Katie Davis

“I had no idea my world was going to open to the most amazing group of people that I hold in such high regard. I have a ton of respect for them.”

Katie Davis

Katie Davis

Volunteer FFI/EMT

Station 2: Wilson

Where are you from? Originally I’m from Vermont. I grew up in Southwestern Vermont right on the border of New York so I went to New York High School, but I definitely am a Vermoner at heart.

What moved you to Jackson? Oh, you know, like the classic answer. My cousin was coming out here to work at Rendezvous River Sports and he showed up at my house with another friend of ours and he’s like just get in the car, come with us. I was like, ‘I don’t have a job, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing…’ I ended up coming out to Jackson and I had a great summer, probably one of the best summers of my life. I left and went back to school and I ended up spending the rest of my summers up in Alaska while I was going through school. Then, when I graduated, my cousin called me up and said, ‘you know, we’re looking for a roommate if you want to come out for the winter.’ That was almost 20 years ago.

How long have you been a part of JH Fire/EMS? I’ve been a volunteer since I started in 2017, so I still feel really new to the department. But when I started volunteering, I kind of got roped in because I work at the Community Counseling Center. I’m not a therapist, I’m a case manager here, but I think because of my ties to the mental health community, I kind of got recruited to be a member of Jackson Hole Fire/EMS for the TIPS program. 

What made you want to join JH Fire/EMS? You sort of touched on this a little bit already, but how did you find the department? You know, most people aren’t in their daily lives like ‘I’m gonna be a firefighter.’ I feel like I got to a point in my life in this community where I was feeling like I was circling. Not that I was circling the drain, but I was circling these routines in my life where I wasn’t getting out of my loops. It just sucks you in and you start getting in these patterns that maybe are not the healthiest. I think I was just looking for something more and I was looking for a way that I could connect with my community on a completely different level. So, I started looking into the fire department and I realized that I was kind of a perfect candidate: I’m not married, I don’t have kids, I don’t want that stuff. I have the ability to give my time and I’m so glad I did: it really has changed the way I am in this community for the better.

What are your current certifications? Fire 1, EMR, Wildland Chain Sawyer, Hazmat, Redcard.

What are your future goals in the department? I mean I just want to be a part of this as long as I can. And who knows? Maybe I will take it in a career direction someday, but I’d have to really put my head down and get my poop in a group. I look at the paid members and I just have so much respect for all that you do day in and day out. I kind of falter on whether or not I have the mental and physical capacity to do that. You know, I’m about to turn 40 and I’m like all of a sudden feeling old. I know 40 is not old…

What do you do for work? I’m a case manager at the Jackson Hole Community Counseling Center and I’ve been here for eight years. It’s a really interesting role. People can come and see me and work on some of the other things outside of just talk therapy, whether it’s seeking housing or applying for jobs or whatever it might look like to take some of that external burden off of them. It’s such a great thing that we offer here and it’s a free service. It’s included with counseling.

What do you do in your free time? Well I adopted the cutest dog. I don’t know if you’ve met my dog yet: she comes to the station sometimes. I’ve had her for just about a year and I have two cats, so I’m officially a cat lady I guess. But yes, I spend a lot of time with my animals. I have a mountain collective pass that I have not used yet this year, but I mostly go backcountry skiing. I only really have a split board and I cross country ski as well. I have a motorcycle that I ride in the summers and I am on the water a lot in the summertime. Whether it’s sailing, rafting, whatever sort of water sports…I’m usually down. 

What is your favorite part of volunteering? It’s such a cliche thing and you’ve probably heard it a hundred times, and I heard it a hundred times when I was going through training, but you’re with somebody on potentially their worst day. And that’s not all the time, but some of the calls for sure. Like it’s the worst day they’re ever going to have and to be able to be with somebody in whatever capacity they might need is pretty amazing. I also love the people that choose to do this work. I had no idea my world was going to open to the most amazing group of people that I hold in such high regard. I have a ton of respect for them. They’re funny. They’re caring. I think I felt on day one that everybody really accepted me with open arms. I hope that I can do that for the next people that are coming into the department because I had some really, really great mentors that kept me involved and showed me a lot of awesome things.

What about the most challenging aspect? I’d say the most challenging part is the knowledge that you have to have at any given time. Like, it turns out that I am not that good at thinking on my feet. I think it’s just because I don’t get a ton of practice, but I get really nervous on most calls and I am paralyzed by this feeling that I’m not competent in my skills. That’s scary and I would say that is the hardest thing, especially when you are a volunteer and you’re at a station that doesn’t get a ton of calls. 

What advice would you give new recruits? Really think about it. Really try to grasp and understand how much time you will give to this organization. They tell you that in the interview process but you don’t really understand how much time it truly takes. Really look at the hours and the breakdown of each course that you have to get before you can actually get on the department. It took me almost two years to get off of probation and become a full-fledged member. It’s a huge commitment. That’s just the beginning I think. I went into it being like, ‘Oh this is so badass,’ but it’s mundane sometimes…like I do a lot of freaking traffic control on scenes! I’m comfortable with that, though. That’s what it takes to be a part of the team. So my suggestion would just be to really think about it and think about the level of commitment. 

What do you wish you had known when starting? Going into this, I never saw it as a career path, whereas I think a lot of people do. I did not look at it like that at any point when I was starting out and now I feel like I teeter on really holding true to my station or taking this to a career level. I don’t know…I worry so much that Station 2 will dissolve at some point because we aren’t getting a lot of recruits and the recruits we do get either don’t stay in Wilson (because it’s hard to stay in Wilson) or they are on the track to become career.

What is the most valuable trait for someone to have in this line of work? Flexibility. And the ability to take criticism constructively and understand that there’s always room for improvement.

What do you think you bring to the department? I wear my emotions on my sleeves. I do not hide things from people, so I probably could have had a little bit more self-control going into Station 2 with those guys because they’ll never forget some of the stories I’ve told them from day one…like I will tell you my most embarrassing story the moment I meet you. And so those guys really ran with that. And now I wish I could pull it back a little bit but I think overall that’s a positive.

Who is your mentor? That’s a hard one because I feel like I look up to so many people in such different ways. When Kathy Clay was still here, I feel like she was just this force to be reckoned with who was like ‘you’re a woman and you can do anything.’ I really felt a connection with her. When I first got onto the department, Casey Wellahan was a Station 2 volunteer, and she really took me under her wing. She was just this guiding light for me from day one. She’s still one of my great friends, even though she’s moved away and done super badass things in her life.