Arlington firefighter to get medic training at Harborview
August 27, 2008 · Updated 4:09 PM
ARLINGTON Thomas Jackson will be the first Arlington firefighter in four years to receive medic training, and the first to receive it from Harborview Medical Center, at no additional cost to the city or taxpayers of Arlington.
The Medic One Foundation allowed us to waive the standard fee of $15,000, said Arlington Fire Department Deputy Chief Tom Cooper. He will continue to draw a salary from the Arlington Fire Department for the eight to nine months that hell be away, even though we wont have him as a firefighter during that time, but the return on our investment will be much greater than that cost.
Jackson likewise believes that the short-term sacrifices he makes to complete the training will be more than balanced out by the rewards, both to himself and to the surrounding community, even though it will mean living apart from his wife Julie, his 4-year-old daughter Gracie and his 1-year-old son Elijah for the better part of a year.
If you look at the percentage of calls we receive, 80 percent of them are for emergency medical services, Jackson said. By becoming proficient in EMS, Im helping offer a higher level of customer service to our citizens. Ill still be a firefighter, because I have no intention of giving that up, but Ill have added paramedic skills to my toolbox.
Jackson thanked his mother, sister and other family members in advance, for the assistance theyll be providing his wife, a stay-at-home mom, in looking after their children while hes away.
Ill be missing my birthday, my sons birthday and our eighth anniversary, Jackson said. I might be home for Christmas, but by the time I get back, I expect my son will already be talking. Its an investment in my career though, of nine months for the next 25 years. This is not just my job. Its my home. This is the town where I grew up and I want to give back to this community.
Jackson is also excited to receive his training at Harborview, which he considers the end-all and be-all of medical programs in Washington state.
A lot of medics have told me that its nothing like theyd ever experienced before, Jackson said. You have Japanese doctors, and other medical care people coming from overseas and across the country, just to train there.
Cooper agreed with Jacksons assessment of Harborview, deeming its medic training one of the leading such programs in the nations and promised that Jacksons experiences there would be intense.
Theyre basically taking away his life from October of this year through August of next year, Cooper said. Hell be pulling 12- to 24-hour shifts in emergency rooms, operating rooms and ambulances throughout the Puget Sound region, in between spending countless hours hitting the books and studying for tests. Sleep will be at a premium. When you sign up to do this, they own you.
Cooper elaborated that Jackson was one of three Arlington firefighters who volunteered for the medic program, but asserted that all three would have made excellent candidates.
What theyre looking for at Harborview is what we already look for when we hire firefighters, Cooper said. We want compassionate people who care about their communities, even if they dont necessarily live here. Its a huge commitment, but Im confident that Thomas will do well.
Jackson joined Cooper in expressing thanks to Arlington Fire Chief Jim Rankin, Mayor Margaret Larson, the City Council and their fellow firefighters for their investment in Jackson.