NPFD goes above and beyond for wheelchair-bound resident

NPFD goes above and beyond for wheelchair-bound resident

Jeff Jarry with North Providence firefighters after they installed a wheelchair ramp at his home.

NORTH PROVIDENCE – North Providence resident Jeff Jarry has been reliant on a wheelchair for mobility for much of the past three years, but recently regained some freedom thanks to efforts by members of the North Providence Fire Department.

While the chair on wheels has allowed Jarry – diagnosed with multiple sclerosis more than a decade ago – to more easily get around, the home he shares with his fiancée was not properly equipped to support his needs as his condition worsened. The home lacked a ramp, which would allow Jarry to come and go from the home with relative ease.

Due to the lack of accessibility, Jarry and fiancée Kristen Mitchell were forced to call upon the North Providence Fire Department each time he wanted to leave the house. As Jarry is 6 feet, 4 inches tall, Mitchell was unable to lift her fiancé to get him up the stairs.

Mitchell said firefighters would offer “lift assists,” lifting Jeff into his wheelchair and down the stairs when he needed to leave, and the reverse when he was coming home.

“Sometimes, we would have to call the fire department several times per week for Jeff to go to various appointments, or in the event he had a fall in the house,” Mitchell said.

The process of coming and going became so arduous that Jarry often avoided it altogether at times.

In September, the Rhode Island Shriners stepped in and donated a wheelchair-accessible ramp to Jarry to aid his ability to leave the home. The donation was greatly appreciated, said the couple, but they were still missing key details regarding the ramp’s manufacturer and model, making finding a qualified professional to install the ramp problematic.

Enter the North Providence Fire Department.

The morning of Dec. 4, Jarry woke to find several members of the department coming to his home, unannounced, to assemble and install the ramp, which had been sitting unassembled for several months.

“At a complete loss for words,” said Jarry in a post that day. “The North Providence Fire Department, the same people that always help me in and out of the house, came over this morning and built this ramp for me. I had no idea they were even going to do this. How can I possibly thank someone for doing this? Talk about restoring my faith in humanity. Thank you so much! I even hear there are still people that exist in the world (outside of the house) when I go back outside.”

Speaking with The Breeze, Jarry said he appreciated the efforts of the firefighters who assembled his new ramp.

“I’m beyond thankful for what they did, it was incredible,” he said. “I don’t feel stuck. I can go wherever I want now.”

Mitchell said she believes the newly installed ramp will not only improve Jarry’s mobility, but also provide him with freedom and independence that he has lost in recent years.

“He’ll be able to get out more,” said Mitchell. “It’s also piece of mind – from a mental state. He doesn’t feel like he’s trapped here. He has more opportunities to do anything he wants.”

Understanding that others in the community may be facing similar challenges, Jarry offered words of encouragement to those feeling helpless.

“Patience and positivity, just stay patient,” he said. “Things might take a while, but if you just stay patient, things work out.”

Jeff Jarry and Kristen Mitchell.