Josh Englund grew up in Prentice. If there were two things he wished he knew at age 18, it would be to have patience and work hard. "We live in a world where expectations are for things to happen fast. We have fast-food, same-day delivery, and instant everything. There has always been the saying, "Good things come to those who wait." This is true, but the other part of that is you need to work hard for the good things. This is where the saying, "Too good to be true" comes in. If it came easy, quickly, or without effort, it is probably not going to last or it is too good to be true. Work hard, earn it, and appreciate it because at any time it can be gone."
Josh started on his path to working hard by moving to Milwaukee upon graduating from high school. He attended college, receiving an associate's degree in criminal justice, and he feels he gained a wealth of life experience which helped pave the path for his future. In 2014, he decided to move back to Price County to pursue a career in law enforcement working with both the Phillips and Park Falls Police Departments. He eventually decided to make his home in Park Falls with his fiancé, Rachel, and their two rescue dogs. He is a few months away from receiving his bachelor's degree in health care administration.
"Through my part-time work with the Park Falls Police Department and working in a security role at Flambeau Hospital, I was exposed to the health care field. It was at this time I applied for my current job and started a new career at Flambeau Hospital in January of 2017," Josh explained.
Along with growing professionally during that time frame, Josh was also growing in personal experiences. He recalls two of his favorite vacations. The first special vacation memory occurred in 2016 when his niece completed her K9 handler training with the Air Force in San Antonio, Texas. "I was able to fly down and attend her graduation. After her graduation, she had to drive back to her base in California. We spent the next couple of days driving across the southern part of the country visiting friends and family. Having that one-on-one time with my niece was something special," Josh shared.
His second favorite vacation happened when he took his fiancé on her first surprise airplane ride! For Rachel's birthday, Josh took her and her best friend to visit California and Nevada. "I did not tell her where we were going until we arrived at the airport. She thought we were just going to Madison to visit her best friend. It wasn't until her friend grabbed her luggage and we started driving towards Minneapolis that my fiancé realized there was more to the vacation," Josh shared, also stating that the fun moments they experienced and giving Rachel a surprise are the things that made it most special.
Josh seems to enjoy giving to others. "I have always had the need to want to help people. I think that is what steered me towards law enforcement. Being able to help others in their time of need has given me a sense of purpose in life. I have also worked with the Prentice Ambulance Service as an ambulance driver, worked with Catkins Animal Rescue organizing fundraisers and helping out around the shelter when needed, and volunteered my time coaching hockey with Price Ice Hockey. I enjoy helping others and seeing how happy people are when they receive the help they need. We live in an area with a high elderly population, many of who do not have the help they need. I have always been proud to help where I can."
Those facts are likely why Josh says that if he could have any super power, he would choose the power to heal. "We live in a world where there are many people who become sick, have a disease, or become injured. I would love to have the ability to change those people's lives by giving them the gift of health. Each and every one of us should not have to deal with the struggles that an illness or injury can bring along with it."
Josh knows, first hand, about dealing with injuries. In November of 2017, Josh's life took an unexpected turn when he and Rachel were involved in a terrible, head-on car accident. The accident was presumably caused by a drunk driver, though that person's court case is still pending.
Rachel sustained minor injuries. Josh is thankful she was not injured worse. As for Josh, he admits he is lucky to be alive, but he is not so lucky in that he has to deal with the physical, emotional, and financial pains and stresses, even two years later.
"To date, I have had eight surgeries and expect to have at least four more over the next two years. My injuries included a compound fracture of my left femur, a complete dislocation of my left ankle that resulted in a broken tibia and talus bone in my foot, my pelvis had hairline fractures in the front and a large fracture in the back that required surgery to repair, my ribs separated from my sternum, a torn bicep tendon in my left arm, and countless other cuts and bruises. To top things off, as a result of the ankle injury, I had skin that was damaged and turned necrotic. The necrotic tissue then got infected; the infection got into the tibia and talus bone. Since beating off the infection, I have had to have the talus bone removed and part of my tibia cut off because the infection had gotten into the bone. I then required an ankle fusion surgery, and, for the past year, I have had an external fixator device on my leg. My left leg is now two and a half inches shorter than my right. I am estimating that I will have another two years of healing and rehab before I can even walk again."
Josh is not physically able to work as a police officer at this time. He has been able to return to his job at the hospital on a 66% part-time basis. However, work is often difficult because Josh cannot walk on his own. At this time, he has to use crutches or a knee scooter to be ambulatory. He also has to rely on others to do tasks around his home that he would have been able to complete himself in the past. Facing these realities has been a challenge.
Josh spoke candidly about that challenge. "I have always tried to have a positive attitude throughout all of this, because I am just so lucky to be alive. Unfortunately, dealing with injuries, physical limitations, and finances can take its toll on a person. I have always thought to myself that I didn’t need any help and I could do it on my own, which is probably why I never wanted or let anyone fundraise for me before this, or that there were others that needed the help more than me. I admit, I was wrong. I have really taken a financial hit as a result of this accident."
Infusing a bit of humor into the heaviness of his ordeal, Josh shared a line he once heard, which is a police joke. "I live with fear and danger every day, but occasionally I leave her to go and catch the bad guy," Josh joked. Fortunately for Rachel, that is just a joke, because he feels Rachel is his guiding light. "Relationships can be tough after a traumatic event such as the car crash we were involved in, but she has been there for me through all the bad days, surgeries, and emotional ups and downs. I cannot thank her enough for all that she has done and for being such an amazing human being who helps me during my long recovery. I couldn't do this without her," Josh shared with heartfelt gratitude.
He has also taken away much life insight from the accident, which he feels is the event that made the biggest impression on his life. "There was a lot of bad that came from it," Josh said, "but there was some good, too. I now have a new appreciation for the lives we are given. At any point, our life can be taken away. We are fragile creatures and sometimes we forget how precious life is. We think to ourselves that nothing bad will happen to us or our family and in a blink of an eye, everything changes. We should always remember to be grateful, live life to the fullest, and make a positive impression on those around you and in your community. We get one chance at this thing called life. You may not be remembered forever, but you will be remembered by those that you interact with for the rest of their lives." To sum up his feelings, Josh said he does live his life by The Golden Rule. "Treat people the way you would like to be treated."
"I look forward to finally recovering from my accident, returning to my jobs, and being a positive role model in my community," Josh expressed. "This accident has completely changed my life, but I won’t let it define me. I will have more medical issues as I get older, but I will come back better and stronger than before to help limit those long-term issues. Thank you, and God bless!"
If you would like to help Josh, you can attend his benefit on Saturday, December 7, 2019 at Captain Nemo's Pub & Grub in Park Falls, Wisconsin from 4 to 9 p.m. You can also donate to his GoFundMe page at http://www.gofundme.com/f/stubborn-man-needs-help
"The first photo is of me surfing, something I loved doing prior to the accident. The second photo is of me at thirty-five years old after the accident and me at seven years old. Both times I had my left leg in a cast. What are the odds?," Josh quipped. The last photo, below, shows the damage sustained by Josh's vehicle from the accident.
[Edited by My Price County Administrator on Dec 05, 2019 at 10:12 PM]