By all accounts, when Don Sage climbed aboard an Alabama Fire Department engine a couple of weeks ago, he was all smiles, like a kid getting to blare the siren for the first time.
It had been several months since Sage -- a former chief and former fire district president with more than 50 years of fire service under his belt -- had been out on an emergency call.
Sage has been out on one other call since, but he says he'll go on more as he gets his health back.
"To me, being a volunteer fireman is a good way to serve your community and help your neighbor," Sage said. "That's what life is all about, isn't it?"
The 70-year-old Alabama resident was seriously injured July 7 in a head-on collision in East Pembroke. Sage suffered massive internal injuries and would eventually have a leg amputated.
When he arrived via Mercy Flight at Strong Memorial Hospital, doctors gave him only a 30-percent chance of surviving.
Sage has three children, including two sons who are also volunteers with the Alabama department.
Brian Sage said it's good to see his dad back out responding to calls.
"On that first call, he was barking orders, so I knew he was back," Brian said. "It was good to see him back."
In his 50 years, Sage said he's been there to help other people, "but I never needed help myself, and when I did, my brothers and sisters (in fire service) came through for me."
As I was getting ready leave, Don Sage pulled me aside and said, "I know you're going to do a little write-up. Be sure to mention that I'm here only by the grace of God. That's important to me."
Photo: Don Sage is back row, left. Next to him are, Bill Schutt, Tony Mudrzynski, Todd Thompson, Gloria Abrams, Ralph Bauer, Hank Mudrzynski, and front row, Brian Sage, Kasey Thompson and Kaitlyn Allen.