firefighter

Every kid, at some time in their childhood has dreams of what they want to be when they grow up. For many it has to do with what their mom or dad does for a living…at least at first. Later, it might be their grandparents, a television personality, a favorite teacher, or a hero in town. They may not have any idea of what the job they think they want might entail, but because someone they admire does that job, it must be the best job in the world. As adults, we would probably groan at the idea of the job those little ones look upon as fabulous, but to them it is the greatest thing ever.

I remember my niece, Lindsay Moore, who wanted to be a firefighter, as did my grandson, Josh Petersen (who is still interested in firefighting), The funny thing about Lindsay was that her dad, my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock was a cop at the time. It’s funny, because Lindsay’s niece, Aurora Hadlock wants to be a police officer. It’s still in the family, she just chose the occupations of her grandpa, and uncle Jason Sawdon. Time will tell if Aurora fulfills her dream. After all, she is only 9 years old.

What’s is really interesting is when a child has such high hopes that the idea is way above their heads. Nevertheless, they keep their head up, looking at their goal…keeping it always before their eyes, until one day, they find themselves living that dream. Others never do follow the dream of their childhood, mostly because a new dream comes along that makes the old dream seem dull and boring. Sometimes it is from a life experience, such as my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely, who became a Labor and Delivery Nurse, after her first son was born. Or Lindsay, who tried firefighting, and decided that she wanted to go into Kinesiology, which is the study of the mechanics of body movements.

Some kids, like my husband Bob Schulenberg, his brother, Ron Schulenberg, nephews Barry Schulenberg, JD Parmely, and Eric Parmely, all went on to be mechanics like their dad and grandpa, Walt Schulenberg. Some futures, such as those of these men, seem to be in the blood, and that is ok too.

A fireman…it seems to be the every little boy’s dream, and my grandson was no exception, but what has made him the exception is the fact that he has gone through all the training to actually become a fire fighter, and he never faltered. Josh began his journey while he was still in high school. He was in his element…immediately. Josh had some wonderful mentors along the way, all of whom made this dream interesting and who confirmed his destination. They helped Josh to know that his dream was the right dream for him.

Through the Boces program, Josh started his studies while he was still in high school, and then has continued his studies as a full time college student, achieving his Associates Degree in Fire Science in one year of full time college instead of two. His is looking forward to continued study to become a Paramedic, and he will also be looking into getting hired by one of the local fire departments. He is so excited about that prospect that he can hardly wait. I suppose it is the same with any course of study. You have learned the things you need to know for your career, and now you are just itching to get at it. That is exactly where Josh is right now…standing on the threshold of his future.

I have always known that Josh would make a great fire fighter/paramedic, because of the aptitude he displayed as a young boy helping to take care of his great grandparents. He was very meticulous, gentle, and caring. When Josh was helping, they always felt at ease, knowing that he would follow directions exactly and would always be careful with them. Josh has always had a heart for caregiving, and firefighter/paramedic falls right in line with caregiving, so as a career choice, it makes perfect sense. Today is the culmination of Josh’s dream and hard work, as he graduates with an Associates Degree in Fire Science. Congratulations Josh!! We are so proud of you and all your hard work!!

I realize that everyone who has a goal in mind for their life, must be focused on that goal, in order to achieve it, but I find that very few people say that they want to do a certain thing when they are in high school, and then follow through to achieve that goal. My grandson, Josh Petersen is such a focused young man. He wants to be a firefighter and EMT, and he just keeps taking the steps that he knows are necessary to get there. He completed some of the Fire Science classes in high school, using the Boces program, and now that he is in college, he just keeps moving forward toward his goal. I am very proud of his accomplishments thus far, and I look forward to all the great things he is going to do in the future. During the Boces classes, one of the instructors took Josh under his wing, and continues to mentor him as he moves forward. I don’t think his instructor had ever had a high school student the Fire Science class. The mentoring has really helped Josh, because he has been advised on which classes to take in order to better proceed through his requirements.

One of the most recent classes that Josh is taking is one that I am very excited about. He is in the current EMT course that is offered through the Bar Nunn, Wyoming fire department. I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around the fact that when this class is over, my grandson will be ready for state licensing tests to become an EMT…and he will only be 19 years old. That makes me very proud. Josh is enjoying the classes, but really looks forward to the clinical part of the training, when he actually works with patients. That makes sense. Every EMT, nurse, CNA, or other health care professional wants to move beyond the learning stages and get to doing the work. When I asked Josh about his class, he told me that it was interesting, but he was looking forward to the clinical training. He is always keeping his eyes on the prize, and that makes me very proud.

Of course, Josh is still very focused on his training to be a firefighter too. He loves everything firefighter. He loves t-shirts and tattoos that have anything to do with firefighting or EMT work. Everything he does these days is to further himself toward the ultimate goal. That takes determination and drive. He loves volunteer work too, especially if it is sponsored by the fire department. I’m sure that every time he sees anything about a fire, he wishes he could be there to help with the efforts to put the fire out. I know that with Josh’s focus and determination, he will become an amazing firefighter and EMT. We are so proud of him. Today is Josh’s 19th birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When a child is born, you think about what they will become. Your thoughts drift to the future…that seems so distant, and you think to yourself, “The future is still so far away.” Then, much sooner than you ever thought possible, the future arrives, and your little baby is suddenly 18 years old, and graduating from high school. Then you think, “Where have the years gone?” It doesn’t matter if that child is your child or your grandchild either. The future arrives so fast. I’ve said it many times before. When you look at that precious baby, you must be aware that next week, they will be graduating from high school, and going off to make their own way in the world. In time and space, it may not be a week, but it will most certainly feel like it was.

That is where my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband, Kevin find themselves today as their son, Joshua
Petersen graduates from Kelly Walsh High School. Josh has changed so much over the years. His beginning was a little rocky, as he jumped the gun and arrived five weeks early. After spending two weeks in Denver, at Presbyterian Saint Luke’s Hospital, Josh was finally ready to come home and join the rest of his family. His rocky start over now, Josh quickly ate everything is sight, trying to make up for lost time, I think. Yes, Josh has changed in many ways, but in many other ways, he has not changed at all. He has always been a wonderful young man with a caring heart, and in that way, he will never change. He is so considerate of the feelings of others.

As the years have passed, we saw in Josh a gentleness and sincere caring for those in need of health care. When he was just six years old, he started helping take care of his grandparents, and he continued doing that until three had passed away, and the last one was in a nursing home. Josh was meticulous with their care. If you showed him how to do something, he did it exactly that way. For that reason, I was not surprised when Josh announced, “I want to be a firefighter.” I don’t think there was a shocked face in the place. Now, I know that a lot of kids say they want to be a firefighter, but Josh meant it. He even began taking Boces classes toward his degree in high school. Josh is so driven, so goal oriented, and that makes me so proud of him. I have no doubt that he will be arriving at his life’s destination very quickly. The years have flown by far too fast. It seems like Josh should still be little boy, and yet here he is at the threshold of adulthood. Josh, we are so proud of your hard work and perseverance. I know that you will go far in life and in your chosen field. We are so very proud of your abilities, drive, and mostly your kind heart. Congratulations on your graduation!!

14237692_10209588912215189_7559655245821570841_n14222288_10209588768491596_3658693795732211363_nMy youngest grandchild, Josh Petersen has a plan for his life. He decided a couple of years ago that he wanted to be a firefighter and EMT, and he began taking college classes through the Boces program, that allows high school students to take college classes while still in high school. Josh had been interested in becoming a fire fighter, but that interest became his dream after his grandpa, Bob Schulenberg arranged a visit to the Casper Fire Station 3. The fire fighters not only showed him around, but explained how things worked. Then they suggested that he take Fire Science at Casper College while he was still in high school. I don’t think he had any idea that he could take that kind of a class while still in high school, but he was excited…and hooked. Now, it’s all he thinks about. He loved the Fire Science class, and has continued to take college classes with his full focus on becoming a firefighter and EMT.

As part of the Fire Science program, Josh was required to volunteer as several events. Josh changed so much when he started these events and the Fire Science program. He was completely in his element. It was like watching him become a fire fighter…right before our very eyes. Josh thrived on the volunteer work too, so much so, in fact that this year, even though in isn’t in the class that requires him to volunteer, Josh went to that instructor, and told him he wanted to volunteer. His instructor was shocked. I guess no one had ever asked to do it again, but you just don’t turn a volunteer away, so Josh is volunteering again this year. He will 14102478_10209588759171363_377691191620136209_n14183763_10209588758291341_1963445259551406170_nbe helping at three events, a 5K run, the Platte River cleanup, and the Fire Station 3 open house. He is so excited to be back helping the fire fighters do the things they do…even if these things aren’t fire related this time.

Josh loves everything fire fighter related…so much so, that he decided that he wanted some of his senior pictures taken at the fire station. So, his grandpa called to make that arrangement too. Josh had such a good time having those pictures taken. It was like he could see into the future. He saw himself as a fire fighter…like it had already happened. Soon Josh…before you know it. Today is Josh’s 18th birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

10653815_10203120678073749_584939759546150558_na100_0023When I was a kid, dressing up for Halloween was for kids. Things have changed since then and these days you see lots of adults going to parties, teenagers roaming the streets trick or treating, scaring kids or just acting weird…and of course, there are still the little kids doing their usual thing…collecting candy. It’s the night when everything is turned upside down. Kids are taken to do things they normally aren’t allowed to do…knock on the doors in their neighborhoods and ask for candy. Of course, most are also, schooled in all the safety tips designed to keep then safe as they go, because lets face it, they are excited, and there is always the possibility of one of them running across the street without really looking first…hence the need for watchful parents.

It’s much different today, than things were in my day, because while my dad always took us out trick or treating, we didn’t have to be worried about the candy we received. We made a haul. In fact, we took a pillowcase to collect our candy in, knowing full well that we would almost fill it up, and sometimes we even had to go home, empty it out and go out again. These days, kids only go to the homes of people they know…for the most part. Candy must be x-rayed to assure its safety. Many children are taken to places like the mall or to 1896927_10205212699852986_7498749312055281589_nparties. All this to insure their safety in this unsafe world we live in now.

Most of the teenagers either don’t participate, work, or stay at home to hand out candy, but lots of them go out with their friends. One hopes that the majority of those teenagers are not out getting into trouble, but often that is not the case. At least for the troublemaking group. There are still good teenagers, who respect authority, their parents, and their elders. I am thankful that I live in a state where most teenagers are still taught good values, and I wish that was so in all the states in our nation.

This year, my youngest grandson, Josh Petersen is participating in something new for Halloween. Although it is not a Halloween event, it requires him to don a costume, but please don’t call it an outfit or costume, because it has a specific name…bunkers. Josh’s event is not a party or haunted house or really anything that has anything to do with Halloween, but is does require going into a situation that is very much out of the ordinary for him, and strange for us, his family, to think about. Josh is doing fire science training at the drill tower today. The training will include a practice fire, in which real fire will be used…hence the unusual situation 10676195_10202953479705529_3463465173877702689_n[1]Firefighter Joshinvolving a building, that most of us would consider a nightmare if it happened in a building we were in. While these are not a real fire situations, it is these training sessions that prepare our firefighters for the real life scenarios they will face on the job. Yes, this is an unusual way for a seventeen year old to spend a Saturday, especially on Halloween, but it is one that Josh will find exciting, inspiring, and a great learning experience for the career he has chosen to take on. We are all very proud of him.

Whatever Halloween finds you and your family doing, I hope you have a great evening, be safe, watchful, respectful, and have fun. Happy Halloween!!

imageAs the summer comes to an end, the kids in the local school system head back to school. Some areas started earlier than ours. While I think school should start on the same date statewide, I am a firm supporter of school starting the Tuesday after Labor Day and ending the Friday before Memorial Day. Nevertheless, they didn’t ask me, and so here we are. School started on September 2, 2015 for the students of Natrona County, and that was the day my grandson went back to high school for his junior year.

My grandson, Josh Petersen is the last of my grandchildren to be in the public school system. It is strange to think that of him being the final one. Josh is a Junior at Kelly Walsh High School, and while he may not be totally looking forward to high school this year, he is pretty excited about the college classes he is taking through the Boces program. The college started on August 25, 2015. For those who don’t know, the Boces program takes surplus money that was not spent during the school year and gives it back to the students in the form of paid tuition for college classes. For students who are motivated to get ahead, the program is perfect. And Josh is very motivated to start working on his career.

imageJosh has decided that he wants a career in firefighting and EMT. I have long thought Josh would be perfectly suited to either EMT or firefighting. He has been a caregiver for much of his young life, helping with the care of his great grandparents and doing that work in a careful, meticulous manner. He is such a caring young man, and I know that he will carry that into his work as a firefighter and EMT. His great grandparents noticed his special abilities right away. They could see that he paid careful attention to the directions for the care he was going to be giving, and then did exactly what he had been told. At one point, after he was trained to do the Epley Maneuver for Vertigo, his great grandpa, Walt Schulenberg said that Josh was the only one of the younger generation that he fully trusted with the treatment.

Josh is really enjoying his Intro to Fire Science and his Fire Fighting Strategy and Tactics I classes. He is the youngest student in his classes, and the only one who is still in high school. That just reinforces the determination he has for his career choice. He doesn’t want to wait two long years to get started on his training. He is ready to start now. He has had the imagechance to visit the fire stations in town, and talk to the firefighters at length. He will also be involved in training at the training tower in town and in community service that the firefighters and trainees are involved in. He wants to do anything extra that he can too, so for the first time, he has chosen to donate blood. Josh wants to be a protector of life, and I am so proud of that desire in him. His training is only beginning, but everything he will be doing has served to get him more and more excited about his career choice. I think it is really awesome for Josh to be starting his college classes. I this he feels like he is finally starting his life’s work…even if he is just in the training stages right now. It’s an exciting time for him. Today is Josh’s birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

KevinCorrie & KevinAs parents move into the college years for their kids, so much changes, and with those changes come so many emotions. That is where my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen finds himself today. His oldest child, Chris is in his second year of Culinary School at Sheridan College in Sheridan, Wyoming, and now, his youngest son, Josh has started college classes through the Boces program, while he is still a student at Kelly Walsh High School. While Kevin and my daughter, his wife, Corrie are both very proud of their boys, this year has also brought the changes in life very much to the forefront of their thoughts…and it really hasn’t been easy.

Kevin and Chris have worked together at Johnny J’s Diner, where Chris was a cook and Kevin a manager for several years now, but this year, Chris’ schedule will not really allow that. More likely, it is we, his family who will have to visit Chris, rather than the other way around. It is not even certain if Chris can get home for birthdays this year…his own included. This is a change that has been and will continue to be hard on Kevin, because his family means everything to him. Kevin is a great dad, and someone that the boys look up to. He works hard, and he has instilled those same values in the boys.

Then to make matters worse, Josh’s schedule is quite busy as well. When he isn’t going to school or working, he will be in evening classes at Casper College, where he is studying Fire Science, and eventually studying to become a both firefighter and EMT. While Josh still lives at home, I think Kevin and Corrie are starting to experience a little bit of empty nest syndrome. I think that most people experience that to a degree about this time in their children’s lives. Kids go to school and work, and what little bit of downtime they have is spent hanging out with their friends. Sometimes, parents get left in the dust. It is at those moments that parents wish that their young adults were still their babies. They wish the years hadn’t gone by so fast, but you can’t turn back time. We are all where we are at this moment in time.

No matter how little time Kevin and Corrie get with their boys, they are still so very proud of them, and all that they are doing. While this time in their lives is difficult, they know that in the future there will come a time when all the sadness of missing each other will be replaced with the joy of their successes. For now, however, as parents, they will be relegated to the background as their children get to shine. Still, I hope Kevin and Corrie Kevin 3Josh, Kevin, and Chris with the truckknow just how much their boys love them, depend on them, and look up to them. They have such a high respect for them, and they really want to make them proud. If the boys are busy, it is because they are working hard to do the things that they have dreamed about, and if their parents have taught them one thing, it is to follow your heart and you will achieve your dreams. These college years are fleeting, and will soon pass, and that will be an entirely new kind of change. Today is Kevin’s birthday. Happy birthday Kevin!! We know it will be hard, but have a great day anyway!! We love you!!

Jeff AtkinsonYesterday, I attended the funeral of Casper firefighter, Captain Jeffrey Atkinson. The service was beautiful and filled with all the pomp and circumstance befitting a hero. The ceremony included bag pipes, the Shriner’s Calliope Band, the sounding of the last bell, and the presentation of the helmet, badge, and flag to his widow, Kristen and his sons Eddie and Christopf. There were tributes about his bravery, his humor, and his caring ways. He was a firefighter, but more than that he was a husband, father, son, brother, nephew, uncle, cousin, and friend. His family loved him so much, and now cancer had taken him from them. It was a terribly sad time for a lot of people, in the firefighting community and the entire city too.

As I sat there listening to the ceremony, my mind drifted back over the last nine years, and my own encounters with Jeff and the other firefighters. As a caregiver for my parents and my in-laws over the past nine years, there have been more occasions than I care to think about when I would have to call for an ambulance for my loved ones. As most of you know, the fire department is often the first responder on those occasions. Since my husband Bob had been the fire department mechanic for many years, the firefighters knew me, but it wouldn’t have mattered. They weren’t just there because they knew Bob and me, they were there because they care about the people of Casper…or anyone in need.

Jeff and a number of other firefighters came to my rescue on more occasions than I want to think back on. In nine years of caregiving, there have been dozens of times when I had no other choice but to seek help in emergency situations. The firefighters and ambulance personnel were always professional, caring, and gentle with my parents and in-laws, but the firemen always seemed to look beyond just the patient. They saw me…standing there in the middle of it all, trying desperately to stay in control of my emotions long enough to be able to give them the information they needed in order to help their patient…my loved one.

At the time of those calls, I didn’t know if my loved one was going to make it through this. I felt like I was falling into a bottomless pit. Those were the worst moments of my life, and they saw me at my absolute worst. It didn’t matter to them. They saw that I was scared and trying desperately to hold myself together. It was at that point, as the EMTs were taking my loved one out to the ambulance that the firefighters turned their attention to me, asking if I was ok. Of course, that was the breaking point for me, and the tears flowed. Several of the firefighters, including Jeff took it upon themselves to give me the hug I really needed, and the encouragement to go forward and make my way to the hospital to give the information needed to the hospital staff too. I don’t think I could have made it without that hug. A hug might seem like such a small thing, but when your parents are sick and you have to be the one to make all the decisions about their care, it can feel so overwhelming. I felt lost and alone. They showed me that I wasn’t alone after all. With Jeff’s passing, the city of Casper has lost a great firefighter.

Kids, young and old have a fascination with fire trucks. Maybe it is the idea of a real superhero that draws us to them. Or maybe it is the siren that gets our attention. Maybe its the cool truck with all its great equipment. It could be the excitement of the job they do, or the thought of how it must feel to rescue someone from certain death.

No matter what the draw is, it seems to draw us all. When a fire truck goes down the street with lights flashing and sirens blaring, everyone looks and starts wondering what has happened. You scan the sky for smoke and when you see none, you assume it must have been a car accident. Your thoughts wander to the person is serious need of help right now, and inside you say a prayer for their safety.

But for kids, it is the dream of someday being a firefighter…a hero, or super hero. I know of very few little boys who don’t want to be a fireman at sometime in their young life. My grandsons have all talked about ir at one time or another. Girls may not want that so often, but my niece Lindsay went so far as getting a degree in fire science and working for the Forest Service in Hill City, South Dakota for two summers.

The kids get to meet the firefighters at school, and field trips, as well as other events designed to promote safety and awareness, so they get to see how important the job is. In this picture, my grandson Christopher is standing on the seat of the truck. The look on his face shows that he is on cloud nine. He has always likes things mechanical, and the fire truck is the ultimate in gadgetry. Kids today are very used to and comfortable with gadgetry. They thrive on it. The more tech savvy something is, the better. Add that to the whole fireman/firetruck thing and kids are set.

We all look up to the firefighters. They run in to protect and save us when we need them the most. They are our superheroes, and we will always look when they go by, wondering what emergency they are heading to this time. We see them as exciting and brave, courageous and strong. And little kids everywhere looking at them as exactly what they want to be when they grow up.

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