“When I grow up…” was a phrase coined by kindergartners. Okay, maybe the teachers forced them into thinking about it too much, which in turn caused them to annoy every living, and inanimate object with their ambitious plans for the future. I say ambitious because when I was in kindergarten I wanted to be an ice skater, a fashion designer and a mechanic. Pretty ambitious for a five year old, huh? Whether you’re a kindergartner aspiring to do marvelous things, or a rendition of the infamous Pussy Cat Dolls song titled When I Grow Up, we’ve all shared fond memories of the phrase. But what happens when that phrase turns into your reality? Jason Morris, volunteer firefighter, and part-time EMT realized his career path at a young age.
“At first I really had no desire to be an EMT, I just wanted to be a firefighter, because when I was in first grade my volunteer department came for Fire Prevention Week and I was just real adamant about it. I was like, 6 or 7 years old, and then they said to me-back then they had a cadet program- 'When you turn 14, come on down to the fire station. We’d love to bring you guys on.' So I ran home, and asked my mom how long I had until I was 14 [she said], ‘well you got about seven years.’ On my 14th birthday was the training night, that’s when it all started,” Morris said.
However, when the opportunity first arose, Morris wasn’t interested in becoming an EMT.
“Our ambulance service was starting to get busier, and people were telling me, ‘Hey, why don’t you go get your EMT certification? You know, make some extra money, it’s a lot of fun and you get to help out the community even more,’ so I was like, ‘alright.’ So I went through it; I did it. I’ve been an EMT since 2008 or 2009 now,” Morris said.
As a firefighter, and an EMT Morris plays a significant role in the community; however, not only is Morris a volunteer firefighter, and a part-time EMT he also works a full time job.
“If I can make a volunteer call I definitely will, we have set requirements we have to make for six month periods, I usually do that no problem and try to go above and beyond just because I enjoy doing it. Then as far as the EMT schedule goes, I just work on my off days from the steel mill, but the schedule I have right now at the mill is pretty nice, so I keep that to my advantage and work the ambulance on the down turns when I’m away from the steel mill,” Morris said.
While Morris is an active part of his community, his knowledge proves to play a significant role in the real world as well. A few months back while on a flight, Morris noticed a passenger experiencing medical difficulties.
“My dad had a similar situation happen to him a couple years prior and I kind of recalled all that as it was going on, and I kind of caught the steps as it was happening so that made it a lot easier for me. I just assumed that’s what it was, because as infield technicians we can’t diagnose anything we just make assumptions based on what you see and hope for the best, in this case it worked out,” Morris said. “You just work with what you have, and do what you can. And if you need extra help you call for extra help, or whatever the case may be. Of course, it’s a little different when you’re 30,000 feet in the air, but we made do with what we had. Luckily we didn’t have to revert the plane or anything based on the passenger’s condition as it was improving and that was good thing too.”
Many firefighters, including Morris risk their lives daily to save people in their community, and they don’t ask for anything in return. However, the greatest gift one can give to these courageous men and women is simple, and free.
“The greatest compliment you can get from someone is just a simple thank you. Honestly, this is a job that a lot of people can’t do for various reasons: either they don’t want to do it, or they have limitations. It’s for whatever reason. That’s not to downplay them, and say they can’t do it. This isn’t a job for everybody. It’s physically demanding, it’s mentally demanding, it’s taxing both mentally, physically [and] emotionally. The things that we deal with on a regular basis is not for the everyday person,” Morris said. “However, the close knit bonds, we often refer to it as the ‘brotherhood,’ that’s something that helps get you by for sure.”