Meet 2 Incredible First Responders Who Are Helping To Keep Us Safe

Their stories deserve to be told.

When Jennifer Rose tells people she's a firefighter, she usually gets a predictable set of questions.

"So, you put on that heavy suit and go in a fire just like the guys?" some will ask. Others inquire where she sleeps or if, perhaps, she's the cook.

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"People actually think that I don't do the same job as my male peers," Rose told A Plus in an email. "The only difference between me and the guys is I'm the more sensitive and caring one, I see situations a little differently than they do which in my opinion is a good thing. I've been told by many peers and supervisors that having me on their shift brings a different and more welcoming feel to the group."

Oklahoma firefighter Jennifer Rose was one of the first responders nominated to receive a free home security system in May. Via Canary

Rose is part of a group of first responders who were honored in May, a month that includes International Firefighters' Day (May 4), National Police Week (May 13-19), and National EMS Week (May 20-26). As part of her recognition, Rose received a smart home security device provided by the company Canary. Over 20,000 first responders across the country will be given Canary devices in the coming months, and they are picking which first responders to donate to based on the Salute First Responders nomination hub.  

When A Plus heard about the campaign, we reached out to two first responders who were being honored to hear their stories. 

Rose is a firefighter in Skiatook, Oklahoma. Last year, she was attending a party when one of the guests fell backward and slammed her head on the ground, rendering her unconscious. Rose insisted the woman be transported to the hospital, and cared for her until the ambulance arrived. When she was finally hospitalized, her diagnosis was frightening: she had four hematomas and a skull fracture. She nearly died. The woman's husband nominated Rose for saving his wife's life.

"In the last 13 years, I've seen death, destruction, birth, miracles and stuff that I would never ever wish upon an enemy," Rose wrote. "Every experience sticks with you: good, bad and indifferent. The key to this career is to treat people the way you want to be treated (or better) and keep your mind and body healthy."

Texas paramedic Adrienne Cutburth was one of the first responders nominated to receive a free home security system in May. Via Canary

For Adrienne Cutburth, keeping your body healthy is a bit more of a challenge.

"Big A," as she's known in the Woodlands, Texas community where she's a paramedic, has been battling leukemia and aplastic anemia since she was 2 years old. When she was a teenager, she became a lifeguard out of a desire to go "play around on the water," as she put it. But in order to lifeguard at some elite triathalon events, she had to pass an EMT course to be cross-certified. 

"I thought it was just some weekend class that you sign up for and take it, and then you're done," Cutburth told A Plus. "It was quite a rude awakening that there was a lot more to it than that." 

The sensation of putting those gloves on and caring for someone became addictive, Cutburth said, and she fell in love with helping people and returning them to their families or restoring their lives. After being an EMT, she moved on to become a licensed paramedic, despite her illness. She recently underwent a bone marrow transplant and was recovering in the hospital when she spoke to A Plus.

Despite all of that, she has decided to stick with her career choice — even though she has to wear a respirator while on the job sometimes just to get through the day.

"I dig really, really deep," Cutburth said. "Every day I feel like I have to work three times as hard as everyone else just to walk in the front door and be at their baseline. But I'm OK with that because I know that I wanted to have the same dreams and stuff as normal people."

For Cutburth, there have been several experiences as a paramedic that stuck with her. One of the first she thought of was a time she was called to help transport a woman who lost her pulse on the way home from the hospital. Cutburth had to perform CPR to keep her alive, and they got her back to the hospital and into ICU to save her life. A month later, the same woman got released from the hospital when Cutburth was on duty, and she got to go pick her up, embrace with her family and transport her home — this time successfully.

"It was not the most medically complex call, but just seeing the full spectrum of what we do was pretty cool," Cutburth said.

Five years from now, Cutburth says she hopes she's still doing the same work — just with a clean bill of health for her and her partner, who has also had his own personal health issues.

"Sometimes when you're utterly exhausted and you get a call and you go out there, all you can think while you're sweating is 'I don't have time to be a patient right now, I can't be the sick person right now, this person's life is literally in my hands," Cutburth said. "You're just showing up on their worst day and saying, 'whats going on with you today? What can I do to help?'"

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