'Dedicated Firefighter' on Life Support After Slipping on Ice During Training Session

"It's the call you never want to get," Minnetonka Fire Chief John Vance said of firefighter Tim Tripp's injury

Firefighter Suffers Severe Brain Injury
Tim Tripp photographed with his sons . Photo: gofundme

A Minnesota firefighter is on life support with a "severe head injury" after a training accident at a local park.

Tim Tripp was at Spring Hill Park in Minnetonka, Minnesota when he slipped and fell on ice while at a training session, Fire Chief John Vance told Minneapolis–Saint Paul's NBC affiliate KARE 11.

"It's the call you never want to get. We knew it was bad right off," Vance added.

He said he was alerted to Tripp's injury on Saturday morning.

"It was a typical training. It's something he has literally done a thousand times before. He was just on a patch of ice and took a severe fall," Vance told the news station, revealing that Tripp is currently on life support.

"He's on life support right now, supporting him while his brain heals. He's had to undergo at least four surgeries to relieve pressure on his brain," Vance continued. "It's going to be a long hall for him with his recovery."

Vance told the outlet that doctors said that Tripp, a 14-year veteran, has been put in a medically-induced coma to help his recovery. They aren't sure what his condition will be once he's awake.

"He is one of the best people you'd want to meet. Firefighters look up to him. He helps mentor and train firefighters," said Vance.

In a GoFundMe, Tripp's family and Minnetonka Fire said the incident occurred on Saturday, Dec. 3 "while on duty as a part-time firefighter with the city of Minnetonka."

The campaign, which has raised nearly $70,000 of its $100,000 goal, said that he is in the ICU "at Hennepin County Medical Center, fighting a severe head injury."

"While Tim is healthy and strong, his recovery will take some time; we don't have many answers on the outcome, but there is a long road ahead."

The GoFundMe shared that Tripp is an entrepreneur in construction and will not be able to return to work "for an extended period of time." His loved ones and the fire department hope the campaign will raise money for his living and medical expenses.

Tripp's sons wrote a loving message, saying their father is "each one of our hero's and there is no way you can ever prepare for something like this to happen."

They continued in part, "He is truly the most selfless human being we will ever know and people closest to him can relate. He has left an impact on so many across the community in every way imaginable."

His fiancée Sheila Veien also shared special words, noting that she met Tripp just over five years ago.

"He is a beautiful man with a big heart. This accident is devastating to us all and watching him go through this is incredibly difficult. But what I know is that Tim is a warrior, king of the fight, and he will come out of this a true hero. Every prayer and positive thought for him is heard. He is held in the arms of God," she wrote in part.

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Tripp, who celebrated his 50th birthday on Monday per the GoFundMe, was also saluted by Captain Kevin Hruby, who told CBS News, "Tim's the kind of guy you are immediately friends with. When he walks in the room he makes everyone comfortable, he makes people laugh, his smile is ear to ear."

"Tim's a fantastic firefighter. He's very skilled and for this to happen to him, an accident like this, it could happen to anyone," Hruby said.

Sharing the GoFundMe on Twitter, the Minnetonka Fire Department wrote, "One of our firefighters suffered a severe head injury while on duty at a training exercise. His family and #Minnetonka Fire have set up a fund to help with expenses not covered by insurance and allow them to focus on his recovery. Consider donating."

The Minnetonka Fire Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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