Cody Lara

“One of the greatest things about this department is that everyone is a mentor in some way. When you accomplish something, it’s not about you. It’s about those who helped get you there.”

Cody Lara

Cody Lara

Where are you from? I was born in Yreka, California. It’s a small town on I-5 just before you cross into Oregon.

Why did you move to Jackson? My dad would come out here in the summers for work and during the summer of 1999, my family moved here permanently. I was 8 at the time and was preparing for tackle pee-wee football prior to the move. I remember being pretty upset when I realized Jackson didn’t have that. But yeah, big life change for the family.  

What is your role in the department? I am a career Firefighter/EMT-I at Station 6. I am also the current MCI Coordinator which means I ensure each station is stocked and ready to go should an MCI (Mass Casualty Incident) event occur. 

How long have you been a part of JH Fire/EMS? I’ve been with the department in various capacities for about five years. I was a volunteer for two and a half years. I was then hired as pool staff for five months prior to leaving for the military. After returning from the service, I was fortunate enough to be hired again as pool staff for nine months. In July of 2021, I was offered a full time position. So it’s been a long road getting to where I’m at and I’m grateful for the opportunities this department has given me.

What made you want to join originally? Initially, it was for the EMS side of things. When my grandmother passed away, I felt I had to join emergency services because I didn’t want to be the person who stood there not knowing what to do in an emergency situation. A friend of mine involved in the department suggested that I volunteer, and I applied that fall. 

What are your current certs? Firefighter I&II, ADO, EMT-I, Wildland Firefighter Type II, Hazmat Ops, and Rope Rescue Technician. 

What are your future goals in the department? My next career goal would be a promotion to Engineer. Aside from that, I’d like to be more involved in recruitment and retention. Finding members willing to put in the work and commitment, and developing their potential, is important. 

Do you have an interest in leadership at any point? I do. I feel like there is an opportunity for leadership and mentorship at all levels. There is a lot to know in this industry and the training never stops. The more knowledge sharing that happens, the more everyone wins. I am at the point where I am confident at being a team leader, but I have a lot to learn, so I have no issue wearing a yellow helmet for a while.

What do you do for a side gig? I own and operate Black Mountain Home Inspection. I’ve been doing that for about three years now. It’s helped further my knowledge in building construction and it’s cool because I get opportunities to call out potential safety and/or fire hazards. So it’s great being able to combine the knowledge of both industries. 

What did you do in the military and how would you say the military has influenced your time with the department? I think first and foremost, it gave me a completely different perspective. I was able to see places and do things I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I joined the Army as a combat medic and had several jobs, but mainly I was in charge of the health and wellness of the platoons I was assigned to. I worked in a clinic for a year under the guidance of doctors and physicians. I also spent a year working closely with the Company Commander, Executive Officer, First Sergeant, and other leaders. All of those experiences, both good and bad, gave me invaluable lessons.

Do you think that has helped you here? Absolutely. The medical training I received has better prepared me for medical situations and working so close to Army leaders has allowed me to not only view things from a higher perspective, but also showed me what both good and bad leadership looks like.

What do you do in your free time? My free time is usually spent doing things with my family. I enjoy riding dirtbikes, hiking, camping, snowboarding, cooking, and reading/listening to non-fictions books. Unfortunately, I haven’t done most of those activities lately because I also enjoy doing projects around the house, and finishing our basement has been a priority this winter.

What is your favorite part of the job? I really enjoy the fact that we are an all-hazard department. Each day is different and no call is the same. I would say that fire and EMS are my two favorite aspects, followed by rope rescue.  

What about the most challenging? The thing about working in an all-hazard industry is the vast amount of knowledge we must retain and use on demand at any moment during the day or night. That is definitely the hardest part for me.

Most satisfying/rewarding? The most satisfying part of my job is being there for people on their worst day and having the opportunity to turn their day around or give them the best outcome possible. That’s really cool.

What advice would you give new recruits? I would say play the long game, be a sponge, master the basics, be flexible, and take care of yourself. The stress of feeling that you need to know everything all at once is very taxing. Also, a positive attitude will go a long way.

What do you wish you had known when you started? The advice I just gave would have been a great start, however, I still feel I am just getting started. So as long as I keep those things in mind, I can only grow from there.

What is the most important trait for someone on JH Fire/EMS? The two skills that come to mind are resiliency and people skills. But, as you know, there’s a lot of important skills and traits that folks in this industry need to possess and have the awareness and willingness to improve.

What do you think you bring to the department? You know, I think people would say, “he’s quiet and doesn’t talk much, but he’s reliable, dedicated, and good at his job”, and right now, that’s ok with me. I’m still in the early stage of my career and I’m taking it all in. I try to bring positivity and always strive to better myself and the team. I think, as long as we mentor, develop, and inspire each other, that’s a winning combination for everyone. So that’s what I hope to bring.

Who is your mentor? Picking one individual is impossible. One of the greatest things about this department is that everyone is a mentor in some way. When you accomplish something, it’s not about you. It’s about those who helped get you there. And how awesome is it that we have a lot of teammates willing to help. 

How has your family felt during your career? Do you approach any specific conversations with them about your job and being gone so much? My family had to deal with me being away for months at a time in the military, so I think having that perspective makes the two days at a time easier. That being said, while I’m at work, my wife is raising our two young boys by herself. That puts a lot of pressure and responsibility on her. I’m definitely grateful to have her in my corner and she does a great job with the kids. Having a great support system at home is so important as it allows us to do what we do. I think most people would say the same.