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Emergency Medical Services: The IAFC's Unsung Heroes

I want to thank the EMS Section for allowing me to hijack this month's EMS column to acknowledge the unsung heroes of our "fire chief-ing" world—the staff of the IAFC.

In November 2015, I resigned my IAFC-elected position on the EMS Section's executive board in order to join the IAFC staff fulltime. My job was to implement and promote the IAFC's vision to enhance training and education opportunities for our members (check out IAFCacademy.org). The transition from member to staff was an eye-opening experience.

I joined the IAFC as a member—a division chief—in 1987. Throughout the years, I served on various IAFC committees, task forces and working groups. I served as president of the IAFC Missouri Valley Division and as director-at-large and treasurer of the EMS Section for 13 years. And yet, during all those years in all of those positions, I never stopped to reflect on why I treasured the IAFC so much as an organization. And now I know why—it's our staff!

Now, I'm not saying I didn't always have a healthy respect for the IAFC staff—I did. And, I'm not saying I didn't appreciate what the IAFC staff did for us members—I most certainly did.

But, what I and most members don't see is the true depth of commitment the IAFC staff has for us as members and for the fire service as a whole.

The women and men who make up the staff at the IAFC work tirelessly on our behalf. The leadership, under CEO/Executive Director Mark Light, Chief Operations Officer and Deputy Executive Director Karin Fitzgerald and Chief Programs/Technology Officer and Assistant Executive Director Tommy Hicks (my boss), sets a tenor of service and excellence that is equally matched by each and every IAFC staff member. The breadth of knowledge and commitment I experienced in the IAFC staff was second to none.

But what's more, they genuinely care! They care about the members and they have our backs—24/7. I saw it firsthand.

As I transition from being a member of the IAFC staff to a new position in Virginia state government, I have been overcome with a sincere desire to share with you the value of those who work diligently behind the scenes at the IAFC to ensure our success. I leave with a new perspective and immeasurable respect for those called "staff" (association jargon). To me, they will forever be colleagues.

I truly mean it when I say this: the IAFC staff are the unsung heroes of our "fire chief" profession.

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