Local Paraplegic Firefighter Regains Old Life

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RENO, NV - After living almost a year as a paraplegic, a Truckee Meadows firefighter gets his life back thanks to new technology. Bill Winchester is the first American to test out the TEK RMD. It's been used in Europe, but now thousands of paraplegics in the U.S. can live a life that isn't confined to a wheel chair.

For almost a year, life was set in a wheel chair. Winchester crashed his bicycle into an illegally parked truck in September 2014 and lost all movement from his chest down.

"We lived in a two-story before, we sold our house and found this rental house; fortunately, it's one story with tile and it's really easy to get around, thank God," he said.

Before his life changed, Winchester was a captain with the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District. He's not used to having people help him.

"For me to managing people to going into a fire to picking someone up onto a gurney, to helping extricate someone into a car, to struggling on a wheel chair is a life-altering change."

With three young kids and a wife, it wasn't easy for anyone to accept the lifelong effects from the accident.

"Once we arrived at Craig Hospital when I saw everyone in wheel chairs, that's when it hit me that this is what our life was going to be," said Heather Winchester, his wife.

"Being able to stand up is one of those things where you can only imagine what it feels like to stand up and move," but that all changed Monday afternon.

TEK RMD is a new device that helps people like Bill stand up and live life without a wheelchair. The company chose Winchester to test the device for the first time in the United States.

"When we were designing the product, we were always thinking to give them the life before the accident," said Necati Hacıkadiroğl, inventor.

For the first time in 11 months, he was able to do the one thing he missed the most: hug his wife.

"It's an incredible opportunity to hug your wife, hug your kids and be equal to everyone in the world."

Before, Winchester's wheelchair didn't allow him inside the pantry. Now, he can grab anything from the top shelf and help out around the kitchen.

"I could probably get dressed now, whereas before I had to get dressed on the bed. These things are things people take for granted or doesn't even think about."

He says the device has helped regained his confidence. He wants to help around the house and become more involved with his kids, but for now it's one small move at a time.

"Every day is a new adventure and this one is the best one yet."

The cost of TEK RMD is about $20,000. It is now available throughout the U.S.