Chris Washington, EMT-LP, FF

Firefighter and Licensed Professional Emergency Medical Technician
Dallas Fire Department

“Before I became a firefighter, I was a bookkeeper. I grew up thinking I wanted to be a part of corporate America, and then when I got there, there was no job security.

“A guy who basically raised me in my church was a fireman, and he encouraged me to change careers to become a firefighter, where I’d always have job security. It was the best decision I’ve made in my life, and I’m blessed that I made the change so young. I was only 24 when I made a career change from something I didn’t enjoy to something I love.

“When I first got into the Paramedic program, it was pretty tough. Going from business to a medical field, I had to change my whole way of thinking. But once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed it. Being an EMT, you help people every day, from minor things to really serious situations. But it’s a job where people really appreciate you, because you’re there helping them with a problem.

“The best part of my education was the clinical rotations while I was in school. Dallas has some great hospitals — from Parkland to Baylor to St. Paul, which is now UT Southwestern — and you’re able to see and do a lot of things you can’t in a smaller setting. That real-life experience was the most important thing in my education.

“To be good at this job, you have to have great people skills because you talk to people on a daily basis. Sometimes you’re yelled at, but you’ve got to realize that people in different situations treat you the way they feel at the time. If their mother or children are hurting, they’re emotional.

“You’ve got to have patience. And you’ve got to be open-minded — you see a lot of things on this job that most people just don’t see, and you have to be prepared to be above all that.

“It’s a fine line to walk, to be caring and compassionate and yet keep your emotions inside and locked down so that you can do your job correctly. Honestly, if I didn’t put God first in my life, I couldn’t do this job.”

Chris Washington earned a bachelor’s degree in general business with a minor in finance from Texas A&M University-Commerce before earning a Paramedic certificate from El Centro College.