Just two months ago, he was almost killed while doing his job: responding to a 911 call. Al Rojas, the 25-year-old EMT who was stabbed during a brutal knife attack, has one goal in mind: to get back to the business of saving lives.
Rojas was one of two Detroit EMT workers who was attacked on the job in October. He and his partner were responding to a call when a man attacked them with a knife. He says he really doesn't remember much about that night.
"A lot of it's a blur. The adrenaline kicks in and you forget things," Rojas said. "Patients get violent with us all the time, usually you just talking, calm them down, you get away from them. But there was no getting away that time."
He suffered cuts on his face and hands that are healing well, but a more severe cut on his right hand was so deep, he lost the ability to grip and use his fingers, making it impossible to do a simple maneuver he's done for six years on the job, lifting patients on stretchers into ambulances. That's making it harder to get back to work.
"Tying my shoes, the simple things. You take for granted every day. It's hard with one hand," he said.
Rojas has been going to occupational therapy for the last month and a half. He's working hard and hoping to have his hand fully functional again within the next 6-12 weeks. He's made remarkable strides at the DMC rehabilitation institute of Michigan's Sterling Heights center.
"Al's definitely made it his priority to come in with a good attitude, and get it not just 100% but 110%," Toni Minano, Senior Occupational Therapist, said.
Rojas credits Minano for his quick recovery.
"If it weren't for her, I wouldn't have this much recovery this fast," he also credits other EMT workers and firefighters for support as he goes to therapy three times a week. He returns to light duty at work in January.
"If I don't go back it's like admitting to defeat. Prevail when knocked down. And I like doing it, it's fun."
Still there is a lot of hard work ahead, but Al won't stop until he's back doing what he loves, on the very streets where he was attacked, saving lives.