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Anchorage firefighter remains in critical condition after training-related injury

AFD Deputy Chief of Operations Jodie Hettrick said during a press conference on Tuesday that firefighter/paramedic Ben Shultz, 29, sustained a critical injury when training at a fire station on Monday afternoon. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)​

An Anchorage firefighter remains in critical condition at a local hospital Tuesday after being injured during training Monday afternoon, according to an Anchorage Fire Department official.

Ben Schultz, 29, a firefighter and paramedic, has been with the fire department for six years.

Schultz was injured at 4:15 p.m. Monday, said AFD Deputy Chief of Operations Jodie Hettrick during a press conference Tuesday at Anchorage Fire Station 1. She declined to detail the extent of his injuries or the nature of the training, or to specify where the incident took place.

"We're not going to release any of that (the type of training), because we don't know exactly what caused the incident to happen," she said. "They were training at one of the stations."

Fellow firefighters immediately came to Schultz's aid when he was injured and took him to a local hospital. Schultz did not suffer burns, Hettrick said.

"Firefighter Schultz remains under hospital care, with his family and friends supporting him," she said. "Our priority right now is to care for (Schultz), making sure he gets the care he needs and to ensure his family is taken care of. He is receiving the best medical care possible."

AFD plans to release more information as it becomes available, likely later this week or early next week, Hettrick said.

It's been three years since the fire department experienced an incident during a training exercise. In March 2014, Jeff Bayless, senior captain at the Eagle River station, collapsed during training.

For the exercise, Bayless wore an air mask and tank to measure his oxygen intake while walking through a parking lot, up six flights of stairs and back down again for 10 minutes. He finished the training and then collapsed, dying shortly thereafter at a hospital, officials said at that time.

Injuries during training are not very common, Hettrick said Tuesday.

"All of us are shocked and devastated. You may understand, our service is a family, and how would you feel if your brother or cousin or sister was critically injured. We're all pretty hurt," Hettrick said.

Schultz's family is not asking for any help from the public at the moment, she said.

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