MacDill Airman Lucky to be Alive After Fireworks Accident

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
"I never would have imagined that I would be rushed off to the hospital, injected with morphine, and wondering if I would ever be able to use my hands again."

This was one of the grim thoughts that raced through the mind of SSgt Aaron Youngblood, 6th Medical Group NCO In charge of physical therapy, as he was transported off the site of a firework malfunction.

On Dec. 31, 2012, Youngblood and two others were celebrating the coming new year as many do, by grilling, lighting fireworks and making New Year's resolutions--until something went horrifically wrong.

Youngblood set up two tube-mortar style fireworks, lit the fuse and backed off to an appropriate distance, but only one launched.

After waiting about 45 seconds to see if the firework was still active, Youngblood left his safety zone and approached the "dud." Just as he reached down and picked up the launcher, it exploded out of the bottom, shredding his hands and putting him in near shock conditions.

"My entire hand was blood; the muscles and tendons surrounding my right thumb were completely blown out and I broke the ring and pinky finger on my left hand all the way down to my wrist," described Youngblood.

Over the next four months Youngblood would undergo three surgeries and more than 100 hours of physical therapy. Only then, and after an extensive Air Force line of duty investigation, was he able to return back to work full time.

"I thought that I had done everything right," said Youngblood. "Not until after the accident had I realized that I should have had a bucket of water ready to put out a fire or to pour on unexploded fireworks. Next time I'll leave it to the professionals and probably just go watch a show."

Needless to say, preparations and precautions must be taken to ensure an evening of fun doesn't turn into one like that of Youngblood's.


This was just one of the thousands of accounts that could have been told about the importance of fireworks safety. From this year on, make sure you take the manufacturer's warnings seriously. Make certain you are knowledgeable on the type of fireworks being used, your surroundings, and the potential dangers.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 9,000 individuals seek emergency room visits annually due to fireworks mishaps. According to the National Fire Protection Organization, there are more than 50,000 fires caused by fireworks yearly. For questions or concerns regarding the usage of fireworks, contact your local fire department or safety office.