Saturday Spotlight: CCFD Capt. Jason Dennis

by | January 13, 2018 12:16 am

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the 14th in a series of profiles that manninglive.com will be posting each week to highlight our first responders and dispatchers who keep Clarendon County a safe place to live. After each web posting, the piece will appear in the following Thursday’s Manning Times.

Jason Dennis currently serves as captain of the Training Division for the Clarendon County Fire Department. A 2001 graduate of Lake City High School, Dennis received an associate’s degree in fire science in 2010 from Horry Georgetown Technical College in 2010 and graduated from the South Carolina Firefighters’ Association Leadership Institute in 2012. He was named Firefighter of the Year in 1998 and 1999 and was presented with the agency’s Life Saving Award in 2008. HE is a member of the South Carolina Firefighters’ Association Supervisory Committee and past-president of the Pee Dee Firefighters’ Association. He enjoys hunting, fishing and “pretty much anything outdoors” in his free time. HE is married to Brandi Dennis, and the couple have a son, Cayden, 4.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A FIRST RESPONDER?
20 years

ASIDE FROM A DESIRE TO HELP PEOPLE AND YOUR COMMUNITY, WHAT LED YOU TO BECOME A FIRST RESPONDER?
My father was a volunteer firefighter. I looked up to him and all firefighters as I was exposed to it at a young age. Growing up, I wanted to be like my father and make it a career.

WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST REWARDING ABOUT YOUR WORK?
Helping people on their worse day. When someone calls the fire department, they’re looking for help from someone they can trust and rely on. It’s a good feeling, knowing you could be there for someone you didn’t even know and make a difference.

WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT YOUR WORK?
Seeing families lose everything they own, keepsakes, memories. It especially hits hard around the holidays.

WHAT IS YOUR STRONGEST ASSET IN BEING A FIRST RESPONDER? HOW DOES THAT TALENT HELP YOU IN YOUR WORK?
Making people smile. I always strive to get a smile out of people. Whether it be a coworker, or someone who has called for our help. People should be able to see that you really care about them.

HOW DO YOU PREPARE YOURSELF TO REMAIN CALM AND REACT EFFECTIVELY AT EMERGENCY SCENES?
It’s hard to prepare for the unknown. You never know what kind of call is coming next. Trying to remain positive and keeping a smile on your face goes a long way. Training and talking to your peers is the best way to remain calm and be ready.

HOW DOES YOUR FAMILY COPE WITH YOU BEING GONE FOR 24 AND 48 HOUR SHIFTS AT TIMES?
It can be tough, especially with small children and being gone on holidays. You have to be strong and spend as much time with your family on your days off as possible. I’ve been very fortunate to have a wife and family that supports me in my career.

WHAT ARE SOME STRESSES A FIRST RESPONDER DEALS WITH THAT MOST OF THE CIVILIAN PUBLIC WOULDN’T THINK OF?
Seeing family members lose loved ones, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, older couples who lose their spouse of 50-plus years. Children losing their Christmas presents in house fires. There’s too many, unfortunately.

HOW DOES ONE DEAL WITH THOSE STRESSES?

Being open about things that are troubling you. Never let feelings or emotions get bottled up inside and always know when it’s time for help. Nobody in this profession is ever alone and has people they can count on to help them through the bad times.

DESCRIBE A MEMORABLE MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER.

There’s lots of memorable moments, but one in particular that comes to mind is where I was dispatched to a patient in a parking lot, unconscious. We found an elderly female in cardiac arrest. She had just picked up her grandchildren who were going to spend the holidays with her. We were able to get a pulse back and after heart surgery, the patient was able to be home for Christmas with her grandchildren. Calls like that make all the training and bad days worth it.

IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN, ARE THEY INTO YOUR WORK? DO YOU THINK THEY’LL FOLLOW YOUR FOOTSTEPS?
My little boy loves what I do. I enjoy watching him play and pretend he’s a fireman. I’d love for him to grow up and follow in my footsteps, but only if it’s what makes him happy. I would certainly worry about him experiencing some of the things I have, but it’s all a part of the job.

IN YOUR LINE OF WORK, WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU SEE AS A FIRST RESPONDER THAT, IF CHANGED, COULD SAVE COUNTLESS LIVES?
There’s many things that can be done that would save lives. It’s hard to pick one, but I would have to say make sure you have working smoke alarms in your home and check them regularly. In all my years, (with) kmost of the fires that resulted in a fatality, it was found that there were no working smoke alarms. Smoke alarms do save lives.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS? IN 10 YEARS?
Hopefully still enjoying my career in the fire service. I’m the Captain of the Training Division and really enjoy what I’m doing and god willing, will be doing this for many years to come.

PREVIOUS SPOTLIGHTS:
CCFD Capt. Glenn A. Costello
Inv. Susan Welch
Firefighter Joseph Stukes
EMS Asst. Supervisor Jeremy Evans
Sheriff’s Office Victim’s Advocate Kim Hill
Paramedic and Firefighter Crystal A. Miller
Firefighter Lawrence “Junior” Odom
Inv. Kenneth Clark:
CCSO Dep. Joseph Brancato
Paramedic Steven Demby Jr.
Firefighter 1 Narongsak “S.J.” Saengjunt
Deputy Coroner Bucky Mock

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