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The Chillicothe Voice

Why I Joined Chillicothe Community Fire Protection District - October 2022

Oct 01, 2022 03:56PM ● By Logan Van Ostrand
My name is Logan Van Ostrand, and I have lived in Chillicothe my entire life. I went to South School, then to Chillicothe Elementary Center, and finally IVC. I was an athlete playing baseball and football in high school. Following IVC graduation, I went to Carl Sandburg in Galesburg on a baseball scholarship. I soon learned that college life was not for me, and I returned home after my freshman year. I started working for Millbrooke Homes, a construction contracting business in town. I was a frame and trim carpenter for about three years, but like everyone, COVID-19 forced me to find other means of work.
In 2020 I went back to school to get my EMT certification and then my Illinois EMT license. I have always been perplexed by the human body and curious on how and why our bodies function. I was thrilled to find something I really wanted to do. Since leaving college I hadn’t found something that felt right. Everything felt like a “phase” until now. However, the deciding factor for me originated much earlier than this fascination. My father had an aggressive lung cancer that ended up taking his life. He had a whole lung removed and was completely dependent on supplied oxygen. He got terrified when emergency medical service (EMS) personnel came and handled his oxygen. In EMS, it’s not only our job to treat your physical complaints, but also your psychological ones as well. They made no real attempt to put him at ease and build trust with him to help calm him down. I’ve never known my father to be in that level of fear, and I wanted to be someone who brought peace and comfort rather than panic.
I started my EMS service with the plan of just being an EMT; honestly, I never put much consideration into firefighting. That changed when a family friend—now retired Chillicothe Community Fire Protection District (CCFPD) Assistant Chief, Don Schmidt—heard through my mother that I was taking the EMT class. He stopped by my house with his friend, retired member Jerry Myers. Schmidt asked if I had ever considered being a firefighter and suggested coming down to the fire station on a training night. After one night I was hooked. I hung around unofficially for four or five months before becoming a recruit. I loved getting hands-on experience during the recruitment training and wanted more. Fire Chief Marvin Roderick suggested the Basic Operations of Firefighting (BOF) course, which is an 18-week class to become a state certified firefighter. This course was intense, both in the classroom and in hands-on live burns. Just like the EMT course, this filled me with the same excitement and drive to succeed. It felt as though I found another piece of the puzzle that was my career path.
While Chillicothe’s department is volunteer, it can help you progress forward if you seek to pursue a career in EMS or the fire service. Thanks to the experience and the training I got at CCFPD, I was able to get a job as a firefighter at Caterpillar in Mossville. Station 41 at the Mossville Caterpillar site was my first paid position as a firefighter/EMT. Not many people are even aware that Caterpillar keeps a fully staffed fire/rescue squad. I was able to gain a plethora of experience in fire systems and hazmat responses while I was there. It’s a fantastic place for inexperienced firefighters to gain knowledge and training before moving on to a municipal department, since you can get hired at 18 years of age—municipal departments require 21 years or older. Now I’m a full-time EMT with Advanced Medical Transport. I love providing EMS care to those in need. I am learning even more about EMS care, and I’m able to bring that experience home to my community to better care for patients in my hometown. The exposure to a multitude of high acuity calls has helped me learn to stay calm under pressure and become faster with critical thinking.
I’m now pursuing my paramedic certification to continue growing as an EMS provider, with the goal of one day becoming a municipal firefighter. I have the CCFPD to thank for my progress that I’ve made so far. Without Assistant Chief Schmidt approaching me about becoming a part of the CCFPD family, I might have never gotten this far into EMS. The training I’ve gained along the way has shown me I can always give a little more. The BOF class taught me you can always push farther than you think. It might be a crawl, but you can always push forward. You may not be able to see your next step, but if you trust in your training and those that stand with you, you will always find the resolve to inch ever closer to your goal. I’m proud to call the men and women of the CCFPD my family, and I’m excited to see what we will achieve together in the future.