Bradenton fire victim volunteers for burn unit that saved his life

It's rare not to see Jim Entwistle without a smile on his face. After what he's lived through, his smile is a testament to perseverance.

"When you go through something like that you kind of learn what your core is and my core is pretty positive," he said. "It was kind of a plume, this blue flame plume came in."

In late October 2020, that plume of fire would forever change his life. He was at home, working on an old boat he'd just bought, siphoning out the old gas out. 

When he turned on a shop vac, a fire sparked.

"I wasn’t actually on fire. It was more of a fast singe," Entwistle recalled.

After stopping the fire from spreading into his home, Jim was rushed to the ICU at Blake Burn Center. A picture of his shoes showed what he lived through; third degree burns across 44% of his body.

"When somebody has a 30 or 40% burn in his circumstance that’s a life-threatening situation and we take it very seriously,"said Dr.Michael Van Vliet.

Doctor Michael Van Vliet, Blake Burn Center's medical director spent 32 days with Jim. He helped him through surgeries, skin grafts and rehab.

"It takes a special person like Jim that is really able to push through that and know that this is worth it in the long run," said Dr.Van Vliet.

Having a burn unit in the area allowed his wife and father to visit every day, lifting his spirits as staff encouraged his recovery.

"The care that I received here is amazing all the way from the trauma center to the burn unit to the rehab floor," said Jim.

A year and a half later, Jim is back out on the water and volunteering with the burn unit.

"You want to give back when you’ve had this level of, these are special people. Very special people," he said.

In hopes his journey can help others.

"I've been on that bed and you just want emotional support you want somebody to say hey look I’ve been through it and you will be through it as well," said Jim.