It’s A Family Thing

May 25, 2017

His greatest fear: Going inside a burning building. His greatest adrenaline rush: Going inside a burning building.

Colin Campbell, 23, never knows if he’s going to survive his workday. Like most emergency medical service workers, he sits and waits for the next call. Going into the fog of the unknown is all in day’s work.

He never leaves the house without three things: His dog tags, a cross, and “the fireman’s prayer” tucked inside his helmet.

During this EMS Week, communities throughout the nation celebrate dedicated responders like Campbell who work on the front line to save lives. For Campbell, it’s a profession . . . a calling, that came early in his life. And he’s following in the footsteps of many other family members.

His father has been a firefighter for 32 years; his uncle is a deputy fire chief; his brother is a career firefighter; and his brother-in-law is a fire chief.

“For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a fireman. I grew up hanging out with my dad at the station,” said Campbell. In high school he joined a fire fighter explorer program and after his 2012 graduation from Martinsville’s Tabernacle Christian, he enlisted in the Marines. Things didn’t happen as he planned. Twenty-two months after he left for his station in California, Campbell fractured his spine in three places during a marshal arts drill.

“I entered the Marines with the intent of becoming a firefighter. After the accident and they determined it was going to be 12 months of physical therapy I knew I would be medically discharged after six months,” said Campbell, the second to the youngest child of seven.

Back in Indiana, he continued his physical therapy and was determined to continue his EMT training. He attended Fire I and Fire II School through the Bargersville department and is also certified in advanced life support training for critical care.

“I would say aside form the military you won’t find another brotherhood like the fire service. They’ll give you the shirt off their back.”

He’s seen and learned a lot as a first responder – many of the scenes will remain with him forever.

“Without a doubt, the worst day since I’ve been on the job was just a few weeks ago,” said Campbell. He got a call to transport a very, very sick newborn from Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health to IU Health Methodist Hospital. “Mom was holding the baby while they removed life support. It was one of the first times she got to hold her baby and one of the last.”

He tries to remember the calls where there is a happy ending.

“The problem is the good ones never stick with you,” said Campbell. “You only remember the bad ones because our job is to go in an try to fix people’s problems and when we can’t, we take it to heart.”

- T.J. Banes

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