Ariz. EMS Families Take Time to Be Thankful
Nov. 16--Accidents and medical emergencies don't take a day off when it's a holiday, and so Anthony Jacobo, an emergency medical technician with the Yuma Fire Department, will be on duty for Thanksgiving.
That means his place at the family table will be empty for the holiday dinner.
"It helps knowing he's gone helping others," said his wife, Karina.
She and a friend whose husband also is a firefighter will join forces to ensure their men don't miss out on turkey dinner, taking it to them at the station.
The couple has been married for nearly four years. When they met, Anthony was already a firefighter and going to paramedic school to become an EMT.
"He told me that was his life's work," Karina said. "We didn't even date until he was finished with school. So I knew right away what it would be like."
That means making the best of having her husband gone for 24 hours at a time for 72 hours a week, leaving her to care for the couple's two small boys by herself and being on her own while also holding down a job. And she expects it will become even more difficult to juggle as the children get older.
"It's a challenge. I worry about being home alone with two little ones. It would easier if he had an 8 to 5 job, but this is part of who he is. I got that in my head from the start. It's the job he's chosen, so I cope the best I can."
Karina does that by getting together with the wives of other firefighters, who support each other. And she treasures the "good four days" when Anthony gets off four days in a row, about once a month
It also helps that Anthony gets a calendar for the full year so the couple can plan how to spend family time and celebrate holidays. That may be taking the kids to the park, visiting family in Southern California or barbecuing with friends.
"It was fun when we took the boys to the beach for the first time," Anthony said.
He's been a firefighter for more than eight years, five of them with the city of Yuma. He said he got interested in it as a career when he attended a job fair.
"It interested me with the excitement and equipment. You see something different every day, and you're helping others. It's a positive job -- you're helping people."
Becoming a paramedic was carrying that to the next level.
He's thankful to have a loving, supportive wife, healthy kids, job security and the ability to treat his boys once in awhile.
"I do miss birthdays and I won't be here for Thanksgiving. But I will be here for Christmas for the first time in three years."
He also was able to get off work to be with his wife when their boys, Roman, 2, and Adrian, 1, were born. "I didn't miss that."
Karina said she's thankful for her husband, his providing for the family and his caring for the boys when he's not working.
"I'm grateful for the time we have together," she said, describing evenings when they prepare dinner, read to the kids, play with them and get them to bed as a couple.
Anthony said he tries to leave things he's experienced on the job at the station, especially if it's something bad involving children.
"I talk to my wife about crazy stuff but not the bad stuff," he said.
That, she said, she learns about by reading it in the newspaper.
Or her husband will call and ask how the boys are, she said. "I can tell by his voice that something happened and he wants to see his boys to reassure himself they're OK."
As for whether the boys will follow in their father's footsteps, Roman's favorite toy is a miniature fire engine he can ride in. And he makes a fire engine siren sound when they go by a fire station. Adrian's preference runs more to baseball, and he's an enthusiastic "driver" of his father's vintage 1952 Chevrolet Fleetline.
Joyce Lobeck can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6853. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YSJoyceLobeck or on Twitter at @YSJoyceLobeck.
Copyright 2012 - The Sun, Yuma, Ariz.