After tumbling off a ladder at his San Jose home over the weekend, Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman is on the mend.
He was trimming foliage when he fell, but whether the ladder failed or he slipped remains unclear. The chief underwent a long operation on Monday, said fire district board president Steve Nachtsheim, who described the surgeon as "extremely pleased" with how it went.
The chief's love of conversation didn't miss a beat. Even being on a respirator for about a day after surgery "didn't stop Harold from communicating," Mr. Nachtsheim said.
No one knows yet how long the chief will need to recuperate; he currently remains in the intensive care unit. The fire board will meet Thursday (May 16) to select an interim chief.
The need to find a temporary leader arises at a delicate time for the district, which recently began mediation sessions for the first time in several years with the firefighters' union to sort out a long-standing impasse over labor issues.
Mr. Nachtsheim said that an attorney involved in the sessions will attend tomorrow's board meeting, and that other members of the district have also participated in the mediation. "We're going to do our best to make the place run the way it's supposed to."
Family, friends and neighbors continue to visit Chief Schapelhouman in the hospital. "There's a massive outpouring of support," Mr. Nachtsheim said. "He's a very well-liked guy."