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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

By Jesse Utz 

When I grow up …

Jess Shut Up


When we were kids, we had dreams of being a firefighter, police officer or other things. Those dreams were influenced by a bunch of different things, including parents, grandparents, neighbors and books and TV.

Somewhere along the line, as we are trying to figure out what direction we want to go, a significant event affects our decision making. It could be a counselor talking to us about career choices, or it could just be a strong desire to do better for ourselves to get out of a poverty situation. Sometimes it even could be the realization that easy money is there to be had, leading to poor decisions and criminal activity.

For me it was always a thought of the military. I knew my grandfathers and uncles had all been in different branches, and it was what I thought was my only choice. Back then I was not a good student, I didn’t really apply myself and only did what was necessary. Of course, now I look at learning and school a lot differently. I also did not see myself as an elite athlete either, not one that would be able to secure a scholarship anyway. I did find out a few years after high school that there were others who thought I could have made it in baseball.

As my senior year wrapped up, I found myself wanting to be a firefighter more and more. A year earlier I had joined an Explorer Post at Grand Coulee Volunteer Fire Department and was loving it. At 18, I joined the department as a regular volunteer and found myself as a part of a family, but more importantly, I discovered that I had a heart for helping others. A few years later I found myself as a full-time firefighter/EMT with Colville Tribal Emergency Services and eight years later a firefighter with the USBR.

I still look back at times and ponder the “what ifs,” but the older I get the more I realize that I am exactly on the path were I am supposed to be. Has it all been a fun time? No. But all the trials and tribulations have made me the person I am today, and I am still learning. Learning about myself and others and what the real plan for my life is. I still find myself at crossroads. Trying to decide this way or that way. I still dream. What am I really supposed to be doing today? Yes, I choose the wrong path sometimes. Or do I? I learn from it and become better for experiencing it.

So recently the question came up again. I find myself standing at a crossroad again. One way looks impossible for me to ever reach the end, and the other looks like the familiar path. Uncertainty swims in my mind alongside a boatload of questions and how questions. What way is the right way?

So when am I going to grow up? Maybe we don’t. Maybe we just keep adjusting and walking paths till we get to the destination. Sometimes I envy those who put 30 years in at one job and just sit back and relax. But I also enjoy the challenge of the new day and what it holds for me. The adventure. The unknown. The Faith.

A plan is good. If I had my way, I would still be a firefighter. But what I do know is that I was called to help others. Maybe just not in the way this adventure started, but I will make sure it ends that way. OK, what am I trying to say is we all have dreams and aspirations when we start out in life and we must do everything we can do to reach those goals, but sometimes life throws a curveball and we still have to swing for the fences.

Also, I would like to send out my condolences and prayers to the Stanger family. The loss of Nick is a blow to the whole community. I will always remember his smile and desire to be the best in whatever sport he was doing as a Raider.

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