NKU student finds inspiration in fire fighting VIDEO


Kassidy Stricklett

Joe Schutzman talks about his career as a firefighter and the inspiration it creates. His position requires him to work 60 to 70 hours a week.

Kassidy Stricklett, Reporter

Tales of loss, triumph and selflessness fill many pages, as Junior English major Joe Schutzman, takes his creative writing to the next level with his experiences as a firefighter and EMS professional at Crescent Springs and Gallatin County, fire and EMS.

This inspiration however, did not come without many hours of hard work.

Schutzman began his career as a senior in high school as a volunteer and has since gained a part-time position at both Crescent Springs and Gallatin County, where he works anywhere from 60 to 70 hours a week.

“I actually wrote a short story about the first full (cardiac) arrest I had, and it got published in Loch Norse Magazine,” Schutzman said. “Even if my writing is not directly influenced by this job, I think it changes you.”

According to Schutzman, the inspiration behind his writing comes from the many different squad or fire runs that he gets called out to.

“I’ve been on some pretty wild calls,” Schutzman said. “I’ve been to a shooting, a stabbing, maybe like 3 large apartment fires, and you’ve got your normal stuff like car wrecks and overdoses, medical calls, stuff like that. So there’s quite a bit of variety and that’s the best part about coming here, you never know what you’re going to do that day or who’s going to call and need help. So I like that part of it probably the best.”

Schutzman realizes that his job can be very dangerous at times but his passion for helping others, keeps him going.

Kassidy Stricklett

“It’s a humbling experience because you see a fire and you’re like, “oh I’ve got to do something about that” and it’s a ‘It’s your job to put it out kind of thing,’” Schutzman said. “Things aren’t burning down everyday but when you do get a good house fire you have in the back of your mind that people die doing this. But we train really hard, we are always doing different classes, drills and reading new material, to make sure that we can do everything to the best of our ability.”

Dick Burns, Schutzman’s co-worker at Crescent Springs Fire and EMS, says that it’s hard to find someone as dedicated as Schutzman and has loved working with him over the past couple of years.

“He’s not scared,” Burns said. “We all took this job, we all took this title and we all understand the risks. He embraces that and he understands that not everyone goes home. It’s a pleasure to work with someone like that because he is young, he loves what he does and you can see that.”

Silvana Hill, a junior journalism major and Schutzman’s girlfriend, sometimes becomes worried about the risks Schutzman’s job brings, but believes that he should continue his work with EMS and fire fighting.

“I’ll hear about a run after the fact and then I’ll get nervous about the stuff he does,” Hill said. “I can see he has a passion for it, so I think he should continue doing what he loves.”

According to Schutzman, some of his inspiration for his writing comes from the bad days on the job when he sees bad things happen to good people. On those days, he finds it very important to rely on his coworkers and friends for support.

“You see a lot of hard things, you see a lot of bad things that happen to good people and when you leave the firehouse you take all of that with you,” Schutzman said. “When you have a bad call you come back to the firehouse and everybody’s there, the fire service is a family. So you really have to rely on the other people you work with, to get you through the bad days.”

Schutzman hopes that people will gain a better understanding of the work EMS and firefighters do on a daily basis, so that they will feel safe when they have to call 911.

“I’d like people that aren’t involved in fire and EMS to know that it’s not an easy job,” Schutzman said. “You know, people always joke about us sitting around here all the time and sleeping. But we work really hard to do what we do and we try to be the utmost professionals that we can to provide a service to the people, so that when you call 911 someone who is knowledgeable, someone who knows what they’re doing and someone who is calm and collected is going to come, and do the best that they can to help you with whatever issue is going on that day. Just because not every story makes the news doesn’t mean we aren’t going on a run everyday.”

While the long hours and bad calls can sometimes affect his schooling and everyday life, Schutzman says that he hopes that he can continue to use his work as inspiration for his writing because it combines both of the things he loves.
“You know this is a part of me,” Schutzman said. “So it’s always there in the background when I’m writing and when I’m really doing anything.”