While the Community Celebrates, These Local Responders Keep Watch

The holidays are a joyful time when family and friends gather to celebrate and count their blessings. For our community’s first responders, a holiday is another opportunity to save a life or protect the vulnerable. This month, Cross Timbers Lifestyle features three community members who, along with their dedicated colleagues, spend every day—even holidays—helping those in need. We are especially thankful for their selflessness, bravery and dedication.

Derek Doyle, firefighter/field training paramedic, Highland Village Fire Department

Derek has been a member of the Highland Village Fire Department for almost eight years. He and his wife, Lauren, are expecting their first child in January.

Have you had to miss many holiday celebrations at home because of work obligations? 

Yes, I have had to miss numerous holiday celebrations due to work. This is understood when coming into the field. My dad is a driver/operator with the Lake Cities Fire Department and has been for over 20 years now, so I grew up in the fire service knowing what it was like to not have a parent around for every holiday. Every individual and their family understand the sacrifices that will be made when signing up for this profession.

When you must work during the holidays, how does your unit celebrate together? 

Holidays at the firehouse don’t always have to be viewed as a bad thing. Missing family gatherings is not something anyone wants to do. The firehouse is literally referred to as a second home or home away from home. With this being said, we do our best to make holidays special for ourselves as well as our families. It is also a good time for our wives and kids to come together and get to know each other better. We typically put together big meals for everyone and have things to do for families to enjoy their time at the station.

Kim Daniels, labor and delivery BSN RNC-OB, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound

Kim is a registered nurse who is certified in inpatient obstetrics. She has worked at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Flower Mound for three years and has been a nurse for seven years. She has three children, Abigail, Aiden and Branden.

When you must work during the holidays, how does your unit celebrate together? 

Our unit definitely celebrates together! We have done full-on Thanksgiving dinner in our break room with only a toaster oven and microwave! Nurses can improvise quite well! We also try to make holidays fun like gift exchanges, dressing up, etc.

How does it feel knowing you are doing such an important job fulfilling the needs of others during the holidays? 

Even though some days are harder than others, I truly love and am honored to do what I do, so I have no problem sacrificing to help others, and my family understands this also. In fact, my children think my job is exceptionally cool! So much so, that daughter plans to go to Texas Tech’s nursing program next year when she starts college … At the end of the day, I get to see new life come into this world every day I come to work, even on holidays, and even nearly eight years later, I can honestly say it still amazes me. I mean, how can that not be amazing?

Tony Wragge, firefighter/certified paramedic/hazardous materials technician, Station 3, Dallas

Tony has worked for the city of Dallas as a firefighter, certified paramedic and HAZMAT technician for four years. He and his wife, Nicole, have two daughters, Addison and Avery.

What special family traditions or celebrations do you plan around your work schedule? 

In our house, we believe that time together as a family is the most important, so we’ve been known to delay the celebration a day, or we celebrate it early. One special family tradition we have in the Wragge household is what we like to call “Friends-Giving.” It’s a time around the holidays that my wife and I like to get everyone together in the fire and first responder services. We have a great meal, share stories and have close family, including spouses and children, come together for a time we can celebrate.

How does it feel knowing you are doing such an important job fulfilling the needs of others during the holidays? 

Working on a holiday can be very busy because most families are at home; we are at work, so that means answering the call. It’s a gratifying feeling to know that we can serve people in their time of need … Serving people doesn’t stop at 10 p.m. at night, midnight or even 1 in the morning. It goes on until the sun comes up. The bells ring, and we answer the call.