Matt Long

  • Aired:  08/16/11
  •  | Views: 11,145

Veteran firefighter Matt Long survived being crushed by a bus and explains how he overcame the resulting physical and psychological damage. (7:17)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT HE IS A 17-YEAR

VETERAN OF THE FIRE DEPARTMENT

OF NEW YORK.

IN 2005 HE WAS HIT BY A BUS AND

SUFFERED LIFE THREATENING

INJURIES.

HE CHRONICLES IN HIS EXPERIENCE

IN HIS BOOK AVAILABLE IN PAPER

BACK "THE LONG RUN, A NEW YORK

CITY FIREFIGHTER'S COMEBACK FROM

CRASH VICTIM TO ELITE ATHLETE."

PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM

MATT LONG.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

WELCOME BACK.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING

HERE.

>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

>> Jon: WHAT A GREAT STORY.

NOW, I KNOW OBVIOUSLY YOU'RE NOT

AN ACCOMPLISHED AUTHOR

NECESSARILY.

THIS IS THE FIRST TIME BECAUSE,

OBVIOUSLY, CLEARLY SURPRISED YOU

DIDN'T HAVE TIME TO GET DRESSED

FOR THE...

(LAUGHTER)

DID THEY JUST SHOW UP AND SAY

"MATT, GET UP!"

>> I KIND OF FIGURES IF I WAS

RUNNING FOR CONGRESS IT'S

ALREADY OUT THERE.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Jon: HERE'S WHAT'S

INCREDIBLE.

I REMEMBER YOUR STORY.

YOU WERE... AND I HATE TO SAY

THIS, YOU WERE JUST ANOTHER

TERRIBLE THING ON THE NEWS.

IN 2005, TELL US VERY QUICKLY,

THERE WAS A TRANSIT STRIKE, YOU

WILL HAVE TO BIKE TO WORK.

>> THERE WAS TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

IN THE CITY SO VICTIM DRIVEN MY

CAR OUT TO RANDALL'S ISLAND

WHERE I WAS INSTRUCTOR AT THE

ACADEMY BUT I WASN'T ABLE TO GET

BACK SO I TOOK MY BICYCLE.

ABOUT FOUR BLOCKS FROM MY

APARTMENT AND A PRIVATE BUS

CHARTERED TO GET WORKERS BELOW

THE RESTRICTION ON 96th STREET

MADE A WRONG TURN AND RAN ME

OVER.

PEOPLE SAY I WAS HIT BY A BUS.

I WAS ACTUALLY SUCKED UNDER THE

WHEELS.

(AUDIENCE REACTS)

>> Jon: THAT IS THE APPROPRIATE

SOUND THAT YOU WOULD MAKE.

>> THANK YOU.

>> Jon: AND THE THING THAT I

DIDN'T REALIZE IS YOU DIDN'T...

YOU SUFFERED NOT ONLY THE

INJURIES OF THAT, BUT YOU AND

THE BIKE SORT OF... MELDED

TOGETHER.

I MINE, YOU REALLY WERE... I

MEAN, NOT TO RELIVE BUT I THINK

THE DETAILS ARE IMPORTANT TO SEE

HOW FAR YOU'VE HAD TO COME BACK.

>> YEAH.

I MEAN, THE BIKE BASICALLY DID

THE DAMAGE.

YOU'RE A RIDER WITH A PIECE OF

ALUMINUM OR STEEL IN BETWEEN

YOUR LEGS SO THE BIKE BASICALLY

SLICED ME OPEN LIKE A CAN.

(AUDIENCE REACTS)

>> Jon: HOW MUCH BLOOD DID THEY

GIVE YOU IN THE FIRST TWO DAYS?

>> IN THE FIRST 10, 11 HOURS I

RECEIVED 68 UNITS OF BLOOD.

(AUDIENCE REACTS)

>> Jon: CRAZY.

AND THEY GAVE YOU... TO HAVE

BEEN SURVIVE JUST THIS NIGHT 5%.

>> LESS THAN 5% CHANCE TO LIVE.

ONE.

>> Jon: ONE OF MY FAVORITE

STORIES IN THE BOOK, YOU RUN

INTO LANCE ARMSTRONG AT A... NOW

YOU'RE OUT OF THE HOSPITAL,

YOU'RE NOT COMPETING AT THE

MARATHON BUT YOU'RE AT THE NEW

YORK MARATHON.

>> THE FIREMEN TOOK ME OUT AND

THOUGHT IT WOULD LIFT MY

SPIRITS.

I WAS A YEAR OUT OF THE ACCIDENT

AND THEY TOOK ME TO THE START OF

THE MARATHON AND IT WAS LANCE'S

DEBUT.

>> Jon: AND YOU HAPPENED TO

CATCH HIS EAR FOR JUST A MOMENT.

WHAT DID YOU SAY TO HIM?

>> WELL, HIS PEOPLE DIDN'T WANT

HIM TALKING TO ANYONE.

SO I SAID LANCE, COME ON, THEY

GAVE YOU A 50% CHANCE, YOU LOST

A TESTICLE, I SAID THEY GAVE ME

A 1% CHANCE.

GOT A SECOND?

HE TOOK HIS HEAD PHONE OUT AND

SOMEONE TOOK A PICTURE SO I HAVE

A PICTURE WITH LANCE'S FACE

LIKE....

>> Jon: (LAUGHS)

"I GOT NOTHING."

(LAUGHTER)

YOU WERE AN ATHLETE AND AN ELITE

ATHLETE BEFORE THIS AS WELL AS

BEING A FIREFIGHTER.

BUT THE STORY IS ABOUT YOUR

EMOTIONAL STATE GOING THROUGH

THIS.

YOU'RE A FIREFIGHTER, IT'S ABOUT

GUYS HANGING OUT.

TALK ABOUT DIFFICULTY YOU HAVE

AFTER THIS ACCIDENT FIGURING OUT

WHO YOU WERE.

>> MY LIFE WAS TURNED UPSIDE

DOWN.

HERE I AM PART TIME A WHEELCHAIR

NOT KNOWING WHAT THE OUTCOME OF

FUTURE SURGERIES WAS GOING TO

BE.

I WAS SLICED OPEN SO FOR TWO

YEARS I HAD A COLOSTOMY BAG.

IF THAT WAS THE ONLY THING THAT

HAPPENED TO ME, IT MAY NOT BE

THE END OF THE WORLD, BUT FOR A

SINGLE GUY IN THE CITY,

FIREFIGHTER GUY IN THE CITY,

ATHLETE, IT WAS HUGE.

AND I TELL EVERYONE THE PHYSICAL

INJURIES WEREN'T AS BAD AS THE

MENTAL INJURIES AND THE MENTAL

DAMAGE THAT I HAD TO REALLY

OVERCOME.

>> Jon: SO WHAT SNAPPED YOU OUT

OF THAT?

WHAT WAS IT... THE CUMULATIVE

EFFECT OF GETTING YOU TO GET

BACK ON AND SHOW THE TENACITY

THAT YOU HAD SHOWED FOR SO MANY

YEARS BEFORE THAT.

>> MY MOTHER.

I TOLD MY MOM AND DAD ONE DAY

THAT I GOT BAD NEWS FROM A

DOCTOR, AND I SAID I'M GLAD YOU

PRAYED AND I LIVED AND YOU

SHOULD HAVE PRAYED TO LET ME

DIE.

THAT'S NOTHING YOU SHOULD EVER

SAY TO YOUR MOM.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUST ME, DON'T DO IT.

(LAUGHTER)

AND SHE LOOKED AT ME AND I GUESS

I EXPECTED HER TO REACH OUT AND

HUG ME AND SHE DID AND SHE SAID

"ENOUGH'S ENOUGH.

WE SUFFERED, TOO.

WE DIDN'T GET HIT BY THIS BUS

BUT WE SUFFERED LIKE YOU DID,

TWLERP EVERY NIGHT IN THE

HOSPITAL, FIVE MONTHS, WE WERE

THERE FOR EVERY SURGERY.

AND YOU HAVE TO PICK UP YOUR

LIFE AND DO THE BEST YOU CAN."

IT TOOK ABOUT TWO WEEKS TO

SETTLE IN BUT SHE WAS RIGHT.

>> Jon: THAT'S ONE OF THE MOST

POWERFUL MOMENTS OF THE BOOK.

YOUR MOTHER WHO... YOU KNOW,

FAMILY, NINE KIDS, RAISED IN

BROOKLYN, YOUR DAD RAN AN ICE

CREAM PARLOR AND A REAL TIGHT

FAMILY, IDYLLIC BACKGROUND.

THE MOM, CAN QUIET HERO OF THE

WHOLE THING, WHEN SHE STANDS UP

AT THE END TO SAY IT YOU'RE LIKE

READING IT AND YOU STAND UP AND

YOU'RE LIKE "MOM!"

YOU DID IT!

IT'S AWESOME!

AS A PARENT YOU HOPE... AS A

PARENT YOU TRY TO IMPART WISDOM

IN YOUR KIDS.

BUT TO SEE SOMETHING LIKE THAT

HAVE SUCH IMPACT ON A GROWN MAN,

REALLY WAS A VERY MOVING PART OF

IT.

NOW MOVING AHEAD YOU'RE

COMPETING AGAIN.

>> I AM.

>> Jon: AND YOU'RE GOING TO

COMPETE AT THE END OF AUGUST.

WHAT'S GOING ON.

>> THE WORLD POLICE FIRE GAMES

ARE COMING TO NEW YORK FOR THE

FIRST TIME IN I THINK THE 15th

TO 16th GAME.

THEY HAPPEN EVERY TWO YEARS.

THERE WILL BE 18,000

FIREFIGHTERS AND POLICE OFFICERS

FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD WILL

COME TO NEW YORK CITY TO COMPETE

FROM BILLIARDS TO BASKETBALL

HOCKEY AND I'M GOING TO RIDE MY

BIKE.

>> Jon: THAT'S AWESOME.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

THE POLICE AND FIRE GAMES, I

CAN'T IMAGINE IT WILL BE A VERY

HEATED RIVALLY BETWEEN THOSE

TWO, THE POLICE AND THE FIRE.

(LAUGHTER)

>> Jon: NOT AT ALL.

I'VE BEEN TO 9/11 TRIBUTE

DINNERS WHERE THE FIREMEN AND

POLICEMEN ARE SEGREGATED ON

EITHER SIDE AND THEY SPEND THE

WHOLE NIGHT LOOKING AT EACH

OTHER LIKE THIS.

"WHY DIDN'T WE GET AN EXTRA

PIECE OF FISH."

SO WHAT ARE THE ODDS?

YOU LIKE YOUR CHANCES THIS YEAR?

>> I'VE COMPETED IN A LOT OF

GAMES PLAYING BASKETBALL.

NOW IT'S ABOUT GOING AGAINST THE

CLOCK BECAUSE I'M ALSO... I WANT

TO TRY OUT FOR THE U.S.

PARAOLYMPIC CYCLING TEAM.

SO I'M GOING AGAINST CLOCK.

>> Jon: IF ANYBODY CAN DO IT, IT

CAN BE YOU.

NEVER SEEN A GUY WITH SUCH STEEL

WILL.

"THE LONG RUN" IS ON THE BUS

NOW.

MATT LONG.

GET IT.

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