New York Firefighter 'Glad to be Back Home'

West Haverstraw Firefighter Ken Patterson made his first public appearance Monday since he was thrown by a natural gas explosion a week ago.

After spending a week at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, he was transferred to his hometown hospital, Helen Hayes, for rehabilitation.

"Glad to be back home, I'll tell you that right now," Patterson told The Journal News. "Happy to be back in West Haverstraw -- the greatest village in the whole county of Rockland."

The 48-year-old was part of the crew that responded to a gas leak in the Village Fairgrounds II condominiums development on Jan. 16 where workers were installing underground cable when they ruptured a gas line.

Just as Patterson and Firefighter Jerry Knapp were ready to force open the door to 52 Zarriello Lane, the explosion occurred, leveling the house and throwing both men close to 15 yards.

Patterson suffered broken bones and ribs, a back injury and serious burns to his face while Knapp suffered a concussion, a fractured cheekbone, first- and second-degree burns to his head and bad bruises to his leg.

Patterson was treated at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla but was transferred to his hometown hospital Helen Hayes for rehabilitation on Monday.

Knapp -- who was released from the hospital a few days after the blast -- said he was glad to see his comrade's recovery progressing.

"What really struck me as I was walking behind him was that we could've been walking behind his coffin -- we could’ve been walking to his funeral," he told the newspaper. "He's going to walk out of here."

Patterson was surrounded by a crowd of close to 50 comprised of family, friends and colleagues in the lobby of the hospital just after he was transferred.

"Thanks very much for coming out for me," he told them from his stretcher. "You guys are my family -- the greatest family I've ever had."