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Pasadena Fire Department Emergency Reserve Answers the Call of Duty

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(Credit: Pasadena Fire Department EMS Reserve) (Left to right) Pasadena Fire Department EMS Reserve members Matt Bossuyt, Jesus Anaya and Cliffton Rodger, pictured working in an ambulance. (Credit: Pasadena Fire Department EMS Reserve) Pasadena Fire Department EMS Reserve member Angela Mercedes working at a Rose Bowl game (Credit: Pasadena Fire Department EMS Reserve) Get our daily Pasadena newspaper in your email box. Free.Get all the latest Pasadena news, more than 10 fresh stories daily, 7 days a week at 7 a.m. EVENTS & ENTERTAINMENT | FOOD & DRINK | THE ARTS | REAL ESTATE | HOME & GARDEN | WELLNESS | SOCIAL SCENE | GETAWAYS | PARENTS & KIDS From a Hollywood film director to a renowned spacecraft engineer to lawyers, executives and medical students, the three-dozen or so volunteers that make up the Pasadena Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services Reserve come from all walks of life but are united by a selfless dedication to public service.Members of the EMS Reserve have been responding to emergencies and treating patients since the organization was formed in 1981.While they are required to have emergency medical technician training, at a minimum, and are held to the same standards as their full-time Fire Department colleagues, the reserves man the backs of ambulances and provide medical aid at major events in the city for no compensation, explained Pasadena Fire Department EMS Reserve Senior Lead Coordinator Austin Smithard.Smithard, himself a commercial flight instructor and a film director, producer, and writer with more than 450 productions to his credit, has been with the team for eight years. He said leading the professional, dedicated men and women that compose the reserve has been a privilege and an honor.“This is selflessness at its best,” Smithard said. “They show when it’s cold and unpleasant, or on holidays.”The job can be demanding and stressful, he added.“It’s no walk in the park,” he said. But it’s also “an incredible opportunity.”But those who volunteer for the team and pass the rigorous selection process possess special qualities, Smithard said.“That’s a really impressive thing to be surrounded by,” he said. “If you’re not really enthusiastic about wanting to help other people, the emergency medical field is not for you.”Each reserve is required to serve a minimum of 16 hours per month, although many put in much more time than that, Smithard explained.About 40% of the team is made up of volunteers who plan to gain valuable experience and training and then eventually move on to other careers, ranging from doctors and flight medics to firefighters and police officers, he said.The other 60% are people with existing careers unrelated to emergency medicine.“We have people coming in from different walks of life,” Smithard said. They include rocket scientists, medical students, filmmakers, stay-at-home moms, nurses, and x-ray technicians.Among the team members is Andrew Klesh, who serves as chief engineer for interplanetary small spacecraft at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. While not riding in an ambulance to emergency calls, Klesh is the project systems engineer for NASA’s Lunar Trailblazer Mission.Each team member must be certified as an EMT, as well as undergo fire training and a probationary period.Reserves must not only be knowledgeable about medicine and emergency response but also possess the ability to calmly respond to stressful situations with decisiveness and confidence, Smithard said.“You need to be the calmest person in the room… where people are upset and hysterical,” he said.“We don’t allow people to wear the uniform and represent the city to the public unless they’ve passed those standards,” according to Smithard.The EMS Reserve is especially well equipped to assist with large events, such as the Rose Parade or Rose Bowl events, when as many as 20 of them at a time may be on duty to assist with influxes of patients. They also stand ready in the event of any major local catastrophe.While police reserves are common in the region, Pasadena’s Fire Department reserve is unique, he said.“It really doesn’t exist at all in California,” Smithard said.The reserves are dedicated to “emergency medical services” and are not used for fighting fires or rescue operations, city officials said.Smithard’s tenure heading the EMS Reserve will end next month, as he plans to retire and move out of state, he said.“I’ve enjoyed every moment of it,” he said.More information on the Pasadena Fire Department EMS Reserve is available online at emsr.org/index.cfm. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * 12 recommended0 commentsShareShareTweetSharePin it Community News Pasadena Fire Department EMS Reserve member and JPL engineer Andy Klesh, pictured in a photo provided by the Pasadena Fire Department EMS Reserve. Name (required)  Mail (required) (not be published)  Website  Home of the Week: Unique Pasadena Home Located on Madeline Drive, Pasadena Community News STAFF REPORT Pasadena’s ‘626 Day’ Aims to Celebrate City, Boost Local Economy STAFF REPORT First Heatwave Expected Next Week More Cool Stuff Public Safety Pasadena Fire Department Emergency Reserve Answers the Call of Duty By BRIAN DAY Published on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 | 4:53 pm ‹› CITY NEWS SERVICE/STAFF REPORT Pasadena Will Allow Vaccinated People to Go Without Masks in Most Settings Starting on Tuesday Top of the News Subscribe Make a comment Business Newslast_img read more