“I have always had a passion for helping others,” says Emma Jackson, a senior from Kingwood Township, N.J.
The most recent expression of that passion is her membership in Kingwood’s fire company and its rescue squad, which are two separate entities. She says that after she began her firefighter training in September, “I have responded to wire and forest fires, smoke and carbon monoxide alarm activations, vehicle accidents and cardiac arrest calls. I have helped Stockton with road cleanups after a massive flood that ruined their town. I have learned about HazMat awareness and operations as well as traffic incident management safety.”
Now, she is a certified firefighter, but for someone like Jackson, there is always more to learn. “Currently I am taking a class for swift-water rescue so I can help those that are in need during major floods or other types of water emergencies,” she said.
She joined the rescue squad recently and is about half way through EMT training. “I have learned how to perform CPR, assess patients for both trauma and medical emergencies, administer different forms of medication and transport them.” She has already responded with EMTs to cardiac arrests, transports, general injuries, and trauma calls.”
She has received a warm welcome from the other fire and rescue volunteers. Emma said they have been encouraging. She noted that to the firefighters,“it did not matter that I was a woman entering a field that has been mostly male-dominated. The guys at the station have become a second family to me and have supported me through my classes.”
Jackson notes that our communities“rely on those who put their lives on the line to go into that burning building or help those that are injured,” and volunteers are in short supply. She urges others to sign up and serve.
She explains her own motivation: “I wanted to give back to my community. Not many people can say that they had the opportunity to help others in very trying circumstances. It has always been my dream to become a first responder as a profession. I grew up in a household where both my parents (Diane and Peter Jackson) have worked as EMTs and I have grown up hearing stories of how they helped others. I look forward to each challenge that comes my way with each call that goes out for both the fire department and the rescue squad. I am looking into continuing my work as a volunteer firefighter and EMT while also going to school to become a nurse.”
Jackson has been service-oriented for years – as a Girl Scout visiting seniors at nursing homes and donating food, toys and bedding to local animal shelters; and with the 4-H Round Valley Riders and the Pink Ladies Performance Team, raising funds and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. Her years of 4-H experience have sharpened her leadership and public-speaking skills, which are sure to come in handy in the future.