Tragedy as brave firefighter, 20, dies during very first shift

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An "eager" firefighter died at the station just hours after his first shift responding to an overnight call.

Efren Medina, 20, had only recently joined the St Marys Fire Department in southeast Georgia, US, and cleared all tests but never woke up from his sleep on Saturday, April 17.

The fire department announced the tragic news of its young colleague's passing on Monday

A statement published on Facebook by St Marys read: “Firefighter Medina was a newly hired firefighter and working his first shift.

“He was known for his longtime passion for firefighting and his love of the fire service.

"SMFD will share details regarding arrangements as soon as those are made available to us. We greatly appreciate the outpouring of sympathy, support and condolences during this very difficult time.

"Thank you, St. Marys Fire Department."

SMFD Chief Tom Lackner told First Coast News how Medina was found unresponsive by colleagues after returning to the fire station at 3:30am and waking up later that morning.

Chief Lackner said: “A 20-year-old shouldn’t be going. You never think that somebody 20 years old isn’t going to wake up from their sleep.”

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In response to questions over Medina's health when hired and trained, Lackner said: “Everything came back clear, don’t know.”

First Coast News reported on Tuesday that a medical examiner was yet to determine his cause of death.

According to the US Fire Administration which is leading the investigation into Medina's death, the firefighter was working a 24-hour shift when he died.

Medina is survived by his wife, according to an online fundraiser set up in his memory.

The donations page says: “Efren was a wonderful brother, son, husband and friend to all.

“He was very caring, cheerful and hardworking … We are absolutely devastated by Efren’s passing and are struggling to find the funds to support his wife, Brittany Vasquez, in paying the cost of the service, flights and any other unexpected costs.”

The fallen firefighter’s colleagues wrote on Facebook: “Journey well, our brother,” The New York Post reports.

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