There were loud cheers and big hugs as Lieutenant Samod Rankins stepped out of Bridgeport Hospital on Sunday, about two weeks after being badly hurt in a fire on Valley Street in New Haven.
“This moment was incredible. The amount of people who came out here to show their support for Lt. Rankins was unbelievable. Shows how strong our brotherhood and sisterhood really is,” said Lt. Pat Sheiffele of the New Haven Fire Department.
Rankins has been recovering after being found unconscious along with firefighter Ricardo Torres Jr. who died in the line of duty.
“It’s a dangerous job. That’s obviously apparent through these last two weeks,” said Capt. John Twohill of the New Haven Fire Dept.
Dozens of people including firefighters from multiple fire departments lined up outside of Bridgeport Hospital as Lt. Samod Rankins was released around noon.
That included his brother and sister who said they never gave up faith that this moment would happen.
“Definitely hope and prayer. I’ve believed he would pull through since day one and I’ve never had any question about it,” said brother Semeir Rankins.
The Rankins family thanks everyone for the continued support.
“It’s been a long, long 11, 12 days. We’re just glad he was able to walk out of here. And we would also make sure to keep the Torres family in your prayers,” said sister Lanesha Taylor.
After all the pain firefighters said they’ve gone through recently, they were proud to be there for someone who they say is a hard worker and dedicated to his job.
The fire chief said Rankins had significant injuries and expects the trauma, including the emotional impact, to be long lasting.
“As you can see, he’s a very strong young man, very determined. He gave me orders the second day he was in there in writing. So I know he’s going to be on a slow, but positive recovery,” said Chief John Alston of the New Haven Fire Dept.
The family said the plan for Rankins is to take it day by day and they hope everyone continues praying for his full recovery.
Two other firefighters were also injured in the fire and officials said they have since been released from the hospital. There's still no word on what caused the blaze.