By a happy accident, Newton Fire/EMS Deputy Chief Steve Roberson was led to his current profession many years ago. Getting ready to head off to college, Roberson was looking into physician assistant programs and — through the application process — kept coming across questions about his previous experiences in patient care. Having none, he made the decision at that point to equip himself with those skills before entering any program.
During that application process, Roberson noted one of the questions regarding previous experiences specifically asked about history of Emergency Medical Technician classes — which he figured would be a good starting point.
"I really was taking an EMT class essentially for a resumé builder," Roberson said. "Throughout EMT class, it was very interesting, very challenging, but through the process they kept talking about advanced life support, paramedics, advanced care and so on and so forth, so that spun more interest."
With an invested interest in health care, working as an EMT was also an attractive career opportunity and it didn't take long for Roberson to commit fully to that path. Following that EMT class, Roberson volunteered with the Halstead EMS Department. Upon completion of paramedic school, he then started with the Newton Ambulance Department's reserve program before officially joining full-time in 1995.
Shortly afterwards, the Newton Ambulance and Fire departments consolidated. Like the merger of the two, Roberson's role in the department has continued to evolve as well. As a joint department, he said all personnel are minimally trained to respond to both fire and EMS calls, with the roles varying each shift.
Roberson has answered those calls for a long time, though his role has shifted to a more administrative one in recent years. As a Division Chief, he fulfilled training and clinical services duties in the department before being promoted to Deputy Chief last year. In that role, too, he is still trying to serve others.
"As Deputy Chief, my biggest responsibilities are for operations of the organization," Roberson said. "What I view as a large part of my job is trying to make Chief (Scott) Metzler's job easier."
Those responsibilities are not ones Roberson takes lightly either. Working on the front lines for many years, he noted he got used to thinking tactically in how he approached his job. As Deputy Chief, how he can make an impact on the department requires more strategic thinking, Roberson noted.
For that reason, to both improve his skills personally and benefit the overall department, Roberson seeks to continually evolve with these shifts, which is part of the reason he pursued a spot in the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer program — a program he was accepted into recently.
"Even though I've been an officer in the organization, either lieutenant or above for a number of years, I have much to learn and the National Fire Academy is the pinnacle of learning for the fire service," Roberson said. "If I'm going to get better, I need to go learn from some of the best."
In a sense, this idea to give all he can to the community he serves was ingrained in Roberson from a young age. With a mother who was a nurse, he has always held helping others as a high priority.
Additionally, Roberson admitted the people — those he serves in the community, those he works with and those he has worked under — are the best part of job, which helps motivate him all the more to continue serving and encourage others to do the same.
"We're our brother's keeper. We can't really take care of anybody unless we have that attitude. We're servants," Roberson said. "Don't be afraid to lend a helping hand."