Marine-turned-paramedic explains career path decision

Owen Wood, 32, said he enjoys the teamwork that comes with the profession as well as the daily interaction with different people


By Amanda Thames
The Daily News

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — The First Responders Friday series is a weekly feature focusing on the men and women in law enforcement, emergency services and fire services who serve in our community every day.

Name: Owen Wood
Age: 32
Years served total: 2
Current place of employment: Haws Run Volunteer Rescue Squad (Volunteer); Pender EMS & Fire (Paid)
Rank or title: Haws Run VRS EMT; Pender EMS & Fire Paramedic

What made you decide on this career path?
My experiences in the U.S. Marine Corps allowed me to realize my affinity for medicine and my strengths in working under high stress conditions. I actually made the decision to transition from the military into the medical field when I was 30 years old and more than half of the way to a military retirement. This surely seemed like insanity to many, but surprisingly I had quite a bit of support from people. While I truly loved my time in the Marine Corps, I just knew there was more I wanted to do in my lifetime.

What is it you love about working in your community?
For me, working in my own community is exponentially rewarding because I can see the effects of my efforts firsthand. Building relationships with people locally is also a big contributing factor. In our relatively small community, there are so many people with such diverse experiences, and you can learn quite a bit from them. There have been many times when I have arrived on a scene to the residence of someone I know. It makes me feel good to see the look of relief on their face when I arrive, but it is also very sobering, knowing that they trust and depend on me in their time of need.

Describe some of your favorite experiences in your career.
While in paramedic school, students are required to complete a minimum of 500 clinical hours. During this time, I was very blessed to work under many excellent doctors, physician assistants, paramedics and nurses. Working with so many amazing people confirmed my decision to enter the medical field. I have also really enjoyed doing community fundraisers, such as our annual haunted hayride. Additionally, the general day to day unexpectedly hilarious situations are one of my favorite things about the job. These may include but are not limited to run-ins with wild or domesticated animals, apocalyptic-type weather at the worst possible times, etc.

Where else have you worked in the past? Describe the road to your current position.
On my 17th birthday I enlisted in the Marine Corps and attended recruit training shortly after graduating from high school. With several generations of my family serving in the Marine Corps, I knew from a young age that I wanted to follow in their footsteps. Following completion of infantry training, I was soon assigned to the Fleet Marine Forces, where I completed many combat and non-combat deployments. During my deployments, I would often find myself treating fellow Marines, civilians and other coalition forces when no Navy Corpsman was available. I treated illnesses and wounds from minor cuts and scratches to major multi-system trauma. These were the experiences that would ignite my passion for medicine, and particularly emergency medicine. After serving 12 years in the Marine Corps, I decided it was time for me to enter a new chapter in my life and pursue a career in medicine. Just before the end of my service, I joined Haws Run Volunteer Rescue Squad and am still an active member. I attended the EMT-Basic Course and shortly thereafter enrolled in the EMT-Paramedic program. I now work full-time as a paramedic for Pender EMS & Fire and have attained National Registry credentialing as a paramedic as well as credentialing as a Certified Flight Paramedic from the Board for Critical Care Transport Paramedic Certification. I am also a full-time college student majoring in biology with aspirations to attend the UNC School of Medicine at Chapel Hill.

What was the most memorable case you’ve worked?
During my relatively short time in EMS I have had so many memorable cases that it is hard to pick one in particular as the most memorable. While at work one day, I asked a good friend of mine, Sharla Sineath, a firefighter and EMT-Intermediate, for assistance. She said to me “write about the case that made you sure this is what you want to do.” With that in mind, my answer would have to be every case. Every time a new call comes over the pager, no matter how simple or complex it may be, I always see the same thing — people helping people. The incredible amount of dedication and teamwork employed by EMS, fire and law enforcement on every single call with one goal, helping someone in their time of need, blows me away. It is truly a shining light of hope and reassures my faith in humanity.

What pushes you to stay on this career path and continue working in such a challenging profession?
I really enjoy the teamwork that comes with the profession as well as the daily interaction with so many different people. I enjoy the physical and intellectual challenges and no matter what, I know that no two days will be the same.

Any additional comments you’d like to include?
There have been so many different people that have helped and mentored me along the way, but I would never be where I am today without the support of my wonderful wife Tracie. She has been supportive of my career choices and is always there for me after a long shift or to help me with studying for class. She is also a volunteer EMT with Haws Run Rescue Squad and does a tremendous amount of fundraisers and community outreach.

Copyright 2016 The Daily News
All Rights Reserved

Recommended for you

Join the discussion

Get Paramedic Chief in your inbox

Thanks! You've been successfully signed up for the Paramedic Chief

Copyright © 2022 EMS1. All rights reserved.