WEST PITTSTON – William “Billy” Wagner has worked all over the emergency response field since 2007.
He got his start in Plains Township with a rescue company, where he took part in firefighter training and EMT classes before transferring to West Pittston Fire Department. He’s been there for eight years. He is also a full-time EMT at Trans-Med.
Wagner’s work as a first responder has him on the scene for anything from fall incidents to motor vehicle accidents to house fires and everything in between. For him, people are the common thread tying it all together.
“Helping people, that’s basically why I like doing this … You’re they’re to try to comfort people when they’re in hard times, to do your best, be professional and hope for a good outcome.”
This is true for the people who need assistance, but also for the first responders themselves. That’s why Wagner is proud to call those he works with his teammates, all working toward a common goal.
“We are a team. We’re there to get the job done, conquer it and make sure everyone comes home safe,” he said. “Our first priority is to save lives, and our second is to save property. That’s the way we’re trained.”
Unfortunately, in some situations, lives or property don’t make it through the damage. In times like that, Wagner stresses the importance of staying collected, being professional and seeing the job through to the end.
“We try to keep the damage to a bare minimum if we can have control over it, but there are days it gets ahead of us … and then there’s nothing we can do on our side besides try our best and try to save what’s left,” he said.
“You don’t think about it while you’re trying to do the job … We have debriefings on situations like that afterward, where we try to figure out what could be changed and what we can do better for next time.”
Despite the difficulties, Wagner finds the work incredibly fulfilling. He emphasized the fact that many fire departments are comprised of volunteers, or a combination of paid and volunteer workers. He encouraged anyone, especially young people with an interest in helping others, to stop in to see what it’s like.
“Come down, see what the daily duties are like … maybe the chief will let you do a ride along,” he said. “That’s how I got started, and I fell in love with it … It’s a great feeling.”
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