By David Fleet
Ortonville-For the past three decades, Gary Fox has made a living racing to fires, accidents and emergencies either driving or riding in a firetruck.
On June 25, Fox, a firefighter/paramedic since 1990—ended his stellar career with one last ride to his village home courtesy of the Bloomfield Township Fire Department. The final ride, a department tradition included a small gathering of friends, family and fellow firefighters.
“I always really wanted to join the fire department,” said Fox, a Waterford native and 1981 Waterford Kettering graduate.
Fox joined the Brandon Fire Department in January 1990 as a paid on call firefighter and the Bloomfield Township Fire Department in October that same year. He started as a firefighter/paramedic and retired as a lieutenant.
“It was an exciting job,” said Fox, 57, who served ten years with Brandon Fire Department. “You never outgrow driving in a firetruck. I drove for many years then when I made lieutenant I was a passenger in the front right seat. I loved to drive, but other motorists were just so unpredictable when your trying to get through traffic. We are always watching out.”
Fox became a paramedic in 1994 and for many years working 24 hour on duty then off for 24 hours off.
“You’d miss kids sporting events, birthdays and holidays,” he said.
“However, I am going to miss the team and the camaraderie with those I work with for many years. I’ll miss the meals we have together—there are some great cooks in our department. Those meals are a much needed coping mechanism with what we see and do each day on the job.
We talked about the situations we experience, both the good and bad—it was our way of dealing with the pressure—the support of the peer group is outstanding. There were some (emergency) runs that are just burned into your brain—that you just can’t forget.”
Fox said the runs where children are involved are the most difficult.
“When the children are right there and a family member is being worked are by far the very worst,” he said. “The children are often scared and don’t know what’s going on, we deal with a lot of emotions. They try to prepare you with training but they really can’t, I won’t miss that.”
Gary has been a paramedic for 26 years.
“The (medical) equipment has changed and so has the protocol we use,” he said. “The protocol changes as new medical studies are completed and implemented. Stroke and heart attack protocol has changed especially. The chances of your life being saved today is much, much better then 30 years ago. Today we are busier with more older patients and our run volume has tripled over the past decade. With regard to car accidents, air bags, seat belts, and safer car designs have helped motorists survive over the years too.”
“The run volume decreased with covid,” he said. “We’ve seen this before with the outbreaks of hepatitis B and C, Aids, HIV and now this pandemic.”
“It’s time for me to step down and spend more time at home,” he said. “My bones hurts and my body hurts. The department can get some new ideas.”
Fox was recognized for saving two residents from a burning apartment complex and a an accommodation from the City of Novi for coming to the aid of women in a car accident. Fox also assisted in the construction of a fire training facility with shipping containers. The training facility is now used by many fire departments.
Gary has been married to Kimber since 1988 and they have two sons Cameron and Trevor.