Jonathan Elving is a 911 dispatcher and EMT. He also volunteers at Chisholm Trail Fire Rescue in Dale, Texas.
HSLDA: Jonathan, what was your childhood homeschool experience like? What’s your best experience from it?
Jonathan Elving: Mostly I got up around 9:00am and did school until about 2:30 or 3:00pm, then built tree forts and played in the yard.
One of the best things I got from homeschooling was a sense of self-reliance. I didn’t need anyone to push me along; I learned a lot of things on my own. I can build and or repair almost anything and am not afraid to jump in head first.
HSLDA: Describe what you do in your job. How did homeschooling prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Jonathan: My full-time job primarily consists of taking 911 calls and scheduling hospital transports, and then dispatching the calls to the units as needed.
When I am on the ambulance, I start the day doing a check-off sheet of all my equipment and making sure all the drugs are current. I then will run calls until roughly the scheduled shift end—but when working in public service you will rarely, if ever, get off on time. Some of the best advice I have heard regarding scheduling is “Never schedule anything for at least three hours before or after your shift, because you never know what is going to happen.”
The fire/rescue side is the most fun. I go into burning buildings and cut up cars, although some of the rescue stuff can be very physically taxing and stressful depending on the circumstances.
Honestly I don’t think that anything can prepare you for what people in public service do. We handle the things no one wants to or knows how to handle. We deal with death and major injuries—incidents that would traumatize most people.
HSLDA: What inspired you to enter public service?
Jonathan: I originally joined the fire department to do stuff with my dad, who was volunteering there at the time. I found that I had a real love of helping, as well as the skill set to do well in this field. The money is rarely good, but the brotherhood within the service more than makes up for it.
HSLDA: What is the most challenging thing you’ve had to deal with in your job as a dispatcher and EMT?
Jonathan: Death, unfortunately, is very real in the rescue service. I and every other person in rescue have had to deal with more death than anyone should ever have to deal with.
HSLDA: What is your best experience as an EMT?
Jonathan: Every day we make a positive impact on people’s lives whether it be cutting them out of a car after a major wreck, pulling them out of a burning building, or treating a minor injury!
Whenever I find out someone I treated in serious condition is going to be okay, or they come up to me later in the grocery store to thank me, there really isn’t a better feeling.
HSLDA: Why is it important for homeschoolers to be involved in public service?
Jonathan: We need to get involved in all career fields to show people we are just as capable as anyone else!
HSLDA: Are there resources you recommend for teaching students about public service?
Jonathan: Go down to your local fire, EMS, and police departments. Most of the time they would love to show you around and tell you all about the tools we use and different jobs they do.
HSLDA: How do other public servants you work with feel about homeschoolers? Have you run into misconceptions about homeschooling?
Jonathan: I have run into some misconceptions of homeschoolers, but I have also set the bar high for the groups I’m in, as I was the first one they were continually exposed to.
HSLDA: How could homeschool families improve their participation in public service?
Jonathan: Look for opportunities! Fire departments are always looking for new people to replace people who are retiring, and some EMS services have volunteer programs that will also get you involved. It is easy to volunteer—just be willing to work hard and get dirty for nothing. The feeling of helping and gratitude of the people you help will stay with you for a lifetime!
Many thanks to Jonathan for sharing his story! This interview is part of our Homeschool Helpers series, which highlights homeschool graduates and parents across the nation serving their communities as public servants. If you’d like to read more inspiring stories, click here.
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by HSLDA; all other images courtesy of Jonathan Elving.
Interview Edited by Peter Forbes.