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Meet Danny: Dedicated Family Man, Unstoppable Firefighter


Lots of kids grow up dreaming of becoming a firefighter. But not Danny. Only after spending years at a corporate desk job did he discover being a firefighter was the profession he always wanted.

“I absolutely love being a firefighter and serving my community,” said Danny. “But the best part about the job is that it lets me spend lots of extra time with my wife and kids. It’s a total win-win.”

When Danny’s career was put in jeopardy because of a serious rotator cuff tear, he was devastated. He wasn’t interested in doing anything else; being a firefighter was the job he was born to do.

After receiving treatment at another health system — and not getting the results he wanted — Danny found the right person to get him back on the job: Dr. Chad Waits, orthopedic surgeon at Hendricks Regional Health.


Switching it up.

Back in 2006 — almost twelve years before his rotator cuff injury — Danny was working for a local manufacturing company. He wasn’t spending as much time with his family as he wanted, so he knew it was time for something different.

“My brother is a firefighter, and I started thinking seriously that it might also be an option for me,” said Danny. “It’s an awesome job because you get to save lives and help people when they need it most. I also love the strong bonds that form between everyone in the firehouse. I decided it sounded like a good fit, so I gave it a shot.”

Danny’s brother inspired him to enroll in a year-long firefighter academy in Brownsburg. At the time, Danny was in his 30s, making him older than much of his competition. But he used his experience as an advantage — and even though his class started with more than 100 hopefuls, Danny was among just 12 people chosen to become full-time Brownsburg firefighters.


A slippery setback.

One day early in 2018, Danny was planning to drive his wife to a doctor’s appointment. On the way out the door, he slipped on a patch of ice and took a hard fall. He quickly knew something was wrong and went to the emergency room.

“Just because of how I fell and the pain I was having, my immediate reaction was that I broke my arm,” said Danny. “That was not a fun day.”

Danny’s injury seemed especially serious. He had X-rays at another local health system, and, despite barely being able to move his arm, he was told nothing was broken and to do physical therapy. After trying that for six weeks, it was becoming clear to Danny that another approach was needed.

“I know the difference between being hurt and injured. My range of motion was getting worse despite physical therapy, and I could tell this wasn’t going to heal on its own,” said Danny. “My doctor told me to keep going with it even though my situation continued to deteriorate. I didn’t feel like anyone was listening to me.”

That was enough for Danny. He made an appointment with Hendricks Regional Health and received an MRI right away. His diagnosis was much different than the one he’d received at the other health system: He had a completely torn rotator cuff.

The man with the plan.


Danny was referred to Dr. Chad Waits, orthopedic surgeon at Hendricks Regional Health. The first thing Dr. Waits did was have an in-depth conversation with Danny about his injury and goals.

“Dr. Waits asked about my questions and concerns. He was really interested in my input,” said Danny. “That conversation told me I was in the right place.”

Together, Danny and Dr. Waits decided that shoulder surgery was the best course of action — and that having it right away would give Danny the best chance of a full recovery.

“When I saw the extent of Danny’s injury, I knew we needed to do something immediately,” said Dr. Waits. “Here’s this big, strong guy who plays such a critical role protecting our community, and I wanted to do everything in my power to get him working again as a firefighter.”

While Dr. Waits wanted to get Danny back on the job, he was also careful to be realistic with him about his prospects. His injury was an unusual case, but Dr. Waits was up for the challenge.

“Having a full rotator cuff tear isn’t something we see often,” said Dr. Waits. “In Danny’s case, it was separated by over an inch, and he needed an extensive surgery that included seven anchors in his rotator cuff and one in his biceps to correct the problem.”

Danny’s in the (fire) house.

Rotator cuff surgery usually comes with at least a few months of physical therapy, and Danny’s case was no exception. For someone as competitive and driven as Danny, being patient with the recovery process wasn’t easy.

“Physical therapy was one of the toughest challenges of my entire life,” said Danny. “I remember being so frustrated; I wanted everything to go faster. But I followed the strategy and stuck with it, and it was a great plan because today my shoulder feels awesome.”

Danny credits Hendricks Regional Health and his outstanding team of orthopedic and physical therapy experts with getting him back to work — and he’s especially grateful, because there was a time he wasn’t so sure he’d ever be a firefighter again.

Today, Danny’s back to working at the Brownsburg Fire Department doing the job he loves.

“I’m so happy I can keep serving people in and around Hendricks County. The only thing more important is being around my family. Thanks to the extraordinary care I received at Hendricks Regional Health, I get to keep enjoying both.”


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