SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah (ABC4) – The next time you see an ambulance, or meet an EMT, it may surprise you to know the path they took for their career. ABC4 met an EMT in training in Salt Lake County, who’s pretty much done it all, in this edition of Behind the Badge.

Before EMTs can save a life, they need to be trained. For those working with Unified Fire Authority in Salt Lake County that means completing a 10-week class.

“This course is very fast-paced, it goes very quickly, and there’s a lot of material,” said Unified Fire Authority EMT Class Coordinator Braden Hudson.    

Students have a lot to learn, like transporting patients and lifesaving treatments. For many, it’s a complete career switch. Before now prospective EMT Josh Lee of Cottonwood Heights has done pretty much anything you can think of.

“I was a line cook at Spaghetti Factory for a number of years in Portland. My uncle had 33 apartments in Moab I was the maintenance person for for five years. I was a mechanic for a year, I retired from welding five and a half years ago,” said EMT student Josh Lee.

Since then, he’s been a stay-at-home dad, with two twins who are now five years old, and a new baby girl born last month.

“It’s difficult when your better half goes back to work, and you’re alone with children, that are teeny tiny and you’re not used to it,” said Lee.

Hudson said Lee is typical of those coming to class.

“We do get a lot of people who’ve had a career in finance or business, it’s just not for them, they’re not fulfilled by their job, and so they come out and really try to do something that means something to them,” said Hudson.

Becoming a firefighter and EMT, fulfills Lee’s dream to help people in need, although his wife may need some convincing.

“She’s less happy,” said Lee. “I think what scares her is she knows I’ll put myself, or someone else before myself, so I’ll go in, I’ll get somebody out of building if I can,” said Lee.  

For Lee that’s the eventual goal, to be part of something larger than himself, joining a brother and sisterhood focused on service. To get there means learning new skills in a new career, which the next EMT you see probably did too.

Lee is about three weeks into the 10-week course. Once he finishes up this fall, he’ll attend UFA fire school next year. So, it won’t be long before he’s the next firefighter/EMT you see on the street.