Pete Wilson

Pete Wilson

“I would say flexibility is the most important in our field because what we do is so diverse and you can go from having the mindset of a cardiac arrest one minute to having the mindset of going into a building and putting out a fire the next.”

Pete Wilson

Pete Wilson

Where are you from? Jackson. I was born at St Johns and raised here in Jackson. I think (FF/Paramedic) Weber and I are the only two paid staff members that were born here.

What is your role in the department? Full time Firefighter/EMT-I.

How long have you been a part of JH Fire/EMS? Six years all together, two years as a volunteer, one year part time, and going on four years as a full time member. 

What made you want to join JH Fire/EMS? I was after the service of it and wanting to give back, wanting to make a difference. You know, as a fellow personal trainer, we learn that helping people really makes us happy. Like that feeling you get when someone’s really improving and someone’s really appreciative of you, that’s what it’s about. After being a trainer for a few years, that makes me feel better at the end of the day to know I made a difference. I was training Dunn (Captain, Station 1) and James Powell (Former member, Station 1) and I was always sort of picking their brains about the department and what volunteering would look like. I just remember having the realization that joining the department would be the best way to get that feeling again. I was specifically interested in EMS more than fire in the beginning: I always wanted to become a paramedic, but after doing it for a couple years, going through academies, going to FDIC, I realized I loved fire and I’ve been obsessed ever since. After that, I started making moves and everything I did after that point was to try to get hired full time. 

What are your current certs? Fire 1, Fire 2, Hazmat Tech, Redcard, EMT-I, Rope Rescue Technician, FFTII, Swiftwater Rescue Technician.

What are your future goals in the department? Well I’m starting paramedic school in January and other than that, I haven’t really landed on if I want to go the engineer route or the captain route. I definitely want to pursue some sort of leadership at some point.

Do you have any other side gigs at the moment? My side hustle is Harper, making sure that I’m present and helping Sarah as much as I can and being a good husband and a good dad for them. I am also on the ‘reserves’ for the department in Teton Valley, sort of like the pool staff position used to be here in Jackson. I wanted to be involved, especially in the town that I now live in, and to learn from different personalities. It’s definitely different over there in terms of different personalities, different leadership, different mentalities. It’s been good to see the two departments and to recognize the differences between the two, some for the better, some for the worse. 

Favorite part of the job? It’s still just directly helping people, like not over the phone or getting their meal order right…Every service industry helps people, but I feel like very few of them other than Fire/EMS and law enforcement help people in such a direct way. We directly go in there and see what we can do to help them, whether it’s putting out their house fire or just picking them up and putting them back on the couch. There are rarely positions that help people so directly as ours.

What advice would you give new recruits? For newer people, I would say to stay idealistic and altruistic as long as possible and try not to get mired in the gossip around the fire house. Just remember why you’re here when things start to get frustrating or complicated or you’re listening to some old salty firefighter bitch about x, y, or z. No matter the drama or the politics or whatever, remember why you joined and why you’re here.

What do you wish you had known when starting? I’m actually pretty glad that at that time in my career, there were some things I didn’t know. My only gripe with the industry as a whole is how much time a group of firefighters has to sit around and bitch about things. I wish I had maintained the perspective that I had at the beginning of everybody’s a hero and everybody’s in this for the right reasons. Ignorance is bliss, and try to keep an idealistic mindset for as long as you can.

What is the most valuable trait for someone in the department? Flexibility and the ability to always have different options in the back of your head. Yeah, I would say flexibility is the most important in our field because what we do is so diverse and you can go from having the mindset of a cardiac arrest one minute to having the mindset of going into a building and putting out a fire the next. If you’re super rigid in your way of thinking, that’s hard for a lot of people, so being flexible and dynamic both physically and mentally is imperative. Also, I would say that being strong is important; physical strength is something that goes way too overlooked. A lot of firefighters and EMTs think they can think their way around being out of shape or being unfit and that shit ain’t true. You can’t outthink being weak. Being physically strong and cardiovascularly strong can get you through a lot of circumstances and a lot of situations in this job that being smart can’t. Like there’s no amount of brain power that’s going to lift up a 300 pound patient. When you have to do that, you just have to be able to do that in that moment.