Like most seasoned first responders, Bryan County Firefighter/Paramedic Jayne Jordan has seen the worst life has to offer.
Like many in her field, she’s also a mother.
“I think doing what we do, it makes you more cautious as a parent because you understand the stuff that can happen out there,” Jordan said, “Sometimes it makes me freak out a little more than I should because I know so much, and I worry a little more than I should.”
Add to that the 24 hour shifts, which can stretch to 48 hours at times, and “that’s two days mom’s not home,” and “I feel like they have to sacrifice a lot of time with me because I’m out doing things for other people by doing my job,” Jordan added.
And, there’s guilt that sometimes comes with being a working mother.
“Sometimes you really get down on yourself as a mom because back in the day, moms were stay at home moms, raising the kids,” said Jordan, fresh off a 48-hour shift. “But now it’s a very career driven world for everybody. You sometimes feel bad being out there and being gone from your kids for so long.”
At the same time, it can make you more grateful for what you do have.
In Jordan’s case, it’s her children, Caleb Riddle, 13, and Chloe Riddle, 10, and her wife, Katelyn, a first responder and EMT in Liberty County. ` “You see other families and some kids in situations that are really bad, and it makes you go home and hug your kids, because you realize it’s a really hard world out there. I think in that sense it makes me a better mother,” Jordan said. “To me, kids haven’t lived long enough to deserve bad things that happen to them, and a lot of stuff I’ve seen happen to kids is not their fault.”
That exposure to the worst children suffer “goes back to making me want to do better as a parent,” Jordan said. “I want them to have somebody that’s stable and somebody they can look up to and not have a horrible life.”
Jordan, who has about seven experience as a first responder, has been with Bryan County Fire and Rescue for more than three years, and works in North Bryan out of Station No. 6 in Pembroke.
But the Groves High graduate has wanted to be a paramedic since she was a teenager and in an accident involving a logging truck.
“I was fine, I wasn’t seriously injured, and I got to watch when EMS showed up and how they responded and did what they did, it was pretty cool and I wanted to do that and be that for somebody else,” Jordan said.
After graduation, Jordan went to school to learn to become an EMT and came close but didn’t pass a test required of EMTs. She spent the next decade working as a dental assistant before deciding to go back to school to become first an EMT, then a paramedic – while also training to be a firefighter.
“That 10 years as a dental assistant proved to me that this is what I was meant to do for a career,” Jordan said.
Watching paramedics in action several years ago during a wreck on Highway 67 in Statesboro led Katelyn, who works as a firefighter and EMT at Liberty County Fire and Rescue and was the first female firefighter for Pembroke Fire Department, to become a first responder.
She and Jordan share an understanding the pressures of a job that on its worst days can be heart-wrenching.
For one thing, no two shifts are the same. For another, “we walk into stuff we don’t even know what we’re walking into, sometimes. You’re out on the side of the road at an accident, with cars flying by, there’s always a chance something can happen.”
She continued: “I think it’s a lot easier to be with someone who understands what we do, because the things we see and we go through, the stress and shift work, not a lot of people can understand that,” Jordan said. “It’s kind of comforting knowing you’re coming home to someone who understands that if you don’t want to talk about your day, you don’t have to. Or, if you want to talk about it, they understand that too. It’s really great to have somebody in the same kind of field as you.”
Caleb and Chloe think so, too.
“For one thing, I think it’s made both of them better mothers,” said Caleb, an aspiring firefighter and paramedic. “They’re more protective of us.”
Jordan said her children “are pretty informed about stuff we do, but there are some things I don’t tell them about.”
At the same time, both children “know a lot of first aid,” she added. “If something was to happen and mom’s not there, they can do some things to take care of a medical emergency.”
They also look to take care of Jordan, reminding her before she goes on a shift to be safe, and welcoming her home with a hug.
And, they make sure when she gets back she feels the love.
“Sometimes when Mom comes home we just want to give her some kind of reward,” said Chloe, an aspiring author working on the second chapter of her first book. “So I just go find a plushy or something and give it to her and tell her I’m happy that she comes home safe.”
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