The duties of a firefighter are much more than a job for Jamie Taylor.
Taylor, a paramedic/engineer with the Lee’s Summit Fire Department, takes a personal approach towards his occupation, a characteristic his battalion chief says centers on Taylor’s “aggressiveness.”
Balancing out Taylor’s ferociousness is what some of his peers label “compassion and overall contribution to the department and the community.”
Testament of that kindness comes in the form of a story that Taylor says best exemplifies why he takes great pride in his occupation.
“We got a call for citizen’s assist and the guy had fallen,” Taylor said. “He was wheelchair-bound, but moved around very good on his on. He had many ways to adapt his lifestyle to get around. We went there and he was very appreciative of us helping him off the floor. There were just some issues I noted there that maybe he was used to dealing with that I thought could make him sick or need us for further treatment. He had some family phone numbers on the wall, so I asked him if it was OK that I contact his family. So I contacted his sister and was able to let her know about some of the stuff and maybe a possible change of living if he needed some assisted care or a different higher level of care because he was just living in an apartment.”
Taylor, who has spent the last four years as member of the LSFD’s Fire Station No. 7, was selected Feb. 13 by the department and the Lee’s Summit Firefighter’s Association Local 2195 as the 2013 Firefighter of the Year. The aforementioned story was one of several reasons mentioned in recommending Taylor for the honor.
“I think there are certain people you want to reach out and help,” he said. “You know you have a sense of belonging to everybody’s house. I like to say we are the best part to somebody’s worst day, so when they have a problem they call us. We come and show up. When I get there I want to know what I can do to help solve the problem. Obviously we can’t help everybody that we go to, but if we can at least comfort them, talk to them and keep them calm…if we can make them smile or something we can do to make their day better, that kind of gives me self-fulfillment. ”
“Very aggressive, very proactive,” Kevin McCaw, a LSFD battalion chief, said of Taylor. “With any career you’ve got people who come in and do the basics and excel. Jamie is very aggressive when it comes to education and some of his hands-on knowledge. His self-motivation and the drive he puts into the job will, over his career, it will shine.”
Originally from Sedalia, Taylor has spent the last several years as a Lee’s Summit resident. He and his wife of six years, Melissa, are expecting the arrival of their first child, which is due in two weeks. Having grown up close to his mother and sister – Taylor said his father passed away when he was young – the birth of his daughter will be a welcomed addition to the family.
“I was actually talking on the phone to my mother,” Taylor said of when he was informed of the award. “She’s stated many times that she was pretty proud of that and she’s finally glad that some other people were able to see what she’s seen her whole life. That was kind of a proud moment, not only for myself and the department, but also being her son. Family is kind of real big to me. Growing up my mom raised me well. I have a sister and a baby girl on the way in less than two weeks so I’m pretty excited about that.”
Along with his skills as a firefighter and a paramedic, Taylor – who dabbles part-time as a mechanic – has skills that have been put to good use assembling equipment on a new ambulance and ladder tuck. Taylor has also helped with the refurbishing of a 1951 Howe truck used by the department decades ago and recently acquired by Local 2195.
The truck has been used in many city-wide events including the “Freezin’ for a Reason” ride to benefit Special Olympics. Taylor served as a driver for an honored guest.
“This job can be whatever you want to make it,” Taylor said. “The city and the department are very good about giving you all of the tools and necessities that you need. It is what you want to make it. The opportunities are pretty much endless.”
McCaw added: “When nominations came in it was pretty overwhelming. This year it wasn’t going to be a long drawn out, debatable process. (Taylor) was overwhelmingly nominated this year.”