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Open Options

Tyler CadyTyler is from Denver, Colorado, and served in the US Air Force. Re served at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City Beach as a Firefighter and Crew Chief. Re is currently enrolled at CFCC for emergency management, hoping to return to firefighting with the possibility of eventually being promoted to captain or maybe battalion chief one day.

I really enjoyed the opportunity and training we went through. I remember being 18 and terrified of what was to come at DOD Fire Academy. Seeing and feeling the extreme heat honestly terrified me. It was uncomfortable, and even through the protective clothing, I could feel my sweat burn and really see all of the fluids I was losing by the minute. That’s something I had to fight through every time we trained (daily at that point). Fighting through that struggle, on top of the added stuff from the DI’s with my teammates was confidence building through fully blacked masks for search and rescue to Marine Drill Instructors yelling at us to get through confined spaces barely big enough to fit in. All of this while It was my first real time being away from home, so I finally got to figure out what was right for me, and figure out the man I wanted to strive to be.

In those 6 months of firefighting training, I learned so much about myself. There I learned how to just grind, as bad as things may be, just keep going forward. For the first time, I cared about how important it is to be a hard worker. I kept my head down and studied hard to stay off of anybody’s negative radar. I learned that every new challenge in life is a game you have to figure out, and if you take care of the big things correctly, you can occasionally slide on the small stuff. I feel that way now through college, and every job I’ve had post-military, it was there I learned how to work for people and be a team player. There’s a saying I learned during my time at USAFA FD, “you’re here on the worst day of these people’s lives, give it your all and have a positive attitude.” That kept things in perspective for me, as rough as a day as I had, it was nowhere near as real or serious as what the patients had to endure.

Our calls ranged from wrecked aircraft, cars that had crashed, a house fire, or unfortunately the frequent suicide attempts from the cadets. It took perseverance and some limited sort of bravery, I guess, to get through most of the calls we went on. As more time went on, I realized how to rely on the people around me. The most gruesome call I went on, my best friends were on scene with me, and the three of us held it together until we transferred to flight for life. It was also at that moment that I also realized you can not always count on your superiors to help. The three of us were supposed to be led by a captain, but they panicked and basically left us alone on the scene. The three of us still stay in touch and often check on each other from totally different parts of the U.S. Seeing that from someone who was supposed to protect and guide me gave me the inspiration to want to get my degree so that I can make sure that I can one day be in the position to be in charge of a scene and especially to help guide young troops much better than I had. Currently, I do not want higher positions in management, just to be helping develop and manage a singular station so I am currently taking a firefighters supervision class so that if I return to that career, I will have had even some extra training.

After Rurricane Michael destroyed most of the Florida panhandle, I also went to Tyndall AFB. It was there I first saw the emergency management side of things as we were there to help in the rebuilding, replanning, moving old equipment and moving in as quickly as possible to resume pilot training. We would take tours with the base Emergency Manager around town and he would show us which parts got hit the hardest and why, as well as Tyndall’s new rebuilding plan taking into account the possibility of more natural disasters. Coming back to school, I wanted to leave my options somewhat open, so I have either the path of Emergency Management or my Plan B of returning back to the DOD Fire Department.

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