Firefighters, paramedics, share what working on Thanksgiving is like

Agencies work to make the day special for crews

While many people are off work spending time with family and friends, emergencies don’t stop.

In fact, there’s more than two-thousand building fires on Thanksgiving every year.

That’s where paramedics and firefighters like Anthony Mahder come in.

Mahder has known he wanted to be a firefighter since he was young.

“There was a fire when I was younger. My mom and sister were stuck in the fire. They went in, pulled me aside, and then they were luckily okay,” explains Mahder.

Now, he’s working his first Thanksgiving as a Joplin firefighter.

“It’s not bad. I do have one son, so it can be kind of iffy,” says Mahder.

The entire crew at the Joplin Fire Department is away from their families, working until 7 am on Friday, and expecting to get any kind of call.

“We still have people that may have medical emergencies, may have cooking fires, we may have accidents, especially when black Friday starts,” says Captain Mike Redshaw with the fire department. “There’s still calls that have to be run and somebody has to be here to do it.”

It’s a similar story for paramedics and EMTs at METS.

“To us, it’s just another day. It’s just got a title to it… life goes on. We’ve still gotta be here to help people,” says Kevin Russow with METS.

But, they try their best to make the day special.

Both agencies put together Thanksgiving meals for the crews, complete with turkey or ham and all the sides.

It’s something that means more to the crew than just a meal.

“I mean, it definitely makes it better having that comradery with the people you work with, you know make it feel like a second home. Makes it easier being away from your actual home,” says Justin Hicks with METS.

“We spend so much time together here at METS that it’s actually our second family,” says Russow. “So it’s just like spending Thanksgiving with your family.”

A feeling that everyone at the Joplin Fire Department shares.

“We kind of become another family, so it’s also that aspect of it and the comradery when we get to spend a holiday together we see it that way and enjoy it in that manner as well,” says Reshaw.

“Instead of one here, one here, one there, it feels like we’re all one big family,” says Mahder.

Both the crew at Joplin Fire and the crew at METS have to work on Christmas and New Years as well.


Get the latest local and national headlines straight to your email for free: Sign up here.