The Life of the First Responders and Care-Giving Professionals

It’s that time of the year again, the holiday season. As the weather cools off, people get warmer.

It’s the time to spend more time indoors with loved ones. However, moments like those are only made possible when first responders and service professionals are working. Firefighters, policeman, nurses and doctors are among the many who work so we can enjoy the holidays. That doesn’t mean their holiday season is nonexistent. It’s just different. 

Aaron Watkin, police officer, Bakersfield Police Department

What do you do?

I’m a police officer with the Bakersfield Police Department. I am currently assigned to community relations unit as a community liaison officer. I am currently assigned to oversee the west side of Bakersfield. My duties entail the following: education, prevention and in some cases enforcement action. I help educate the public how to effectively communicate with the police department. I serve as point of contact for community members who have specific problems which the police department can help resolve.

How long have you been working in your field?

I have been working in the law enforcement capacity for approximately five years. I started my career with the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department, where I worked as deputy sheriff for one year. With roots in Bakersfield, I reached out to the Bakersfield Police Department in September 2014 and was shortly hired.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

My favorite part of the job is to be able to help people on their worst days. People don’t call the cops because they are having a good day. I like the fact that I can be a light in someone’s darkest moment.

Is it hard missing the holidays?

It is very hard missing the holidays due to the fact police officers have to work shift hours. I believe that is why this profession is very noble. Officers sacrifice time with their families and kids in order to protect the communities which they serve.

If you have a family, how do you think it affects them?

Yes, I do have a family. My wife is very supportive of my career. I know she worries at times; however, she doesn’t really show it to me. Police officers in some cases have to work long hours, and I know this can also take a toll on your family.

What’s become your holiday tradition?

Ideally, if I am working, we will always try to celebrate the holidays before or after I get off work. My family always tries to accommodate me and my schedule.

“My favorite part of the job is to be able to help people on their worst days. People don’t call the cops because they are having a good day. I like the fact that I can be a light at someone’s darkest moment.”

 

Kyle Coles. fire captain, Bakersfield City Fire Department

 

What do you do?

I’m the fire captain at the Bakersfield City Fire Department.

How long have you been working in your field?

I’ve been in my field for 12 years combined and 10 years with the city.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

I like the fact that every day is different. The emergencies we are faced with gives us the opportunity and challenge to mitigate them.

Is it hard missing the holidays?

It was not too difficult missing holidays before having children but now having three, ages 1, 3 and 6, it has become more difficult. The holidays have become a special time with our children, but unfortunately, I don’t always get to spend it with them. We do our best.

How does it affect your kids?

I think my children are reaching ages where it might have more of an effect on them. But my wife always tries to include me in their day by bringing the kids by the fire station for a visit, which they always enjoy. I would have to say it affects my wife more than anyone. The holidays can be exhausting, and it is no easy task to prepare for company or bounce around to different gatherings with three kids in tow and no help, but she always manages to make it happen.

What’s your holiday tradition?

We adapt holidays to my work schedule. For instance, last year I worked on Halloween so we went to safe Halloween at the Pioneer Village on a different night so I could trick-or-treat with the kids. We work 24-hour shifts, so we come to work at 8 a.m. and get off work at 8 a.m. the following morning. Every year that I work on Christmas Eve, my wife has made the kids stay away from the living room until I get home. And if I work Christmas day, we get up extra early and open presents before I leave for work.

“I like the fact that every day is different. The emergencies we are faced with gives us the opportunity and challenge to mitigate them and make a difference.”

Lorena Paredes, hospice LVN, Optimal Hospice

What do you do?

I’m currently a Hospice LVN, licensed vocational nurse. I work for Optimal Hospice. I’ve been working for about five years as an LVN particularly with hospice. I’ve been working for a year and a half here in Bakersfield. I moved from Porterville.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

I like being able to provide care for someone else. The gratitude that shows up on their faces as you care for them is rewarding. They see you as their angel; they have called me that a few times. Being able to bring that service to them when they’re in need and making them feel better. Many of them don’t have families. I’m very grateful to be able to provide that. My patients have terminal illnesses.  I think the end of life deserves as much beauty, care and respect as the beginning of life. They trust us at the most vulnerable time of life.

What made you get into this field?

I remember as a little girl I always had dolls. I used to play with my brothers and sisters, and I wanted to be the doctor. As I grew up, I started doing CNA work, certified nursing assistant. I worked with RNs and LVNs. I’m currently studying to be an RN.

Is it difficult missing the holidays?

We stay on the on-call position, so we kind of rotate. It is difficult because last year, for example, during November, right when we were going to sit down for dinner with out-of-town guests, I received a call that one of my patients had fallen and was bleeding. So, I had to leave my family and company to take care of this patient. You’re rearranging your time for the holidays.

Do you think it affects your family?

They’re very supportive. I don’t really think it affects them in a negative way. I think they understand and because we are humans, they do understand that somebody else needs me so I’m the one that needs to go.

The end of life deserves as much beauty, care and respect as the beginning of life. They trust us at the most vulnerable time of life.”