It usually takes a lot to catch a firefighter by surprise. After all, those professionals deal with emergencies on a daily basis and are trained to handle whatever comes along.
But Traverse City firefighter is humbled and a little taken aback by being chosen by Express readers as one of their heroes.
“I’m really surprised,” says Jackson, who joined the TC department in 2001 and was nominated for the award last year too. “I thank everyone who voted for me. I really appreciate everyone who voted for me. It’s very humbling to be chosen.”
Jackson is quick to note that he’s part of a seven-man team of firefighters and gives his team credit for any success he has. They work a 56-hour work week and when not responding to fire calls or medical emergencies, they keep busy working gear or taking part in safety projects like the current campaign to provide smoke detectors to city residents.
“Folks may think that between calls we just sit around and drink coffee, but that’s not true at all,” says Jackson with a laugh. “We stay busy.”
Jackson grew up in Traverse City, graduating from Senior High School in 1993. “When I was about 13 or 14, I met a volunteer (firefighter) who let me read his medical first aid book. I was hooked. After that I wanted to be a firefighter.
In 1998, he earned his paramedic degree.
“Eighty percent of our calls are EMS calls,” says Jackson. “We’re here for all types of emergencies.”
Jackson isn’t sure who nominated him for this honor, but he has his suspicions. His wife, Stephanie, is a teacher at Central Grade School and a friend of hers nominated him last year.
Jackson expects the honor to generate a little good-natured razzing from his firefighter co-workers, but it’s worth it. “I’m just grateful for everyone who took time to vote for me,” he says.