First Responder: Firefighter Justin Moody

He's got about seven years as a firefighter, but Justin Moody has spent the last several years with the fire department's hazmat team, which serves all of Gwinnett County, including Snellville.

Name: Justin Moody

Age: 28

Town: Decatur, Ga.

Rank/Title: Firefighter 3 (Hazmat Team, Gwinnett County)

How long with the Gwinnett Fire and Emergency Services?

Moody has been with fire department since he was 21. At 20, he quit traditional college after his second year to become a emergency medical technician, or EMT. He eventually applied and was accepted as a firefighter.

Why did you want to become a firefighters?

"After Sept. 11, I was in college, and I saw all that go down -- the whole thing, the news and all that -- and shortly after that, it just got stuck in my head after that.

"Seeing all those firefighters go into the building, and they never came out and all that stuff. And, I know a lot of people were like, why'd they go in and all that. But, I remember thinking to myself, you know, I'd go in there and do the same thing. I'd go in there and try to help somebody and do the same thing."

Why Gwinnett County?

"It was the only department I applied to, but it had a good reputation."

How did your family feel about your choice?

"Mine were very proud, very proud. My mom was a little worried, but she was more proud than anything."

How do you balance family life?

"It's important to do stress-less activities when you're off, whether working out is your stress reliever, or fishing is your stress reliever, or working a part-time job, some people like to do that, you know, to keep themselves busy, but also make sure that it's kind of a mindless job.

"This job is very taxing, particularly, especially if you're on a big fire scene, or a big EMS scene. You have to think a lot. You have multiple people to think about, you have your crew and the safety of the person that you're helping, make sure you do the right medical stuff, or vice versa on fire calls.

"So it's important to do something that you don't have to think on some much on your days off. Let your mind rest, let your body rest."

What's the thing you like most about the job?

"Most of us hang out on our off days...It is like a big family."

What don't you like about the job?

"Not getting to eat when you normally want to cause you get so busy sometimes that you don't always get to eat on time...Sometimes I haven't eaten lunch until it's like 5 o'clock in the afternoon. So, that kind of gets a little taxing."

What do you wish the public knew more about? What's something you'd like to tell them?

"To read their driver's manual, and pull to the right of the emergency (vehicle), instead of to the left, or stopping in the middle of the road, and not thinking that all we do is sit down a lot of the time.

"A lot of people, I know they're probably half joking, but half serious, they're always like, 'All y'a'll do all day is sit down and watch TV.' No, no, not really. We're busy. We're on calls, we train, we're doing office work.

"From seven in the morning to seven at night, it's like a business -- this place is run just like a business...The only time when we it down is to either do office work or to eat our meals, when we are able to eat meals together, but we hardly ever watch TV during the day, unless it's like right after lunch, we get a little 30 minute window to watch TV or something."


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