All fired up
As a small child, Jonathan Frank dreamed of speeding around the curves of a racetrack with the sound of the engines roaring in his ears.
Though his NASCAR dream may have since evolved, the 17-year-old Brightwood native still enjoys a similar sensation as a volunteer firefighter with the Hoodland Fire Department.
Frank has called the Hoodland station home for four years, starting as a youth explorer and just recently joining the crew as a full-fledged volunteer firefighter.
For Frank, teaming up with his local firefighters is a way to springboard himself into a career while influencing his community. He has considered a career as a firefighter since the fifth grade, and his father's decision to get involved as a volunteer five years ago gave Frank the push to sign up for the explorers.
"I thought it was kind of cool and I like helping people out that are in need," Frank said. "You get to help your community out and learn more about yourself."
Learning is a passion of Frank's. In his time with the explorers program, Frank noted that he was was happy to learn "you can do more than you think you can do. Even when you think you can't do something, your mind pushes you further than your body thinks you can go."
In classes at Sandy High School, the senior enjoys learning about anatomy and physiology. He hopes to use this information to pursue a paramedic's license and further his career as a firefighter.
"To me, (the paramedic side) is just the most interesting," Frank noted. "I think it's really interesting how the whole body works, (and) I love helping people. I love fighting fires too. It's exhilarating."
Though Frank doesn't participate in many other extra-curriculars, he does maintain good grades that will allow him to graduate this spring with honors. He also gets many of the character-building qualities — like the ability to work on a team or the ability to problem solve — from volunteering.
This fall, Frank will begin his college career at Central Oregon Community College in Bend, focusing on firefighting skills courses. While he studies, he will reside at a local fire station as a volunteer in exchange for a small stipend and a scholarship.
So far, Frank's on-the-scene experience is limited, but the times he has been on-hand to help the other firefighters have far from scared him away. Witnessing a few cardiac arrests while on-scene, Frank has a great understanding of the impact he has even if he isn't directly treating patients yet.
"This person's life is literally in my hands," Frank noted. "Every little thing I do affects them. ... You help someone in a very important moment. You've helped them and made their life better (when) they can't help themselves. Every call is an emergency for someone."
Frank has also seen this ripple effect within the team at Hoodland. Right now he is mostly a supporting member at the station, but he said he still feels like part of the family.
"Every fire department is a family," Frank noted. "It's tight-knit because you're always living together."
In a literal sense, one member of the department's crew is family to Frank. His father often works nights at the station, so the father and son get in quite a few hours of bonding time through their volunteer work.
"We get to see each other more, and it brings us closer together," Frank noted. "It creates more compatability. (At the station), whether you like each other or not, you've got to be compatible on scene."
Besides being an added comfort for Frank, his father's presence serves as a motivator. The two can be fairly competitive and it only pushes Frank to be better. It doesn't take much inspiration to keep Frank academically diligent. Being hyperdetermined to succeed, Frank spends many hours at the fire station every week, several of which are dedicated to homework.
"Timing is probably the hardest thing," Frank said of balancing his community service and schooling. "But if I want a career I have to get as much experience as I can."