James Wilcox

“I felt it [volunteering] was very accessible and it was a great way to give back to the community and to get to know the community better.”

James Wilcox

James Wilcox

Volunteer FFI/EMR

Station 1: Jackson

Where are you from? South Vermont

How long have you been a part of JH Fire/EMS? I joined about one and a half years ago.

What are your certs? EMR, Fire 1, Hazmat, Redcard.

What do you do for work? I am an investment advisor at First Republic Bank.

What made you want to join JH Fire/EMS? 25 years ago, I was an EMT in Washington DC, and I wanted to give back to the community; when I moved to Jackson, that was something I could actually do. It’s hard to do in DC or New York City or Los Angeles where there aren’t really huge volunteer programs. 

So when did you move to Jackson? We got a house in Victor in 2011 and then we moved full time to Jackson in 2020. 

Why did you get your EMT in DC? I was part of the Bethesda Chevy Chase Rescue Squad in Maryland which is the largest all-volunteer rescue squad in the country: it was at the time anyway. I had friends in college that were EMT’s up in Middlebury, Vermont, and I always thought it would be a neat way to give back. I did that for about 2 years.

So then what made you get involved with JH Fire/EMS? I felt it was very accessible and it was a great way to give back to the community and to get to know the community better.

Favorite part of volunteering? Probably the camaraderie. 

Is there anything that has surprised you? How physically challenging it can be to fight fires. I mean I try to stay in shape, and I’m always blown away by how demanding…I mean just the training can be so tiring! With training, you don’t have the adrenaline like you do in a real fire where the exhaustion is overcome by the adrenaline. You’re tested physically and mentally in ways that you’re not regularly tested. I do like the challenge. Succeeding in something where there’s a real probability of failure is confidence building to say the least.

What would you say is the most satisfying or rewarding aspect? Filling pockets of ignorance. I learned so much in Fire 1 that I just knew nothing about. The learning curve is a steep one and a never ending one and that’s very satisfying too. Somehow, the more I learn, the less I know.

What do you do in your free time? I love outdoor activity, I love spending time with my family: I have 4 kids. I like reading nonfiction. I enjoy traveling. Kind of boring, standard stuff. I love spending time with my family and I do love my job, I love investments and chatting with people about investments. 

What advice would you give new recruits? Don’t be afraid to fail. 

What do you wish you had known when starting? I’m glad I didn’t know how hard it was gonna be! I actually felt pretty mentally prepared for it all. I wish I’d really mapped out the schedule for the whole year to know what I was going in for and planning accordingly. I missed a couple of important days because of that.

What is the most important trait for someone on JH Fire/EMS? Communication and confidence. 

Do you think you came in having those or was that something you learned along the way? I think I did. I don’t think I had the skillset knowledge base, in fact I know I didnt; I had zero! But I feel like I communicate and have confidence in general but I didn’t have confidence in what was being asked of me, because I had no knowledge of it. It’s extremely humbling.

Are you able to respond to many calls or are you mostly picking up shifts? I am mostly picking up shifts, but I have been able to respond to structure fires when I’m in town. 

What are your future goals in the department? I’d like to be an EMT and I’d like to get my Fire 2.