MARSHALL, TEXAS: If you were to ask Johnathan Wilson, age 37, to define hope as a fire fighter and paramedic, he would say, “For me it is a hope to feel useful.”
“Not because of wishing ill will on anyone but because we are needed. We train a lot, and sometimes we even train for situations that we may never see,” Wilson, who is the paramedic captain for the Marshall Fire Department, said. “We put a lot of time and effort training for high risk, low frequency events and we have a need to challenge our skills … We want to make the grab, save the life, or put the fire out.”
Married to Katie, and father of two boys, Ty, who is 12 and John David, who is five, and one girl, Winnie Kate, who is one, John serves also as an Emergency Room (ER) Tech at Hospitality Health in Longview, and is a First Aid and CPR instructor, as well as President of the Marshall Firefighters Association IAFF Local 906.
When asked if he chose his career or did his career choose him, the station officer and fire line supervisor of a fire truck and ambulance crew smiled. “I was born into it. My mother was the first female firefighter in Dallas … but you definitely have to choose to be a firefighter.”
He recalled, “The first structure fire I went to I was strictly an observer doing ride-outs. The first structure fire I went to as a firefighter was not very memorable to anyone but me … it was just a small fire on an exterior wall that got into an attic space. It involved mainly just a lot of siding and soffits. As far as keeping it together, I just reverted back to my training.”
“Being a firefighter with long hours the pay is not all that great and finances have been really tight,” Wilson said, reflecting that causes a lot of stress for first responders.
He said, “For me the key is to make sure not to let the stress become chronic. Turn it into eustress and motivation, not stress and get to work.”
In reflecting on helping his patients or those who have dealt with a fire, Wilson paused. “Call me optimistic but when dealing with patients that are seriously injured or sick I always tell myself ‘It’s not that bad because it’s in God’s hands’ – regardless of how bad the situation is … staying calm and collected helps keep the patient and my crew at ease.”
Wilson has aid many times that being a firefighter is the best job ever. He explained, “This job pays you in other ways besides a paycheck.”
He continued, “We are a team that eats, sleeps, plays and works in the same house. When you get to the door of house that is on fire you get an adrenaline release that fuels you through the fight, and once the fire is out you get a dopamine release the gives you and the team possibly the most satisfying feeling of accomplishment you can ever feel. That’s what keeps me coming back.”
When asked if he had any super power what would it be and why? With a slight smile, Wilson stated, “ This isn’t my real answer to this one but when patients ask me is it broken, referring to an arm, leg, or some other body part that hurts. I always say ‘I asked God for X-ray vision, but he gave me good looks instead.’ It lightens the mood and distracts the patient from their pain a little.”
The question was then asked what advice would he give to others who might have some sort of emotional or spiritual or mental need to encourage them.
He said, “My mother has written a book about her faith and firefighting called, ‘Faith on Fire,’ and her favorite quote is ‘The first ingredient of a miracle is an impossible situation.”
Wilson explained, “That means God is closest to us when times are hardest so trust in him.”
And that is where will end this good news story – remember that in the new year.
Happy New Year from The Murphy Gazette.