This week’s deep dive series we are telling the story of @EMTCHICK81.
This woman firefighter has shown us a type of strength and conviction that anyone should aspire to have. Dealing with terminal lung disease call COPD, and still finding ways to inspire her community and manage to keep fighting, makes her someone to look up to. We talked about her life and aspirations. She also educated us on the misconceptions of COPD and the stuggles of being a woman in a male-dominant field.
Keep reading to find out more about this creator’s amazing story.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What does a day look like in your life?
I try to keep myself busy. Some days are better than others. Some days I sleep all day, some days I don’t sleep at all. I enjoy time with my husband. I also write a letter and a video to my children every day, because I only have 24 months to live with COPD. I have a box for them, so they can read all the letters when I am not there and know how much I love them.
As someone who is dealing with COPD, What should we know about this disease?
COPD is not just a smoking disease. The misconception is that you can get it from smoking. I never smoked a cigarette in my life. I got it from being a firefighter. It is the fourth leading cause of death next to heart disease and cancer. Also, it’s the most misdiagnosed. Women are more susceptive to get it than men. I am now in stage four and its painful. You feel like you are suffocating. When you have COPD, they think that you smoked and I hate that because I get mistreated all the time.
What advice would you give people who have recently been diagnosed with COPD?
Do your research. Know your body and know the symptoms. Don’t let the doctors tell you is one way, be your own voice or have somebody be a voice for you when you can’t. If you know there is something wrong, go check it out. Especially, if you are a female, they sometimes say its bronchitis and it’s not. If you have shortness of breath get tested for COPD. Ultimately, just fight. There is no cure, but there is a way to slow the progression of the disease.
Tell us about your time as a firefighter/EMT. Why did you want to go become a firefighter?
I wanted to be a firefighter ever since I was 5-years-old. I was never a traditional female. I became an EMT when my son was born two and a half months early. I needed to become an EMT to bring him home from the hospital. After that, I wanted to become a firefighter because everyone told me I couldn’t do it because I was a female. Don’t tell me that I can’t do something because I am going to prove you wrong. When I was little I pretended my doll house was on fire so I can put the the fire out. My dad would buy me a lot of firetrucks, because I was fascinated by them.
Did you experience any resistance from your family, friends or coworkers because of your line of work?
Yes, they told me that it wasn’t a real job. They said I could die, that there was no guarantee I would come home. I said that I could walk outside of my house and get hit by a car or have an accident. There is never a guarantee that when you walk out of my house I would come home, regardless of my profession. I just had a job that I loved. I really had a passion for this job. Eventually, they understood. I ended up taking the 4 am shift until midnight and I didn’t care because it was my duty.
What was the most challenging thing about being a woman firefighter/EMT always on call?
Earning the respect of the males, because they thought that I was going to be like getting my nails done or my hair done. Secondly, being a female we show our emotions more than males. Not showing emotion when the calls would get to you was challenging. Also being a small female, I had to be ready to carry any of my male counterparts out of the fire and I would do it in a heartbeat. Mainly, it was trying to gain the respect of my fellow firefighters, because I was the only woman in my department.
What was the most rewarding part of being a firefighter/EMT?
Saving lives. Helping people. Delivering babies. Well, technically the mothers delivered them, I was just there to catch them.
Let’s talk about your beginnings as a creator. How did your journey as a creator begin?
I started off with MySpace. Then, I turn over to Facebook and then TikTok. Finally, I went to Clapper back in march. My journey has always been talking about love and positivity. Trying to get my message out there about COPD, that females can do anything a male can do and being a positive role model for little girls. I want to let them know that it’s okay to do stuff. If you put your mind to it you can do it. There are two things I don’t accept from my children: I can’t and I don’t know.
What do you enjoy most about Clapper? In what ways do you feel like Clapper needs improvement?
I enjoy meeting people. I actually gained a whole family. I am part of the BigOlTexan family. I was about give up when I found out that I was terminally ill and I am not alone anymore. Being part of that family and being loved and supported its like “Okay, I am going to fight this.” I know what the end goal is, but I am not alone anymore.
For improvement, make the comments longer than a hundred characters.
What advice would you give new users that want to be successful on Clapper?
Be you. Don’t try to be anybody else. Just be yourself and you will find your family.
We saw on one of your videos that you wanted to go to the 9/11 memorial. what does it mean to you to go to this memorial?
On 9/11 we lost 343 firefighters and I want to go in there and honor them, because they are not here today.
Thank you for your service @EMTCHICK81. We hope you achieve everything you set your mind to and we are sure you will because there is nothing you CAN’T do.