Man returns to work after nearly losing life in accident


by Claudia Coffey

Posted on February 1, 2013 at 7:52 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 1 at 8:01 PM

(WHAS11) -- Joe Riffe saves lives every day, but he nearly lost his own in 2011 that resulted in the amputation of his left leg. Now he is back at work and as WHAS11's Claudia Coffey reports, he is back to the life he wants, not the one that has been given to him.

It is a grueling job but one that 30-year-old Riffe says he was born to do. When you watch this paramedic with Rural Metro Ambulance, you notice his focus and his dedication to his work but what you don't see is what nearly cost him his life.

Riffe was injured in a fall while hiking near Tioga Falls off Dixie Highway in May 2011. He fell 110 feet.

"I'm a paramedic. I sat up, looked down and noticed that my leg was basically destroyed. My heel was in the place where my toe should be. So my foot was completely turned around," Riffe said.

He was alive but had lost the use of his leg. His decision he says was a simple one, he wanted his leg amputated.

"It was a chance to have a new beginning and get back to doing what I love doing," Riffe said.
Now,  he has a prosthetic that’s the most technically advanced available to amputees. It was developed for military amputees and now available to civilians. It's allowed him to get back to his life.

He had his leg amputated back in January of 2012, fitted with a prosthetic in March and back on the job in November.

His work partner is Christy Skaggs and she is amazed by his work ethic.

"It's amazing, his knowledge, his physical abilities. It's amazing," Christy Skaggs, with Rural Metro Ambulance, said.

For Joe, he's just happy to be doing what he loves, what he was meant to do.

"Im not disabled, I'm differently abled. A lot of amputees need to understand that as well because just because you lost a leg doesn't mean you lost your way of life," Riffe said.

Now Joe is waiting for another prosthetic for his foot, One that would allow more flexibility in his movements.