God in the Back of an Ambulance…
What follows is the first in what I imagine will work out to be around a 3-part series about my passion for emergency services and how it relates to my faith. This was initially going to all be one post, but I decided to split it up into the three different pieces to make it a bit easier to digest…
Throughout most of my life I’ve had a pretty intense interest in emergency services. I can’t even remotely pinpoint where it all started, but I do know that my older brother who is 8 years my senior shared the interest and undoubtedly played a part in fostering it in me. Together, we watched Rescue 911 and ER and dozens of other shows and movies. It all fascinated me.
I was about 10 years old when my brother became an EMT. I had always looked up to my brother and that pretty much cemented my desire to someday, somehow become involved in emergency services. Around a year later, on September 11, 2001 the nation was glued to its television sets as countless first responders rushed into collapsing buildings “so that others may live.” There wasn’t much I could do as an 11-year old, but my interest grew even deeper.
When I was in high school, I was able to join a local wilderness search and rescue team, a volunteer commitment that I have continued throughout my time here at WVU, and something that has only made me want to dive deeper into the world of public safety. Search and rescue is particularly interesting because it gives a much larger picture of emergency services. Any time I go out on a search, I’m typically working with not only my fellow members of the SAR team, but typically a combination of fire, EMS and law enforcement personnel. You get to work with a wide variety of people, amazing people, coming together toward the common good of helping their fellow man.
As I’ve started discerning a call toward ministry, it seemed natural that I might someday want to pursue emergency service chaplaincy. And logically, I thought to myself, the best way to develop credibility as a chaplain would to be to stay involved. Unfortunately, it seemed like I might have to give up on SAR after 5 years of volunteering with two different teams, there simply weren’t any volunteer teams near any of the seminaries I was interested in.
So what other options did I have to “maintain my credibility” in hopes of someday being able to as a Pastor, also volunteer my time as a chaplain for a local police or fire department? It definitely earned a certain ELCA seminary some brownie points to know that it had a local volunteer fire department nearby that I could volunteer with for EMS and rescue. I just needed to finally get my EMT license that I had been looking forward to for years.
And so, I took advantage of my liberal amounts of free time this semester that come as a perk of being a second-semester senior to register for an EMT class across the state line in my home state of PA. I wanted a PA license rather than one in WV because while Pennsylvania would allow me to transfer a West Virginia license, it would be much easier just to get it in PA. The class I found was perfect, fairly close to Morgantown, and only met on Saturdays, so even though the drive was slightly longer than I’d like, I would only be doing it once a week… (continued in part 2, posted tomorrow, January 10th.)