NewsSarasota, Manatee County


Bradenton man who survived life-threatening burns is helping other burn victims find healing

Jim Entwistle
Posted at 9:56 PM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 21:56:11-05

BRADENTON, Fla. — On October 27, 2020, 51-year-old Jim Entwistle was at his Bradenton home working in his garage. Multitasking while cleaning up a fishing boat he purchased, Entwistle was siphoning old gas from his boat into a bucket and turned on his shop vacuum to clean another area of the boat, which sparked a fire.

"It wasn’t an explosion like you’re in a movie, it was kind of a plume," said Entwistle."And I’m pretty fast. I was out of there in a couple of seconds but I guess at that heat level that’s all it really took."

Jim suffered 3rd-degree burns on 44% of his body but not before getting his family to safety and trying to put the fires out himself.

"They were all over the place so I’m trying to put them out with this little garden hose. And the skin is flapping on my arms and the skin on my legs is pulled down like you’d pull down a girdle," said Entwistle.

Emergency crews arrived, put out the fire, and rushed Entwistle to Blake Medical Center in Bradenton.

"It was pretty severe and when someone has 30 or 40 percent burns, that's a life-threatening situation and we take it very seriously," said Dr. Michael Van Vliet, Blake's Burn Center Medical Director.

Entwistle was in the hospital for 32 days and underwent multiple treatments and surgeries, including skin allografting procedures, laser therapy, physical and occupational therapy. Treatment that Entwistle says saved his life.

"Oh my gosh, I’ve got friends here for life," said Entwistle.

"I knew he was going to have a successful outcome just based on what an amazing guy he is," said Van Vliet.

Just a year and a half later Entwistle has nearly fully recovered.

"When you go through something like that, you kind of learn where your core is, and my core is pretty positive," said Entwistle.

Now he's using that positivity and inspiration from hospital staff to volunteer and give other burn patients hope that it will get better.

"On that bed, you just want emotional support. You want someone to tell you, hey, I’ve been through it and you’re going to get through it as well," said Entwistle.