Meaghan Wheeler-Grange

“It [All-hazards departments] taught me to push my own boundaries and to go outside my comfort zone…”

Meaghan Wheeler-Grange

Meaghan Wheeler-Grange


Station 1: Jackson

Where are you from? I am from Plymouth, Massachusetts.

When did you move to Jackson? I moved here in November of 2010.

What is your role in the department? I am a pool staff member, which means I am part of the paid operational staff but I get to fill in for the full time folks, whether they are on sick leave or training or whenever there are additional shifts. I get to fill the holes wherever it’s needed.

How long have you been a part of JH Fire/EMS? I started with the 2014 probationary class, and I transitioned to a paid position in 2016.

What made you want to join? Did you have external inspiration? In 2013, I went back to New Hampshire to get my WEMT (Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician) after we were involved in a climbing accident that resulted in a fatality on the Grand. I felt like my skills were very subpar both medically and in the rescue community, so I became interested in learning a new skill set. So, I went back to get my WEMT and went through that whole process. I was looking into Search and Rescue or Fire/EMS and I wanted to get a lot of patient contacts and use my skills through one of those. I decided to be a part of the fire department! I got to learn the whole world of wildland, structure fire, hazmat, as well as more medical stuff. 

Did you have family members or friends in the fire service? No family members, but I did have a couple friends who had worked for fire departments and they were always super interesting and awesome. It wasn’t something that I wasn’t necessarily built for, you know, size-wise. So it kind of opened a whole new world that I wasn’t expecting and it turned out to be awesome.

So it sounds like medical interest came first and fire second, did it surprise you that you were interested in all parts of an all hazards department? Yeah, it taught me to push my own boundaries and to go outside my comfort zone and that working in small, high-functioning teams in critical or high-stress environments is amazing. I like all the components of guiding and medical work and I love that fire offers all of that stuff, just in a different venue. It’s great to gain comfort in an entirely new skill set.

What are your current certs? EMT-Intermediate, Swiftwater Rescue Technician, Ropes Rescue Technician, Firefighter 2, ACLS and a PALS instructor. Also, a Red Cross and AHA BLS instructor. 

What are your future goals in the department? I am very interested in going to paramedic school in the near future. I’d like to pursue ADO to be able to operate the engine and the aerial as well. I love continuing education and I love teaching, so I’ll keep teaching ACLS and PALS for the department and for the community.

What do you do for work or a side gig? I teach wilderness medicine and snow science, so a lot of avalanche education. I have guided in the valley in Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone and on the Snake River in various capacities. 

What do you do in your free time? Go skiing!!! I love to adventure in the mountains. I love walking out in the winter and also getting on the water in any shape or form, whether it’s rafting or paddleboarding or swimming. Gosh…you have to have free time to have hobbies! Travel is very important to me; I love exploring new cultures. I love spending time with friends and family and my cute furry dog Asher. 

What is your favorite part of the job/volunteering? I would say being able to utilize a very diverse skill set and helping the community in a multitude of ways and also working within a tight-knit, high-functioning community of coworkers. It’s really a unique environment. 

What is the most satisfying or rewarding part for you, if it’s different from my last question? I think that’s pretty similar to me, but community appreciation and the very kind follow-ups that we get from patients, whether it’s a medical or a car wreck or a fire, those are really fulfilling and rewarding to me.

What advice would you give new recruits? I would say to come in and be ready to absorb everything, just come like a sponge. It’s a big time commitment but it’s super rewarding, and to have an open mind and a high level of excitement to work on an awesome team. To have exposure to great training and be ready to have this be a multi-year commitment because really, the benefit is on-going, but it definitely takes some time to nurture. 

What do you wish you had known when starting? I knew I was walking into something that I didn’t know much about, so I needed to be ready to get out of my comfort zone. I had the good fortune of having a solid set of mentors who helped guide me and opened a lot of doors and held me to their high expectations which really helped me thrive and have long-term traction with it. 

What is the most important trait for someone to have on JH Fire/EMS? Gosh, just one? I would say to have an adaptable and optimistic attitude and a strong sense of humility and the ability to work within a team for the greater good of whatever we’re doing. 

What do you think you bring to the department? Oh boy, I hate these questions. I feel like I can work well within a team framework and amongst different personalities and I think I have a strong sense of pride in what I do.