Devoted to Serving Others: Alumnus Justin Young's Career in Fire Service is 'a Calling'
Early in high school, Justin Young recalls a conversation with his aunt about his post-graduation plans. He knew in his heart what his career path would be, and he began exploring the field of fire service as a young teen.
By the time he was a high school senior, Young spent part of each school day at Milwaukee Area Technical College taking classes in fire service and earning dual credits. He continued his studies and completed the full Fire Protection Technician associate degree program at MATC and graduated in 2012.
He soon realized he could amplify his skillset with additional training, and he enrolled in the Accelerated Paramedic Technician program at Waukesha County Technical College in 2013 – earning a diploma in just five short months.
Paramedic Certification Enhances Career
"Most fire departments around this area want paramedics, which is a great thing for every community: all citizens get a higher level of care," Young said. "Once I realized that was the next step, it was a no-brainer to come to WCTC. I had a lot of friends that were enrolled here and I knew some of the instructors at that time. I knew exactly what I wanted to do – to get that license and get started."
When he began in the WCTC program, Young held a paid-on-call position with the Sussex Fire Department. Near the end of his program – in spring of 2013 – he became a full-time firefighter/paramedic with the Greenfield Fire Department, where he is now a lieutenant.
Young said working as a firefighter and paramedic has been an honor, but also something he feels he was meant to do.
"Being able to do this job has been a blessing. It’s easy to say that I do this because I want to help people; I do this because it’s a calling. It’s different than just helping them do a task; I’m really impacting their lives," he said. "When I get to be the one that extends someone’s life so a wife gets to have her husband for a few more years, or children get to see their mom for a number of years and expand that lifespan, the feeling that comes from that is profound."
Giving Back to the Community
Besides working in the field, Young also volunteers. He spends a week each summer serving as a counselor at the Summer Camp for Burn Injured Youth hosted by the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin Charitable Foundation Inc. The camp is designed for children and teens with life-changing burn injuries to grow their lifelong support system, continue to heal from the emotional trauma of their burns and just "be a kid." Young was honored last fall with an award for 10 years of volunteer service.
Additionally, Young’s educational journey has come full circle: once a student, now an adjunct instructor. He’s been teaching classes at MATC for the past few years, and in September, he began teaching EMS classes at WCTC.
"The instructors that have taught me (at WCTC and MATC), now I get to teach alongside them – and keep learning from them," Young said.