FIRST RESPONDER PROFILE
Noah Waterman fulfills first responder dream
Noah Waterman displays the epitome of youthful enthusiasm in his first responder duties as a firefighter with Eastern Salisbury Fire Department.
It’s that enthusiasm and devotion to duty that compels Waterman, not yet a motor vehicle operator, to grab a flashlight and bicycle to the fire station for a nighttime fire call, hoping to get there in time to be on the first engine out.
Waterman, who lives in an Allentown neighborhood near the Salisbury Township border, says he “always wanted to be a firefighter.” While he heard the same wishful thinking among five brothers and five sisters as he was growing up, he is the first to act on it.
“I thought, ‘Why not join a volunteer fire department and see if I like it,’” Waterman said.
He is not disappointed. “I love being part of Eastern Salisbury Fire Department.”
Waterman said he always wanted to be “grown up” as he went through his youthful years and volunteering with the fire department provided a tangible way to “serve” his community.
“As a firefighter, you get to also work with EMS crews and police officers, so you are exposed to a wide variety of people with that ‘service’ mentality. It can be a good way to explore a number of career paths,” Waterman said.
Waterman joined the department as a junior firefighter last year when he was 17. Because he was about to turn 18 at the beginning of 2017, Waterman was allowed to fill a training slot in the Firefighter 1 training program held at the Mack South Allentown Fire Department Training Center, sponsored by the Lower Macungie Fire Department and conducted as a module of the highly esteemed Bucks County Community College first responder training programs.
After his graduation from the program in June, Waterman’s five months of twice-a-week classroom and live-fire practical experience gave him interior firefighter credentials recognized across the country. Since June, he has had two opportunities for interior firefighting operations with Eastern Salisbury Fire Department.
Waterman has also completed a training program as a vehicle rescue technician, but says he prefers the firefighting aspects of his volunteer service because the obvious pain and suffering at a serious motor vehicle accident scene can be emotional. “I have never been a fan of seeing people hurting,” he said
Waterman says that’s where training comes in to help first responders do what needs to be done. “It’s almost like muscle memory,” he said. “First you do this, then you do that, in rescue situations. You get done what needs to be done, and if you have to break down, you do it later at the station or at home.”
Waterman credits his older peers in the fire department with always being ready to help him along.
“They are always glad to see young people coming out to volunteer and they have been very supportive. When I first showed up they were eager to show me the station equipment and gear. And, both at a fire scene and at the ongoing Monday evening training sessions, there is always someone ready to come up and show me “how it’s done.’”
A senior in his homeschooling program, Waterman says he has had multiple opportunities to share the value of that service among those in the cooperative homeschool programs in which he participates.
He has on several occasions taken his gear with him to demonstrate there is a real person inside that bulky and sometimes intimidating protective gear firefighters wear.
Recalling Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Department grade-school fire prevention programs as part of Lehigh Valley Christian School activities at Cedar Crest Bible Fellowship, Waterman said he was always impressed when firefighters geared up to help stress “firefighters are your friends.”
Waterman said he often yearned to “climb the aerial ladder” at those fire prevention programs.
When fellow churchgoers at Cedar Crest Bi- ble Fellowship Church express admiration for what he does, he always is quick to point out, “I can get you an application – you can do it too.”