Additionally, firefighters are exposed to over 50,000 different toxins and carcinogens each time they battle a house fire. Those toxins adhere to a firefighter’s turnout gear and remain there until removed. While a firefighter’s air mask prevents inhalation of these toxins while worn, once the mask is removed, toxins lingering on the gear can be inhaled or even transferred to and absorbed through the skin. The group discussed ways to decontaminate turnout gear and prevent unnecessary exposure to the harmful toxins.
South Hill Fire Department, which welcomed the brigade with an arrangement of its finest apparatus adorned with a large American flag, also took a collection amongst its members and presented the donation to D.C., who graciously accepted on behalf of the Creasy family and noted that the family is currently forking out about $6,000 a month in medical and prescription costs.
“When (Creasy) was diagnosed, they found 32 tumors,” D.C. said. “He took a full dose of chemo three times a week for eight weeks. He did an experimental procedure about a year ago, and it took it down from 32 tumors to only 2.”
D.C. said the tumors unfortunately came back and the family spent the whole of the Christmas holiday in the hospital.
He said that his father has showed amazing strength throughout the entire ordeal, even continuing to work so as not to be a financial burden on his family. Creasy has drawn substantial strength from the outpouring of support he has received from the firefighting community and is excited to see all the people he is reaching with his message about cancer dangers among firefighters. The opportunity to help others has given him the will to push on, against all odds, and his story has inspired folks not only along the brigade’s journey north but also across the entire country.
“We are all pulling for David and hoping for the best,” Wells said.
To learn more about Creasy’s story or show your support, visit “Team Chico” on Facebook, where the entire journey of the scooter chair from Florida to Virginia has been documented.