Community rallies around Navy vet, first responder fighting for his life

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MIDWAY, N.M. (KRQE) – A Navy veteran and firefighter who has spent his career fighting for others is now fighting for his life. It started with a sudden pain and progressed into something very serious.

Rich Brown is a volunteer firefighter for Midway. The community he’s served for years is now rallying around him.

“He will give you the shirt off of his back. I have probably never met such a selfless individual,” said Stacie Nason, Midway Fire Department volunteer and good friend of Rich Brown.

Brown is a Navy veteran and a volunteer firefighter for the Midway Fire Department. His colleagues describe him as a caring and tough man, so when they received a 911 call from him, they knew something was really wrong.

“He was complaining of severe abdominal pain, very bad abdominal pain,” Nason said.

Brown was diagnosed with pancreatitis and had to be flown to Albuquerque for treatment.

“He deteriorated further and became septic and developed respiratory failure and things just got worse,” she said.

Brown is currently at UNM Hospital in a medically induced coma, still on a ventilator.

“I talk to his wife everyday and she says he’s making small progress. His pancreas is looking a little better, his kidneys need to start working,” she said.

While his wife has been by his side, those back home are trying to help in any way they can.

David Bugarin, who works alongside Brown as a Midway Volunteer firefighter, said, “Any kind of danger, we’re there. I mean we don’t hesitate. When others are running out, we’re running in. You know, right now, Rich is in the hospital fighting for his life so we’re out here fighting for him.”

That means raising as much money as they can to help pay for his mounting medical bills. They’re holding events and fundraising throughout town. They say it’s the least they can do for a man who has served the community his whole life.

A GoFundMe page has also been set up. Browns’ medical bills are expected to be well over $100,000. The community is also hosting a car wash fundraiser on Saturday at the TitleMax off of Main Street in Roswell starting at 10 a.m.

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