By Johnny Jackson
Henry County resident, Jason Montgomery, said he grew up admiring firefighters for their bravery and service to their communities.
"My lifelong dream was to become a firefighter," said Montgomery. "It's not the money that I love about what I do. It's the service that I provide to the community."
The 36-year-old, who grew up in Jonesboro and now lives in Hampton, works full-time as a firefighter in Butts County, and part-time as a paramedic with Mid Georgia Ambulance (MGA), a private, full-ambulance service based in Macon, Ga.
The paramedic recently returned from a two-week assignment, July 15-28, along the Louisiana coast to aid in the British Petroleum (BP), oil-spill, clean-up efforts.
He was joined by fellow MGA Paramedic Brian Jenkins, of Upson County, Ga. Their roles as paramedics in the gulf included working with volunteers and others collecting oil from the waters in the area.
"I was up by 4 a.m., and off to the docks," Montgomery said. "Basically, what we did, we went out and provided medical support. Anything from tooth aches to severe dehydration. It was very hot down there."
The two Georgia paramedics were a part of a larger contingency of paramedics from around the country, according to MGA Public Relations Director Amy Abel. MGA, she said, was contacted by Acadian Ambulance of Lafayette, La., for assistance in the oil-spill cleanup.
Abel said MGA was asked to send nationally registered paramedics, like Montgomery and Jenkins, to aid in the medical response. She said the two assisted with the clean-up process by offering blood pressure checks and treatment for dehydration, in addition to treatment for everything from smoke inhalation and burns, to headaches and stomachaches.
Abel said MGA will continue to send teams of nationally registered paramedics to the New Orleans area for as long as medical assistance is needed.
"It's a great opportunity for our employees to do something different and to make a change in something so catastrophic," said Darrell Riggins, MGA Operations Manager in the Pike and Lamar County Division. "It's just a great life-opportunity to be a part of that."
Montgomery, who serves in the MGA Pike and Lamar County Division, said he is now also a certified paramedic with Louisiana as a result of his work there this summer. "I value the time I spent down there," he said. "I've learned a lot."
"I see people at the worst times in their lives," he said. "And I hope by my intervention, I can make a difference in their lives. My bottom line in this business is that I love to help people, and I've been given a gift to provide what I can to the community."
Montgomery and his wife of 15 years, Cari, have three children: son, Jordan, 9, daughter, Baylee, 8, and son, Carson, 4. He noted that his interest in public service may have already made an impression in his home.
"My oldest boy, Jordan, he was very interested in fire trucks," he said. "[For me,] I have planned to go back to Louisiana to go help."